Friday, December 29th, 2017

EDNY Requires Government to Choose Between Complying With Bail Reform Act and Detaining for Immigration Removal

In an otherwise slow holiday week, Eastern District Chief Judge Irizarry has reaffirmed that ICE cannot detain noncitizens who are being federally prosecuted and have met their bond conditions. The opinion in United States v. Benzadon Boutin, No. 17-cr-590 (DLI), is available here. The decision is the latest in the “Trujillo” line of cases, see United States v. Trujillo-Alvarez, 900 F. Supp. 2d 1167 (D. Or. 2012). This case law now include two opinions by Chief Judge Irizarry and one by Southern District Judge Carproni. (Our discussion of Judge Caproni’s opinion includes suggestions for attorneys considering whether to file a “Trujillo” motion.)

Mr. Benzadon Boutin was indicted for theft of public property and money laundering. He satisfied his bond conditions, but was nevertheless kept in custody pursuant to an ICE detainer. Chief Judge Irrizarry held that “once a criminal prosecution is initiated and the Government has invoked the jurisdiction of a federal district court, the Bail Reform Act is controlling,” and “[w]hen an Article III court has ordered a defendant released, the retention of a defendant in ICE custody contravenes a determination made pursuant to the Bail Reform Act.” Slip op. at 3. Chief Judge Irrizary accordingly ordered the government to make a choice: (1) release the defendant pursuant to his bond conditions or (2) dismiss the indictment with prejudice. The government attempted to distinguish Mr. Benzadon Boutin’s prosecution from that in United States v. Rosario Ventura (Chief Judge Irizarry’s earlier “Trujillo” opinion) because Mr. Benzadon Boutin was indicted for non-immigration related crimes. Chief Judge Irizarry rejected the argument, explaining that, regardless of the charged offense, “case law, statutes, and regulations all give primacy to the criminal prosecution.” Slip op. at 7-8.

The circumstances of Mr. Benzadon Boutin’s immigration proceedings demonstrate the practical importance of Chief Judge Irrizarry’s doctrinal reasoning. An immigration judge initially set his removal hearing for December 13, 2017, but rescheduled the hearing to December 6. Neither Mr. Benzadon Boutin — who was in the process of retaining immigration counsel — nor the U.S. Attorney’s Office appears to have actually received notice of the new hearing date. Mr. Benzadon Boutin did not appear for the hearing and was ordered removed in absentia. Chief Judge Irizarry expressed “grave concerns over the purpose of such process and the denial of Defendant’s due process rights.” Id. at 6. These due process rights include the ability to assist in one’s own defense while in detention. Chief Judge Irizarry’s order thus prevents prosecutors from benefiting from the prejudice to a defendant’s case that results from ICE’s decision to disregard the requirements of the Bail Reform Act.

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Categories: bail, ICE detention
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