O’Melveny Worldwide

Law360: Justices Struggle To Navigate Odyssey Of Obstruction Case

April 17, 2023

The US Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday over whether Jean Francois Pugin, a Mauritian man who pled guilty to being an accessory after the fact to a felony, is eligible for deportation for obstruction of justice under the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA). Pugin, who has been a lawful permanent resident since entering the country in 1985, was ordered to be removed by an immigration judge after it was determined that Pugin’s offence was an aggravated felony under Virginia state law. Pugin’s attorney Mattie Hutton argued that obstruction of justice requires a “nexus” to an active legal matter in order to qualify as a deportable offense under the INA, further noting that a “pending proceeding” pertains to judicial actions but doesn't necessarily exclude other official proceedings. “An investigation is a step further out from the core definition and so should be viewed with some caution,” Hutton said. Pugin is represented by Hutton, Michael R. Dreeben, Brian D. Boyle, Jenya Godina, Jack Derewicz, Bruce Pettig, and Lauren Averill of O’Melveny & Myers LLP.

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