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Court Vacates ‘Overactive’ Judge’s Asylum Decision

(CN) - The 7th Circuit vacated an order to remove an asylum seeker who claimed he was tortured and abused by the Honduran army as punishment for his brothers' military desertion. A three-judge panel said the immigration judge's "overactive" role during the hearings "tainted his credibility findings."

Pedro Flores Torres sought asylum under the Convention Against Torture, claiming he endured torture by the military because three of his four brothers had deserted the country's navy after all four were abused by their superiors.

Pedro was conscripted into the navy and allegedly beaten. He said he tried to escape, but was thrown into solitary confinement for 40 days, naked and trapped in a 1 meter cubical room. Pedro finally escaped during a military celebration and fled north to the United States.

Judge Kanne of the federal appeals court in Chicago ruled that the immigration judge's (IJ) direct questioning during the proceedings prevented Torres from receiving a fair hearing.

An immigration judge is supposed to ask a few questions and refrain from interjecting himself into the proceedings, the ruling states.

"Direct questioning by the IJ occupied more than half of the hearings," Kanne noted. "The IJ's impatience with Torres was glaring, even through the emotionless pages of the transcript."

The court vacated and remanded.

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