Archive for November, 2010


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.


Observation from Karen Friedman

Observation form Court ROom 1, October 15th, 2010
I find myself thinking the court is doing an acceptable job of dealing with these cases (for the most part) and as much as I can tell by dropping in and out of the case presentations. The real problems in detention probably exist in the detention process and facilities. How is that dealt with by this your organization?

Case in point: Last Friday a woman detainee was presented via video to Judge Cuentes. She was about in her 50s, had been detained as an illegal while riding in a car with someone else. It was not known if there was a traffic violation involved. She has been detained in the McHenry detention center (jail?) for six weeks. Apparently, this was her first bond hearing — I don’t know the facts of this case because, as I said, watchers drop in and out and details of each case are sketchy for us. This seemed to me an unreasonably long time for a person like this with no criminal record (except illegality — she is Guatemalan) — she did not appear to be a threat to any community. I would like to find out what happened in that case. UNFORTUNATELY, I did not get her name — her name came and went quickly in the discussion. The list of detainees had been removed from outside the courtroom door by the time I left.
However, if I had all the information, what would the follow-up be? Probably it is too late for this person but her situation is likely not uncommon — how does this kind of court watcher observation move through your organization’s system ?


Observations, Jim Hoffman, OFM

Court Watch report, 11/4/10, Immigration Court Rm. 2. Judge Dimarzio, ICE Lawyer, Dan Roth

R-8 Via TV COUNTRY/ORIGIN: Mexico TIME IN US: 2005 first entry. Born May 1986. TIME IN DETENTION: ? LAWYER: NO INTERPRETER: Used. OUTCOME: VOLUNTARY DEPARTURE by Nov. 10 ISSUES: R did not have a copy of his Notice to Appear. A copy was faxed to him. Removability was established. ICE said R has no criminal record. R married. His wife is illegal. He has Mexican child.
R worked in construction. R does not know if his employer has filed for worker permits for him. Judge gave R Voluntary Departure and Judge again explained Voluntary Departure in detail but his explanation differed from the explanation given to R-7. Also, R-7 was given 120 days to leave by voluntary departure. R-8 was given a week to carry out Voluntary Departure.

R-9 Via TV COUNTRY/ORIGIN: Mexico TIME IN US: Born 5-21-73. Entered US at El Paso Dec. 2, 1981 as a lawful permanent resident. TIME IN DETENTION: ? LAWYER: NO INTERPRETER: Used. OUTCOME: CONTINUED to Dec. 15 ISSUES: His conviction Record; (1) sentenced to 5 years for a violent crime and (2) Possession of a “look alike substance” with intend to distribute. ICE wants to look into his conviction record. R has contacted NIJC for a lawyer but they have not accepted “a collect call” when he calls. Judge asked him to keep trying to get a lawyer. R does not know his parents. He was raised by his grandparents in the US whom he calls dad and mom. His grandfather is a US citizen. R is trying to find out if his grandfather was a US citizen before R was born and did they legally adopt him. Because of conviction (1), R is ineligible for voluntary departure. Judge asked R if he feared being deported to Mexico. R responded: “Friends of mine who have been deported to Juarez tell me that I will either have to work for the drug cartels or be killed.” Judge gave R and I589 form so he could apply for a Withholding Order from Deportation. Judge told R to fill out the form completely and send in 4 copies. R should also get records of his grandfather’s citizenship and copy of his entry paper at El Paso. Without a lawyer, to get the papers from El Paso may be difficult. ICE said that R has to get the documents from EL Paso

R-10 Via TV McHenry COUNTRY/ORIGIN: Mexico TIME IN US: Since 1990 TIME IN DETENTION: LAWYER: Present (Jacob Otanga). INTERPRETER: Not used. OUTCOME: CONTINED to Dec. 20

ISSUES: Master Calendar (Setting) Hearing. Removability established. R admitted to one drug possession. R has a petition in state court pending for a dismissal of a conviction. The ruling will come Dec. 15. Two young women were present in court.

General courtroom conduct: professionalism of judge, attorneys, staff, etc. . Judge gave R-8 Voluntary Departure and Judge again explained Voluntary Departure in detail but his explanation differed from the explanation given to R-7. Also, R-7 was given 120 days to leave by voluntary departure. R-8 was given a week to carry out Voluntary Departure.

I credit the judge for recognizing with R-9 the danger of deporting people to Mexico.

Other happenings of note not covered above or any other comments. I don’t know how an incarcerated person with no lawyer will ever get any documents from US government agencies. I don’t know if it is arrogance on the part of US agencies or just plain they are too busy to reply, especially if person is incarcerated. This is perhaps another flaw in administrative courts when you are “guilty until you prove your innocence”.


Observations and info, Jim Hoffman, OFM

Observations from Immigration Court Room #2 October 28, 2010. Judge: Dimarzio ICE lawyer: Jessica Kolaski

R-10 Via TV COUNTRY/ORIGIN: Mexico. TIME IN US: ? TIME IN DETENTION: ? LAWYER: Present in court. INTERPRETER: Not used OUTCOME: CONTINUED to Nov. 23 for hearing on R’s possibility of subpoenaing the FBI. ISSUES: R is seeking a cancelation of removal. He had been removed from the US. Then, the FBI brought him back to the US as witness in a case. After his testimony was given, the FBI abandoned him. R wants to subpoena the FBI agent who brought him back to the US as a witness to his next hearing. Lawyer said they have contacted the FBI twice and the FBI gives them a number to call for the agent in question. And, always the number dead ends. ICE objected to R getting a subpoena for the FBI agent. Judge said that ICE has until Nov. 9 to get their response back to him.

Comment on the quality of the LEGAL representation and describe any negatives or unusual circumstances about any respondent’s lawyer. R-10’s lawyer and I left court at the same time. So we talked about the case and the FBI’s action of “abandoning” R after he provided the testimony that the FBI wanted. If R had not had a lawyer present, the lawyer said that the court would simply have deported him.

The question of the subpoena of a FBI agent has again lowered my esteem for both the FBI and ICE .

General courtroom conduct: professionalism of judge, attorneys, staff, etc. . Evidently, Dimarzio (from CA) is the judge who has replaced Katsivalis. I saw Giambastiani this morning and I’m not sure which court she will function in. The cases that used to be heard in Court Room one will now be heard in court room two and this evidently will become Dimarzio’s courtroom. Dimarzio is a lot more “straight laced” and is not “laid back.” But, Dimarzio did take his time with R-4 and R-5 when they seemed confused and did not understand what the judge was asking them.

Other happenings of note not covered above or any other comments.

The questions of “Change of address forms” (R-7, R-8, R-9): According to the judge, if there is a change of court date and the R does not showup, the R will be immediately deported. With the slip-shod handling of US mail by the USPS, perhaps USPS has been responsible for deporting many Respondents.

ICE claims it is only deporting “violent” illegal aliens. None of the respondents today have been accused of “violent” crimes. Also, half of the respondents appeared in court which must mean they are on a bond or personal recognizance.