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AILA Doc. No. 13111458 | Dated November 1, 2018
On November 13, 2012, AILA, in conjunction with the American Immigration Council (AIC) and Public Citizen, submitted a FOIA request to the Department of Justice’s Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) for all complaints made against immigration judges, records relating to those complaints, and an index of those requested records that constitute final opinions and orders made in the adjudication of cases.
On June 6, 2013, when no response had been received from the Department of Justice (DOJ), the three organizations filed a lawsuit. The complaint challenged EOIR’s refusal to disclose complaints alleging misconduct by immigration judges and records that would reveal whether the agency adequately investigates and resolves those complaints. (AILA Doc. No. 13060649.)
On October 31, 2013, the DOJ released the first set of documents pursuant to the FOIA request and accompanying lawsuit. Pursuant to a negotiated agreement, the information released by DOJ covers cases resolved on or after October 1, 2009. The first set of documents includes entries made in the Immigration Judge Complaint Database, which contain a brief summary of each complaint’s history.
From November 2013-June 2014, DOJ produced more detailed information about each complaint. The detailed information includes documents such as emails, letters, and decisions related to the complaint. The information is organized by the complaint numbers from the Immigration Judge Complaint Database entries. Due to the large volume of responsive records, the complaints are consolidated into zip files in batches of 100. Please note that the files are quite large and will take a few minutes to download.
On December 24, 2014, the court granted EOIR's motion for summary judgment on release of immigration judges names, saying that disclosure of the names and identifying information of the IJs mentioned in the complaints would encroach upon the IJs' privacy interests. (AILA Doc. No. 14123040.) The court granted AILA's motion for summary judgment with respect to the release of some information redacted as "non-responsive," where EOIR had asserted that redaction made the complaint files easier to understand. Accordingly, EOIR released this information to AILA.
The following are the portions of complaint file records with newly released information that was once redacted as non-responsive:
In a June 23, 2015 decision denying AILA's motion to enforce or clarify the court's summary judgment order, the district court held that EOIR did not have to disclose other information that it had redacted as "non-responsive" from records disclosed to AILA.
After final judgment, AILA appealed the adverse portions of the court's decision to the U.S Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. On July 29, 2016, the Court of Appeals issued a decision, concluding that “EOIR’s across-the-board redaction of all judges’ names from all responsive documents was inadequately justified.” The Court of Appeals required EOIR to provide a “particularized showing” that redaction of the names was justified, and remanded to the District Circuit court to weigh the balance of public interest against privacy interests for each judge.
On November 17, 2017, the district court concluded that EOIR was required to disclose the names of 14 immigration judges. In November 2018, EOIR released the unredacted complaints as required by the court.
Cite as AILA Doc. No. 13111458.