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Horvitz & Levy is a solutions-based firm focused on appellate success. We are distinguished by our commitment to responsive service and on-going innovation in the areas of civil appellate litigation, amicus curiae support, and trial strategy consultation.

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Horvitz & Levy successfully represented Jorge Pineda in his efforts to obtain appellate relief after a trial court declined to make factual findings he needed to avoid deportation. Under immigration law, a minor abused by a parent in another country may seek permission to remain in this country by applying for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status (SIJS). To apply for SIJS, a minor must first obtain certain factual findings from a state “juvenile court,” which federal law defines to include any court “having jurisdiction under State law to make judicial determinations about the custody and care of juveniles.” (8 C.F.R. § 204.11(a) (2010).)

Pineda fled to this country from El Salvador to escape his abusive father. He requested SIJS findings from the family court division of the Los Angeles County Superior Court. The court ruled, however, that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction because it was not a “juvenile court.” Pineda petitioned the Court of Appeal for a writ of mandate, arguing that the trial court had jurisdiction to make the factual findings he needed because all California superior courts are “juvenile courts” for purposes of immigration law, because all California superior courts have the authority to make determinations concerning the custody and care of juveniles.

When his writ petition was summarily denied, he filed a petition for review in the California Supreme Court. The Supreme Court ordered the trial court to file an answer to the petition. In response to the Supreme Court’s order, the trial judge issued an order vacating its prior ruling and finding that it does have subject matter jurisdiction to issue factual findings related to SIJS. The trial court scheduled a hearing on Pineda’s SIJS findings, and Pineda withdrew his petition for review. 

Horvitz & Levy represented Pineda in association with Catholic Charities of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Center for Law & Justice.