Magistrate Judge Bruce G. MacDonald, Zachary Wiess Federal Prosecutor, 17 defense attorneys (2 FPD), 3 marshals, 2 simultaneous interpreters, Mexican Consulate Rep, and regular court personnel
75 migrants/refugees on the docket today--All in 5-point shackles. There were 12 women. 47 were charged with Illegal Entry (1325) and 28 had the additional charge of Illegal Re-entry after Removal (1326). This judge does not mention country of origin or place of entry into Arizona but the Guatemalan Liaison said there were 22 Guatemalans and 6 from Ecuador. The judge later said there was 1 from Ecuador, Peru and Honduras. Both agree there were many Central Americans and a few South Americans.
At least 23 migrants were arrested the day they entered. 2 men were arrested 2 weeks after entering Arizona. The majority spent 2 to 4 days in our cold, wet desert before being picked up.
9 people were dismissed at the start of proceedings—usually Guatemalans or people from southern Mexico because of a language issue.
Eugenia Dionicio Gomez—19-22113M, (Atty Victoria Trull) was continued for a status hearing until March 1 at 3:30.
Diana Nadia Garcia Norzagaray—19-22112M (Atty Charles Thomas) had her initial today, was continued until 2/22 at 10:15 and was detained. I think her husband or other relative was in the court. He talked to her lawyer and left after she was seen.
Judge MacDonald addressed the lawyers and told them he had all the requests and would not repeat them but they could if they wished. Also they or their clients could speak up though he would not ask. Actually he did mention some of these requests unprompted and did ask at times if anyone had a comment.
This judge saw the defendants in groups of about 20 and addressed them together. He then called groups of 7-8 to stand before the bench with their lawyers and asked 4 question to each—3 yeses and a guilty. He has a clear voice, concise questions and a very systematic procedure. This day there was little confusion.
41 of those charged with 1325 were sentenced to ´time served´ including one from the plea group who had the re-entry charge dropped. 4 credible fear/asylum requests were mentioned but none in depth. There may be more.
John Jesus Sacha Huerta—19-22104MP (Atty Daniel Anderson) has an asylum claim.
Jostin Steven Camas Pichasaca—19-22167MP (Atty Charles Thomas) does have a CFI request though may not be reflected on the I213.
A couple (husband/wife, brother/sister?) had a CFI request that they may not wish to pursue.
Jose Leandro Nufio Interiano—19-22120MP (Atty David Maldonado) and
Karo Fernanda Nufio Interiano—19-22123MP (Atty Fernanda Muñoz)
22 of the 1325/1326 group had the felony charge dropped and were sentenced to 900 days for the misdemeanor (16X30, 2X60, 4X75) most likely to be served in a core Civic private prison in Florence.
Visitors/Observers: One relative who stayed only until his family member was seen; Katie with a group of 9 from the Kino Border Initiative—they were from Napa Valley CA and included two retired judges; one GV Sam.
Judge MacDonald came to talk to the group and was later joined by Judge Velasco. He talked about his mandate to treat defendants with dignity, insure due process and help this hearing go quickly. Any discussion of charges and sentences is done in the morning with their lawyers and the prosecutor. At noon the migrants are in cells without shackles and return shackled at 1:30. He has no discretion as to sentencing except with the misdemeanors where he can ignore a prior brought up by the prosecutor and generally he does.
He said this process is not that different from the single ´flip/flop´calendar heard upstairs at 9:30 in groups of 30. 80% of the trials heard in this court are criminal immigration or drug cases. Phoenix courts have a different case distribution.
He and the retired judges talked about the problem of mimicry and how to insure a defendant understands when so many are tried at once—no solution.
Judge MacDonald went to Nogales last week to help at the soup kitchen.
Both He and Judge Velasco think the immigration system is broken. Judge V. talked of the very many different kinds of court and how that added to the confusion.
Velasco: ´You are SUPPOSED to go to the port of entry (to ask for asylum) and they are SUPPOSED to let you in¨.
¨We´re great on punishment but not so good on anything else.¨
Judge Velasco will retire at the end of March but will continue as an OS substitute once a week to give the scheduled judge a break.
Note on last week´s case of the man hearing voices, a client of Saul Huerta. They have contacted the family and are working on getting medical records from Mexicali.
The outcome is unsure but Mr. Huerta is following up.