Cooley LLP

August 12, 2014 15:39 ET

Department of Justice Challenged Over Order Indefinitely Recusing Immigration Judge From Hearing Cases Involving Iranian Nationals

SAN DIEGO, CA--(Marketwired - Aug 12, 2014) - Cooley LLP announced today that it filed suit against the Department of Justice ("DOJ") on behalf of sitting Immigration Judge A. Ashley Tabaddor. The lawsuit raises challenges under the First Amendment and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to an order recusing Judge Tabaddor indefinitely from all cases involving Iranian nationals.

Tabaddor v. Holder et al., filed in the United States District Court for the Central District of California, asserts that the DOJ ordered the blanket disqualification in a racially discriminatory fashion, based on Judge Tabaddor's national heritage and association with the Iranian-American community, including her speaking, educational and volunteer activities within that community. The recusal order runs counter to federal laws and regulations and contradicts written DOJ policies applicable to immigration judges, including those encouraging civic engagement and providing that recusal determinations are to be made by the presiding immigration judge on an individualized case-by-case basis, not superimposed by DOJ officials based on generalized or arbitrary criteria.

"Not only in this case, but more broadly, the actions of the DOJ will have a chilling effect on federal public servants' constitutional rights of free speech and association and will call into question both the independence of the judges sitting on the immigration courts and their ability to exercise their judicial decision-making consistent with constitutional dictates," said Cooley partner Ali Mojdehi. In addition to Mr. Mojdehi, the Cooley team includes associates Janet Gertz, Brian Byun and Allison Rego.

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