Case: Jean v. Nelson

1:81-cv-01260 | U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida

Filed Date: June 10, 1981

Closed Date: 1990

Clearinghouse coding complete

Case Summary

In June 1981, a class of undocumented and incarcerated aliens from Haiti brought suit against the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, seeking a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and declaratory and injunctive relief. Petitioners claimed that the INS was conducting mass exclusion hearings which were being held without counsel and was unlawfully denying petitioners parole. The suit came as a result of a policy…

In June 1981, a class of undocumented and incarcerated aliens from Haiti brought suit against the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, seeking a writ of habeas corpus under 28 U.S.C. § 2241 and declaratory and injunctive relief. Petitioners claimed that the INS was conducting mass exclusion hearings which were being held without counsel and was unlawfully denying petitioners parole. The suit came as a result of a policy change by the INS in response to an influx of undocumented aliens to Florida from Haiti and Cuba. The Attorney General ordered the INS to detain all undocumented aliens in south Florida without parole.

The District Court (Judge Eugene P. Spellman) issued a TRO which was subsequently converted into a preliminary injunction. See Louis v. Meissner, 530 F.Supp. 924 (S.D.Fla.1981). Shortly after this case was filed, the government conceded that the exclusion orders entered at the mass hearings were invalid and those orders were vacated.

The claims in the petitioners' original complaint were pared down by the Court's order sustaining in part the government's motion to dismiss. Louis v. Meissner, 532 F.Supp. 881 (S.D.Fla.1982). Three primary claims survived dismissal: (1) that the INS' no parole policy had violated the notice-and-comment rule-making procedures of the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), 5 U.S.C. § 553 and (2) that the INS had discriminated against petitioners on the basis of race and national origin (black and Haitian) in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the Fifth Amendment and (3) a claim that they were unlawfully denied their First Amendment rights of access to legal counsel, relatives, and friends in the Miami community.

The District Court (Judge Eugene P. Spellman) certified the case as a class action, defining the class as "all Haitian aliens who have arrived in the Southern District of Florida on or after May 20, 1981, who are applying for entry into the United States and also are presently in detention pending exclusion proceedings at various INS detention facilities, for whom an order of exclusion has not been entered...."

After discovery and a lengthy bench trial, the District Court (Judge Eugene P. Spellman) found for the plaintiffs on their APA claim but concluded that they failed to prove discrimination on the basis of race or national origin and dismissed the First Amendment claim as moot. The Court issued an injunction against the INS parole policy, Louis v. Nelson, 544 F.Supp. 1004, 1005 (SD Fla.1982), but stayed the injunction so that the INS could reissue a new policy in compliance with the APA notice requirements. Louis v. Nelson, 1982 WL 1583 (S.D.Fla. Jul 02, 1982). Both parties appealed. A panel opinion was rendered, Jean v. Nelson, 711 F.2d 1455 (11th Cir. 1983), but a request for rehearing en banc was granted. Jean v. Nelson, 714 F.2d 96 (11th Cir. 1983)

While the appeal was pending, the INS issued a new regulation, 8 CFR § 212.5 (1985), which prohibited the consideration of race or national origin in parole determinations. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, en banc, held that the APA claim was moot because of the new INS rule, and they determined that excludable aliens such as the Haitian petitioners have no constitutional rights with respect to their applications for admission, asylum, or parole. Jean v. Nelson, 727 F.2d 957 (11th Cir. 1984). The case was remanded to the district court for consideration of whether INS officials exercised their discretion under statute to make individualized parole determinations, and whether they exercised such discretion without regard to race or national origin. The court held that the access claim was not moot and remanded it to the district court for full consideration.

A subsequent request for rehearing was denied. Jean v. Nelson, 733 F.2d 908 (11th Cir. 1984). The Supreme Court granted certiorari. Jean v. Nelson, 469 U.S. 1071, 105 S.Ct. 563, 83 L.Ed.2d 504 (1984). The Supreme Court affirmed the Eleventh Circuit en banc opinion in part, but held that the Eleventh Circuit should not have addressed the Fifth Amendment equal protection claim, as the regulations that were then in effect called for parole decisions to be made without regard to race or national origin. Jean v. Nelson, 472 U.S. 846, 105 S.Ct. 2992, 86 L.Ed.2d 664 (1985).

Aside from the proceedings on the merits, litigation followed regarding the technical aspects of vacating the initial District Court injunction, see Jean v. Nelson, 854 F.2d 405 (11th Cir. 1988), and on the issue of attorneys' fees. With regard to fees, the District Court found that petitioners were "prevailing parties" within the meaning of the Equal Access to Justice Act in that they obtained the relief they sought in the District Court. It awarded over $1 million in fees and costs. Louis v. Nelson, 624 F.Supp. 836 (SD Fla.1985) (initial order), Louis v. Nelson, 646 F.Supp. 1300 (SD Fla.1986) (corrected memorandum after hearing). The fee award generated another round of appeals. See Jean v. Nelson, 863 F.2d 759 (11th Cir. 1988)(affirming the "prevailing party" finding, but remanding for recalculation), certiorari granted by Commissioner, I.N.S. v. Jean, 493 U.S. 1055, 110 S.Ct. 862, 107 L.Ed.2d 947 (1990) and judgment affirmed by Commissioner, I.N.S. v. Jean, 496 U.S. 154, 110 S.Ct. 2316, 110 L.Ed.2d 134 (1990).

We have no further information on the case.

Summary Authors

Dan Dalton (12/31/2007)

People


Judge(s)

Anderson, Robert Lanier III (Georgia)

Blackmun, Harry Andrew (District of Columbia)

Brennan, William Joseph Jr. (District of Columbia)

Clark, Thomas Alonzo (Georgia)

Edmondson, James Larry (Georgia)

Eschbach, Jesse Ernest (Indiana)

Fay, Peter Thorp (Florida)

Godbold, John Cooper (Louisiana)

Hatchett, Joseph Woodrow (Florida)

Henderson, Albert John (Georgia)

Judge(s)

Anderson, Robert Lanier III (Georgia)

Blackmun, Harry Andrew (District of Columbia)

Brennan, William Joseph Jr. (District of Columbia)

Clark, Thomas Alonzo (Georgia)

Edmondson, James Larry (Georgia)

Eschbach, Jesse Ernest (Indiana)

Fay, Peter Thorp (Florida)

Godbold, John Cooper (Louisiana)

Hatchett, Joseph Woodrow (Florida)

Henderson, Albert John (Georgia)

Hill, James Clinkscales (Florida)

Johnson, Frank Minis Jr. (Alabama)

Kravitch, Phyllis A. (Georgia)

Marshall, John (District of Columbia)

Powell, Lewis Franklin Jr. (District of Columbia)

Rehnquist, William Hubbs (District of Columbia)

Roney, Paul Hitch (Florida)

Scalia, Antonin (District of Columbia)

Spellman, Eugene P. (Florida)

Stevens, John Paul (District of Columbia)

Tjoflat, Gerald Bard (Florida)

Vance, Robert Smith (Alabama)

Wisdom, John Minor (Louisiana)

Attorneys(s) for Plaintiff

Blum, Irwin (New York)

Combs, Mary (Florida)

Corrigan, Terrence A. (District of Columbia)

Fleischner, Robin A. (New York)

Forester, Steven (Florida)

Frenzen, Niels (Florida)

Gilmore, Mary B. (New York)

Golden, Anne (New York)

Hall, Christopher K. (New York)

Juceam, Robert E. (New York)

Kurzban, Ira J. (Florida)

Lipsman, Sandra M (New York)

Rosen, Michael (Florida)

Smith, William French (District of Columbia)

Stotzky, Irwin P (Florida)

Susskind, Jeffrey (New York)

Weisz, Vera (Florida)

Winick, Bruce (Florida)

Attorneys(s) for Defendant

Bombaugh, Robert L. (District of Columbia)

Doyle, Mary K. (District of Columbia)

Giuliani, Rudolph (New York)

Herwig, Barbara L. (District of Columbia)

Kellner, Leon (Florida)

Kenny, Patricia (Florida)

Koehmstedt, Mary T. (District of Columbia)

Larkin, Paul J. (District of Columbia)

Lee, Rex E. (District of Columbia)

Lindemann, Michael (District of Columbia)

Marcus, Stanley (Florida)

Mosely, Thomas E (Florida)

O'Donnell, Sonia (Florida)

Singer, Michael Jay (District of Columbia)

Strickland, Nade E (Georgia)

Other Attorney(s)

Peters, Jim (Florida)

Tucker, J Kendrick (Florida)

Expert/Monitor/Master

Simpson, Marla (New York)

Documents in the Clearinghouse

Document

1:81-cv-01260

Opinion

Louis v. Nelson

544 F.Supp. 973

June 18, 1982

June 18, 1982

Order/Opinion

1:81-cv-01260

Opinion

Lucien Louis v. Alan Nelson

1982 WL 1583

July 2, 1982

July 2, 1982

Order/Opinion

82-05772

On Motion for Partial Stay

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

683 F.2d 1311

July 13, 1982

July 13, 1982

Order/Opinion

82-05772

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

711 F.2d 1455

April 12, 1983

April 12, 1983

Order/Opinion

82-05772

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

714 F.2d 96

Aug. 16, 1983

Aug. 16, 1983

Order/Opinion

1:81-cv-01260

Opinion

Louis v. Meissner

532 F.Supp. 881

Feb. 24, 1984

Feb. 24, 1984

Order/Opinion

82-05772

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

727 F.2d 957

May 4, 1984

May 4, 1984

Order/Opinion

82-05772

Opinion

U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit

733 F.2d 908

May 4, 1984

May 4, 1984

Order/Opinion

84-05240

Opinion

Supreme Court of the United States

469 U.S. 1071, 83 L.Ed.2d 504

Dec. 3, 1984

Dec. 3, 1984

Order/Opinion

84-05240

Opinion

Supreme Court of the United States

472 U.S. 846

June 26, 1985

June 26, 1985

Order/Opinion

Resources

Docket

Last updated Aug. 6, 2022, 3:22 a.m.

Docket sheet not available via the Clearinghouse.

Case Details

State / Territory: Florida

Case Type(s):

Immigration and/or the Border

Key Dates

Filing Date: June 10, 1981

Closing Date: 1990

Case Ongoing: No

Plaintiffs

Plaintiff Description:

All Haitian aliens who have arrived in the Southern District of Florida on or after May 20, 1981, who are presently in detention pending exclusion proceedings.

Plaintiff Type(s):

Private Plaintiff

Public Interest Lawyer: Yes

Filed Pro Se: No

Class Action Sought: Yes

Class Action Outcome: Granted

Defendants

Immigration and Naturalization Service, Federal

Case Details

Causes of Action:

Ex Parte Young (Federal) or Bivens

Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.

Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.

Availably Documents:

Any published opinion

U.S. Supreme Court merits opinion

Outcome

Prevailing Party: Plaintiff

Nature of Relief:

Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement

Source of Relief:

Litigation

Order Duration: 1982 - None

Content of Injunction:

Preliminary relief granted

Issues

General:

Habeas Corpus

Discrimination-basis:

National origin discrimination

Race discrimination

Immigration/Border:

Asylum - criteria

Asylum - procedure

Constitutional rights

Cuban/Haitian entrant

Detention - criteria

Detention - procedures

Refugees