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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