The Memphis Immigration Court is not an independent, Article III, court of law. Rather, it is an administrative law court falling under the jurisdiction of the Office of the Chief Immigration Judge, a component of the Executive Office forImmigration Review under the Department of Justice. The court in Memphis has jurisdiction over all non-detained removal proceedings originating in Arkansas, Tennessee and Northern Mississippi.
As we're located in Arkansas, the vast majority of our clients facing removal end up in Memphis. Our cases involving detained immigrants will find themselves before one of the Louisiana courts and we sometimes have clients who find themselves before the Dallas or Kansas City immigration courts either because they are placed there by accident or they live in eastern Oklahoma or southwest Missouri. Regardless, Memphis is the general rule...
80 Monroe Avenue, Memphis, TN Photo courtesy of Google

As such, it might be helpful to get to know the Memphis Immigration C…

The Three Most Important Qualities in a Trial Attorney

Earlier this month I attended a conference out of state. At the start of one of the panels, a question was posed: "if you had to name them, what would you say the three most important qualities are in a good trial attorney?" Then the panelists actually started to call on people to give their lists! I long ago mastered the art of not getting called on and thankfully I had not grown rusty. Still, the question made me think. What do I think the most important qualities in a trial attorney are?
I have to be honest. If I had been called on during that panel, I don't think I would have come up with a very good list. I'm fairly certain I would have had my own Rick Perry moment. I think this is primarily because I would have a hard time distilling all of the great qualities I have seen in other litigators into only three main ideas; especially on the spot. Of course, an ability to think on your feet could be one of those qualities...
The point is that it got me thinking and…

DWIs and Immigration Bonds Post-Siniauskas

Siniauskas does not look kindly on DWIs...
Siniauskas Summarized

This February, the Board published its decision in Matter of Siniauskas, holding:

(1) In deciding whether to set a bond, the IJ should consider the nature and circumstances of the respondent's criminal history, but family and community ties generally do not mitigate the danger he or she poses to society; and
(2) A DWI is a significant adverse consideration in determining whether a respondent is a danger to the community in bond proceedings. Matter of Siniauskas, 27 I&N Dec. 207 (BIA 2018).

In other words, having a family to care for and being an overall good citizen should not outweigh an applicant's criminal history and having a DWI is a particularly bad kind of criminal history. Id.

Mr. Siniauskas had been arrested four times for driving under the influence ("DUI"), resulting in three convictions. Id. at 208. He fell into ICE custody following the fourth arrest. Id. Two of the convictions and the f…

Finality - Cruel Finality

I don't know why "finality" appears on this Batman logo, but it looks cool...
For the first five years or so of my career, my immigration appellate practice was pretty much limited to the Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") and maybe sometimes the Administrative Appeals Office ("AAO").  I pretty much did everything I could to avoid working much with federal circuit court appeals, more commonly known as petitions for review ("PFR").

This wasn't because I had no interest in learning about PFRs. On the contrary, I always had the goal to one day get involved with PFRs.  It was sort of this distant thought I considered occasionally but never had the guts to just step up and do.

The truth of the matter is that I enjoy brief writing.  For me, it's like putting together a puzzle.  Sure, maybe it's a 20,000 piece puzzle of a crystal clear blue sky, but it's a puzzle nonetheless. Puzzles make you think.  I happen to feel thinking is…

Remember: It's Okay to Deny the NTA

Arguably the most important moment in the removal proceedings of any respondent is the master calendar hearing. Think about it. Not only is it the first chance for your client to see the immigration judge, OCC counsel, and the courtroom, not to mention getting a feel for the process, but it is also where the charges contained in the Notice to Appear ("NTA") are discussed.

I have been guilty at times of glancing over the NTA and admitting the pleadings and conceding the charge(s) of inadmissibility/removability as quickly as possible so I could get on with filing my applications for relief; especially in cases where I was eager to get to relief due to what I felt was a strong case or a client's desire to push the case forward.

I can't think  of any cases where I've seriously prejudiced a client in doing so, but I certainly have found myself more concerned about the application for relief than holding DHS to its burden of proving inadmissibility/removability.  I…

EOIR-28s are Forever.....Until soon

At EOIR's roundtable discussion at the last month's AILA national conference, they referenced a proposed rule amending the regs to allow for attorneys to enter their appearance on behalf of a respondent for bond proceedings only, without having to worry about being the attorney of record for the length of the respondent's removal proceedings.

The federal registry summarizes the proposed rule as " [t]his document proposes to amend the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) regulations relating to the representation of aliens in custody and bond proceedings.  Specifically, this rulemaking proposes to allow a representative before EOIR to enter an appearance in custody and bond proceedings without such appearance constituting an entry of appearance for all of the alien's proceedings before the Immigration Court." The full deal can be found here.

Well that's good news!

The rule is not official yet.  EOIR is currently formulating a final rule in respo…

To Brief or not to Brief: Is it really a Question?

I've been an attorney long enough to know we all have our own unique styles of, well, everything. For most of my life, I've struggled with black and white thinking.  It's a personality deficiency of mine. There was a time early in my career when I couldn't fathom anyone completing a task that wasn't done "the right way," whatever that means.

As I've gained more experience though, I've come to realize that not only do we all do things differently, we also usually have strong reasons for doing things the way we do them.  Different immigration courts or individual IJs sometimes impose their own preferences and we get used to having to meet those demands, firm policies, or any other of a myriad number of reasons can account for what makes us prepare to defend our clients differently.  Overall, I think that's a good thing.

At this point in my career, I've come to sincerely enjoy talking to other attorneys about how they prepare their cases.  I&…