Maggie Novotny’s Reflection

Court Watch Observations and Reflections 9/11/09 9:00am-12pm

1. The two respondents that I observed were from Italy and Mexico.

2. Other than technicalities in hearing one another, there did not seem to be problems with the video-conferencing. The Judge was actually on the video from Virginia, while the respondents were present in the courtroom. Both had attorneys and were there for merit hearings.

3. The first respondent from Italy had about eight family members in the courtroom. Her younger child would smile and wave, while the respondent would silently respond. At the end of the hearing, the respondent was given a cancellation of deportation. She asked to see her family, tearfully. They went to a meeting room to be with the respondent.

4. Following the woman from Italy’s hearing, the Judge was unable to determine when the respondent would leave jail. The judge claimed this was not under her jurisdiction and that the attorneys would have to agree on when they would release her, or the respondent’s attorney would have to complete paperwork for her release. It seemed to unnecessarily lengthen the respondent’s detention time when she already received relief of deportation.

5. Both respondents were granted cancellation of deportation on the grounds that if they were to commit another crime, they would be immediately deported.

6. The judge did treat the respondents well, taking into consideration their responsibilities, family and length of time in the United States. Both were immigrants with green cards, and proved that they would lead a better life in the future.

7. This was my first time visiting the deportation court. It was an interesting process given the video conferencing as well as the quickness in which decisions are made.


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