OFFICE OF IMMIGRATION LITIGATION (“OIL”) AT CENTER OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT SCANDAL AT DOJ! — Serious Problems Fester At Justice!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/inspector-general-says-mishandling-of-sexual-harassment-complaints-at-justice-department-is-a-systemic-problem/2017/12/26/ed51abf6-dc35-11e7-b1a8-62589434a581_story.html

 

Sari Horwitz reports in WashPost:

“Some of the most troubling allegations, Horowitz said, have been in the Justice Department’s Civil Division. His office examined the handling of those allegations, which occurred several years ago, after receiving a complaint that the Office of Immigration Litigation had not properly disciplined an attorney who had committed sexual misconduct.

In his report, the IG wrote that a senior, supervisory attorney in the Office of Immigration Litigation, Victor Lawrence, groped the breasts and buttocks of two female trial attorneys and made sexually charged comments to them at an office happy hour. Lawrence, whose name was redacted from the report but who was identified by people familiar with the incidents, had previously received a reprimand and diminution of title for sending emails of a sexual nature to co-workers.

After the second incident with the two women, Lawrence began a scheduled detail to another division “apparently with no notice to the component of the misconduct allegations,” the inspector general wrote. After the groping allegations were investigated, Lawrence received a written reprimand for inappropriate touching, a further change in title and relief from supervisory duties.

The IG noted that Lawrence received no suspension or loss in pay or grade. The deciding official in the Civil Division said a suspension “would unnecessarily deprive the government of [his] litigating services,” according to the report.

“I was terrified I was going to get in the elevator and he would be in there,” said a woman who was involved in one of the groping incidents.” The Post does not identify victims of sexual misconduct without their agreement.

[What makes some men sexual harassers? Science tries to explain the creeps of the world]

Horowitz’s report also concluded that this case “presented potential criminal assault violations, yet we found no evidence in the case file that a referral was made to the [Inspector General] or any other law enforcement entity.”

Another senior attorney in the Office of Immigration Litigation admitted stalking a female attorney by hacking into her personal email account and conducting “a catfishing operation,” by creating a “fictitious online profile to entice her,” the inspector general found.

The attorney, Theodore Atkinson, who received a written reprimand and reduction in title, was restricted for one year from entering the building in which the attorney he had stalked worked and was moved to a different section in the Civil Division. But he received no suspension or loss in pay or grade.

The IG said this case also “raises potential criminal concerns, yet we found no evidence that a referral was made to [the Inspector General] or any other law enforcement entity,” the report said. Atkinson’s name was redacted from the report, but he was also identified by people familiar with the matter.

Atkinson was recently given a “Special Commendation Award from the Civil Division.”

Neither Atkinson or Lawrence responded to requests for comment.

A third attorney, even after being counseled about inappropriate behavior toward female co-workers and interns, allegedly “peered” through high windows into the offices of two different women who had closed their doors while they were pumping breast milk, according to an IG report. The attorney caught peeping told his supervisor that it was “an honest mistake,” an explanation the supervisor accepted, the IG report said. The matter was not fully investigated, the inspector general found, and the attorney was verbally counseled. He is still working in the Office of Immigration Litigation. His alleged behavior became such an issue that some women at the Justice Department have taped wrapping paper over the windows outside their offices.

All three Civil Division attorneys received performance awards after their misconduct, the report said.

“I’m shocked and really disappointed,” said a female attorney with knowledge of the incidents who spoke on the condition of anonymity because she was not authorized to speak to a reporter. “They got free passes. They got awards. They got to continue with their careers. It sounds like nothing is going to be done.”

Justice spokesman Prior said the department “does not discuss specific employee disciplinary actions or comment on personnel actions or matters that may impact personal privacy.”

“That said, the department was very disappointed with the issues that occurred in the previous administration and strives for a workplace free of harassment and other misconduct for all of our 115,000 employees,” he said. “That is why the Civil Division has implemented additional safeguards and systems to ensure that all misconduct allegations are handled appropriately going forward.”

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These problems largely predate Sessions. But, perhaps he needs to spend less time doing DHS’s job of immigration enforcement and more time straightening out the mess in his own Department.

PWS

12-28-17

REGIME OF SCOFFLAWS — ADMINISTRATION’S CONTEMPT FOR CONSTITUTION, COURTS LIKELY TO CONTINUE UNABATED UNLESS & UNTIL SUPREMES GET BACKBONE — No Sign Of Any Endoskeleton @ High Court To Date!

https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-government-abuses-its-power-over-pregnant-teenagers–again/2017/12/20/8c4379c0-e4ff-11e7-833f-155031558ff4_story.html

The Washington Post Editorial Board writes:

“IN OCTOBER, the government tried and failed to keep an undocumented teenager in federal custody from ending an unwanted pregnancy. Yet officials appear to have learned little from 17-year-old Jane Doe’s victory in court over the government’s effort to keep her from the abortion clinic. Again, it has fought tooth and nail — and failed — to prevent two more pregnant teenagers from getting the medical care they desired.

Since his appointment by President Trump to head the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Refugee Resettlement (ORR), antiabortion activist E. Scott Lloyd has barred federally funded shelters for undocumented minors from “supporting” access to abortion without his approval. Mr. Lloyd has reached out personally to convince some teenagers against ending their pregnancies. Others, like Ms. Doe, are forced to attend “life-affirming options counseling.”

Last week, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit on behalf of two more undocumented teenagers whom ORR blocked from obtaining abortions. Like Ms. Doe, both are pregnant and crossed into the United States without their parents.

Both will now be allowed to get their abortions. A federal district judge allowed one teenager to travel to a clinic as of Monday. And the Justice Department dropped its appeal of the other teenager’s case after discovering that she was 19 years old, not 17 — meaning that Immigration and Customs Enforcement, not ORR, should take custody of her as an adult. ICE has now released her. But even if it hadn’t, ICE allows undocumented women in its care to obtain abortions as a matter of policy.

The collapse of the court case demonstrates just how absurd ORR’s policy really is. The government acknowledges that the Constitution grants these teenagers the right to an abortion. Yet when a 17-year-old and a 19-year-old have the same right under Roe v. Wade, how can the government justify summarily blocking one from obtaining an abortion but not the other? The rest of the government’s case was equally flimsy. ORR argues that it has no obligation to “facilitate” the procedure — though in each case so far, the logistics and costs have been privately arranged, leaving ORR with the responsibility of simply getting out of the way.

ORR also made the case that the teenagers could simply leave the country or depart federal custody for a government-approved sponsor. But the fact that a person could cross back across the border doesn’t strip her of constitutional rights while in the United States. And each week it takes to find a suitable sponsor makes abortion more difficult and dangerous to obtain.

It’s welcome news that the government is no longer abusing its power over these two vulnerable teenagers. Yet even as the ACLU mounts a broader legal challenge to ORR’s behavior, it’s likely that ORR will continue to trap other undocumented teenagers in the same situation. Mr. Lloyd should abandon this cruel policy.”

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We also learned elsewhere this week that Trump considered withdrawing his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supremes because Gorsuch had the audacity to stand up for his judicial colleagues in the face of outrageous attacks on their professionalism and integrity by Trump.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-reportedly-considered-rescinding-gorsuchs-nomination/2017/12/18/ad2b3b68-e1c7-11e7-9eb6-e3c7ecfb4638_story.html

In other words, Gorsuch threatened to take his oath to uphold the Constitution seriously, rather than putting loyalty to Trump first in the manner of Vice Sycophant Mike Pence and many others in the GOP. (Witness the disgusting display of fawning and “public a— kissing/licking” of Trump by the GOP “establishment” like Ryan and McConnell after they pulled off the biggest heist of public funds for private enrichment in American history,)

Trump has exactly the same expectation of “judges as robed stooges for the executive” as do strongmen and Third World Dictator/Presidents for Life. Think Vladimir Putin, President Xi, President Duterte, or President Sisi want an independent judiciary looking over their shoulders? Neither does Trump! And these guys, not leaders of democracies, are the leaders that Trump admires and wants to emulate.

Scott Lloyd has decided not to follow the Constitution. In a normal Constitutional Government, the DOJ would decline to defend Mr. Lloyd in court, thus forcing him to comply.

But, fellow scofflaw Jeff “Gonzo Apocalypto” Sessions not only has defended Lloyd’s unconstitutional actions but made frivolous arguments in support of Lloyd. He’s even taken his frivolous positions all the way to the Supremes and outrageously made a further frivolous request for sanctions on the ACLU lawyers defending the Constitution!

 

Ironically, the only time when Sessions, Lloyd, and other GOP restrictionists have any concern for Hispanic children is when they are unborn. Once they are born, Gonzo, Homan, and the restrictionists are eager to abuse Hispanic kids by deporting their parents or siblings, breaking up families, terrorizing their communities, depriving them of support, health care, and education, and generally making their lives as miserable as possible.

Indeed, the Trump/Sessions White Nationalist “strategy” seems to be that if you mistreat US citizen kids of color badly enough, they eventually will leave and never return to exercise their rights. But, I actually think that most will remember what Trump/Sessions & the GOP White Nationalists are doing to them now. Once they become voting age, they can help insure that America is never again subjected to the travesty and preventable horror of the likes of Trump, Sessions, and other White Nationalists holding public office and attempting to force their vile, minority views on immigrants down the unwilling throats of the majority of us.

If private lawyers conducted themselves with such obvious contempt for the Constitution and Courts, they would be facing contempt of court charges, loss of law license  (in Gonzo’s case), and possible imprisonment. But, Lloyd and Gonzo are actually flaunting their lawless behavior and the unwillingness of a Court supposedly “bought and paid for” by the GOP to restrain an out of control GOP Administration.

Until the Supremes get serious about holding Constitutional scofflaws and bullies like Lloyd and Gonzo accountable, finding them in contempt, and throwing them in jail if they continue to abuse the Constitution and the time of the US Courts, the Administration’s all-out assault on the true “rule of law” will continue unabated!

The Trump Administration (certainly not undocumented migrants) is the single greatest threat to the continued existence of American democracy and American greatness. Will we wake up as a nation before it’s too late?

PWS

12-21-17

 

BIA SHOWS AGAIN HOW YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE CONVICTED TO BE “CONVICTED” UNDER THE INA: Matter of Mohamed, 27 I&N Dec. 92 (BIA 2017)

3900

BIA HEADNOTE:

“Entry into a pretrial intervention agreement under Texas law qualifies as a “conviction” for immigration purposes under section 101(a)(48)(A) of the Immigration and Nationality Act, 8 U.S.C. § 1101(a)(48)(A) (2012), where (1) a respondent admits sufficient facts to warrant a finding of guilt at the time of his entry into the agreement, and (2) a judge authorizes an agreement ordering the respondent to participate in a pretrial intervention program, under which he is required to complete community supervision and community service, pay fees and restitution, and comply with a no-contact order.”

PANEL: BIA APPELLATE IMMIGRATION JUDGES GRANT, PAULEY, MANN

OPINION BY: JUDGE GRANT

*********************************

Under the INA state criminal proceedings cannot be “relitigated” in U.S. Immigration Court. States go to great lengths to relieve certain first or minor offenders of the legal consequences of a conviction. But, at that point, the INA ditches out state determinations and imposes its own broad definition of “conviction.” Rule: Whatever is necessary to screw the migrant!

PWS

09-07-17

Still Not Sure We Need U.S. Immigration Court Reform? Read This Explosive New OIG Report — While “Rome Was Burning” In The Immigration Courts, EOIR Senior Exec Was Busy Fiddling Around Hiring Pals, Soliciting Sexual Favors, Taking Kickbacks On Contracts, Lying To Investigators, & Retaliating Against Honest Employees!

INVESTIGATIVE SUMMARY

Findings Concerning Improper Hiring Practices, Inappropriate Interactions with Subordinates and a Contractor, and False Statements by a Senior Executive with the
Executive Office for Immigration Review

The Department of Justice (DOJ) Office of the Inspector General (OIG) initiated an investigation of a senior executive with the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) based on information it received from DOJ that the official engaged in inappropriate hiring practices, used non‐public information to benefit friends, solicited and accepted gifts from subordinates, maintained inappropriate relationships with subordinates, and participated in an inappropriate quid pro quo scheme with a contract company.

The OIG found that the executive engaged in improper hiring practices when, on seven separate occasions, the executive disregarded merit system principles to hire close friends and associates as DOJ employees or DOJ contract personnel over applicants with superior qualifications for the positions. The OIG also found that the executive initiated and approved the promotion of a friend before the individual was eligible for promotion, nominated a friend for a monetary award without sufficient justification, and promoted a friend who lacked qualifications for the position. The OIG further found that the executive disclosed to friends and acquaintances non‐public information about job opportunities on a pending DOJ contract, and advocated for increasing contractor salaries in support of friends. The OIG found that this conduct violated federal statutes, federal regulations, and DOJ policy.

In addition, the OIG found that the executive maintained an inappropriate personal relationship with a subordinate, and solicited and accepted gifts and donations from subordinates, in violation of federal statutes and regulations, and DOJ policy. The OIG investigation further concluded that the executive engaged in an inappropriate scheme with a DOJ contractor in which the executive sought employment and training from the contractor for personal friends in exchange for the executive actively participating in the creation and awarding of a purchase agreement of substantial monetary value to the contractor, in violation of federal statutes and regulations.

Lastly, the OIG found that the executive lacked candor and provided false statements to the OIG in relation to the executive’s conduct in the above‐described matters, in violation of federal statute and regulation. Prosecution of the executive was declined.

The OIG has completed its investigation and provided this report to EOIR for appropriate action. The OIG also referred to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel its findings that the executive retaliated against employees who refused to hire the executive’s friends.

Posted to oig.justice.gov on June 6, 2017

**********************************************************

The “experiment” with trying to run a major court system as an agency of the USDOJ is over. It has failed! Is Jeff Sessions going to straighten this mess out? No way! In addition to being less than candid under oath during his Senate Confirmation hearing (or perjuring himself in the view of many), the Comey testimony certainly made it appear that Sessions either was under active investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller or soon would be under such investigation.

And, it’s by no means just Sessions. Every Attorney General since Janet Reno has contributed significantly to the downward spiral in the U.S. Immigration Courts (including the BIA). Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, who helped push Immigration Court backlogs to incredible new heights with poor hiring practices and politically motivated enforcement priorities, also came out of the Comey hearing looking like someone who put political loyalty before integrity. For the record, she has denied Comey’s charges. But, then so have Trump & Sessions. Not very good company, I’m afraid. And, don’t forget that the whole mess with the announcement on the Hillary Clinton investigation started because Lynch had the incredibly poor judgement to meet with Bill Clinton during the heat of his wife’s Presidential campaign.

This OIG Report comes on the heels of a GAO Report that pointed out a number of chronic management problems in EOIR, including the ridiculous 2-year hiring cycle for U.S. Immigration Judges. The GAO also discussed options for restructuring the Immigration courts as an independent agency, although the report did not make a specific recommendation on that subject. Here’s a link to my blog on the GAO report: http://wp.me/p8eeJm-Uh

 

PWS

06-10-17