Stacy Ehrisman-Mickle, an immigration attorney, was visited by a family with two children in July, who wanted her representation. At the time, they couldn't pay her and went to their first hearing in September without a lawyer. A few days later, they came into her office to hire her, at which point she disclosed she would take the case — but the next hearing came during her maternity leave. She assured them that a motion to delay the hearing would likely be granted. Two other immigration judges had granted similar motions, so she didn't anticipate any pushback this time either.
However, it was not to be. Just a few days before the hearing — nearly a month after filing the motion — she was notified that Judge J. Dan Pelletier Sr. had denied her request. "No good cause," he wrote. "Hearing date set prior to counsel accepting representation." She was left to scramble for child care that she ultimately was unable to find — her baby was too young for day care, her husband was out of state for work, and she had no family nearby.
She wound up going to the hearing to represent her clients. She had her baby in tow, strapped to her body in a baby carrier. When the baby began to cry, as newborns are prone to do, the judge ripped her a new one, saying her behavior was inexcusable and her pediatrician must be livid because she exposed the infant to a germy environment (in fact, she had consulted with her daughter's pediatrician, who OK'd the event provided she wore her in a baby carrier and didn't allow anyone to touch her).
Here's the thing. The judge claimed there was no good reason to delay the hearing, even though there had been plenty of warning, it was a reasonable request, the clients were in agreement and it would have been better for everyone involved. The guy hates babies? Then reschedule the hearing. If it was easy enough for two other judges to grant a delay, then it should have been reasonable for this judge to do the same. And if the attorney has to bring her infant with her, then don't be an unprofessional, insensitive jerk. Ehrisman-Mickle said she felt humiliated and embarrassed. I can only imagine.
The judge ultimately decided to delay the hearing, but in the meantime, Ehrisman-Mickle has filed a complaint against the judge, given a statement and is currently waiting to hear back.
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