News & Politics

Obama's DOJ Fights Judge's Order for Lawyers to Attend Ethics Training

The Justice Department is resisting a federal judge’s recent order that requires its lawyers to take annual ethics training classes and requires the federal government to turn over the private information of thousands of undocumented immigrants who were given reprieves.

U.S. District Judge Andrew Hanen of Texas issued the stunning order to the DOJ earlier this month as punishment for intentionally misleading the court over President Obama’s executive actions on immigration. Despite the DOJ lawyers’ “egregious misconduct,” the judge declined to issue sanctions or strike the pleading because of the pending Supreme Court review of Obama’s executive amnesty case. But he did ban them from practicing law in Texas. The department said in filings Tuesday that the order would “far exceed the bounds of appropriate remedies” and would cost the department upwards of $7.8 million.

Via Fox News:

Attorneys had told Hanen that a key component – an expansion of a 2012 program to protect illegal immigrants from deportation if they were brought to the U.S. as children – hadn’t been implemented. But officials later revealed they had given more than 108,000 people three-year reprieves from deportation under the expanded rules, as well as work permits.

Hanen blocked Obama’s actions and the case is now before the Supreme Court.

Hanen’s scathing order filed on May 19 accused the DOJ of a “calculated plan of unethical conduct.” He ordered that all DOJ lawyers attend a yearly ethics course. He also ordered the department to turn over the names of those who received the reprieves.

“Such conduct is certainly not worthy of any department whose name includes the word ‘Justice,'” Hanen said.

The Department of Justice responded in the court filing Tuesday, saying that it “emphatically” disagrees with the judge’s ruling and claiming that none of its lawyers intended to deceive. The filing requests that Hanen’s order be put on hold so federal lawyers can review it.

“The sanctions ordered by the Court far exceed the bounds of appropriate remedies for what this Court concluded were intentional misrepresentations, a conclusion that was reached without proper procedural protections and that lacks sufficient evidentiary support,” lawyers for the department said.

“Compounding matters, the sanctions imposed by this Court exceed the scope of its authority and unjustifiably impose irreparable injury on the Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), and thousands of innocent third parties,” the filing said.

The department objected to the judge’s order to turn over the list of immigrants who were given reprieves, saying it “would undermine trust in the Department of Homeland Security’s ability to maintain the confidentiality of personal information, which it said was vital to its mission.”

The Supreme Court agreed to take up Obama’s executive amnesty case back in January and a decision is expected on it any day now.