Thursday, June 6, 2013

Federal Judge Orders Top Immigration Court Officials Stand Trial for Civil Rights Violations, Orders Discovery



On June 4, 2013, Judge Orinda Evans, Northern District Court, Georgia, issued two orders in the cause of government transparency, in particular recognizing the rights of the public and the media to attend immigration hearings.  Judge Evans is granting my attorneys' motion to enter an amended complaint, one holding accountable in their individual capacities for monetary damages top officials at the Executive Office for Immigration Review.  And she opened discovery.

This order is relevant for anyone who has filed a misconduct complaint with the federal government and has preliminary evidence to suggest that supervisors assigned to investigate are trying to coverup and not reprimand misconduct by agency employees.

In the context of the EOIR, Judge Evans decisively swatted away the claims of judicial immunity:
For example, not only does Plaintiff allege her rights were violated by the decision, on the relevant days, to exclude her from the courtroom, but she also alleges due process violations and a civil conspiracy to cover up her removal and exclusion. Included in these counts are claims based on incomplete responses to her FOIA requests, and a claim that Keller and Smith, assistant chief immigration judges based at EOIR headquarters in Virginia, failed to properly investigate her administrative complaint. Surely. the government is not asking this Court to grant all executive officials who handle administrative complaints or FOIA requests absolute judicial immunity.
The government has fallen woefully short of its "burden of establishing the justification for such immunity." Roland, 19 F.3d at 555
  (This means that if a jury finds they violated my civil rights, these individuals pay the damages, not the taxpayers.)  Second, she granted our request to open discovery for four months.  On the first order Judge Evans granted the government's request to deny the Bivens claim against Cassidy based on his so-called "absolute judicial immunity." We will be appealing this after this part of the case has concluded on the grounds that immigration courts are not judicial.

(Most of the folks reading this blog will know this, but the background is that on April 19, 2010 I was unlawfully removed by force from the Atlanta immigration courts on order of a immigration judge, aka DOJ attorney.  William Cassidy, who has one of the highest rates of asylum denials in the country and draws complaints from numerous attorneys, deported U.S. citizen Mark Lyttle to Mexico and then was retaliating against me, in concert with his cronies in the Falls Church headquarters, for reporting on this.  His cronies then covered this up.)

Thanks so much to my attorneys Ray Lerer and Beth Taylor at Federal Hasson in Atlanta for their persistence and great work on these briefs.

Also, if anyone reading this has suggestions for discovery, either for specific documents or questions for depositions, please let me know, either by posting a comment here anonymously or by sending me an email, jacqueline-stevens AT northwestern.edu.

I have positive updates to report on the FOIA litigation as well, undertaken with Andrew Free of the Ozment Law Firm in Nashville, and will post on that next week, as well as on US citizens who have been recently detained and deported from Texas.


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