Complaints Against Immigration Judges

Complaints Against Immigration Judges

AILA v EOIR, No. 13-cv-00840 (D.D.C. filed June 6, 2013)

STATUS:
Pending

The American Immigration Council and co-counsel Public Citizen filed a lawsuit on behalf of the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) seeking information about complaints alleging immigration judge misconduct. This suit stems from a November 2012 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request AILA submitted to EOIR asking that the agency disclose complaints against immigration judges and records indicating how the agency has resolved those complaints. EOIR failed to release any documents, prompting the filing of the lawsuit in June 2013. Subsequently, EOIR produced approximately 16,000 records relating to 767 complaints, but redacted certain critical information, including the judges’ names, genders and the cities in which they are based. These records reveal that numerous immigration judges have been accused of biased or abusive treatment of individuals appearing before them. EOIR also redacted information that it labeled “nonresponsive,” even though some of this information related to complaints against immigration judges. The district court upheld both sets of redactions, and the plaintiffs appealed.

On appeal, the D.C. Court of Appeals reversed the district court. It held, first, that an across-the-board redaction of all identifying information was too broad and that, on remand, the district court was required to balance the privacy interests at stake against the public’s interest in this information. Second, the Court held that there was no statutory basis for redacting “ostensibly nonresponsive information from a record deemed responsive.”

Following remand to the district court, the parties submitted renewed motions for summary judgment and are awaiting the court’s decision.

Follow this case:

  • On November 13, 2012, American Immigration Council in conjunction with AILA and Public Citizen, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice’s Executive Office...

February 23, 2016

Last Tuesday, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), which seeks the disclosure of...

February 23, 2016

Last Tuesday, the District of Columbia Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in a case filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA), which seeks the disclosure of...

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