When Noel Mata, a nonresident alien living in Texas, was convicted of assault, an immigration judge ordered his removal from the country. Mata appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, but his lawyer never filed a supporting brief, causing the BIA to dismiss his appeal. After Mata got a better attorney, he filed a motion to reopen his case, arguing that he was entitled to equitable tolling due to his previous counsel's ineffective assistance.
When the case reached the Fifth Circuit, the circuit ruled that it did not have jurisdiction to hear Mata's appeal. That decision created a ten to one circuit split, with the Fifth as the lone outsider. The Supreme Court solved that disagreement on Monday, ruling that the Fifth has jurisdiction over such appeals and can hear the case -- and potentially convince a court that the should not suffer for their poor choice of counsel.