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Judge recommends dismissal of jail immigration lawsuit
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A federal magistrate judge recommended this month the dismissal of a lawsuit challenging the immigration program in place at the Hall County Jail, according to court documents..

Nicholas Montalvan Ceballos and Jose Santos Delgado, both represented by Gainesville attorney Arturo Corso, were the plaintiffs in a habeas corpus petition regarding the 287(g) program. Hall County entered the program in 2007, a partnership with Immigration and Customs Enforcement at the local law enforcement level.

Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch and Solicitor General Stephanie Woodard were named as defendants in the case.

United States Magistrate Judge J. Clay Fuller issued a report and recommendation June 7 on the case and motions filed so far and recommended the case be dismissed.

“To the extent that (Ceballos and Delgado) seek to have Hall County’s participation in the 287(g) program declared illegal, they lack standing to seek such relief,” Fuller wrote.

The crux of the case is Corso’s claim that defendants are moved into deportation proceedings before the preceding arrest ever comes before a judge, according to the complaint.

Ceballos is in ICE custody, and the 287(g) hold formerly on Delgado was lifted, which the attorneys for Hall County argue makes the case moot.

“This has happened over and over to different clients of mine over the years, and we’ve tried before to raise this issue in the courthouse, and every time it comes up, we get slayed by this mootness rule,” Corso said.

Because Fuller’s recommendation as a U.S. magistrate judge can be accepted or rejected by the U.S. District Court judge, Hall County’s attorney Bill Blalock said the matter is considered pending litigation and could not comment when reached Friday by The Times.

A similar case was presented regarding Cobb County’s participation in the 287(g) program, which said that the plaintiffs “could not show the likelihood of future harm” by this program, according to Fuller’s report.

While saying he does “appreciate and respect the judge’s opinion,” Corso said he will file a response to the recommendation within the time period allotted.

Corso said the issue with challenging the program on its legal merits is a “small window of opportunity.”

“We have a window of maybe two weeks to four months time within which we can become aware of the violation, become aware of the problem, file suit and get in front of a judge,” he said. “The court system just doesn’t move that fast.”

Corso said Delgado has had his case indicted and is moving toward the trial stage.

“Even if we don’t win the day in federal court, it looks like we are going to be able to win the day for Mr. Delgado in Superior Court by having a trial on his innocence,” Corso said.

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