Not a Lexis+ subscriber? Try it out for free.

Immigration Law

DOJ OPR Takes 'Administrative Action' With IJ Montante After Complaint

From Kerry Bretz: "Dear Mr. Bretz: In a letter to the Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR) dated June 20, 2013, you alleged that Immigration Judge (IJ) Philip J. Montante, Jr. demonstrated bias and prejudice while presiding over Malter of Earl Shettlewood Matthews, File No. A 201-219-191 (U.S. Immigration Court, Buffalo, N.Y.), in violation of the Ethics and Professionalism Guide for Immigration Judges, Section IX. Specifically, you alleged that IJ Montante: (1) failed to inform Mr. Matthews that his unopposed motion to change venue from Buffalo to New York City was denied (or deferred) until April 17, 2012, the afternoon before the master hearing scheduled for April 18, 2012, at which time he ordered Mr. Matthews to appear in court in Buffalo the next morning; (2) ordered Mr. Matthews removed in absentia at the April 18 hearing, despite Mr. Matthews' emergency motion explaining why he could not appear, and the Department of Homeland Security's statement that it was not seeking an in absentia order and did not oppose Mr. Matthews' motions for a change of venue and continuance; (3) made defamatory statements against attorney XYZ of Bretz & Coven, counsel for Mr. Matthews; and (4) subsequently filed an unsubstantiated complaint against Mr. XYZ.  OPR has completed its review of this matter and concluded that IJ Montante's procedural handling of the Matthews case was inappropriate. The Department has taken administrative action with IJ Montante to address these procedural concerns and to ensure that such issues do not arise in the future." - DOJ OPR letter, Oct. 21, 2014.