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Lawsuits filed to challenge closed immigration hearings

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  1. Court Access

    NMU         MICHIGAN         Secret Courts         Jan 30, 2002    

Lawsuits filed to challenge closed immigration hearings

  • Newspapers and the American Civil Liberties Union filed lawsuits in a federal court in Michigan to challenge the constitutionality of courtroom closures in the deportation proceedings of a Muslim community leader.

Four newspapers and the American Civil Liberties Union filed two lawsuits recently challenging the closure of deportation hearings for Rabih Haddad, a Muslim community leader suspected of raising money for terrorist activities.

The Detroit Free Press and the Ann Arbor News filed their lawsuit on Jan. 28. The next day, the ACLU filed a separate lawsuit on behalf of two newspapers, the Detroit News and the Metro Times, and Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.). Conyers and the two papers complained because they had been excluded from Haddad’s hearings.

Both lawsuits, each filed in the federal District Court in Detroit, allege that the immigration proceedings relating to Rabih Haddad should be open to the public.

The Detroit Free Press‘ suit asks for access to all future proceedings and for copies of transcripts of all past proceedings. The ACLU’s suit focuses on Judge Michael Creppy’s order to close all immigration proceedings, claiming the order is unconstitutional. The ACLU has argued that there is a presumptive right of access to such proceedings and that the policy stated in Creppy’s order is unconstitutional. Elizabeth Hacker, the immigration judge in the Haddad case, allegedly relied upon Creppy’s order to close the Haddad proceeding.

The defendants in both lawsuits are John Ashcroft and the two judges.

(Detroit Free Press v. Ashcroft, Media counsel: Herschel Fink; Detroit News v. Ashcroft, Media counsel: ACLU) AG

© 2002 The Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press

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