3 Reasons Why Judge Cole’s Ruling Of Asylum For Amos Yee Will Be Overturned

Freshfruit, thanks for your post on my blog. You wrote:

April 6, 2016 at 3:36 am 

Freshfruit to Lester Kok…

I agree with judge cole that amos yee prosecution was politically motivated.


Be that as it may, here are 3 reasons that Judge Cole’s decision will be reversed:

1. The next phase of Amos Yee’s asylum challenge, namely, the review of  Judge Cole’s ruling, will come under the administrative arm — and not the judicial, meaning there are no Judges per se involved in this stage — i.e., the EOIR’s (Executive Office of Immigration Review) administrators under the Department of  Justice (DOJ) will do the review. [For a fuller description of the appeals bureaucracy read my earlier post at this link: https://lester978.wordpress.com/2017/04/03/a-surreal-private-conversation-with-amos-yee/ ] This 2nd stage of Amos’ challenge will throw his asylum bid into high political relief. DOJ (under Attorney General Jeff Sessions, appointed by Trump to deal with the alien influx problem) will soon align itself with DHS which is no friends with Amos from day one — they just refuse to let him out even Amos has no history of violence. [https://lester978.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/ten-reasons-why-amos-yees-asylum-victory-will-be-short-lived/]  The appeal outcome of this stage 2 is a foregone conclusion due to its political disposition. The question really is: does his pro bono attorney Ms. Grossman look forward to the third stage of the legal challenge? … i.e., the Circuit Court of Appeals where a panel of 3 Federal appellate judges will preside over his asylum hearing.

2. Freshfruit, the legal opinion of Judge Cole — who happens to be a new judge barely 6 months on his current job; Amos did luck out in that sense — is but drawn from one out of about 250 Immigration Judges. His role as an impartial IJ is to listen to both sides of the arguments to determine if Amos was a genuine case of government-orchestrated persecution and maltreatment — crucially, whether he would indeed face further persecution and peril if returned home. He decided in favor of Amos after listening to over 7 hours of witness testimonies on March 7. However,  Judge Cole did indicate in his legal opinion how ill-prepared DHS was during the hearing — DHS presented no witness rebuttal at all. In other words, the defense (Amos) won by default. Evidently, DHS was ill-equipped for trial, its attorneys unfamiliar with the culture of Singapore let alone her political players/witnesses. This slipshod mistake by DHS will be duly remedied in the coming appeal as legal forces between DHS and Singapore Embassy will be joined.

3. And finally, the biggest argument that can be made for the appeal against Judge Cole’s ruling is his lack of balance in evidentiary evaluations. Instead of weighing all the evidence in its proper context and looking at the overall picture of Amos’ total activities, especially in 2016 — the Judge could very well be under-apprised of the full sequence of events that took place in 2016 due to DHS’s overconfident, take-it-for-granted posture at trial — the Judge narrowly concentrated only on the judicial mistakes of Amos’ first trial in 2015. In fact, I concur with Judge Cole about the mistakes at the first trial that it prompted my dispatching a letter of criticism straight to her office (Amos Yee’s Judge) at the conclusion of his first trial in 2015. https://lester978.wordpress.com/2016/11/24/an-open-letter-to-judge-jasvender-kaur-following-her-ruling-on-amos-yee/

But Judge Cole apparently disregarded the other half of what occurred in 2016 in order to justify his tenuous hypothesis of government-orchestrated persecution against Amos. It is interesting to note what The Economist mag said of his ruling: “Immigration judges often grant asylum with a simple, spoken ruling. This one explained himself over 13 pages.” And one possible explanation for that could be that the good Judge was in a state of cognitive dissonance after finding for Amos … hence felt the need to go on a 13-page disquisition, in a subconscious effort to overcompensate for any apparent deficiencies in his asylum ruling for Amos. http://mothership.sg/2017/04/the-economist-makes-2-valid-points-with-latest-amos-yee-article/


3/26/17 Ron Woolrich posted on Melissa Chen’s Facebook:  The immigration judge overlooked the “more serious” charge of blasphemy (in 2016) under Singapore law because blasphemy is completely protected speech under the U.S. First Amendment and no American court would deport a petitioner for asylum solely because of such a charge in a foreign court. It would be the same if someone had been charged with witchcraft in Saudi Arabia. There’s no such thing as witchcraft in modern American jurisprudence just as there’s no such thing as criminal blasphemy.
Lester Kok responded:  Thank you for yr comment. Mr. Woolrich, you’re almost correct about ‘there’s no such thing as criminal blasphemy’ in modern American jurisprudence. The last I check, there are 6 to 7 U.S. states that still carry blasphemy laws on the books. So in theory if you live in one of those, you still can be charged for such offense but will nonetheless prevail over state law in the end after running the punishing legal gauntlet as it reaches the apex court of the land. 
Soon I shall be blogging an article about why Judge Cole’s ruling on Amos’s asylum will be vacated on appeal, unless otherwise preempted by news of its fait accompli which could be as early as tomorrow; but I very much doubt DHS would drop the appeal and release Amos. When I first read the Judge’s legal opinion, I was little more than 50% certain it would be appealed but now I’m highly confident it would be challenged after reading thru it again; furthermore, the politics on the ground as I see it calls for such a move.
So without getting too long-winded here, allow me just quickly elaborate on my previous use of the term ‘blasphemy’ as regards Amos’ offense. No, in Singapore there isn’t any ‘blasphemy’ law either; it is colloquially termed ‘communal harmony laws’ which Amos had been charged with. I took license in the use of that term as a shorthand for religious insult/vilification/hate speech etc. The nexus of the argument against Judge Cole’s ruling is 2-fold: does Singapore have a sovereign basis to exercise such laws for the greater good of the community and, crucially, is Amos’ life in jeopardy of continued persecution as he claims because of his so-called political dissent. The short answers are yes and no respectively… stay tuned for the rest:-)
Ron Woolrich responded — Lester Kok: Thanks for the reply. I am familiar with American jurisprudence (as I hold a J.D.) but not Singapore law, so I took the “blasphemy” charge at face value. Anyway, those anti-blasphemy laws in the U.S. are state laws and relics of an earlier era of the law. There is no federal anti-blasphemy law, and, were these laws challenged in federal court (which has supremacy over state courts), they would likely be found to be unconstitutional under the First Amendment. There are also no “communal harmony” restrictions on free speech in the U.S. or laws against religious disparagement as these would also be unconstitutional as against First Amendment protections. Although such prosecutions would be legal in Singapore, no U.S. court would recognize them as valid under U.S. law.
Lester Kok Ron Woolrich ‘…you still can be charged for such offense but will invariably prevail (over local statutes) in the end after running the punishing legal gauntlet as it reaches the apex court of the land.’ End quote. Pardon my uncharacteristic oversight in clarity; if I did not state it as clearly as was intended, I now stand annotated in parenthesis in the above. We were making the same point actually. Much like the passé sodomy laws that still exist in some U.S. states, overzealous local authority can still prefer blasphemy charges against one but they would be rendered unenforceable on appeal due to the supremacy clause as you previously cited. Separately, I shall wait till tomorrow morning, and if I don’t hear any news update of him being sprung in Juneau, Wisconsin, I shall put my piece online entitled: 10 Reasons Why Amos’ Asylum Victory Will Be Short-lived. You have a good day.

(March 26, 2017, from TOC, The Online Citizen)

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    To cut to the chase, if PAP hadn’t prosecuted Amos, this would not have blown out of proportion… Less one chance for foreigners to pick on SG and or laugh at our stupidity to take WA Amos so seriously…

    If those who filed the report and government would have left him alone, SG won’t be a mockery on international forefront… So many glaring examples of our leaders making mistakes that affect the entire of SG including reputation and you don’t go after these people but choose to spend time going after a 乳臭未干 teenager? Lolxxx


    Cher Ling, you are half right about not throwing the book at him in the first place. But that would only be a band-aid approach to the problem (as American jargon goes). Looking at it now with hindsight, Amos would sooner or later run afoul of the law because he was/is going thru a transitional phase of fearless exploration aided and abetted by the excesses of influence from the Net. What I objected to was the uncalled-for jail sentence on first-time juvenile non-violent miscreant. I would not be surprised to see a law named after him someday. Thanks to him, the gov. has learnt much from it. But his trouble is far from over as I’ll soon be posting an article titled ’10 Reasons’ on why his asylum victory will be short-lived… you will read that here.


Come on, be serious. Amos’s victory is hardly a molecule in the vast ocean of demerit that is PM Lee’s tenure.

  • Pik, you can’t be more mistaken on this count … to characterize it as a ‘molecule’ of a blemish on the gov. This news isn’t some hangnail of sorts to them; if they lose this fight, it will stick like a wart to their forehead for eternity. PM Lee will double down and order his troops to go to the mat on it; Embassy in Wash. will be in full battle order … just you watch.


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