Judges Express a Bleak View of Lawyers Representing Immigrants
In a Study, Judges Express a Bleak View of Lawyers Representing Immigrants By Kirk Semple
They are often poorly prepared or make incoherent arguments in court. Some fail to present key evidence or witnesses. Others simply do not show up.
The performance of many lawyers who represent immigrants facing deportation in New York has long been considered mediocre. But in a new report that seeks to measure the extent of the problem, immigration judges themselves step forward and offer a scathing assessment of much of the lawyering they have witnessed in their courtrooms.
Immigrants received “inadequate” legal assistance in 33 percent of the cases between mid-2010 and mid-2011 and “grossly inadequate” assistance in 14 percent of the cases, the judges said. They gave private lawyers the lowest grades, while generally awarding higher marks to pro bono counsel and those from nonprofit organizations and law school clinics.
The study was conducted by a group of lawyers and researchers under the auspices of Robert A. Katzmann, a federal appellate judge in New York City. A year ago, they began sifting through government data and surveying immigration judges in an attempt to measure the quality and availability of legal representation for immigrants facing deportation.