WASHINGTON (CN) - A federal judge won't force the government to release information identifying immigration judges under investigation.
The American Immigration Lawyers Association sued the Executive Office for Immigration Review and the U.S. Attorney General in 2013, demanding complaints against immigration judges, records on the resolution of the complaints, an index of final opinions and orders in the cases, and electronic publication of them, in Federal Court.
Immigration Review produced some 16,000 pages of records associated with 767 complaints, but redacted identifying information on the judges - including their names, genders and work locations, according to U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper.
The AILA filed a motion for summary judgment in an attempt to get information on the judges along with complaint resolutions as they pertain to specific judges and other information redacted from the records because the agency found it to be non-responsive.
"While the public may have some interest in knowing the identities of individual judges, AILA must be content with the voluminous complaint records it has already received," states the judge in his ruling. "As non-supervisory, career civil servants, immigration judges retain privacy rights that outweigh the incremental public interest in revealing their identities."
The judge conceded that the public has some marginal interest in the additional records sought by the AILA, but ruled that the privacy interests of individual immigration judges outweigh the public's.
The judge cited D.C. Circuit cases Beck v. Department of Justice and Department of Air Force v. Rose to illustrate the balance between privacy and public interests.
The judge also ruled that Immigration Review won't have to give up complaint resolution records "because the resolutions are not the result of an adversarial process and do not carry the force of law."
According to Judge Cooper, the agency assigned random codes in the released records to signify each immigration judge in question, but the judge ruled that the public has no interest in identifying each judge at the resolution of a complaint.
But besides any information regarding the identification of immigration judges or complaint resolutions, the Judge Cooper ordered Immigration Review to release all other redacted or withheld information that the agency found to be non-responsive to the AILA's request.
Read the Top 8
Sign up for the Top 8, a roundup of the day's top stories delivered directly to your inbox Monday through Friday.