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Circuit court judges throughout the nation have sharply criticized the immigration courts’ failure to protect due process and uphold fundamental rights.  Adekpe v. Gonzales is one of several cases the National Immigrant Justice Center has appealed to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals to demonstrate the need for review of lower cases by independent judges.
Mr. Adekpe was active in the student movement in Togo and wrote politically motivated poetry.  He also served as a liaison between his father-in-law, a pro-democracy high-ranking government official, and the opposition party Union of Forces for Change (UFC).  He had been captured once by the National Gendarmarie police force and severely tortured.  After government agents shot and killed Mr. Adekpe's father-in-law, he  learned that he, too, was wanted by the government, and his family fled to the United States through Ghana.  The immigration judge denied the client's asylum claim, citing adverse credibility due to inconsistencies in the client's application and testimony.  The National Immigrant Justice Center's partnering pro bono attorney from the law firm DLA Piper argued that the immigration judge's decision was unreasoned.  Judge Cudahy, writing for a three-judge panel, found that when discrepancies arise in an asylum claim, the immigration judge should confine consideration of contradictions and omissions to facts central to the claim.
The immigration judge had also found that letters sent by the client's family saying that he still was wanted by the government did not corroborate his claim because they did not recount stories of persecution documented in the asylum application. The court rejected this as well. "As Adekpe observes, it might be suspicious for a letter to, without solicitation, recount stories that are several years old and with which the recipient is more familiar than the writer."