Petition Closed
Petitioning Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder

Monitor Judges behavior when hearing cases in Immigration courts

I would love if you sign my petition to request the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) to stop Immigration Judges from acting in a manner that does not promote public confidence with over-the-top behavior in Immigration Court.

It is important that the DOJ and EOIR monitor and stop Immigration judges when they acts impatiently, irritated and intemperate, and adopt heavy handed tactics in court.

During the period of 12 years I witnessed how some judges in Immigration court act unprofessionally, impatiently, and undignified towards respondents and individuals in courtrooms.

The preamble of their office is clear and concise how he or she is to act when appointed to the office of Immigration Court:

IX. Acting with judicial Temperament and Professionalism -  

An Immigration Judge should be patient, dignified, and courteous, and should act in a professionalmanner towards all litigants, witnesses, lawyers and others with whom the Immigration Judge deals  in his or her official capacity, and should not, in the performance of official duties, by words  or conduct, manifest improper bias or prejudice.

 Note: An Immigration Judge should be alert to avoid behavior, including inappropriate demeanor, which may be perceived as biased. The test for appearance of impropriety is whether the conduct would  create in the mind of a reasonable person with knowledge of the relevant facts the belief that the Immigration Judge's ability to carry out his or her responsibilities with integrity, impartiality, and  competence is impaired.

 Note: An Immigration Judge who manifests bias or prejudice in a proceeding impairs the fairness of  the proceeding and brings the immigration process into disrepute. Examples of manifestations of bias or prejudice include but are not limited to epithets; slurs; demeaning nicknames; negative stereotyping;   attempted humor based upon stereotypes; threatening, intimidating, or hostile acts; suggestions of  connections between race, ethnicity, or nationality and crime; and irrelevant reference to personal  characteristics. Moreover, an Immigration Judge must avoid conduct that may reasonably  be perceived as prejudiced or biased. Immigration Judges are not precluded from making legitimate reference to any of the above listed factors, or similar factors, when they are relevant to an issue in a  proceeding.

 Note: An Immigration Judge has the authority to regulate the course of  the hearing. See 8 C.F.R. §§ 1240.1(c), 1240.9. Nothing herein prohibits the  Judge from doing so. It is recognized that at times an Immigration Judge must be firm and decisive to maintain courtroom control.

During my time in Immigration court I was proud of the work I did although the challenges I endured when froms of examination during respondents testimony became disorganized and unconscionable as a judge acted in an unprofessional manner.  I felt constrained, uncomfortable on behalf of respondents and my job became that more difficult in listening and interpreter the testimony that became confused beetween shouts, second guessing and over-the-top behavior.  Undignified and disrespectful actitude toward respondents should not be the airm in a court of law but to seek the facts to rule accordingly.

In one of the particular cases I witnessed, a pro se respondent endured overbearing questioning and treatment during 3 hours plus.  Respondent had difficulty remembering the details and dates of his service and life in his homeland.  After 3 hours, respondent broke down in tears of the frustrating barrage of questions, voice raisings and re-questioning in an altered tone of the court.  Respondent’s family (present and former spouse and a friend) sat mute in the back of courtroom.  When respondent broke down, the court lowered the tone of proceedings, and government counsel and judge started to shuffle through file for additional information, to find a medical report stating respondent was bipolar.  Then judge turned her annoyed state towards interpreter alleging and blaming interpreter has an issue with hearing, while judge remained in denial the confusion was caused due to the level of drama and tension in the courtroom and intimidating questioning to respondent, as judge dwelled and second guessed the course of testimony with interruptions and corrections. At the end of hearing, judge referred the individuals to a charity legal clinic, and case was continued to a later date.

In another particular courtroom, during master calendars or individual hearings, almost every proceeding this interpreter appeared, it became difficult and disorganized as judge chided and reprimanded respondents, counsel and individuals during testimony.  Judge added sarcastic comments and made mocking faces, and stress and disorder rose to constraining levels as dates and facts were talked over and the courtroom was out of control while assistant chief counsel, staff and individuals were in the courtroom.

In another hearing, on November, 2, 2011, one judge, Lourdes Martinez Esquivel walked into courtroom as interpreter was winding a brief conversation before proceedings about work in Immigration courts in Atlanta and North Carolina.  Judge Martinez Esquivel did not object to interpreter and signed interpreter’s Certificate of Interpretation (“COI”).  Further Judge Esquivel did not add a comment on the COI what she observed before proceeding.  Any other conscionable judge in this court would have inquired with interpreter what intrepreter was talking instead of acting in an underhanded manner by disqualifying interpreter.

On or about November 10, 2011, the court liaison informed interpreter of the disqualification specifically because Judge Esquivel heard interpreter discussing the hardship of case.  At no time, interpreter discussed respondent's case.

The Code of Professional Responsibility for Interpreters states (Interpreter must not talk with any party during proceedings):

“During the course of the proceedings, interpreters should not converse with parties, witnesses, jurors, attorneys, or with friends or relatives of any party, except in the discharge of their official functions. It is especially important that interpreters, who are often familiar with attorneys or other members of the courtroom work group, including law enforcement officers, refrain from casual and personal conversation with anyone in the court that may convey an appearance of a special relationship or partiality to any of the court participants.”

Interpreter did not convey an appearance of partiality to any party in the court in Judge Esquivel's courtroom nor was interpreter partial to any party in the hearings she participated during 12 years in the court. 

The court and judge have chosen to ignore the issue and have not provided in writing what it is that interpreter said that merited a disqualification.

As of August 28, 2012, Immigration court has not provided a status in this matter.

Judge Martinez Esquivel seized the opportunity that interpreter was chit-chatting before proceeding to disqualify interpreter and make interpreter a “poster child,” in Immigration court.   

Judge Martinez Esquivel is arrogant, a difficult judge who condescended on individuals and this interpreter in her courtroom and it is clear her behavior is to gain points in immigration in the short period she has been an immigration judge.

Interpreter was one of the senior contract interpreters, DOJ certified, since 1999. 

Specifically on or about 2005, interpreter refused to appear in a particular courtroom of another judge due to the difficult conduct of judge during hearings and again in 2011, interpreter refused to appear in another judge's court for reasons of disorder in the court during interpretation assignments.  

The coordinator of Lionbridge Technologies and the in-house supervisors of interpreters in Immigration court were aware interpreter was uncomfortable appearing in both courtrooms because judges badgered and belittled individuals and/or responents.

This petition requests the President of the United States, Department of Justice and the Executive Office for Immigration Review to monitor out of control judges in this particular court and to intervene with Judge Lourdes Martinez Esquivel to address in writing what interpreter said during the proceedings to respondent and respondent's counsel that merited a disqualification.

Interpreter has excellent reviews of performance in the courtroom of Pedro Miranda who retired a few months before interpreter was disqualified.  Judge Pedro Miranda is one of the most respected and admired judge in Immigration when he was a judge and is respected and admited now that he is in provate pracctice.  During his tenure as judge he was an excellent, considerate and dignified judge who treated respondents and individuals in his court with the utmost respect.  

This interpreter always had excellent reviews by Judge Mark Metcalf while he was a judge of Immigration.  Judge Metcalf was a cordial officer of the court during his tenure who acted in a dignified manner with every individual, pro-se or represented respondent in his courtroom.  

While the majority of the immigration judges in this court act professionally, not every judge plays by the same rules in the Miami court.  

It is important that all judges be monitored and controlled to do the job they were appointed as officers of the court and to follow the preambles in the regulations, whether they are under stress or overworked, etc.

Please join me and  sign the petition, and share with friends.  We need your help.   I, like many immigrants, came to the United States for a chance to have opportunities, a job, and live a decent life.  Let's work together to take this step forward to help all individuals that appear in Immigration courts to be treated with respect, without having to withstand unnecessary hindrances and roadblocks of bias, prejudices and undignified behavior in a court of law.




Caroline Donkin

Letter to
Department of Justice Attorney General Eric Holder

I just signed the following petition addressed to: Eric Holder, Attorney General, Department of Justice, Chief Judge, Elisa Sukkar, Executive Office for Immigration Review and Lourdes Martinez Esquivel, Judge, Office for Immigration Review


Would you support this petition to the Department of Justice and Executive Office for Immigration Review to stop immigration judge from acting unprofessionally, undignified, using unprofessional manner and heavy handed tactics against individuals in Immigration court.