UHLC Prof Geoffrey Hoffman defends student lawyers’ access to immigration courts

UHLC Prof Geoffrey Hoffman

UHLC Prof Geoffrey Hoffman

Jan. 15, 2016 – University of Houston Law Center Clinical Associate Professor Geoffrey A. Hoffman has filed an amicus brief on behalf of Cornell Law School students who were denied the right to represent their clients in court by an immigration judge.

In one case, the judge noted his court was “not a law school clinic,” while in two others he cited a backlogged docket and difficulties with a new translation service.

Hoffman, director of the Law Center’s Immigration Clinic, co-authored the brief with Sheila I. Velez Martinez, a clinical assistant professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

They argued that in one order: “The immigration judge did not provide any reasoning whatsoever to support the court’s denial of law student appearance, instead entering a form order with no written decision with an explanation.”

The immigration judge did not permit law students to represent clients in removal proceedings. The students were working on cases that involved three Central American clients – a gay respondent seeking asylum in the United States, an unaccompanied child who had a pending guardianship action, and proceedings with a mother and her 10-year-old son.

As a result of the judge’s order, three interlocutory appeals were filed in support of Cornell’s Farmworker Legal Assistance Clinic and its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Advocacy Clinic.

The amicus brief was signed by approximately 40 law school professors and clinic directors.

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