EOIR Swears in 31 New IJs, Including 4 ACIJs, on March 18, 2019

by Alexander J. Segal on Aug. 08, 2019

Immigration Immigration  Deportation Immigration  Visa 

Summary: On March 18, 2019, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) held an investiture ceremony to swear in 31 new immigration judges. Four of the 31 new immigration judges are assistant chief immigration judges who will oversee six immigration courts.

immigration attorney nycIntroduction

On March 18, 2019, the Executive Office for Immigration Review (EOIR) held an investiture ceremony to swear in 31 new immigration judges. Former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein delivered remarks at the investiture ceremony, which we discuss in a separate post [see blog]. In this post, we will look at each of the 31 new immigration judges with reference to their biographical information in the EOIR's notice on their swearing in [PDF version].

All of the new immigration judges discussed in this post were selected by former Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker. Four of the 31 new immigration judges are assistant chief immigration judges who will oversee six immigration courts. The other 27 immigration judges will serve across the country on 19 immigration courts. Notably, the Varick Street Immigration Court, which is situated near our Manhattan office, gained four new immigration judges in the March 18 investiture. We will first examine the four new assistant chief immigration judges and then the regular immigration judges, sorted by the courts on which they will serve.

To read about other immigration judge investiture ceremonies that we have covered, please see our article index [see index].

Assistant Chief Immigration Judges

Four new assistant chief immigration judges were sworn in on March 18, 2019. We examine their biographies below.

David M. Jones, Assistant Chief Immigration Judge, Baltimore Immigration Court

- “Prior to his appointment, Judge Jones served 26 years on active duty as a judge advocate in the U.S. Marine Corps, where he spent almost his entire career litigating and adjudicating criminal cases.”
- “Upon his retirement, Judge Jones was serving as an appellate judge on the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals. Prior to that, he served 11 years as a criminal trial judge, and an additional 11 years in a variety of prosecution and defense billets.”
- Law degree from the J. Reuben Clark Law School, Brigham Young University, in 1992.
- Masters of Law in Military Law (criminal) from The Judge Advocate General's School of the U.S. Army in 2003.

ACIJ Jones has well over two decades of experience working in military law, both as a lawyer and a judge.

Carrie C. Johnson-Papillo, Assistant Chief Immigration Judge, Elizabeth and Newark Immigration Courts

- 2008-2018: Deputy chief counsel with the Office of Chief Counsel (OCC), Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in New York.
- 2005-2008: Deputy chief in the Knowledge Management Division, Office of Principal Legal Advisor, ICE, DHS, in Washington D.C.
- 2003-2005: Assistant chief counsel, OCC, ICE, DHS, first in Newark and then in New York.
- Law degree from Washington University School of Law in 2003.

ACIJ Johnson-Papillo has extensive experience as a lawyer for ICE in three different capacities over the past 15 years.

Eric L. Dillow, Assistant Chief Immigration Judge, Harlingen and Port Isabel Immigration Courts

- 2012-2018: Veteran advocate and veteran's treatment court mentor trainer for the Douglas County Veterans Treatment Court, Omaha, Nebraska, and the Lancaster County Veterans Treatment Court, Lincoln, Nebraska.
- 1990-2012: Judge advocate for the U.S. Air Force (retired with rank of Colonel).
- Law degree from the University of Nebraska College of Law in 1990.

ACIJ Dillow's experience comes primarily from just over two decades as an attorney for the U.S. Air Force.

Joy Lampley-Fortson, Assistant Chief Immigration Judge, New Orleans Immigration Courts

- 2017-2019: Executive director of the Georgia Commission on Equal Opportunity by appointment of the Governor.
- 2007-2017: Trial attorney/assistant chief counsel with ICE, DHS, in Atlanta.
- 2001-2007: Assistant U.S. attorney in the Northern District of Georgia.
- 1997-2001: Assistant solicitor with the Office of the City Solicitor in Atlanta.
- Law degree from the University of Florida College of Law in 1996.

ACIJ Lampley-Fortson brings a range of experience to her new role as a supervisory immigration judge, having served in state government, as an ICE attorney, and as both a federal and state prosecutor.

Immigration Judges

The other 27 new immigration judges will sit as regular immigration judges on immigration courts and adjudication centers across the country. The following is the list of immigration courts that gained new judges in the March 18 swearing in. We will start with the Varick Street Immigration Court and then go through the rest of the immigration courts in alphabetical order.

- Varick Street Immigration Court (4) [New York]
- Arlington Immigration Court (2) [Virginia]
- Batavia Immigration Court [New York]
- Buffalo Immigration Court [New York]
- Chicago Immigration Court [Illinois]
- Falls Church Immigration Adjudication Center [Virginia]
- Fishkill Immigration Court [New York]
- Fort Worth Immigration Court [Texas]
- Harlingen Immigration Court [Texas]
- Houston Immigration Court (2) [Texas]
- Imperial Immigration Court [California]
- Newark Immigration Court (2) [New Jersey]
- Pearsall Immigration Court (2) [Texas]
- Phoenix Immigration Court [Arizona]
- Port Isabel Immigration Court [California]
- San Francisco Immigration Court (2) [California]
- San Juan Immigration Court [Puerto Rico]
- Seattle Immigration Court [Washington]
- Stewart Immigration Court [Georgia]

Shayne R. Burnham, Immigration Judge, Varick Street Immigration Court

- 2016-2019: Assistant chief counsel for the Office of the Chief Counsel, ICE, DHS, in Miami.
- 2011-2016: Assistant attorney general for the Florida Office of Criminal Appeals Division.
- Law degree from Syracuse University College of Law in 2010.

IJ Burnham has a mix of experience as a state prosecutor and ICE attorney over the past decade.

John W. Cortes, Immigration Judge, Varick Street Immigration Court

- 2003-2018: ten years as Assistant district attorney followed by five years as principal assistant district attorney for the Suffolk County New York District Attorney's Office, and as from 2013-2018 as a principal assistant district attorney.
- Law degree from New York Law School in 2002.

IJ Cortes' experience comes from his work for 15 years as a local prosecutor.

Monte J. Horton, Immigration Judge, Varick Street Immigration Court

- 2001-2019: Juvenile and domestic relations magistrate in Trumbull County.
- 1996-2001: Assistant prosecuting attorney in Trumbull County serving as chief of the Juvenile and Fraud Divisions.
- 1992-1995: Legal services for domestic violence victims; public defender; and private practice.
- Law degree from Ohio Northern University Claude W. Pettit College of Law in 1992.

IJ Horton served as a local magistrate judge in Ohio for 18 years prior to joining the immigration bench, and he has extensive experience dealing with cases involving juveniles both as a magistrate and as a prosecutor.

Francisco R. Prieto, Immigration Judge, Varick Street Immigration Court

- 2010-2019: Assistant chief counsel with ICE, DHS, in New York, New York.
- 2009-2010: Assistant chief counsel with ICE, DHS, in Miami, Florida.
- 2007-2009: Assistant attorney general at the New Mexico Attorney General's Office.
- 2006-2007: Assistant district attorney with the First Judicial District Attorney's Office, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
- 2004-2006: Examiner with AIG in New York and New Jersey.
- Law degree from St. John's University School of Law in 2000.

IJ Prieto has recent experience as an ICE lawyer and prior experience as a state and local prosecutor.

Wynne P. Kelly, Immigration Judge, Arlington Immigration Court

- 2008-2019: Assistant U.S. attorney in the District of Colombia.
- 2007-2008: Private practice.
- 2006-2007: Judicial clerk for Judge K. Michael Moore of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
- 2005-2006: Private practice.
- Law degree from Fordham University School of Law in 2005.

IJ Kelly entered the immigration bench with 11 years of experience as a federal prosecutor. Notably, he also previously worked as a law clerk for a federal district court judge.

Lolita M. Lukose, Immigration Judge, Arlington Immigration Court

- 2010-2019: Trial attorney with the Counterterrorism Section of the National Security Division at the Department of Justice (DOJ).
- 2007-2010: Attorney advisor in the National Security Law Section of the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, DHS, and assistant chief counsel with ICE, DHS, in the Arlington Chief Counsel's Office in Arlington, Virginia.
- 2005-2007: Assistant attorney general in the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Colombia.
- 2002-2005: Assistant district attorney in the District Attorney's Office in Bronx, New York.
- Law degree from American University, Washington College of Law in 2002.

IJ Lukose brings a wealth of federal prosecutorial experience to the immigration bench, and she also served a stint working as an ICE attorney about a decade ago.

Joy A. Merriman, Immigration Judge, Batavia Immigration Court

- 2016-2018: Senior attorney for the Office of Chief Counsel, ICE, DHS, in Buffalo, New York.
- 2012-2015: Homeland Security Investigations Embed for ICE.
- 2003-2012: Assistant chief counsel for ICE.
- 1996-2003: Assistant district counsel with former Immigration and Naturalization Service (ICE), DOJ.
- 1992-1996: Private practice as immigration lawyer.
- Law degree from State University of New York at Buffalo in 1992.

IJ Merriman worked at former INS and DHS in a variety of legal capacities for over three decades prior to her appointment as an immigration judge.

Mary C. Baumgarten, Immigration Judge, Buffalo Immigration Court

- 2007-2018: Assistant U.S. attorney in the Western District of New York.
- 2004-2007: Confidential law clerk for Judge Erin M. Peradotto, Appellate Division, 4th Department (NY).
- 2002-2004: Law clerk for Judge William M. Skretny of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York.
- 1989-2002: Private practice.
- Law degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School in 1989.

IJ Baumgarten worked for two stints as a judicial law clerk prior to serving for 11 years as a federal prosecutor leading into her service on the immigration bench.

Craig A. Defoe, Immigration Judge, Chicago Immigration Court

- 2016-2019: Attorney with the Office of Chief Counsel, Customs and Border Protection (CBP), DHS, in Chicago.
- 2009-2016: Trial attorney for the Office of Immigration Litigation, Civil Division, DOJ.
- 2007-2009: Staff attorney in the Staff Attorney's Office, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, in Atlanta.
- Law degree from Indiana University in 2007.

IJ Defoe served for three years as a CBP attorney and for seven years with the DOJ's Office of Immigration Litigation prior to taking the immigration bench.

Jeffrey L. Menkin, Immigration Judge, Falls Church Immigration Adjudication Center

- 2006-2018: Senior counsel for national security at the Office of Immigration Litigation, Civil Division, DOJ, in Washington D.C.
- 1991-1996: Trial attorney for the Fraud Section, Criminal Division, DOJ, in Washington D.C.
- 1987-1991: Private practice.
- 1985-1987: Deputy attorney general for the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice in Trenton, New Jersey.
- Law degree from Rutgers University School of Law in 1984.

IJ Menkin spent the prior twelve years working as an immigration litigator at DOJ. Prior to that, he worked as a federal and local prosecutor and in private practice.

Kyung S. Auh, Immigration Judge, Fishkill Immigration Court

- 2012-2019: Judge advocate assigned to the New York Air National Guard and Florida Air National Guard.
- 2016-2018: Assistant chief counsel for the Office of Chief Counsel, ICE, DHS, in Miami.
- 2010-2016: Assistant district attorney with the Queens County District Attorney's Office.
- 2007-2012: Various headquarters staff positions with the New York Air National Guard.
- Law degree from the City of New York University School of Law in 2010.

IJ Auh brings experience as a judge advocate for the Air National Guard, local prosecutor, and ICE attorney to the immigration bench.

Donald R. Eller Jr., Immigration Judge, Fort Worth Immigration Adjudication Center

- 1996-2018 Judge advocate in the U.S. Air Force (retired with the rank of Colonel).
- 1989-1993: Active duty in the U.S. Air Force.
- Law degree from the University of Texas School of Law in 1995.
IJ Eller worked for two decades as a judge advocate in the U.S. Air Force prior to retiring and becoming an immigration judge.

Melissa Joy Garcia, Immigration Judge, Harlingen Immigration Court

- 2008-2018: Assistant public defender, justice of the peace, and associate district judge in Webb County, Laredo, Texas.
- 2008-2008: Assistant city attorney for the City of Laredo, Texas.
- Law degree from St. Mary's School of Law in 2001.

IJ Garcia's experience comes primarily from working in various legal capacities in Laredo, Texas, over the past decade.

Sam Brown IV, Immigration Judge, Houston Immigration Court

- 2011-2019: Assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Texas.
- 2008-2011: Assistant district attorney in the Stone Mountain, Georgia, Judicial District.
- 2007-2008: Assistant district attorney in the Dublin, Georgia, Judicial Circuit.
- 2005-2007: Gun crime prosecutor for Project Safe Neighborhoods in the Macon, Georgia, Judicial Circuit.
- Law degree from Mercer University School of Law in 2005.

IJ Brown's prior experience comes exclusively as a federal and local prosecutor in Texas and Georgia.

Anwer A. Khan, Immigration Judge, Houston Immigration Court

- 2017-2019: Assistant chief counsel with ICE, DHS, in Houston.
- 2008-2017: Assistant chief counsel with ICE, DHS, in Los Angeles.
- 2015-2017: Special U.S. attorney for the Central District of California.
- 2006-2007: Judicial law clerk for EOIR, DOJ, in Phoenix, entering through the Attorney General's Honors Program.
- Law degree from the Sandra Day O'Connor College of Law at Arizona State University in 2006.

IJ Khan worked as an ICE attorney for 11 years prior to becoming an immigration judge.

Christian M. Pressman, Immigration Judge, Imperial Immigration Court

- 2003-2018: Assistant chief counsel for the Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, ICE, DHS, in Miami, Florida.
- 2002-2003: Assistant district counsel for the DOJ Attorney General's Honors Program.
- 2000-2002: Judicial law clerk for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.
- Law degree from the University of Miami in 1999 and Legum Magister from the University of Miami in 2000.

IJ Pressman worked as an ICE attorney for 15 years prior to becoming an immigration judge.

Shana W. Chen, Immigration Judge, Newark Immigration Court

- 2006-2019: Assistant U.S. attorney in the District of New Jersey.
- 2004-2005: Judicial law clerk in the Southern District of New York.
- 2001-2004: Private practice.
- Law degree from the Georgetown University Law Center in 2001.

IJ Chen's experience comes primarily from her work as a federal prosecutor in New Jersey.

Tamar H. Wilson, Immigration Judge, Newark Immigration Court

- 2017-2018: District court magistrate for the 18th Judicial District in Centennial, Colorado.
- 2015-2017: Assistant county attorney at the Arapahoe County Attorney's Office in Aurora, Colorado.
- 2013-2015: Deputy district attorney in the special victims unit and general felony prosecutions for the 18th Judicial District in Centennial, Colorado.
- 2002-2009: Deputy district attorney and a chief deputy district attorney for the 5th Judicial District in Breckenridge, Eagle, Georgetown, and Leadville, Colorado.
- Law degree from the University of Denver, College of Law.

IJ Wilson served as a local prosecutor for 15 years and as a magistrate judge for 2 years prior to becoming an immigration judge.

Elizabeth Martinez, Immigration Judge, Pearsall Immigration Court

- 2007-2018: Private practice.
- 2003-2007: Assistant Webb Count Public Defender in Laredo, Texas.
- 2001-2003: Juvenile prosecutor with the Office of Webb County Attorney in Laredo, Texas.
- Law degree from Texas Tech University School of Law in 2000.

The bulk of IJ Martinez's experience comes as a solo-practitioner, but she has also worked stints as a public defender and as a local prosecutor.

Walter L. “Bud” Paulissen, Immigration Judge, Pearsall Immigration Court

- 2000-2019: Assistant U.S. attorney in the Western District of Texas; Chief of Major Crimes in the Western District of Texas.
- 1990-2000: Assistant U.S. attorney in San Antonio and Houston, Texas.
- 1980-1990: Corporate and private law practice in Houston, Texas.

IJ Paulissen worked as a federal prosecutor for nearly three decades immediately prior to being sworn in as an immigration judge.

Elizabeth A. Cottor, Immigration Judge, Phoenix Immigration Court

- 2005-2019: Deputy county attorney with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, in Phoenix.
- 2000-2005: Private practice.
- 1998-2000: Deputy county attorney with the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, in Phoenix.
- 1996-1998: Attorney with the Securities Division of the Arizona Corporation Commission in Phoenix.
- Law degree from the William Mitchell School of Law in 1996.

IJ Cottor's experiences comes primarily from her service as a local prosecutor in Arizona.

Paul A. Hable, Immigration Judge, Port Isabel Immigration Court

- 2015-2019: Assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Texas.
- 2003-2015: Assistant district attorney in the Criminal District Attorney Offices of Navarro County and Johnson County, Texas.
- Law degree from St. Mary's School of Law in 2002.

IJ Hable worked as a local and federal prosecutor for 16 years prior to becoming an immigration judge.

Kelly B. Lake, Immigration Judge, San Francisco Immigration Court

- 2017-2018: Resident legal advisor, Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training Section, Criminal Division, in Islamabad, Pakistan.
- 2016-2017: Resident legal advisor, Overseas Prosecutorial Development and Training Section, Criminal Division, in Lagos, Nigeria.
- 2014-2016: Trial attorney in the Narcotic and Dangerous Drug Section, Criminal Division, in Washington D.C.
- 2010-2014: Assistant U.S. attorney in the District of the Virgin Islands.
- 2009-2010: Assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of Illinois.
- 2007-2008: Associate legal advisor, Office of the Principal Legal Advisor, ICE, DHS, in Washington D.C.
- 1999-2007: Deputy district attorney for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
- Law degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles.

IJ Lake has nearly two decades of experience as a local and federal prosecutor, and served two stints as a trainer for overseas prosecutors prior to becoming an IJ. She also served for a year as legal advisor to ICE in 2007-2008.

Anna C. Little, Immigration Judge, San Francisco Immigration Court

- 1994-2018: Private practice in Highlands, New Jersey.
- 2008-2010: Mayor of Highlands, New Jersey.
- 2006-2007: Freeholder, Monmouth County, New Jersey.
- Law degree from Seton Hall University School of Law in 1992.

IJ Little is the only one of the new IJs to have served in elected office, first on the Monmouth County Board of Chosen Freeholders and then for two years as Mayor of Highlands, New Jersey. Her legal experience comes exclusively from her work in private practice.

Julia Diaz-Rex, Immigration Judge, San Juan Immigration Court

- 2005-2019: Assistant U.S. attorney in various capacities for the U.S. Attorney's Office in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
- 1999-Present: Various capacities as a military lawyer and judge in the U.S. Army Reserve, Army National Guard, and U.S. Coast Guard Reserve (including military judge from 2017-2019).
- 2004-2005: Private practice.
- 2000-2004: Senior trial attorney/assistant attorney general with the Ohio Attorney General's Office in Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio.
- 1995-1999: Active duty judge advocate with the U.S. Coast Guard in Miami, Florida.
- 1994-1995: Assistant public defender in Barstow, Florida.
- Law degree from Western Michigan University Thomas M. Cooley Law School in 1993.

IJ Diaz-Rex has extensive experience as a federal prosecutor in Puerto Rico and as a military lawyer and judge for over two decades prior to taking the immigration bench.

Shane E. Johnson, Immigration Judge, Seattle Immigration Court

- 2002-2018: Judge advocate for the U.S. Navy.
- 1988-1994: Deep sea diver for the U.S. Navy.
- Law degree from the University of Idaho College of Law in 2002.

IJ Johnson served for 16 years as a judge advocate for the U.S. Navy prior to taking the immigration bench.

Jerome M. Rothschild Jr., Immigration Judge, Stewart Immigration Court

- 1997-2018: Assistant district attorney for the Chatham County Georgia District Attorney's Ofice.
- 1995-1997: Private practice.
- University of Georgia School of Law in 1995.

IJ Rothschild worked as a local prosecutor for 21 years prior to taking the immigration bench.

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