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Investigation of Alleged Immigration Judge Made Improper Remarks Exhibited Bias, Appeared Partial, Failed to Follow Proper Procedures, Displayed an
Inappropriate Demeanor

This investigation — which found intentional and reckless professional misconduct — focused on allegations that an Immigration Judge (IJ) engaged in misconduct during a hearing concerning a respondent’s request for deferral of removal under the Convention against Torture.  The Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) reported the allegations. 

The respondent’s counsel alleged that the IJ called a recess after the respondent’s testimony, and convened an off-the-record chambers conference, during which he referred to the respondent disparagingly and made other improper remarks indicating that he had already decided to reject the respondent’s claim before hearing all the evidence.  The IJ then reconvened the hearing and allegedly exhibited an “intemperate demeanor” during the testimony of the next two witness. 

Finally, near the end of the hearing, the IJ allegedly violated the attorney work-product doctrine and attorney-client privilege when he instructed courtroom security officers to seize the notes of respondent’s co-counsel.  The IJ instructed government counsel to read them, and then labeled them as an exhibit.  According to the respondent’s counsel, the notes, which pertained to the ongoing proceedings, were privileged and confidential.  Both parties objected to admitting the notes in to evidence, but the IJ overruled them.  Then, sometime after the hearing concluded, the IJ removed the notes from the record and returned them to the respondent’s counsel.

During OPR’s investigation, the IJ resigned from the Department and refused to cooperate with the investigation.  Nevertheless, OPR completed its investigation and made two findings of professional misconduct.  OPR concluded that the IJ acted in reckless disregard of his obligations to comply with immigration court procedures, and to avoid actions creating an appearance of impropriety, when he conducted an off-the-record conference for the purpose of pressuring the respondent’s counsel to dismiss the respondent’s sole claim for relief. 

OPR also concluded that the IJ committed intentional professional misconduct when he reviewed and disclosed to opposing counsel the attorney work product of the respondent’s two co-counsel.

Updated July 13, 2021