David Dutan

Full title: JUAN DAVID DUTAN VINUESA, Petitioner, v. MERRICK B. GARLAND, UNITED STATES…

Court: United States Court of Appeals, Second Circuit

Case no: 22-6141 NAC

Date published: May 15, 2023

Facts:

  • Dutan sought protection under the Convention Against Torture (CAT), claiming he would likely face torture if returned to his home country, Ecuador.
  • He alleged potential torture by police officers due to his witnessing of a murder 20 years ago and by drug traffickers because of his alleged cooperation with U.S. law enforcement.
  • Dutan provided evidence in the form of letters from family members and friends, but none of the declarants were available for cross-examination.
  • He did not provide statements from his sister in Ecuador or from friends who witnessed the murder, claiming he did not know their whereabouts.

Issues:

  • Whether Dutan’s fear of torture by police officers and drug traffickers met the standard required under the CAT.
  • Whether the lack of corroborating evidence, specifically statements from Dutan’s sister and friends, justified the denial of relief.
  • Whether Dutan was properly served with the Notice to Appear (NTA) initiating removal proceedings.

Decision:

  • The agency did not err in denying Dutan’s claim based on fear of torture by police officers and drug traffickers. The fear was deemed speculative, lacking solid support in the record.
  • The agency did not err in discounting the evidence due to lack of corroboration. Dutan failed to provide statements from relevant witnesses, and the agency was not compelled to accept his explanations for not obtaining such evidence.
  • Dutan’s challenge to the service of the Notice to Appear was deemed without merit. He was personally served with the NTA and appeared at the hearing, meeting the statutory requirements.

Overall, the petition for review was denied, and all pending motions and applications were denied and stays vacated.

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