Thursday, January 6, 2011

Court Orders Government to Provide Counsel to Mentally Incapacitated Aliens in Deportation Proceedings

As a general rule, aliens in deportation proceedings are not provided with legal counsel at taxpayer expense when they cannot afford to hire counsel on their own.

Recently, however, a Federal District Court Judge in California ordered the U.S. government to give a group of mentally incapacitated illegal immigrants legal representation to fight their deportations. In March, a group of attorneys and the ACLU of Southern California argued that the men's diminished mental capacities made them unable to represent their own interests.

The case involved a number of indigent, mentally incapacitated plaintiffs including Jose Franco-Gonzalez, 30, who spent nearly five years in immigration custody after pleading guilty to assault with a deadly weapon because authorities determined he was too mentally incompetent to represent himself in his own deportation hearings.  The U.S. District Court Judge hearing the case ruled that Franco and another plaintiff be released and that additional plaintiffs in the case be given representation for their hearings. 

Review the Complaint here.

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