Saturday, August 12, 2017

CLINIC: Immigration Court Practitioner's Guide to Responding to Inappropriate Immigration Judge Conduct

Responding to Inappropriate Immigration Judge Conduct 600

The Catholic Legal Immigration Network (CLINIC) has released, "Immigration Court Practitioner's Guide:  Responding to Inappropriate Immigration Judge Conduct."

CLINIC describes the purpose of the guide as follows:  "As more noncitizens are targeted for the initiation of removal proceedings under the Trump administration’s broadened enforcement priorities, immigration court dockets will likely become even more backlogged. Given these strains and the reality of human fallibility, there will continue to be instances in which practitioners observe inappropriate and problematic immigration judge conduct. This guide is intended to provide practitioners with information about the range of options available when inappropriate immigration judge conduct occurs, including an administrative complaint with the Department of Justice's Executive Office for Immigration Review." 

As the director of an Immigration Clinic where students appear in Immigration Court, it is often striking to witness the range of IJ conduct. Some IJs reflect what students would expect from judges:  they are prepared, professional, reasonably demanding, and even patient.  Other IJs reflect the opposite: utter lack of preparation, eye-rolling and other unprofessional conduct (often non-verbal in nature), unreasonable demands of counsel and respondents, etc. Student experiences before these judges inevitably lead to extended classroom and case rounds discussions in the aftermath of the hearings.   It may become increasingly incumbent upon law school clinics to also consider filing complaints and taking other appropriate action when encountering IJ conduct that seems shocking, unprofessional, and/or prejudicial to respondents.


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