What does it mean when the judge goes off the record in my deportation case? Hi, I’m Jim Hacking, immigration lawyer practicing law throughout the United States out of our office here in St. Louis, Missouri.
I was consulting with someone the other day and she was commenting on some things that she had observed at her local Executive Office for Immigration Review, which is the formal name for the immigration court. She was surprised at how much time the attorneys and the judge spent off the record versus on the record.
Now, on the record means that the recording is going and that a transcript could ultimately be prepared of the conversation between the judge and the government attorney and the attorney for the person facing deportation.
You might be surprised, but a lot actually goes on off the record. It’s also a chance where everyone can talk honestly about where the case is at. Everyone can make their positions clear. A lot of times the judge will clarify a lot of the issues so that he or she can narrow them and to make sure that everyone’s on the exact same page as to what the fight is over. A lot of times you will have a government attorney who’s able to say some things off the record that they couldn’t exactly say on the record.
That’s actually true for us as well, the deportation lawyer. Speaking to the judge off the record is often very helpful and a way to get the case moving. These judges are under very, very strict deadlines. They have tons and tons of cases. That’s true of deportation attorneys like us and it’s also true of the government attorney.
Everybody’s best interests often is to get things clarified. The last thing a judge wants to do is have an extra-long hearing, much longer than he or she wants to have, when they sort of know where they’re headed, where they know what they want and where they know where the issues are in dispute. Going off the record at immigration can be a good thing.
Now if you’re there without a lawyer, that’s going to be tricky. I don’t know if they necessarily want to spend too much time off the record. Obviously, if you can afford to have an attorney go with you to deportation, you’re going to be much better off. I saw statistics the other day about how many more cases are denied when someone goes without an attorney and the vast majority of people do go without an attorney.
Having an attorney there to be able to, not only advocate for you on the record, but to be able to talk to the governance attorney because just talking without the judge there, the government attorney and the deportation attorney, you can get a lot done that way too.
We spent a lot of time trying to cultivate positive relationships with DHS council. We want to get along with them to the extent that we can. We want to narrow the issue so that it makes things simpler for the judge, and simpler for our clients, and hopefully work towards a resolution that’s going to put our client in the best position possible.
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