AILA Presents Mark C. Fleming with the 2012 Jack Wasserman Memorial Award

Thursday, June 14, 2012
George Tzamaras or Belle Woods
202-507-7649 - 202-507-7675 -

NASHVILLE, TN - The American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) will award Mark C. Fleming, an attorney with Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP, Boston MA, with the Jack Wasserman Memorial Award for excellence in litigation in the field of immigration law. He will receive the award today during AILA's Annual Conference in Nashville, TN.

Mr. Fleming has argued cases before the Supreme Court of the United States, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Third, Eighth, Ninth, District of Columbia, Federal Circuits, and the Massachusetts Appeals Court.

In 2011, he argued and won Judulang v. Holder, a Supreme Court case challenging the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) policy announced in Matter of Blake, which denied numerous lawful permanent residents the opportunity to seek relief from removal. Joel Judulang, who came to the United States from the Philippines at age eight, was charged as deportable due to a 1989 aggravated felony conviction that, prior to Blake, would have been eligible for a waiver. The BIA nonetheless ruled that Mr. Judulang was categorically ineligible for relief because his ground of deportation lacked a "statutory counterpart" ground of exclusion.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, through its pro bono program, appointed Mr. Felming as Mr. Judulang's counsel in 2006. The Ninth Circuit-and all but one other circuit to address the issue-upheld the BIA's policy, and the Supreme Court chose Judulang as the vehicle to resolve the circuit split. Supported by amicus submissions from AILA and others, Mr. Fleming argued that Blake was impermissibly retroactive and substantively arbitrary. In December 2011, in a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court rejected the BIA's approach in Blake, describing it as "head scratching," comparing it to a "coin flip," and invalidating it as "arbitrary and capricious" - an unprecedented result in an immigration case.

Mr. Fleming also maintains an active pro bono appellate practice. He is part of WilmerHale's Boumediene v. Bush team, which achieved two historic victories in 2008: the Supreme Court's ruling that Guantanamo prisoners have a constitutional right to challenge their detention, and the U.S. District Court's subsequent merits ruling that five of WilmerHale's six clients were unlawfully detained. He later argued the first-ever merits appeal in a Guantanamo habeas corpus case (Bensayah v. Obama), which yielded the first DC Circuit reversal of a denial of habeas corpus to a Guantanamo prisoner. Mr. Fleming also filed an amicus brief for scholars of international refugee law in the Supreme Court case of Negusie v. Holder (2009), and is co-counsel for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in its challenge to the constitutionality of the federal Defense of Marriage Act, currently on appeal in the First Circuit.

His prior experience includes clerkships with the Honorable David H. Souter of the U.S. Supreme Court, the Hon. Michael Boudin of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, and the Hon. John C. Major of the Supreme Court of Canada.

He lives in Needham, Massachusetts, with his wife Rachel and their daughters Cate and Claire. He is a proudly naturalized U.S. citizen.


The American Immigration Lawyers Association is the national association of immigration lawyers established to promote justice, advocate for fair and reasonable immigration law and policy, advance the quality of immigration and nationality law and practice, and enhance the professional development of its members.

Cite as AILA Doc. No. 12061445.