Judge Orders DOJ Lawyers to Undergo Ethics Training After Misleading Court on Exec. Amnesty

Demonstrators, led by the New Orleans Worker Center for Racial Justice and the Congress of Day Laborers, participate in a rally outside the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans, Friday, April 17, 2015. A three-judge panel began hearing arguments whether to lift a temporary hold imposed by …
Gerald Herbert/AP

A federal judge has ordered Obama administration lawyers to undergo ethics training after they knowingly and repeatedly misrepresented the implementation dates for executive amnesty in both oral and written offerings to the court.

“The misconduct in this case was intentional, serious and material. In fact, it is hard to imagine a more serious, more calculated plan of unethical conduct,” U.S. District Judge Andrew S. Hanen wrote in a blistering court order, sanctioning the Justice Department lawyers who argued on behalf of the Obama administration’s executive amnesty programs.

The misconduct Hanen decried stemmed from the government lawyers’ multiple assertions to the court that the executive amnesty programs Obama announced in 2014 — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) and expanded Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals — would not commence until February 18.

Despite the DOJ attorneys’ representations, the Department of Homeland Security approved some 100,000 applications for expanded DACA prior to the February 18, 2015 start data and some 2,000 additional expanded DACA applications even after Hanan issued a preliminary hold on implementation on February 16.

“Counsel in this case violated virtually every interpretation of candor,” Hanan wrote. “The failure of counsel to inform the counsel for the Plaintiff States and the Court of the DHS activity—activity the Justice Department admittedly knew about—was clearly unethical and clearly misled both counsel for the Plaintiff States and the Court.”

Hanen ordered that Justice Department attorneys working in the 26 plaintiff states and involved in the immigration case to undergo annual ethics classes and for Attorney General Loretta Lynch to craft a comprehensive plan to address the ethics concerns.

The case — the 26 states’ challenge to executive amnesty — has since made it to the Supreme Court, which has yet to rule on the matter.


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