There is a hilarious piece in "Above the Law" by their staff writer Joe Patrice, who reportedly has 11 years of litigation experience, about the lawsuit filed by immigration attorneys against the U.S. Department of Justice and Immigration authorities - for allegedly threatening a non-profit in the Stae of Washington, the non-profit North Western Immigration Rights Proctice (NWIRP), with "attorney discipline" for providing legal services to indigent immigrants, and for the DOJ's alleged attempts to "shut down" their asylum services.
The piece is full of derogatory rhetoric, but has no details about what exactly is happening and is claimed in that litigation, which is propaganda, not journalism and especially is not legal journalism.
So, I went to Pacer.gov to get the first-hand information about the case, and I present it here to the public, with my comments, for the public's own review and conclusions.
Here is the complaint/lawsuit by NWIRP.
Here is their motion for a Temporary Restraining Order.
Here is the government's opposition to the TRO, catching NWIRP in multiple misrepresentations, and pointing out, correctly, that NWIRP has no standing to make claims on behalf of unnamed clients who are not parties in the lawsuit, as well as no grounds to ask for enforcement of an alleged ORAL agreement with an UNNAMED court administrator to not enforce a 2008 disciplinary rule applicable to all practitioners in immigration courts.
Try filing a lawsuit to enforce
- an oral agreement
- with an unnamed "court administrator" who has no authority whatsoever to either
- amend disciplinary rules for practitioners, or
- allow some practitioners, but not others, to opt out of those disciplinary rules;
- where that oral agreement (that was not attached to the complaint - in violation of the "best evidence rule" requirement that, as I have written before, has been de facto, and illegally, cancelled by federal courts for purposes of federal lawsuits against Trump administration) allegedly agreeing to not enforce against a particular group of lawyers a long-standing disciplinary rule applicable to all practitioners.
An oral agreement with an unnamed individual who does not have authority to enforce disciplinary rules against practitioners, or opt out of enforcing them, is not and cannot be legal - that is clear.
An ex parte communication with an unnamed court administration gaining a favor of not having a certain disciplinary rule apply to a certain group of attorneys is COURT BRIBERY - a crime.
Yet, NWIRP is happily asserting that that "agreement" must be enforced, and enforced nationwide, and judge Richard Jones
happily agreed, without giving any legal reasons for that!
And "Above the Law" is celebrating enforcement of an illegal ex parte agreement as a victory for civil rights?
I don't think you will find an attorney to dare to file such a thing, for a legitimate fear of sanctions for frivolous conduct.
Yet, NWIRP found not just one, but 8 lawyers, to file the lawsuit to enforce the illegal ex parte oral agreement to allow one group of practitioners to opt out of a long-standing disciplinary rule:
8 attorneys! 3 from NWIRP and 5 from a large private law firm.
And do you know that in their complaint against the federal government in its official capacity (meaning that NWIRP is suing American taxpayers, you and me, not just Trump and Sessions, as it is being portrayed in the press) the NWIRP is asking for costs and attorney fees of their frivolous litigation?
That is why NWIRP employed 8 attorneys of record?
That is why attorneys from that private law firm (with high fees) are employed as attorneys of record, and especially attorneys with no listed experience in civil rights, attorney discipline or immigration litigation, the main issues in the lawsuit?
Here is the list of attorneys from Davis Wright Tremaine hired by NWIRP for this litigation (from the docket report of the case available on Pacer), and their experience reported on their law firm's website:
1) Jaime Drozd Allen - partner from Seattle, WA
Ms. Allen does not claim any experience in immigration law or civil rights on her law firm's website,
or on her LinkedIn profile, so there was no need to add her to this litigation other than to inflate attorney fees.
2) James Harlan Corning - associate, former software developer
Same as attorney Allen, attorney Corning has no reported experience in the three areas of law that the litigation is about:
- civil rights;
- immigration law;
- attorney discipline,
3) Laura-Lee S Williams - associate
Same as attorneys Corning and Allen, Ms. Williams does not report litigation experience in the three major areas of law that the lawsuit is about.
Instead she advertises her prior work for the Defendant U.S. Department of Justice. She should have been specifically excluded from litigation for this reason - but she was instead included.
4) Michele Radosevich - a partner
Also no reported experience in civil rights, attorney discipline or immigration law, but instead connections as a reported former lobbyist before the Washington State Legislature,
5) Robert Miller - associate
Same as the previous 4 attorneys of record from Davis Wright Tremaine in this case, Robert Miller does not report any experience in civil rights, attorney discipline or immigration law.
But, same as attorney Corning, attorney Miller, a recent law school graduate without any experience needed for this case, is "coincidentally" also a former "judicial extern" for a judge (the same judge as attorney Corning worked for) in the court where the case is being litigated:
That is why NWIRP employed high-priced private attorneys in addition to their own lawyers, a law firm with multiple offices across the U.S. and one in China?
A firm ranked # 114 in the country in gross revenues? Imagine the hourly rates of this law firm!
So, the law firm, with a team of 5 attorneys, 2 partners and 3 associates, having no experience for this particular type of litigation, was hired to:
- inflate the amount of attorney fees claimed in litigation, and
- to use their connections to influence the court?
Imagine how many indigent immigrants could be represented for the money paid, unnecessarily, to 5 private attorneys representing NWIRP in this frivolous litigation, asserting NWIRP's "right" NOT to represent immigrants throughout a given a case and to leave their clients on their own before immigration courts.
And, here is the TRO (temporary restraining order), heralded by Joe Patrice as upholding the law by the federal judge where the federal judge in question did not address any of the legitimate concerns raised in the federal government's response and granted the TRO without any explanation or legal grounds whatsoever, here is judge Richard Jones' 2-paragraph (!) no-legal-grounds "explanation" that the plaintiffs have allegedly met their burden of proof - because the judge says so.
A judge's "say-so" has never before, without legal grounds or reasoning, been enough to sustain the extraordinary relief of a temporary restraining order.
So, civil rights litigation is definitely changing in this country - but only when the Trump administration is on the other side.
Because what is challenged is a "practitioner" (the government's term) or "attorney's" (NWIRP's term" disciplinary rule.
You know where such challenges usually end up?
In the garbage bin with sanctions against those who filed them - whether the challenge was meritorious or not.
This challenge was clearly not meritorious - because NWIRP was claiming a right to NOT represent clients in immigration proceedings under the guise of trying to stretch its resources to more recipients.
Of course, attorneys no constitutional right to ghost-writing in any administrative or court proceedings.
Of course, prohibitions on partial and ghost representation exist in many states, and no attorneys dreamt of challenging them as unconstitutional - legitimately fearing sanctions.
And, while Joe Patrice is alleging that it was all Joe Sessions' fault, the rule that NWIRP are challenging was introduced, and the initial inquiry commenced, under the Obama administration.
Moreover, after having read, in detail, while making notes and researching issues, the complaint and the motion for the TRO, as well as the opposition to that motion and the actual TRO order, I have come to a personal opinion that what NWIRP is doing is:
- not fighting for their present or potential clients;
- not trying to assert independence of representation, as they claim -
- no evidence is usually enough to sustain a civil rights lawsuit against an attorney disciplinary rule; but
- no evidence is necessary to sustain a civil rights lawsuit against a practitioner (including attorney) disciplinary rule, if that is aimed against the Trump administration.