Arab American community wins partial victory in Rasmea Odeh case
Washington, DC | www.adc.org | February 25, 2016 – Today, the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit vacated the conviction of Rasmea Odeh, a Palestinian-American who was convicted of immigration fraud for failing to report a “conviction” by an Israeli military court in 1969.
Although this was not a complete victory for Ms. Odeh, ADC welcomes the Circuit Court’s decision to vacate the conviction because the trial court categorically excluded evidence of Ms. Odeh’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). At trial, the court did not allow Ms. Odeh to present expert testimony that she suffered from PTSD when she applied for naturalization in the U.S. in 2004. The Circuit Court said that the trial court should have at least considered whether the evidence of PTSD was admissible.
The decision is only a partial victory, as Ms. Odeh’s conviction has not yet been officially overturned. The result of the decision is that the case will be sent back to the trial judge to determine whether the PTSD evidence is admissible. If the trial court judge deems the evidence admissible, it could be used to exonerate Ms. Odeh.
In 2014, ADC urged the U.S. Department of Justice to drop the charges against Ms. Odeh because her conviction in Israel was obtained by torture, and thus her failure to report this alleged conviction could have been impacted by PTSD.