Friday, October 10, 2008

You be the Judge

So here is a question I would like to put to you, I would love your honest opinions. Feel free to take as much space to explain as you need, I tend to ramble(who me?!) so I promise not to judge(haha get it??) you!

Here is a situation I have come across rather recently in my line of work (even though I now work from home, I still work with Immigration proceedings, I am so NOT a lawyer, as you are about to see from my oh-so simple un-lawyerish breakdown).

We have a young man, who is here legally but is not a citizen. When he was younger he broke several laws, including car theft and drug possession. He was clean for four years when he got into a fight with a former friend, who called the police. The man was put into jail (there was a knife involved in the fight) then put into deportation proceedings.

At the trial we learn several things:
1. He takes care of his ailing mother( also here legally), who needs dialysis treatment three times per week. There are no other family member to help.
2. He is engaged to a US citizen, and has a two year old US citizen son in whose life he is heavily involved.
3. The crimes of his youth were actually more violent than previously thought, he had run from the police several times, been part of a car theft ring, and been charged with assault 3 times. However, aside from the most recent arrest, everything else was before the birth of his son.

He says that having his son has turned his life around, and that the fight was an unfortunate mistake. The Government Attorney says that he was given several chances and should now be deported. His Attorney argues that he did make mistakes when he was younger, but that he has really turned his life around. Also that to deport him to put unnecessary hardship on his mother, his fiancee who would become a single mother, and his child who would grow up essentially fatherless.

What would you decide? There are no right or wrong answers. Well...unless you answer FOUR! That would be wrong, this isn't math class! IF you just so happen to be a lawyer, or well acquainted with these laws feel free to educate us!

I just want to get some thoughts, see where you stand etc. I will be back later with the Judge's decision as well as my own opinion.

Update: Wow guys, thanks for putting your opinions out there! It was interesting to read your opinions on how you feel the case should be handled, so thanks!

my opinion: I am a softie! I was all for deporting him after hearing about the arrest, but then his fiancee testified and just about broke my heart. It was a close call for me.

Judge's Order: He is out. The car theft was considered the straw that broke the camels back in a sense. He said otherwise he probably would have let him stay due to extreme hardship to his US citizen family, but the laws mandated that, due to his aggravated felony, he be deported. A harsh, but wise decision I think.

Thanks for letting me pick your brains!!!! Have a great weekend!


  1. Okay, here is what I think.

    People should be held responsible for their actions. He is illegal, therefore, he knows deportation is a consequence. Likewise, his family knows it. He's gotten by with it despite numerous arrests in the past and it has finally caught up to him.

    Our society has taken on the belief of entitlement. People think they are entitled to things "just because". Which is why I believe we are in the economic mess now.

    Anyhoo, that's my thoughts. I'm sure you will get a mixture of comments from your blogger peeps.

  2. Hmm... this is a tough one.

    On one hand, I think that he honestly tried to turn his life around and maybe should get one more 'second chance'.

    On the other hand, most fights I hear about involving knives are usually over drugs. (You can clarify the reason for the fight if you know it) In that case, he should be deported.

    I would probably say if no drugs were involved, put him on probation and if gets in trouble in ANY way, he's gone. And if he did get deported, his mom, fiancee, and son could always go with him.

  3. In the post, it actually says that he is LEGAL but not a citizen. (Just as I am legally here in Sweden but still a British citizen). And being legal, I believe that means that you a have a right to reside in a country, and should not have the threat of deportation hanging over you...

    That aside - I believe that the 'rules' should have room for the emotions too. He has turned his life around and will continue to do so for his son. Why deprive a son of his father and vice versa - that is just cruel and can cause further social problems (for the son) in the future.

    I also believe that it is cruel to punish him now for crimes committed before... and if I understand it right, he was involved in a fight but not in a really heavy crime...

    I say: put the needs of his ailing mum, his son and his fiancé first.

    After all, everyone deserves a second chance. Don't they?

  4. I would let him stay. When people are young, they make bad choices and mistakes. I know this from someone who is close to me. They actually do things that really is not in character at all, for many reasons. Desperate people, young desperate people do desperate things. Period.

    Think about it, we all have skeletons in our closet, some of those "bones" are worse than others. I am not saying we are all car jackers....but you get the point.

    I am a firm believer in second chances. If he has got his life together, which it sounds like he has, he should stay. He has a lot of responsibility on his shoulders, and a lot of people depend on him. Hopefully his marriage will shift some of the weight off of him and he will have a help partner.

    Sometimes, it takes a major event in life to turn one around, I am sure his son's birth was the change in his will do that to the ugliest and meanest of people.

    Being here legally shows responsibity to me. He did not creep into this country under a cover of darkness, he came here legally. Big Difference to me......sorry, I am rambling. My vote is let him stay. But I'm a big softee. sorry.

  5. well I am a lawyer, and a criminal defense lawyer at that, so you can imagine what I will have to say about this. The costs to the child and fiance are much higher than the risk of him reoffending now

    Obviously I deal with this stuff on a regular basis.

    I say let him stay and quit wasting our limited funds on this crap.

    I just dealt with a case that shows you how much money the justice system wastes on crap.

    It was a date rape situation, and surely I do not need to add the disclaimer that I am against such things. The defendant was a MExican whose family moved here when he was young and he held several jobs. I do not recall his legal status off the top of my head but it is not really relevant to this...I tend to think he was legal. The victim was a Mexican national visiting her sister legally for the summer. These two met in a community education class.

    By the time trial rolled around, my dude had hauled balls back to Mexico, after the court denied a continuance he requested because he had been burned at one of his kitchen jobs and was hopped up on painkillers. They would not continue the case, because they had flown in the victim from Mexico to testify against him.

    My guy was of course tried in absentia, which is reasonable and he was warned would happen.

    My concern is this-- how much friggin money was spent on this case? flying the victim back here was assinine. She is not a citizen, she does not live here, she was essentially on vacation. My guy is gone back to Mexico, according to his work places, his family etc....and the private investigator hired by the State to find him confirmed all of this.

    So what do we have for our investment? A conviction against someone who not only does not live in this country but is obviously not serving the time as a result, for a crime committed against someone who does not live here and will likely never come back here. Total cost of the trial, appeal, other procedures? Over 100K. In a system that is dead broke.

    Not that I am suggesting he should not have been prosecuted or that she did not deserve protection of vengeance (although that is not what it is supposed to be about), but the practicalities of this are that this defendant is no longer the problem of this country as he is GONE. We would have been protecting the citizens of this country from him if NOTHING was done once it was learned he was out of here

    So why bother?

  6. unfortunately the US law has allowed things like this to happen one too many times and gotten the short end of the stick. it is a shame that what we do in the past will haunt us, but what other way do we have to judge a person that could possibly endanger himself or the lives of others. for me, it is difficult to understand why he was able to do all of these things in the past, but some how turned around, because he was clearly using poor judgement by taking part in all these crimes. how do we know that his judgement has changed? how do we know that he knows right from wrong?

    it is even more unfortunate that the people around him are in this situation. they clearly did not do anything wrong, but will be punished because of his actions. this is tragic, yes, but it is also not the court's problem, and it is not in their jurisdiction to allow someone to stay bc of a circumstance, and force someone to go, even though they also claim they have changed, but not have a dieing mother or a child.

    what the court does have to look at, is whether it will cost more money to go through with all these proceedings and deport him, or the chance that he will re-offend (which he already has). the biggest problem in the US is that the govt does not use jail to allow criminals to change - it only locks them away and does not offer any sort of psychological treatment, or real programs to allow criminals to truly reform. this is why over 80% of the people in jail are re-offenders.

    i studied law, decided not to become a lawyer for different reasons, but the big problem here for me, is that my father was a police officer, so that has given me a more "realistic" or maybe pessimistic view on our court system. i would not want my father's life to possibly become endangered if we didnt get a multiple offender out of the country when we could have.

    i also have the experience of being an ex-pat, and you better believe that if i slip up once, my ass would be kicked out of here faster than you can say extradition. why is it that the US allows people to have so many chances? sure, it is a lot harder to get a green card in the US, but again, is very unfortunate that the large majority of the people moving to the US are former criminals. sure, they should use the opportunity to live the american dream, and be grateful that they were allowed in, but if they get back into that same lifestyle after leaving behind their culture, family, friends and sorted pasts, what does that say about their ability to judge right from wrong?

    i would love to think that the world could live without borders, that we would be able to even live without laws, and understand that we are all one people - but it is the actions taken by the criminals that dont allow that to happen. sure, it could be society and the way we treat the youth. it could be education, but there is no way that we can wipe out generations of poorly taught lessons, and disrespect for against the country you live, and the citizens of the world.

    enter: american flag and anthem in background. LOL

  7. It would help if I would read more carefully. I over-looked that you said he was here LEGALLY which changes things. Being he is a legal resident, I believe deportation is an extreme measure.

  8. oh, that's a tough one. My husband says that I'm too nice...I'm sure he's right. I would let the guy stay. I would feel bad for his family if he was deported. Why not punish him in some other lots of community service...this way he can stay but he's giving back to the community. What a great example he would be setting for his son too by cleaning up a park or working at a food pantry.

  9. Deport him, fiancee, child and Mom can go with him if they so choose. He broke the law and should be held accountable for his actions. No one is above the law. Sounds like a repeat offender to me, that will use any excuse to sway the judge.
    I don't like all the Legal proceedings, it is a waste of time and money.
    If you are here legally but a non citizen, you break the law..misdemeanor or a felony..we ship you out..end of case.
    Gosh that probably sounds harsh..good thing I am not a judge:)

  10. i'm a softie, too b/c i probably would have let him stay. i do think that people should be responsible for their actions, but i also believe people deserve a chance (& breaking apart families is absolutely heartbreaking).

  11. I'd let him stay. And tell him that if he breaks the law again (well, you know, with the exception of things like little traffic tickets...), he WILL be deported.

  12. I know I'm late, but.....

    Since he has a US son, I'd put him in a US jail for a bit and then let him out. It really isn't fair to his son or his fiance. Although I have a hard time feeling sorry for a known criminal, a violent criminal no less!

    But since I live in a state that has a lot of illegal immigrants, I have a difficult time allowing anybody and everybody over here who didn't come legally.

    Tough call though.


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