S. Yanum & A. Schultz, 5/25/11

Master Calendar/Bond Hearings May 25th
General courtroom conduct: professionalism of judge, attorneys, staff, etc. .
Judge DiMarzio seemed pretty respectful and professional. DHS Atty. Wong was actually pretty disrespectful when he was asking questions of Luis, the second respondent who had an outstanding cocaine charge. He asked sarcastically why Luis didn’t show up for court – “just because you didn’t feel like it?” Luis didn’t seem to understand the sarcasm (was through interpreter) or the significance of the question. It was obvious that Atty. Wong was making Luis out to be someone who was going to flee and just didn’t care. In my (limited) experience, it could just as easily have been that he didn’t realize or understand how/when he had to go back (he’d spent time in jail b/c he couldn’t pay bond – he thought he just got let out after a few days and that he’d basically “done his time.”) So without making any moral comment on Luis’ character, I did think that Atty. Wong could and/or should have been more professional/less sarcastic.


Susan Yanum & Anne Schultz 5/25/11

It was interesting to note a small example of how Court Watch appears to be regarded in this building, (101 W. Congress) at least by the first person I encountered. When I had to go through Security to get into the building, the guy who checked me through noticed my yellow button, said “oh, you’re with Court Watch”, looked directly at me, smiled, and said “thank you.”

ASLYUM HEARING, JUDGE Sheila McNulty, May 25, 2011
Respondent,Cosimo ____, a Guatemalan born on 9/27/65
Hearing excerpts from Court watcher exemplifying the challenges in fulfilling the law and in receiving a positive outcome, inspite of a Judge with integrity.
The Judge asked him if he had the originals of the documents and he said no. She said – and repeated a number of times – that he must have the originals when he comes back to Court – they will be very important to his case.
He said that he didn’t know how long it would take him to get them, because they are all in Guatemala, and she said she would allow for this.
The respondent said that the police had lost his documents before.
He also said he hopes there will not be a problem in his receiving the documents when they arrive – it has happened before that he was not given documents that were sent to him. The interpreter said he didn’t know why there would have been a problem, and the Judge said that she would talk to the Guard to make sure he gets them.
She gave him a continuance til June 28th, 2011.

I was very glad that we were still in the courtroom to hear the conversation between the Judge and the translator/interpreter after the hearing because it showed the deep interest on both their parts that justice be done. I was very impressed by the general tone of courtesy, respect, and obvious real caring that was shown towards Cosimo______ by both Judge and the t/i, and pleased and relieved that the Judge had made a point of setting the continuance date at a time when she knew she would be there. As much as it could be called a pleasure to sit in on a hearing of this nature, it was a pleasure because of the integrity with which it was conducted by all concerned, certainly including the respondent. From the very beginning, when I asked through the interpreter for his permission that I be present for his case, he looked directly at me to answer yes, and his eyes were very clear. Throughout, he was articulate and obviously highly intelligent, asking his own questions, participating on his own behalf in a dignified way, always respectful and self-assured. When he got up to leave, under the armed escort of the guard, and I saw the handcuffs for the first time, I felt sick to my stomach. The orange jump suit was bad enough, but now the handcuffs.
This case was as good as it could be, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that this man should not have been here at all.


Fr. Jim’s “Accompaniment” Report

This is the report on Mucio’s hearing today, Wed. April 27, 2011. He didn’t get asylum but was given voluntary departure. Mucio thanked me as he was led from court. I also thanked the judge and the other court personnel. Peace, Jim Hoffman OFM

Court Watcher: Jim Hoffman OFM Date: Wednesday April 27, 2011 Court: Immigration # B1330
Judge: In court Sheila McNulty ICE Lawyer: in court Bernard Curran
Interpreter: In court Alejando Guia Judge and court personnel knew that I was in court.
Via TV: Not used. Via Phone: Not used

No Family Members or friends in court. The respondent , through Sister Pat and JoAnn of the Interfaith Pastoral team at McHenry Co. Jail, had invited me as Court Watcher to be present.

This was a Hearing on an Application for ASYLUM

RESPONDENT: D.O.B. March 13, 1981. COUNTRY/ORIGIN: Mexico. TIME IN US: Since 2003 and has not returned to Mexico. TIME IN DETENTION: Since October 15, 2010. LAWYER: No Lawyer. INTERPRETER: In court.

OUTCOME: The respondent does not meet the requirements for political Asylum. Judge ordered Voluntary Departure to the Respondent by May 4, 2011.


TIES to The US: R not married but has a US child with his girl friend. R and his girl friend have separated for over a year. R does not have a copy of his child’s birth certificate. R’s parents and grandparents are deceased. R has a brother living in Chicago. R has two married sisters living in his birth village in Mexico. One of R’s brothers is deceased.

R fears returning to Mexico: In 2003 in El Paso, TX, R testified against a Smuggler, “coyote” and fears being tortured if he returns to Mexico. Gov. lawyer argued that R’s birth village in Mexico is 2000 kilometers from El Paso and his sisters know of his 2003 testimony and they have never been threatened. Judge ruled that R “did not demonstrate a clear danger of retaliation by the smugglers if he returns to Mexico.”

R does not meet the requirements for Political Asylum: Judge said: “R’s application for asylum should have been filed within a year of his entry into the US.”

Comment on the quality of the LEGAL representation and describe any negatives or unusual circumstances about any respondent’s lawyer. No lawyer.

General courtroom conduct: professionalism of judge, attorneys, staff, etc. Adequate. Off the record, the Judge read to R her findings and rulings. The translator moved his chair next R so he could do a simultaneous translation.

Other happenings of note not covered above or any other comments. The blower in the courtroom made it very difficult for me to hear. Also, I don’t know why R was handcuffed. It made it very difficult for him to sign documents and he had to be assisted by the court corrections officer, even when his chair needed to be moved closer to the microphone.


Observations on 3/17/11, Fr. Jim

R-4 Via TV from Tri-County Jail. IL D.O.B. 11-14-87. COUNTRY/ORIGIN: Mexico. TIME IN US: Since 2000. TIME IN DETENTION: ? LAWYER: Present in court. INTERPRETER: Not used. OUTCOME: Bond set for $3,000. ISSUES: R’s brother and brother’s wife were present in court. R’s lawyer requested a bond hearing. Judge began the bond hearing. Judge invited R’s brother to give testimony in R’s behalf. R’s brother entered in 12-06-83 and is a legal US resident. R’s parents are US residents. R has three US children, one born yesterday. Judge asked why R did not have a legal US resident card? R’s brother explained that R did not apply for legal residence until 3 years after his parents had applied. R and his brother have a business. A number of years ago, R’s brother walked into the business and found his parents and R badly beaten up. Later, R was arrested for driving without a license. ICE said that R has five driving arrests and pressed this issue. R’s car is now impounded. He can no longer drive it. R’s brother said that he has a driver’s license and will drive R to and from work – the brothers now have a new business. R was taken into custody by ICE in 2009. He was released on bond in 2009. R reported to ICE faithfully. R is in detention now for driving without a license and public intoxication. R’s brother said that R has memory problems due to a motorcycle accident (R was a passenger on the motorcycle). ICE pressed R on numerous driving without a license charges and reckless driving charges and on not reporting to state court. R said he was in ICE custody so he couldn’t report to the state court. R was also arrested in IN for Identity Theft in 1983 (R was born in 1987). Judge granted the request for a bond and set it at $3,000. ICE did not appeal. R’s case continued to April 14, 2011, which will change if R is able to post bond before April 14.

R-5 Via TV Tri County, IL, jail. D.O.B. 12-17-68. COUNTRY/ORIGIN: Mexico. TIME IN US: some 20 years. TIME IN DETENTION: ? LAWYER: NO. INTERPRETER: Used. OUTCOME: Continued and granted a bond for $1,500.

ISSUES: R’s wife was in court. Judge invited R’s wife to speak to him to encourage him to ask for bond hearing today. Wife told R that she had $1,600 in cash from R’s employer so he could get a bond. R’s wife also gave the judge a letter of testimony on R’s behalf from R’s employer. The bond hearing began. R’s wife is a US citizen. R has no children. R’s parents are dead. R has no siblings in the US. R is employed in construction. In 2010, R was apprehended by ICE and release on bond. R was arrested on DUI in Feb. 2011. R pleaded guilty and spent a month in prison. Judge questioned R on why the DUI when he was out on bond? Also, R had driven into a parked car. ICE asked R if this DUI was his only arrest. R said NO and then admitted numerous arrests for public intoxication, giving a false name, one domestic battery and one assault on a police officer. R then explained the domestic battery and assault of a police office for which he got 2 days in jail. Judge recalled R’s wife. They have been married 4 years. She has health problems and needs him. R has raised her grandson. There is an AA group nearby and she strongly supports him in dealing with his alcoholism. R has never abused her and she really needs him to help her with her health problems. Judge granted bond of $1,500. ICE will appeal the bond.


Observations, 4/18/11, Bobby Lawson

One case (out of 16 hearings) stood out for me of a man who has come to the U.S. from Mexico to find work to support his wife and two special needs children in Mexico. He had a DUI in 2008 but was not convicted and went through court supervision for drinking problem. He has been in the U.S. for 12 years and worked steady for 8 at the same job. The judge lowered his bond to $3000.00 and rescheduled his hearing to allow his lawyer more time in representing him. In only one case did the judge allow a detainee to have voluntary departure, although he did not reduce his bond because he was caught driving his car without a license. The judge felt he would still disrespect the law and continue this if released. The down-side of voluntary departure is that the detainee has to pay the cost. The up-side is that there is a better chance of being able to enter this country legally at a later date. If he was involuntarily removed (deported), there would be no opportunity for that (editor’s note, for at least 10 years.) Many detainees seemed to want voluntary departure. Perhaps this was one of the reasons.

Some impressions were driven home to me as I watched these proceedings. At least as far as this judge was concerned, there was a desire to find the possibility of relief from deportation, however, most of the detainees damaged their own cases because of a criminal record. Cases of domestic violence and aggravated battery would seem to warrant removal. And drug possession and DUI’s are serious as well. However, courts are designed to deal with the facts of what happened. They do not and are not able to address the “whys” of such cases. Why has a person developed an alcohol problem? Why did the person secure a false ID? Why did the person steal? … In some cases, as it is with U.S. citizens, I think the courts are limited in their response. It will take other institutions of society stepping up to address the circumstances that breed such decisons.

One final impression: I was able to talk with the judge informally after the court had adjourned for lunch. It was clear that he is a conscientious man who tries to treat detainees with respect. He wrestles with the information to try and make the best decision for all within the boundaries of the law. He tries to give family members an opportunity to speak for a few minutes to their loved ones when they are in court. This is somewhat awkward doing this through televideo in a court room where others are present but it is a kind and good gesture. Yet he has to move through some 120-150 or so cases a week. No one wants the detainees to be in limbo any longer than necessary, yet all deserve due process in their cases. He finds himself having to make very weighty decisions with huge consequences on peoples’ lives with very little information and in very little time.


Observations April 14, 2011, Katie Deibert

R-3, woman from Mexico, represented by counsel and used interpreter. R was going to attempt to seek a U-Visa but instead requested voluntary departure. R born 1973, entered the US in 1996, married with five children (ages 17, 13, 12, 11 and 8, all but the 17yo born in the US), works at a restaurant, has been in Bloomington for 15 years, mother-in-law and sister-in-law have status. R has several convictions for retail theft of food and clothing. Govt attorney expressed concern that with such strong ties, R is likely to attempt to re-enter the US. J recognized R’s close relationship with her children, long time in the community and the fact that her crimes were those of necessity and granted the voluntary departure.

This was extremely sad and frustrating to sit through. The judge came to the “best” decision by granting voluntary departure and not ordering R removed, but it was a powerful example of the deep flaws in the immigration system. R was very emotional when she spoke to the judge, and the thought of these children either growing up without their mother or having to move to a country foreign to them was heartbreaking. R was stealing food to feed her children, and this is the result? I don’t know what the family will do since the children who are citizens are ages 13 – 8, and they won’t be old enough to help their parents and oldest sibling gain status for a number of years. There is also the question of what happens to the 17yr old who was born in Mexico but has been in the US since age two. Again, very sad on so many levels and it affected me more than other cases I have seen in my visits.


Observation, K. Friedman

Excerpts from October 22, 2010 Court of Judge Vinicoor
The judge carefully explained respondents legal rights and right to counsel.

I find the courtroom procedures professional, efficient. Good effort seems to be made to treat respondents with reasonable respect. Families in attendance are given opportunity to interact with respondent in a personal way to the small extent possible in such a formal setting.

October 29, 2010: Judge Cuevas presided.
Only two cases presented. Both were asking for cancellation of removal order. Both requests were granted and respondents were allowed to retain their legal resident status and were released after court. One Mexican (Pedro B) respondent; one Indian respondent (Mr. P.). Families of both in court and may have been a factor in the judge’s decisions. I have rundowns of each case — several convictions but not aggravated felonies.

Judge Cuevas, with both cases, noted that respondents are young men who seem to have potential and deserve one more chance. However, the judge explained and emphasized that their records would remain and one more “incident” and they would be removed permanently. Respondents in these two cases spoke English, did not need interpeters.

July 2018
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