Boston-based litigation associate David Zimmer was one of just two associates to appear before the Supreme Court in its 2017 term. And he notched a welcome victory on behalf of his pro bono client, Brazilian native Wescley Pereira, allowing him to apply for cancellation of removal, which would allow him to remain in the United States as a permanent resident.
“It’s awesome. It’s great. I’m mainly excited for Mr. Pereira,” Zimmer said. “I think they adopted our position pretty closely which is very satisfying, and it’s great for all the people that this benefits. It’s a big deal and also the right outcome.”
It remains to be seen whether Pereira will be granted cancellation of removal, Zimmer said, but at the least this decision allows him to apply for that vital form of relief. Zimmer spoke to his client shortly after learning of the decision and said he was “overjoyed.”
In April, Zimmer appeared before the U.S. Supreme Court which was set to determine Pereira's eligibility for “cancellation of removal,” a discretionary form of relief that allows an adult non-citizen to remain in the United States if his or her removal would cause extreme hardship to family members. Attorneys making arguments before the Supreme Court are typically law firm partners. Associates appear before the Court very rarely, occasionally one or two but often none per session.
“I was certainly nervous beforehand, but once it started it was fine,” Zimmer said when asked to reflect on his first appearance before the Court. “There’s too much going on to be too nervous.”
Zimmer came across Pereira's case after reading the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the First Circuit. He thought there was an opportunity to bring the matter to the Supreme Court, especially given that appeals courts had issued different rulings. He said he found it compelling on legal grounds as well as the potential to impact Pereira’s life. As the father of two young, U.S.-citizen children, if he were not eligible for cancellation, he would almost certainly be forced to leave the country.
Whether Zimmer may one day argue before the Supreme Court again as an associate remains to be seen, but he’s open the possibility.
“I would certainly love to have additional opportunities,” Zimmer said. “But I also realize how lucky I am to have had even had one opportunity like this, and I am incredibly grateful for all the trust and support from the firm.”