Observing the Macabre at EOIR: Some Suggestions for Improvement.

The challenge with immigration law is that it is administrative law.  It is subject to abuse by both I.C.E. attorneys and the private bar.  I hear from too many in the private bar upset with incivility, but few, if any, file a complaint or can create an effective liaison. 

 The Immigration Judges, Assistant Chief Counsels and court clerks are rarely sanctioned.  However, the same may be said of a few in the private bar, who seem arguably shrouded in teflon, as well. 

The abuses continue with minimal oversight or sanctions to the best of my knowledge.  The OIG’s office, nor Chief Counsel seems effective at pursuing and correcting abuses. 

Too often (once is too much) the private bar, and even I.C.E. attorneys, look to those who are abused and act as follows:

1. Show disrespect with arguable ongoing abusive conduct or indifference, even if arguably unintentional.

2. Encourage those that may be disrespected to pursue disciplinary action, which appears counterproductive and ineffective to some. 

Too many colleagues have more concern over the vindictiveness that may follow a reasonable, perhaps even successful, complaint.  Groups like AILA should create a more effective liaison to encourage civility.  Ultimately, the cycle of disrespect has to stop with the abusers.

The private bar must find ways to reasonably deal with the few ACC’s who demonstrate incivility. There is no excuse.  Otherwise, a vicious cycle persists. I.C.E. attorneys, among  others, must act and look inward, at times. 

The challenge is that there is questionably effective liaison.  AILA claims to act in good faith, but it seems unable to pursue Headquarters at Falls Church or I.C.E. on issues of civility.  The abuse of  colleagues and incivility towards any attorney, private or public, brings the system of justice into disrepute. 

I encourage those at the Chicago District Counsel’s Office, among  others within the justice system, to consider the following suggestions:

1. If you have something innappropriate to say about an attorney, even your own co-workers, use the proper forum.  Let the Judges make the decisions.

2. Don’t condemn, criticize or complain about other attorneys and staff in front of the judge’s clerks, you may eventually bring the same disrespect upon yourselves.

3. Speaking with disrespect, in private, often reveals itself in public.  If you have concerns, then speak with the objective in private, not to others outside their presence. You might learn something.

4. Do not jump to conclusions.

5. Prepare for the hearing.  If you do not have much time  to prepare, then contact the private or I.C.E. attorney of record before the hearing.  Maybe, you will understand and more efficiently resolve the case to prevent injustice. 

6. If a private attorney leaves voicemail for an ACC, then the ACC should carefully listen and respond.  This is how to show respect, even if the reply is brief and to the point.  Private counsel should do the same.

7. Carefully review the ‘A file’ and check for correspondence from private counsel before the hearing.  Ask for clarification ‘before’ the hearing.

The Immigration Courts should do the best to offer a just, neutral and respectful forum for all attorneys.  EOIR should create a better sense of justice for foreigners impacted by ultimate consequences of many notices to appear. 

EOIR Administrative Staff who feel the need to treat others with disrespect should reconsider their professions.  Perhaps, it is time to transfer, resign or retire.

Pitting the clerks as well as the private and or public bar against each other is a macabre means to encourage injustice.  We have overcrowded and understaffed courts.  We should seek appropriate staffing levels. Incivility is pointless; it further chisels away at the foundation of objectivity and the procedural due process of law.

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