May 31, 2007

Isn't the same thing worse with class action lawsuits?

The NY Times laments the disparities of rulings by immigrations judges across the country via its front page headline:

Asylum seekers in the United States face broad disparities in the nation's 54 immigration courts, with the outcome of cases influenced by things like the location of the court and the sex and professional background of judges, a new study has found.

The study, by three law professors, analyzes 140,000 decisions by immigration judges, including those cases from the 15 countries that have produced the most asylum seekers in recent years, among them China, Haiti, Colombia, Albania and Russia. The professors compared for the first time the results of immigration court cases over more than four years, finding vast differences in the handling of claims with generally comparable factual circumstances.

First of all, how is this "study" so much of a revelation? Isn't this how an independent judiciary operates? (And has operated since the country's founding?) That different judges, faced with the same evidence, can come to different opinions and conclusions? After all, why does the US Supreme Court usually have split decisions? Gosh -- don't all nine justices see and hear the same evidence and facts?

Political differences weren't considered in the study (whaaa..?) but judge gender was. Female immigration judges are more lenient, the study found, than male judges. It also found that the more lenient judges "had previously worked for organizations that defended the rights of immigrants or the poor." Gee, y'think?

Of course, the study's authors (and NYT) find the study results "troubling"

... because of the impact of procedural changes introduced by the Bush administration in 2002 at the Board of Immigration Appeals, the appellate body that reviews decisions by the immigration court judges.

Those changes led to a "sudden and lasting decline" in appeals that were favorable to asylum seekers, the study found, raising doubts as to whether the board was providing fair appeals.

Of course! It's Bush's fault! (Of course, this is the same George Bush who is pushing -- against the wishes of many in his party -- a quite lenient immigration bill, but hey, why dicker?) The actual fact of the matter is, less favorable rulings do not necessarily equate to "troubling" situations. What "troubling" usually means is that it's a situation the Times doesn't like.

I also wonder if the NYT is likewise concerned about how lawyers "shop" for judges and [jury] venues that are favorable to plaintiffs in massive money class action lawsuits. I'm sure we'll soon see a similar front page "concern" from the Times about how greedy attorneys will file a class action suit somewhere in Mississippi where there's a plaintiff friendly judge and jury, even though the grievance actually occurred in Idaho.


Posted by Hube at May 31, 2007 05:37 PM | TrackBack

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