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K.A. v. Green

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

September 28, 2018

K.A., Petitioner,
v.
CHARLES GREEN, Respondent.

          OPINION

          JOSE L. LINARES, CHIEF JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Presently before the Court is Petitioner's motion seeking to re-open this matter and enforce this Court's prior order granting Petitioner a bond hearing. (ECF No. 16). For the reasons set forth below, Petitioner's motion shall be denied.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Because this Court summarized the background of this matter in the opinion granting Petitioner a bond hearing, only a brief recitation of the subsequent history of this matter is necessary for the purposes of this Order. On August 7, 2018, this Court entered an order and opinion granting Petitioner's habeas petition and granting him a bond hearing. (ECF Nos. 13-14). In granting Petitioner a bond hearing, this Court indicated that "[a]t [the] hearing, the Government [will be required] to produce individualized evidence that [Petitioner's] continued detention was • or is necessary to further the goals of § 1226(c) - specifically ensuring that Petitioner presents neither a danger to the community nor a flight risk." (ECF No. 13 at 8, internal quotations omitted).

         Petitioner thereafter received a bond hearing. (See ECF No. 15). On August 17, 2018, the immigration judge who conducted the hearing denied Petitioner bond by way of a written opinion. (ECF No. 15 at 2-7). In that opinion, the immigration court clearly identified the burden of proof it was applying:

Once an alien's detention is found to be unreasonable, "the Due Process Clause demands a hearing, at which the Government bears the burden of proving that continued detention is necessary to fulfill the purposes of the detention statute. Diop [v. ICE/Homeland Sec, 656 F.3d 221, 233 (3d Cir. 2011)] (holding that [§ 1226(c)] is "only unconstitutional when it is applied to detain someone for an unreasonable length of time without further individualized inquiry into whether detention is necessary to carry out the purposes of the statute."). [The Government] must establish with evidence particular to the alien that continuing to detain him or her is necessary to ensure that the alien attends removal hearings or that his or her release will pose a danger to the community. Diop, 656 F.3d at 233; Leslie [v. Att 'y Gen., 678 F.3d 265, 271 (3d Cir. 2012)]; Chavez-Alvarez v. Warden York County Prison, 783 F.3d 469, 478 (3d Cir. 2015).

         (ECF No. 15 at 4).

         The immigration judge then went on to apply that standard to the facts presented to it and concluded that Petitioner was both a flight risk and a danger to the community, and that his detention therefore was necessary to fulfill the purposes of § 1226(c). In finding Petitioner a danger to the community, the immigration judge noted that Petitioner had a lengthy criminal history including both theft and drug charges, and that Petitioner's recent paucity of charges was the direct result of Petitioner "largely being incarcerated since 2001 - from 2001 to 2008, and from 2011 to [the present]" and that the lack of recent criminal activity "is not necessarily indicative of any rehabilitation." (ECF No. 15 at 5-6). The immigration judge also noted that during Petitioner's brief period of release on bond between 2008 and 2011, Petitioner had not entirely avoided law enforcement as he had received "a few motor vehicle traffic violations" during that time. (ECF No. 15 at 6). Although the immigration judge noted that Petitioner had received a disciplinary infraction during his stay in the Essex County Jail, the judge does not appear to have relied on that charge in concluding that the Government had established that Petitioner was a danger to the community and that Petitioner had failed to rebut the Government's proof of that status. (ECF No. 15 at 5-6). The immigration judge also rejected Petitioner's argument that he was not a flight risk, finding that Petitioner's lengthy criminal history and previous denials of relief from removal also made him a flight risk. (ECF No. 15 at 6-7). The immigration judge thus concluded that the Government had "met its burden of establishing that [Petitioner]'s continued detention is necessary to fulfill the statute's purposes" and denied Petitioner bond. (ECF No. 15 at 7).

         Petitioner thereafter filed his current motion on or about September 6, 2018. (ECF No. 16). In his motion, Petitioner contends that the immigration judge's denial of bond was based on the application of the wrong burden of proof at his bond hearing, and that the immigration judge improperly refused to consider evidence that Petitioner's disciplinary charges at the Essex County Jail had been overturned. Petitioner's motion also presents at length Petitioner's pure disagreement with the outcome of his bond hearing.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         Following the grant of habeas relief, a district court retains continuing jurisdiction to address alleged failures to comply with the court's orders. Gibbs v. Frank, 500 F.3d 202, 205-06 (3d Cir. 2007). A district court has "broad discretion" to evaluate and determine whether the relevant authorities have complied with the requirements of its orders granting habeas relief, and has the authority to issue further corrective orders in the event that the authorities have failed to adequately comply with the granting of habeas relief. Id. at 208-09.

         III. ANALYSIS

         In his motion, Petitioner largely presents his disagreement with the merits of the immigration judge's bond decision. Where a § 1226(c) detainee has already received a bona fide bond hearing, a district court "does not have the power to second guess the discretionary decision of the [immigration judge] to deny .. . release on bond." [1] Pena v. Davies, No. 15-7291, 2016 WL 74410 at *2 (D.N.J. Jan. 6, 2016); see also 8 U.S.C. § 1226(e) (the "Attorney General's discretionary judgment regarding the [granting or denial of bond] shall not be subject to review. No. court may set aside any action or decision [of an immigration judge] regarding the detention or release of any alien, or the grant, revocation, or denial of bond or parole"). A petitioner who has already received such a hearing may therefore only challenge the denial of his request for release on bond by showing that his bond hearing was not bona fide i.e., that it was in some way conducted in violation of Due Process or some other binding legal authority. Pena, 2016 WL 74410 at *2; see also Colon-Pena v. Rodriguez, No. 17-10460, 2018 WL 1327110, at *2 (D.N.J. Mar. 15, 2018). Thus, to the extent Petitioner argues that the immigration judge was mistaken in concluding that Petitioner was a flight risk or danger to the community, this Court is without authority to review those conclusions, and may only provide Petitioner relief to the extent his bond hearing was conducted in violation of Due Process or applicable federal law. Petitioner's mere disagreement with the immigration judge is patently insufficient to warrant further relief from this Court.

         Petitioner presents a few arguments in support of his contention that his bond hearing was not bona fide. First, Petitioner argues that the immigration judge applied the wrong standard of proof. This assertion is directly contradicted by the immigration judge's opinion. As directed by this Court, the immigration judge required the Government to prove that Petitioner's continued detention was necessary to further the ends of § 1226(c) by showing that Petitioner was either a danger to the community or a flight risk. In deciding Petitioner's bond request, the immigration judge did just that - the judge weighed the evidence provided by the Government, found it sufficient to prove that Petitioner was both a danger and a flight risk, and found Petitioner's evidence to the contrary unavailing. The record thus clearly establishes that the immigration judge applied the correct ...


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