An immigration judge in Atlanta denied an attorney’s request to delay a hearing that fell during her six-week maternity leave and then scolded her in front of a packed courtroom when she showed up with her 4-week-old strapped to her chest and the infant began to cry, the attorney said.
When Stacy Ehrisman-Mickle took on two young brothers as clients in early September, she immediately filed a request to postpone their next hearing, which was set for a month later, she said. In an order denying her request, Immigration Judge J. Dan Pelletier Sr. wrote, “No good cause. Hearing date set prior to counsel accepting representation.”
Reached by phone Thursday, Pelletier said immigration judges can’t make public comment and referred questions to the public affairs office of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, the branch of the Department of Justice that oversees immigration courts. That office said in an email it couldn’t comment on the judge’s action and that a complaint had been filed and was being processed.
Ehrisman-Mickle’s clients came to her in early July for a consultation, but they couldn’t afford to hire her right away, she said. They went to their first immigration court hearing on Sept. 2 without a lawyer and then came to Ehrisman-Mickle’s office with their mother four days later, on a Saturday, to hire her.
Ehrisman-Mickle told them she would take their case but that their next hearing on Oct. 7 fell during her maternity leave. She told them she’d have to file a motion to delay the hearing but that it shouldn’t be a problem because two other immigration judges had already granted similar motions based on letters from her doctor, she said.