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Ryan v. ICE

The Brennan Center filed two amicus briefs on behalf of former Massachusetts Judges urging ICE to halt its practice of making arrests in and around Massachusetts’ courthouses.

Last Updated: November 13, 2020
Published: May 20, 2020


On appeal before the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is Ryan v. ICE, a case on appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Massachu­setts concern­ing arrests made in and around court­houses by United States Immig­ra­tion and Customs Enforce­ment (ICE).

In April 2019, Massachu­setts District Attor­neys Marian Ryan and Rachael Rollins, the Commit­tee for Public Coun­sel Services (Massachu­setts’ public defender agency), and Chelsea Collab­or­at­ive, a community-based service provider, peti­tioned the District Court to prohibit civil immig­ra­tion arrests of persons in, coming to, or depart­ing from Massachu­setts’ courts on offi­cial busi­ness. The plaintiffs argue that, by making civil arrests of persons attend­ing court on offi­cial busi­ness, ICE has exceeded its author­ity, viol­ated centur­ies-old protec­tions against such arrests, and viol­ated provi­sions of the United States Consti­tu­tion that guar­an­tee access to the courts and prohibit the federal govern­ment from using state judi­cial branches for their own purposes. Judge Indira Talwani gran­ted a prelim­in­ary injunc­tion in favor of the plaintiffs, prevent­ing ICE from making such arrests while the case proceeded to trial (that order is avail­able here). ICE appealed Judge Talwan­i’s ruling to the First Circuit.

Amicus Brief of Former Massachu­setts Judges in Support of the Plaintiffs-Appellees

On May 21, 2020, the Bren­nan Center filed an amicus brief on behalf of former Massachu­setts judges in support of the plaintiffs. Sign­ing the brief are 19 former Massachu­setts judges with more than 350 years of combined exper­i­ence on the state’s trial, appel­late, and supreme courts. Based on their time on the bench, the judges speak in the brief to how these arrests under­mine access to the justice system, make it more diffi­cult for judges to admin­is­ter state judi­cial branches, and under­mine public confid­ence in the courts. On Octo­ber 27, 2020 the Bren­nan Center filed a second amicus brief on behalf of 12 former Massachu­setts judges in support of the plaintiff’s peti­tion for a rehear­ing.

Merits Briefs

Amicus Briefs in Support of Plaintiffs

Amicus Briefs in Support of Defend­ants