Exceptional circumstances or exceptional situations are the conditions required to grant additional powers to a government agency, particularly a government leader or a judge, so as to alleviate, or mitigate, unforeseen or unconventional hardship. The term is commonly used in Australia, where it has been applied in various contexts, most recognizably in relation to special consideration policies for students and drought relief payments for farmers known as Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payments or ECRP. It is similarly used in the law of the United States, particularly in the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA).
Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payments
The Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payments or ECRP program was established in 1992 and has continued in various forms since. It provides financial assistance to farmers considered to be experiencing exceptional circumstances. Eligibility is generally determined by geographic location; specific areas are considered to be experiencing worse-than-normal drought conditions and, as such, farmers in those areas qualify for assistance. Farm-dependent small businesses may also be eligible for assistance.
In February 2009, the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry announced that the payments would continue for an additional 12 months in 52 areas throughout Australia.
Exceptional Circumstances Interest Subsidy
The Australian Government has also established a program to provide low-interest loans via private financial institutions which receive a subsidy from the Government. The program is known as the Exceptional Circumstances Interest Subsidy support scheme.
Qualification is based on terms (geographical location) set by the Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payments program.
Other Australian Government Departments
The term has been used in a range of other governmental contexts in Australia including, but not limited to:
- The Department of Health and Ageing accreditation of aged care facilities.
- The Department of Immigration and Citizenship - visas, immigration and refugees.
In the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA) of the United States, "[t]he term 'exceptional circumstances' refers to exceptional circumstances (such as battery or extreme cruelty to the alien or any child or parent of the alien, serious illness of the alien, or serious illness or death of the spouse, child, or parent of the alien, but not including less compelling circumstances) beyond the control of the alien." Some authoritative sources refer to the term as "extraordinary circumstances" or "extraordinary situations."
It is well-established that, whether in criminal proceedings or in removal proceedings under the INA, miscarriages of justice manifestly constitute "exceptional circumstances" in the United States. In addition to a miscarriage of justice, a fraud upon the court similarly constitutes an exceptional situation for the victim to request an appropriate relief against the perpetrator(s) of the fraud. This is especially true when the case involves an "outrageous governmental misconduct," which must be "so offensive that it shocks the conscience."
- The term has been used by various other governments in relation to unconventional circumstances where a head of state is required to make use of reserve powers.
- The term is used in the ACM/IEEE Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice.
The term has also been used to refer to other extraordinary circumstances which might result in a person acting in a manner not ordinarily accepted as common practice, such as the circumstances described by Dr. Muhammad Hedayetullah in relation to the Islamic prayer, salat.
- See, e.g., Kingdomware Technologies, Inc. v. United States, 579 U.S. ___, ___, 136 S.Ct. 1969, 1976 (2016); Spencer v. Kemna, 523 U.S. 1, 17-18 (1998).
- "DAFF Exceptional Circumstances Relief Payments". Archived from the original on 2009-09-29. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- 23 I&N Dec. 373 (A.G. 2002) ("(2) The Board of Immigration Appeals' authority under 8 C.F.R. § 3.1(c) (2002) to certify cases to itself in its discretion is limited to exceptional circumstances, and is not meant to be used as a general cure for filing defects or to otherwise circumvent the regulations, where enforcing them might result in hardship.") (emphasis added); Matter of Beckford, 22 I&N Dec. 1216 (BIA 2000) (en banc) ("Where an alien has filed an untimely motion to reopen alleging that the Immigration and Naturalization Service failed to prove the alien's removability, the burden of proof no longer lies with the Service to establish removability, but shifts to the alien to demonstrate that an exceptional situation exists that warrants reopening by the Board of Immigration Appeals on its own motion."); Matter of JJ-, 21 I&N Dec. 976 (BIA 1997) (en banc) ("(4) The Board's power to reopen or reconsider cases sua sponte is limited to exceptional circumstances and is not meant to cure filing defects or circumvent the regulations, where enforcing them might result in hardship.") (emphasis added). ; see also Matter of Jean,
- "Small Businesses". Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (Australia). Commonwealth of Australia. Archived from the original on 2009-10-19. Retrieved 2009-11-12.
- ABC Rural News
- "NSW Rural Assistance Authority - EC Interest Support". Archived from the original on 2009-10-27. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- "Health.gov.au Aged Care Exceptional Circumstances". Archived from the original on 2009-11-08. Retrieved 2009-11-11.
- Immigration - Exceptional Circumstances
- "Board of Immigration Appeals". U.S. Dept. of Justice. March 16, 2018. Retrieved 2018-11-30.
BIA decisions are binding on all DHS officers and immigration judges unless modified or overruled by the Attorney General or a federal court.See also 8 C.F.R. 1003.1(g) ("Decisions as precedents.") (eff. 2018).
- Matter of A-N- & R-M-N-, 22 I&N Dec. 953 (BIA 1999) (en banc) ("Aliens seeking to reopen exclusion proceedings to apply for asylum and withholding of deportation who have presented evidence establishing materially changed circumstances in their homeland or place of last habitual residence, such that they meet the general requirements for motions to reopen, need not demonstrate 'reasonable cause' for their failure to appear at the prior exclusion hearing.") (emphasis added) Cf. "Establishing Good Cause or Exceptional Circumstances". United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS). December 3, 2013. Retrieved 2018-09-15.
- See, e.g., 8 C.F.R. 1208.4(a)(5); Kerr v. United States District Court, 426 U.S. 394, 402 (1976); Park v. Att'y Gen., 846 F.3d 645, 650 (3d Cir. 2017).
- Mattis v. Vaughn, No. 99-6533, p.3-4 (E.D. Pa. June 4, 2018); accord Satterfield v. Dist. Att'y of Phila., 872 F.3d 152, 164 (3d Cir. 2017) ("The fact that ... proceeding ended a decade ago should not preclude him from obtaining relief under Rule 60(b) if the court concludes that he has raised a colorable claim that he meets this threshold actual-innocence standard ...."); see also Bousley v. United States, 523 U.S. 614, 622 (1998); United States v. Olano, 507 U.S. 725, 736 (1993) ("In our collateral review jurisprudence, the term 'miscarriage of justice' means that the defendant is actually innocent.... The court of appeals should no doubt correct a plain forfeited error that causes the conviction or sentencing of an actually innocent defendant....") (citations omitted); Davis v. United States, 417 U.S. 333, 346-47 (1974) ("There can be no room for doubt that such a circumstance 'inherently results in a complete miscarriage of justice' and 'present[s] exceptional circumstances' that justify collateral relief ...."); Gonzalez-Cantu v. Sessions, 866 F.3d 302, 306 (5th Cir. 2017) (same) (collecting cases); Pacheco-Miranda v. Sessions, No. 14-70296 (9th Cir. Aug. 11, 2017) (same); In re Wagner Aneudis Martinez, A043 447 800 (BIA Jan. 12, 2016) (same; unpublished three-member panel decision); In re Vikramjeet Sidhu, A044 238 062 (BIA Nov. 30, 2011) (same; unpublished three-member panel decision); accord Matter of G-N-C-, 22 I&N Dec. 281, 285 (BIA 1998) (en banc) ("Finally, we note that an alien may collaterally attack a final order of exclusion or deportation in a subsequent proceeding only upon a showing that the prior order resulted in a gross miscarriage of justice.").
- United States v. Bueno-Sierra, No. 17-12418, p.6-7 (6th Cir. Jan. 29, 2018) ("Rule 60(b)(1) through (5) permits a district court to set aside an otherwise final judgment on a number of specific grounds, such as mistake, newly discovered evidence, an opposing party's fraud, or a void or satisfied judgment. Rule 60(b)(6), the catch-all provision, authorizes a judgment to be set aside for 'any other reason that justifies relief.' Rule 60(d)(3) provides that Rule 60 does not limit a district court's power to 'set aside a judgment for fraud on the court.'") (citations omitted) (unpublished); Herring v. United States, 424 F.3d 384, 386-87 (3d Cir. 2005) ("In order to meet the necessarily demanding standard for proof of fraud upon the court we conclude that there must be: (1) an intentional fraud; (2) by an officer of the court; (3) which is directed at the court itself; and (4) in fact deceives the court."); 18 U.S.C. § 371; 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (court employees (including judges and clerks) have no immunity from prosecution under this section of law); Luna v. Bell, 887 F.3d 290, 294 (6th Cir. 2018) ("Under Rule 60(b)(2), a party may request relief because of 'newly discovered evidence.'"); United States v. Handy, ___ F.3d ___, ___, No. 18-3086, p.5-6 (10th Cir. July 18, 2018) ("Rule 60(b)(4) provides relief from void judgments, which are legal nullities.... [W]hen Rule 60(b)(4) is applicable, relief is not a discretionary matter; it is mandatory. And the rule is not subject to any time limitation.") (citations, brackets, and internal quotation marks omitted).
- United States v. Walters, ___ F.3d ___, ___, No. 17‐2373, p.34 (2d Cir. Dec. 4, 2018) (citation and internal quotation marks omitted). "Successful motions to dismiss on this ground have '[o]rdinarily' involved 'coercion' or a 'violation of the defendant's person.'" Id.
- "Software Engineering Code of Ethics and Professional Practice". Retrieved 7 March 2012.
- Muhammad Hedayetullah - Dynamics of Islam: An Exposition ISBN 978-1553698425