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Judge orders DOJ lawyers to take ethics classes
A federal judge in Texas on Thursday tore into Justice Department lawyers who argued the immigration case involving the Obama administration, ordering them to take ethics classes.
In a blistering court order, U.S. District Court Just Andrew S. Hanen said he was "disappointed" about having to address the subject of lawyer behavior, calling it "at best, a distraction."
Hanen said any Department of Justice attorney who wants to argue in a state or federal court in any of the 26 states involved in the immigration case must take an annual three-hour ethics course for the next five years.
"Clearly, there seems to be a lack of knowledge about or adherence to the duties of professional responsibility in the halls of the Justice Department," Hanen wrote in his 28-page order, which quoted the films "Bridge of Spies" and "Miracle on 34th Street."
The judge ordered Attorney General Loretta Lynch to provide a "comprehensive plan" within 60 days on how to "prevent this unethical conduct from ever occurring again."
The reprimand Thursday came after the Obama administration granted 100,000 expanded work permits for undocumented immigrants despite Hanen issuing a ruling in February 2015 to temporarily block Obama's executive action. Hanen said he was misled by lawyers arguing the case as to when the Obama administration would implement the directive.
The judge ordered the administration to produce a list of those illegal immigrants who received three-year extensions in late 2014 and early 2015, including "all personal identifiers and locators including names, addresses." The judge said he may release part of the list "to the proper authorities in that particular state."
"The misconduct in this case was intentional, serious and material," Hanen wrote. "In fact, it is hard to imagine a more serious, more calculated plan of unethical conduct."
Hanen is at the center of the legal case filed by Texas and 25 other states against President Obama's executive action in 2014 aimed at shielding nearly 5 million illegal immigrants from deportation. The Supreme Court heard arguments in the case in April and is expected to rule on it by the end of June.