Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Doherty

Immigration And Naturalization Service V. Doherty

Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Doherty

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Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Doherty, 502 U.S. 314 (1992), confirmed finally that the Attorney General of the United States has broad discretion to reopen deportation (now called "removal") proceedings, as well as other adjudications heard before immigration courts.


John Patrick Doherty was a citizen of Northern Ireland, Ireland, and the United Kingdom. In May 1980, Doherty and fellow members of the Irish Republican Army ambushed a car containing members of the British army, killing one of them. Doherty was tried for murder in Northern Ireland, but escaped from the maximum security prison where he was being held during the trial. He was convicted in absentia and sentenced to life in prison. After escaping from prison, however, Doherty entered the United States illegally in 1982. He was discovered in June 1983, and deportation proceedings were initiated. During these proceedings, Doherty applied for asylum and withholding of deportation. The United Kingdom asked the United States to extradite Doherty, but a federal judge ruled that he was not extraditable because his crimes were considered political offenses for which extradition was not required.

At the conclusion of the extradition proceedings, the deportation proceedings resumed. Doherty conceded deportability and designated Ireland as the country to which he should be deported. He then withdrew his applications for asylum and withholding of deportation. The INS challenged Doherty's selection...
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