Jacinto (plaintiff) fled Guatemala and came to the United States in 1994. She claimed that the Guatemalan military was persecuting her and her family and applied for asylum and withholding of deportation. After two hearings, the immigration judge denied her application because Jacinto did not show a well-founded fear of persecution and had credibility issues. He also denied her the privilege of voluntary departure. During the hearings, Jacinto represented herself and her son despite being told she could obtain free or reduced cost counsel. While she stated that she understood the judges, she was obviously confused at various points during the hearings. She did not introduce any documentary evidence and did not offer any additional testimony aside from her answers to questioning by the judge and the Immigration and Naturalization Service’s attorney. She also did not cross-examine her husband, who offered testimony that hurt her case. At no point did the judge tell her that she could offer additional testimony or cross-examine witnesses. Thereafter, Jacinto obtained counsel and appealed to the Board of Immigration Appeals, which affirmed the order. She then appealed to Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.