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Vague 4th Amendment Violation Claim? No Immigration Appeal Win

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

We think Reza Baniassadi suspected that his reputation in the Chicago legal community would be compromised when the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals dedicated one-third of its opinion in a recent immigration appeal to criticizing his performance as an attorney.

Baniassadi's client, Alicja Wroblewska, is a Polish citizen who came to the U.S. in 1994 on a visitor's visa. She overstayed her visa and was caught allegedly trying to bribe an immigration officer in November 1999 in Operation Durango, an Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) operation that the Seventh Circuit previously described as "a shady sting."

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals notes that the government's evidence that Wroblewska tried to bribe an INS officer is thin and circumstantial. In the opinion, the court states, "Were we in the IJ's [Immigration Judge's] shoes, faced with the government's assertion that an alien had bribed a federal immigration official, we would demand more than weak circumstantial evidence to support that allegation."

The court, however, lacks jurisdiction in an immigration appeal to review an IJ's decision denying an application for adjustment of status, so the only relief the court could afford Wroblewska was through constitutional review.

On this point, the court noted that Baniassadi seriously hampered Wroblewska's chances of winning her appeal by presenting a single, underdeveloped legal argument: that evidence gathered during Operation Durango should have been suppressed because the operation itself was an egregious violation of due process.

Unfortunately for Wroblewska, the Seventh Circuit ruled a year earlier in Krasilych v. Holder, another Operation Durango immigration appeal, that a petitioner who "blithely asserts that 'Fourth Amendment violations' in Operation Durango were 'widespread and egregious' " does not demonstrate a Fourth Amendment violation or a deprivation of any other liberty.

Baniassadi knew of Krasilych when he filed his brief, yet he blithely asserted that Operation Durango was "an egregious violation of due process rights," and did not explain why. The court, clearly frustrated with Baniassadi's failure to research or even file a reply, noted, "If there is a good due process challenge to Operation Durango out there, we would not know from the arguments made here."

Is the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals being too harsh about Baniassadi's lawyering skills? Probably not. An Illinois Appellate Court dismissed a $1 million lawsuit against Baniassadi earlier this year after another dissatisfied client claimed that Baniassadi's legal advice landed her in Homeland Security custody as a terrorist. (The court never considered the merits of the claim; the case was dismissed because it was time barred.)

Attorneys, you are on notice: the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals is ready to publicly shame you if you file a subpar appeal.

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