Yesenia Equihua-Equihua v. Jefferson Sessions

FILED NOT FOR PUBLICATION DEC 18 2017 UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS MOLLY C. DWYER, CLERK U.S. COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE NINTH CIRCUIT YESENIA EQUIHUA-EQUIHUA; et al., No. 16-35125 Plaintiffs-Appellants, D.C. No. 9:14-cv-00268-DWM v. MEMORANDUM* JEFFERSON B. SESSIONS III, Attorney General; et al., Defendants-Appellees. Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Montana Donald W. Molloy, District Judge, Presiding Argued and Submitted October 5, 2017 Seattle, Washington Before: LIPEZ,** WARDLAW, and OWENS, Circuit Judges. Yesenia Equihua-Equihua (“Equihua”) appeals the district court’s denial of attorney’s fees pursuant to the Equal Access to Justice Act (“EAJA”), 28 U.S.C. * This disposition is not appropriate for publication and is not precedent except as provided by Ninth Circuit Rule 36-3. ** The Honorable Kermit V. Lipez, United States Circuit Judge for the First Circuit, sitting by designation. § 2412(d). We reverse and refer the case to the Appellate Commissioner for the calculation of attorney’s fees and expenses. 1. Equihua is a prevailing party because the district court’s order holding the case in abeyance was sufficient to confer judicial imprimatur on the material alteration of the parties’ relationship. See Li v. Keisler, 505 F.3d 913, 917 (9th Cir. 2007). The order held the case in abeyance “pursuant to the stipulation of the parties,” wherein the government promised that it would not deny Equihua’s I-485 application based on her Quilantan admission. The district court committed an error of law by requiring express incorporation of the stipulated terms, when incorporation by reference is sufficient. See Carbonell v. I.N.S., 429 F.3d 894, 897, 901–02 (9th Cir. 2005) (holding that a district court order stating only “[i]t is so ordered” conferred judicial imprimatur and enforceability on an adjacent stipulation); Klamath Siskiyou Wildlands Ctr. v. U.S. Bureau of Land Mgmt., 589 F.3d 1027, 1031 (9th Cir. 2009) (same). 2. The Department of Homeland Security’s (“DHS”) position was not substantially justified, and the district court abused its discretion in concluding otherwise. A district court abuses its discretion, inter alia, when its decision rests on irrelevant considerations. See, e.g., La Quinta Worldwide LLC v. Q.R.T.M., S.A. de C.V., 762 F.3d 867, 879 (9th Cir. 2014) (stating that, under abuse of 2 discretion standard, the appellate court “must consider whether the district court’s decision was based on a consideration of the relevant factors”); United States v. Mancinas-Flores, 588 F.3d 677, 683 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Ins. Co. of N. Am. v. Moore, 783 F.2d 1326, 1328 (9th Cir. 1986) (describing abuse of discretion as requiring determination “that the district court’s exercise of discretion was based on consideration of the relevant factors”)); Horphag Research Ltd. v. Pellegrini, 337 F.3d 1036, 1042 (9th Cir. 2003) (“Under the abuse of discretion standard, a reviewing court cannot reverse a decision of the district court unless the reviewing court has a definite and firm conviction that the district court committed a clear error of judgment in the conclusion it reached upon a weighing of the relevant factors.”); United States v. Schlette, 842 F.2d 1574, ...

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