Immigration Law

‘This is so boring!’ Unmuted listeners interrupt phone hearing over ICE courthouse arrests

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A federal judge in Manhattan has threatened to end a phone hearing over courthouse arrests of immigrants after people listening in to the call failed to put their phones on mute.

After two interruptions, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff warned that he would end the call and proceed with written arguments if it happened again, Law360 reports. The telephone hearing took place to avoid interaction during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first interruption was a person complaining, “I’m having trouble with the darn thing!” That prompted Rakoff’s first request to mute. The second was a ringing telephone followed by an automated voicemail message, spurring Rakoff’s threat to end the hearing.

“It’s unacceptable that people can’t follow the simple instruction of the court to put their phones on mute,” Rakoff said, according to Law360. “Even a child could do that.”

Everyone complied, for the most part. Later in the hearing, someone complained, “Oh, my God, this is so boring!”

Rakoff didn’t end the hearing, but the court reporter told everyone to mute.

Rakoff held the hearing in a suit by the state of New York that challenges civil arrests of immigrants at state courthouses by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The suit claims that the courthouse arrests impede the administration of justice.

Both sides have filed motions for summary judgment. Similar suits challenge courthouse ICE arrests in Massachusetts and Washington.

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