Last week, the Vanguard reported that Nan-Hui Jo was convicted of a single count of parental abduction. Several immigration law attorneys have told the Vanguard that even if Judge David Rosenberg, who presided over the two criminal trials, reduces the charge to a misdemeanor, as he suggested he would, that Ms. Jo faces deportation.
Last week in San Francisco, supporters of Ms. Jo held a protest outside of the San Francisco immigration office to “express their outrage and sadness over her conviction for child abduction.”
The Community Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse (KACEDA) have set up a fundraising campaign to help cover Jo’s legal fees and other costs related to her appeal and pending immigration hearing and child custody hearing. (To see this campaign or contribute to this fund, click here).
Numerous Korean community groups, domestic violence organizations, student groups and concerned community members have rallied for Jo by attending the trial, bringing attention to the case through Facebook and Twitter (#StandWithNanHui, #WeSurvived), and circulating a petition demanding that Immigration and Custom Enforcement (ICE) and Custom and Border Protection (CBP) “exercise their prosecutorial discretion and drop her deportation case.”
“The legal fees and trial costs are being fundraised for on CrowdDefend, a new crowdfunding platform for the legal space. The CrowdDefend platform seeks to expand access to justice for individuals, organizations, and businesses that can’t otherwise afford to pay for legal representation, court fees, and associated trial costs. CrowdDefend launched its services to the public last week,” the release explained.
With the conviction, Ms. Jo is currently being threatened with deportation, despite having a pending U-Visa petition (I-360 Petition for immigrants) on file. Her supporters fear that if Ms. Jo is deported, she could be permanently separated from her child.
In the release, her supporters claim that Ms. Jo is a survivor of domestic violence and that she “left the United States with her child, Vitz Da, in 2009, to escape physical and emotional abuse from the child’s father. When she returned to the United States in July 2014, she was immediately arrested and separated from her child.”
They argue that the Yolo County District Attorney has “ignored the domestic violence her child’s father testified and publicly admitted to and aggressively pursued a retrial of Jo, which commenced February 20, 2015. Throughout this entire process, Jo has been denied the right to see her daughter, while the child’s father was given full custody of Vitz Da. Jo has been in jail without bail due to the immigration hold and has not seen her daughter in over seven months.”
“We are extremely disappointed in the verdict. As advocates for survivors of domestic violence, we believe that this case should not have even been prosecuted. We continue to be inspired by Nan-Hui Jo’s strength throughout this time and will be continuing the fight to ensure she is reunited with her daughter,” says Hyejin Shim of Korean American Coalition to End Domestic Abuse (KACEDA, as indicated above), a domestic violence organization based in the Bay Area.
KACEDA, Immigrant Youth Coalition, and Asian Law Caucus are “asking community members to sign their petition and to call San Francisco ICE and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) field offices to drop Jo’s deportation case at bit.ly/standwithnanhui.”
The Community Coalition Against Domestic Violence in Sacramento and KACEDA have also set up a fundraising campaign to help cover Jo’s legal fees and other costs related to her appeal and pending immigration hearing and child custody hearing.
As the Vanguard reported last week, the trial came down to a decision by Juror Number Five, Denise Hoffner, to remove herself from the jury because she said, “I was not morally able to make a decision in this case because it just went against my moral code.
“There was no testimony put on about anything to do with her immigration status,” she said. “It was like the elephant in the room.
“I just felt like this woman was not trying to maliciously deprive anybody in the way that we all agree in society the word malicious means, but we were given a jury instruction saying that to find malice, all we had to find was that she intentionally did the act,” Ms. Hoffner stated. “I just felt like it was wrong.
“The fact is, [it was] like this was a criminal case and they were not even wanting us to formulate whether she had a criminal intent,” she explained. “We really were not looking at criminal intent in any meaningful way – we were instructed not to do it.”
Denise Hoffner said that, when they were deliberating, it was about her perceptions, “that’s what mattered.”
She said that there was no question that there was a domestic violence incident. However, she said, “I don’t necessarily feel that it was a pattern and practice of domestic violence in this case. But she thought there was. And that’s what mattered to me. She was really trying to protect her baby and I think all of us would have done the same thing.”
In her view, “This was just a woman who was frightened and desperate like she had no options. She probably got bad legal advice and I just don’t see how justice was going to be served. Now she’s going to have a felony. She’s at risk of being deported. And this child is in the United States.”
“It shows how our legal system is about retribution and not restorative justice and not forward looking,” she said.
When Denise Hoffner was dismissed, the jury was instructed to start deliberations with the alternate jury from scratch, meaning that they arrived at the guilty verdict after less than three hours’ deliberations with the alternate.
Sentencing for the case is set for April 1, 2015, at 1:30 p.m.
—David M. Greenwald reporting