A Justice Department investigation of an immigration judge’s misconduct in Florida gives a Bahamian asylum seeker another day in court.
The National Law Journal reports that the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility found that Bruce Solow, an immigration judge in Miami, “engaged in professional misconduct when he acted in reckless disregard of his obligation to be fair and impartial.”
In a 2005 asylum hearing Solow mocked Roscoe Campbell, who said he fled his native Bahamas for fear for his life after reporting to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration corrupt officials engaging in drug-trafficking, according to the article. Solow ordered Campbell and his family deported.
The federal appellate courts have excoriated some immigration judges for their conduct, including Anna Ho, a Los Angeles-based immigration judge.
The fact that the Justice Department’s internal affairs office took a look at the judge’s behavior is extraordinary, Nadine Wettstein of the American Immigration Legal Council, told the legal newspaper.
Still, there isn’t a lot known about the larger issue of judicial misconduct and how the court leadership – and, by extension, the Justice Department – handles complaints. The NLJ writes:
The lack of transparency irritates attorneys and judges alike. The American Immigration Council’s Wettstein and other immigration lawyers said complaints against immigration judges to the Executive Office seem to go into a “black hole,” and, they added, getting notice of findings made by OPR also seems rare.
Immigration attorneys have also been reluctant, in some cases, to file complaints against certain judges because they may have to argue before the judge again.
As the NLJ article points out, the Justice Department’s Executive Office for Immigration Review, which oversees the immigration court system, has its own procedure for taking complaints against immigration judges and private attorneys.
The agency would not release information on the number of complaints received nor would it make public its disciplinary actions, citing privacy concerns, according to the story.
The story also makes the point that the Justice Department’s process for investigating complaints against immigration judges is “neither swift nor transparent and because of that, it can be unfair — to aliens, attorneys and immigration judges.”
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