Obama’s ‘Rocket Docket’ Policy Comes Under Scrutiny

The so-called “rocket docket” policy of the Obama administration is coming under fire for lack of judicial training and for allowing non-judges to determine which cases get priority, according to four attorneys’ groups.

The Courthouse News is reporting that “… the groups — including the American Immigration Lawyers Association — claimed the Department of Justice, which oversees EOIR, refused to turn over records on policies and procedures for expedited immigration dockets, or “rocket dockets,” in violation of the Freedom of Information Act.

The CN also noted that the groups “… say the lack of clear policies and guidelines made it harder for unaccompanied minors, one-parent families and their attorneys to navigate the system and avoid deportation.

See the story here: https://www.courthousenews.com/foia-reveals-spotty-procedures-immigration-courts/

Immigration Judicial Complaints Remain Cloaked

A federal judge has ruled that identities of Immigration Court judges targeted by misconduct complaints can remain secret, including information like gender and even location of the court. The National Law Journal reports that “… the immigration office disclosed 16,000 pages associated with 767 complaints in the lawsuit, filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in June 2013. The government released nonconfidential information from substantiated and unsubstantiated complaints. The names of individual judges were redacted.”
The government argued the public release of the judges’ names and other identifying information would infringe privacy interests. U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper agreed, pointing out that the judges are career civil service employees and have privacy rights associated with that standing. That is a reference to Immigration Court judges not being “judges” in the typical sense, but are actually employees of the Justice Department.

Immigration Court Rationing Retains Attention

The “Border Kid” refugee/immigration crisis continues to gain attention, with media coverage moving away from the sheer numbers (nearly 400,000 cases pending, for example) into the human interest stories. A good case in point is a Daily Beast online report from the New York immigration court. New York City, like San Francisco, is providing some legal representation assistance for the kids, which assists an array of non-profit and religious groups offering some assistance. But the DB points out that New York is second only to Texas in how many cases it must accept in the new “rocket docket” policy for the children.
The DB also notes that “… the U.S. government is not legally required to provide a lawyer for people going through immigration proceedings—even for young kids. So New York-based advocacy groups like the Safe Passage Project, The Door, the Legal Aid Society, Catholic Charities and the American Immigration Lawyers Association have sprung into action, rallying volunteers, interpreters and pro bono attorneys in a joint effort to help guide the Border Kids through the complex and confusing world of immigration court.”
The volume is staggering, with lawyers being given weeks to prepare cases they feel should take months. Read the report from the courthouse here: The Border Kid Crisis Hits the Courts