Recently I noted that all the written rules in the world do you no good if the people applying them are stupid or dishonest.
I saw a Canadian immigration decision which reminded me of this today, which in turn led me on a reverie about a legendary judge of this district.
I saw the immigration story at theWise Law Blog, the blog of a Toronto lawyer whom I plan to mention in a rather unflattering light in connection with the Ezra Levant affair in the near future. Wise reports on this case, in which it appears that a Canadian immigration board rejected the refugee application of a Chinese woman, concluding that she had not introduced evidence that she was a "genuine Christian" and thus in danger of persecution in China. Part of the Board's ruling was based on a conclusion that her knowledge of Christianity was slight, which in turn, it appears, was based on the fact that she could not identify a "Biblical parabola":
Member: And what is your favourite parabola?
Claimant: I beg your pardon?
Member: What is your favourite parabola?
BY COUNSEL TO CLAIMANT:
Q. Do you understand what a parabola is?
Member: There are parabolas in the Bible. Have you read about them?
BY COUNSEL TO CLAIMANT:
Q. Tell us one.
A. He told me to obey the Commandments.
Q. I’m sorry.
A. To obey the commandments.
Member: Well, what parabola is that? Can you tell me where it’s located? I don’t know that you understand the question.
BY COUNSEL TO CLAIMANT
Q. Do you understand?
A. I’m so confused. May I write it down in Chinese? I have not learned that.
Member: Okay. The shepherd and the lost sheep would be a parabola. Do you know what the message is from that story? Do you know the story, first of all?
Claimant: That a shepherd has 100 sheep and one lamb got lost, and the Sheppard tried his hardest to find the lost lamb. That means God prefers that 99 lambs be his children, but he would feel very sad losing one.
Member: And what would he do when he finds the one? This is the last part of it that I wanted to ask. What happens when he finds the other one? What happens?
Claimant: Even if I had 99 lambs, I will not abandon that lost lamb.
One assumes the Board meant "parable," which is something different than a "parabola." One might be inclined to Christian charity to Board member experiencing a brain fart; then again, Christian charity might have led a reasonable Board member not to draw conclusions when a non-English-speaker is not familiar with either term, but is familiar with actual Biblical stories. The reviewing court politely humiliated the Board and reversed its decision.
This put me in mind of a rather infamous federal judge in Los Angeles, whom I shall refer to as Crazy Andy. Crazy Andy's picture was in the dictionary under "irascible" for a generation. One day I watched a colleague try an interference with a flight crew case in front of him. My colleague was doing the direct of an FBI agent who happened to be on the plan during the incident, and (this being pre-9/11) had been armed. The agent explained that she had gotten the gun on the plane by showing her credentials.
About three minutes later, during unrelated testimony, Crazy Andy awoke and barked:
CA: What the hell was she doing with a credenza on an airplane?
CA: WHY DID SHE HAVE A CREDENZA ON AN AIRPLANE?
AUSA: Ah .. no, your honor. Credentials. She had credentials.
FBI Agent: Actually, your honor, I said credentials.
CA: YOU SAID CREDENZA! COURT REPORTER! WHAT DID SHE SAY? [leaning over and glaring at court reporter]
Reporter: Er …. I had it down as unintelligible, Your Honor.
The last time I saw Crazy Andy in action, he was asleep during a rather explicit line of questioning concerning a loss-of-consortium claim.
Last 5 posts by Ken White
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- Department of Justice Uses Search Warrant To Get Data On Visitors to Anti-Trump Site - August 14th, 2017
- America At The End of All Hypotheticals - August 14th, 2017
- Lawsplainer: Why John Oliver Is Anti-Diversity Now - August 11th, 2017