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Friday, May 08, 2009

Ind. Decisions - "We have previously called into question similar behavior by Judge Brahos in other cases ... That it continues is inexplicable" writes the 7th Circuit today

That quote is from footnote 4 in the opinion today by Judge Sykes in the immigration case of Oliveira v. Eric H. Holder. More from the 14-page opinion:

Jonathan Castilho de Oliveira, a citizen of Brazil, sought asylum and withholding of removal, claiming that Brazilian governmental and banking officials were involved in the assassination of his father and are now intent on taking his life. An Immigration Judge (“IJ”) disbelieved Castilho de Oliveira’s story and also held in the alternative that even if it were true, it did not establish eligibility for asylum. The Board of Immigration Appeals (“BIA”) adopted and affirmed that decision, and Castilho de Oliveira petitioned this court for review.

Without commenting on the merits of Castilho de Oliveira’s claim, we conclude that he did not receive a fair hearing before a neutral immigration judge. The IJ repeatedly interrupted the testimony to ask irrelevant and sometimes inflammatory questions, refused to consider important evidence, and decided the case without seriously engaging with the evidence in the record. Indeed, so troubling are some of these lapses that we are left with the impression that the IJ “cared little about the evidence and instead applied whatever rationale he could muster to justify a predetermined outcome.” See Bosede v. Mukasey, 512 F.3d 946, 952 (7th Cir. 2008). Accordingly, we grant Castilho de Oliveira’s petition for review, vacate the decision of the BIA, and remand for a new hearing. * * *

The problems we have identified are cumulatively disturbing and convince us that Castilho de Oliveira was denied a meaningful opportunity to be heard before a neutral IJ, required by statute and regulation.[4] See 8 U.S.C. § 1229a(b)(4)(B); 8 C.F.R. § 1240.1(c); Bosede, 512 F.3d at 952. Accordingly, Castilho de Oliveira’s petition for review is GRANTED; the decision of the BIA is VACATED; and the case is REMANDED for a new hearing, preferably before a new immigration judge.

[4] We have previously called into question similar behavior by Judge Brahos in other cases: “factual error, bootless speculation, and errors of logic,” Pramatarov v. Gonzales, 454 F.3d 764, 765-66 (7th Cir. 2006); questioning “so harsh and rude as to suggest bias,” id.; and conduct that was “unseemly,” “intempera[te],” and even “mocking,” Apouviepseakoda, 475 F.3d at 886. That it continues is inexplicable.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on May 8, 2009 10:34 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions