By Attorney Stephen Eckdish

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Sarah N. - April, 2012 – 5 Stars

The short of it is that Mr. Eckdish’s knowledge, years of experience, and tenacious nature won my husband’s case when he was facing deportation at a Removal Hearing, due to several criminal convictions. Ours was not an easy case, nor short, as changes in the law and unexpected judicial decisions ended up dragging it out for four years, through an appeal, status conferences, several briefs, and two hearings. However, through the sound guidance of Mr. Eckdish, we won the case and our family remains together in the United States. Mr. Eckdish guided us through each juncture that we faced in Immigration Court, and prepared a case that the judge even remarked was “well put together”. In addition to being an outstanding attorney, we found Mr. Eckdish to be a person of integrity, as he remained dedicated to our case as it became extremely prolonged, without changing the terms of our initial agreement. Other attorneys likely would not have proceeded with such absolute dedication without additional supplementation. For these reasons, we recommend Mr. Eckdish as an invaluably experienced criminal and immigration attorney, and a man with true character. We believe that without his dedication and expertise, we would not have won my husband’s case. For anyone finding themselves in need of representation in Immigration or Criminal Court, we strongly recommend Mr. Eckdish, as his many years of experience and personal handling of our case made all the difference in what could have been a devastating outcome for our family.

 

Christine M. - August, 2011 – 5 Stars

Mr. Eckdish is truly a kind and very generous person, who is extremely knowledgeable in both Criminal and Immigration Law, he looks at all angles and explains everything. He is very passionate about protecting his clients. This type of experience is extremely rare, but very important when you have a loved one facing both criminal charges, which could ultimately result in removal. Just recently my family was facing a very difficult situation when we found out that my husband plead to an aggravated felony unknowingly, which basically means deportation from the US forever. He has lived in the US for almost 30 years, so you can imagine our panic. I hired Mr. Eckdish to assist the local criminal attorney in getting this conviction modified in Criminal Court. His expertise was extremely valuable, he was responsive, generous with his time, and always always answered my calls and helped me feel at ease. The argument that was presented to the court was extremely direct, persuasive and very strong. We succeeded in getting my husband's sentence modified, when my husband was taken in by ICE, Mr. Eckdish spoke to the ICE agent directly and spoke of all the positive things about our family. Ultimately my husband was released from ICE custody, and I cannot express how thankful I am to Mr. Eckdish. He is a compassionate person and a fabulous attorney.

 

In his latest victory, Mr. Eckdish obtained a ‘green card’ for his client who had seven (7) contacts with the criminal courts in the San Francisco Bay Area Courts four (4) of which were misdemeanor convictions. However, Mr. Eckdish successfully argued in his briefs to the U.S.C.I.S. Adjustment of Status Unit in San Francisco that his client was nevertheless, admissible to the U.S., despite those convictions. He argued persuasively that only one of those convictions was a crime involving moral turpitude and therefore, his client was still eligible to adjust his status to become a permanent resident based upon the petty offense exception. The U.S.C.I.S. Supervisor assigned to his case agreed and approved client’s permanent residency application. The client is married to a U.S. citizen. They have two U.S. citizen children. This was a very difficult case requiring Mr. Eckdish’s expertise in both criminal and immigration law.In this case, Stephen Eckdish represented a lawful permanent resident client from the Philippines in removal proceedings in San Francisco Immigration Court based upon his convictions for aggravated felonies. Mr. Eckdish was able to modify client’s aggravated felony convictions in criminal court. Attorney was then able to file and the Immigration Judge granted his Cancellation of Removal application because client’s convictions were no longer aggravated felonies and client was therefore eligible for discretionary relief. Client is now able to travel in and out of the U.S. as a lawful permanent resident.

In another case, Stephen Eckdish represented a lawful permanent resident from the Netherlands who had an aggravated felony conviction for grand theft with a one-year sentence. Attorney obtained post conviction relief for client in the California Superior Court – Criminal Division – by obtaining from the presiding judge, a nunc pro tunc order vacating and dismissing client’s aggravated felony criminal conviction. Mr. Eckdish then filed a Motion to Terminate client’s removal hearing. The Immigration Judge granted attorney’s Motion to Terminate client’s removal proceedings and said proceedings were terminated. Mr. Eckdish then filed an N-400 Naturalization application for client. The Immigration Service subsequently approved client’s application since he no longer had any criminal convictions. He is now a U.S. citizen.

In another case win, Mr. Eckdish was retained to represent a non-resident client from El Salvador with two convictions resulting in a denial by the Immigration Service (USCIS) of client temporary protected status (TPS). Client was facing deportation (removal). Attorney was able to obtain post conviction relief for client in the California criminal superior court and have vacated one of client’s two misdemeanor convictions of moral turpitude. Client then successfully applied for TPS and now enjoys the benefits of living and working legally in the U.S.

Attorney Eckdish was retained to represent an Iranian lawful permanent resident daughter of two naturalized U.S. citizens. She was detained by Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) while serving the last weeks of her one year sentence in county jail for a domestic violence offense - an aggravated felony criminal conviction. Attorney was able, within a very short period of approximately three weeks after being retained, to have client’s aggravated felony conviction modified to a new non-domestic violence conviction for less than one year. In addition, based upon the post conviction relief done in the superior court, Mr. Eckdish was successfully able to have client released from ICE custody, since she was no longer convicted of either a domestic violence or aggravated felony offense. Attorney then followed up by filing a comprehensive bail release package citing Points and Authorities (relevant cases) and convinced client’s Deportation Officer based upon the law cited, that she was no longer deportable. Client was then released from ICE custody without even receiving a Notice to Appear (NTA) for Immigration Court.

In a case that was very challenging, Attorney Eckdish won a cancellation of removal case for a lawful permanent resident client from New Zealand who had been residing in the U.S. since she was six years old. This client had several crimes of moral turpitude convictions, including several drug and drug related offenses. During her removal proceedings, client was arrested for drug sales. She was convicted of simple drug possession after Mr. Eckdish was retained to assist her criminal defense lawyer. Mr. Eckdish then took over her removal defense case and successfully argued that client had never been rehabilitated from her drug addiction. Attorney Eckdish hired an expert licensed forensic, clinical psychologist to assist in her defense. The psychologist testified at client’s merit hearing that client had never had the benefit of being in any drug rehabilitation or counseling programs before. He testified that there was a substantial likelihood that she would change her ways and not use drugs again in the future. The Immigration Judge, after hearing all of the evidence, including testimony from the client, agreed that she should be given a last chance and granted her application for cancellation of removal. As of this date, client has been in continuing counseling and rehabilitation, has not re-offended, and is enjoying reunification with her children and family.

In another recent case involving a client from the Philippines, Attorney Eckdish filed a Motion to Terminate removal proceedings that was granted by the Immigration Judge. Attorney filed an original motion to terminate and then followed up with two additional sets of supplemental Points and Authorities in which he argued that a single conviction for being under the influence of a drug was the same as being in possession of the drug for immigration purposes. Therefore, an expungement of that conviction rendered it non-deportable and the IJ finally agreed. In this case, it was essential that the motion to terminate be granted because the client did not have any other available relief to defend himself in immigration court removal proceeding.

This was involving a citizen from Laos, Attorney Eckdish successfully moved to terminate immigration removal proceedings by obtaining post conviction relief in the California State Superior Court. Client had been convicted of a firearms offense rendering him deportable. His firearms conviction was vacated Nunc Pro Tunc (now for then) pursuant to California Penal Code § 1016.5. Mr. Eckdish filed a Motion to Vacate on the grounds that client had not been advised of the adverse immigration consequences at the time he entered his plea in the criminal court. Therefore, the Superior Court Judge was required under California law to vacate his firearm conviction back to the date client entered his guilty plea. The district attorney then agreed to dismiss the charge. Therefore, client no longer was convicted of this firearms offense. Since he no longer had any convictions, his removal case was terminated.

Case No. 9:  In another recent case win, a German national seeking adjustment through his marriage to a U.S. Citizen had suffered a prior criminal conviction in Germany. Because some prior criminal convictions in foreign countries can trigger inadmissibility and prevent adjustment of status, Mr. Eckdish did a thorough review of the client’s criminal history and discovered that an exception applied making the client admissible after all. A thorough evaluation and legal brief was attached to client’s application for his adjustment. At the USCIS interview, the Immigration Officer reviewed the criminal history documents and legal analysis provided, met with his supervisor, and then approved client’s adjustment on the spot, placing a temporary Form I-551 stamp in client’s passport. Client received his ‘green card’ in the mail three weeks later.

In a very difficult and recent Immigration Court Removal case involving an illegal alien from Mexico who had entered the U.S. without inspection, the Immigration Judge (IJ) found in client’s favor, granting him adjustment of status in immigration court. This client had one sustained petition as a juvenile for felony possession of cocaine, four arrests as an adult for loitering for the purposes of selling drugs, and one simple possession felony conviction as an adult for possession of cocaine that was subsequently expunged.
Client married a U.S. Citizen, had a child, and was then ordered into Removal proceedings. Client’s only defense was under the very difficult standard of cancellation as a non-permanent resident only if client could demonstrate good moral character, 10 years of continuous residency in the U.S., and show that his qualifying U.S. citizen relatives would suffer exceptional and extremely unusual hardship if client were deported. Through the successful use of a Motion to Strike in the Immigration Court, Attorney Eckdish was able to convince the IJ to strike from the Notice to Appear “the reason to believe that respondent was a drug trafficker” allegation over the objections of the government attorney.  Attorney then filed in support of client’s application for relief, a comprehensive rehabilitation packet. At client’s Individual Hearing, after hearing all of the testimony and considering all of the evidence attorney had presented, the IJ decided that client should remain in the U.S., notwithstanding that he had a drug history and had been in the U.S. illegally for over ten years. As a result of the strong defense mounted in client’s case, the IJ granted client’s application for adjustment of status and is now a lawful permanent resident.

In a recent removal/deportation case involving asylum defense in San Francisco Immigration Court, Mr. Eckdish was able to obtain relief for a respondent/client from Cambodia who was convicted of two (2) aggravated felony crimes for which he received three (3) years state prison sentences on each. Mr. Eckdish filed an asylum application for relief in Immigration Court based upon the Convention Against Torture (CAT), depicting the intolerable human rights violations inflicted by the state against deportees returning to Cambodia. Despite the seriousness of the client’s California criminal convictions, the Immigration Judge granted relief in this case and client was not removed. Client will be able to remain and work in the U.S. indefinitely as long as the government in Cambodia continues to engage in serious human rights violations.

In this case involving a Deferred Inspection in San Francisco, Attorney Eckdish successfully obtained post conviction relief of client’s California State criminal conviction in Alameda County Superior Court. As a result of the modification of one of client’s two California criminal convictions, Deferred Inspection officer(s) closed client’s case and did not refer it to immigration court. Mr. Eckdish argued successfully that client’s remaining criminal conviction is subject to the petty offense exception and therefore, client is no longer deportable. Client is now eligible to naturalize, since his remaining misdemeanor crime of moral turpitude conviction occurred over five years ago and is subject to the petty offense exception.

In a remarkable removal defense case just decided involving a lawful permanent resident in the San Francisco Immigration Court, Mr. Eckdish was able to marshal together the resources of three (3) criminal defense lawyers in three (3) different states (New York, Illinois & Nevada) to obtain post conviction relief involving three different criminal convictions in each of those states. In working with each of the criminal defense attorneys in each state (who knew very little about immigration law), Mr. Eckdish was nevertheless, able to guide them using immigration and constitutional law principles to have each conviction vacated or modified so that they could no longer be used to deport his client in the San Francisco Immigration Court. As a result, Mr. Eckdish filed a Motion to Terminate the removal proceedings that was granted by the Immigration Judge in San Francisco.

In another recent and very difficult defense case in the San Francisco Immigration Court, the Immigration Judge (IJ) granted client’s application for cancellation of removal. Client is a Canadian citizen with a U.S. citizen spouse and two U.S. children. In this defense, Mr. Eckdish provided his legal services as both an immigration and criminal defense attorney. The client (respondent) had numerous criminal misdemeanor convictions involving moral turpitude, including several simple marijuana drug possessions, multiple petty thefts, a commercial burglary, and a domestic violence conviction. Attorney Eckdish obtained post conviction relief in the California Superior Courts for four (4) of the most serious offenses (the DV, burglary and two of the theft offenses.) These vacated and modified convictions could no longer be used as a basis for client’s deportation or removal. Mr. Eckdish then retained the services of a licensed forensic psychologist who provided a credible explanation for the client’s past criminal behavior. In addition, the client began counseling for a one year period prior to the removal (individual hearing). The IJ, after hearing all of the psychological testimonial evidence presented by Mr. Eckdish at the hearing, granted client’s application for cancellation of removal finding that the client’s criminal history was excused due to the extraordinary conditions that surrounded client at the time of the commission of these offenses approximately 10 years earlier. In granting relief to client allowing him to remain in the U.S. as a permanent resident, the IJ also found that there was substantial evidence presented by Mr. Eckdish at the hearing demonstrating extreme hardship to qualifying relatives should respondent have been deported and that client had been sufficiently rehabilitated so that it was unlikely he would re-offend


Stephen Eckdish is an active member in the following organizations:
American Immigration Lawyers Association (A.I.L.A.)
Association of Trial Lawyers of America (A.T.L.A.)
California Attorneys for Criminal Justice (C.A.C.J.)

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E-mail:Stephen Eckdish
649 Mission Street
5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94105
Telephone: (415) 776-1633
Fax: (415) 974-6745