Reid v. Donelan

Decision Date09 July 2019
Docket NumberCivil Action No. 13-30125-PBS
Citation390 F.Supp.3d 201
Parties Mark Anthony REID; Robert Williams; and Leo Felix Charles, on behalf of themselves and others similarly situated, Plaintiffs/Petitioners, v. Christopher DONELAN, Sheriff, Franklin County, et al., Defendants/Respondents.
CourtU.S. District Court — District of Massachusetts

Lauren Carasik, Western New England College School of Law, Springfield, MA, Marisol Orihuela, Pro Hac Vice, Muneer I. Ahmad, Pro Hac Vice, My Khanh Ngo, Zachary-John Manfredi, Pro Hac Vice, Amber Qureshi, Clare Kane, Erin Drake, Jerome N. Frank Legal Services Organization Yale Law School, Michael J. Wishnie, Pro Hac Vice, Lunar Mai, Pro Hac Vice, Michael J. Wishnie, Yale Law School, New Haven, CT, Michael Tan, Pro Hac Vice, Ahilan Arulanantham, Pro Hac Vice, American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, Anant K. Saraswat, Michelle K. Nyein, Wolf, Greenfield & Sacks, PC, Matthew Segal, Boston, MA, for Plaintiffs/Petitioners.

Elianis N. Perez, Catherine M. Reno, Colin Abbott Kisor, Huy Le, J. Max Weintraub, Janette L. Allen, Lauren E. Fascett, Yamileth G. Davila, U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Immigration Litigation, Washington, DC, Karen L. Goodwin, United States Attorney's Office, Springfield, MA, for Defendants/Respondents.


Saris, C.J.


In this class action, Plaintiffs challenge the constitutionality of mandatory detention of noncitizens with certain criminal convictions who have been detained for more than six months during removal proceedings without the opportunity for a bond hearing pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c). Plaintiffs represent a class of "[a]ll individuals who are or will be detained within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts or the State of New Hampshire pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) for over six months and have not been afforded an individualized bond or reasonableness hearing." Reid v. Donelan, No. 13-30125-PBS, 2018 WL 5269992, at *8 (D. Mass. Oct. 23, 2018). Both Plaintiffs and the Government have moved for summary judgment on whether mandatory detention of the class members under 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) for over six months violates the Fifth Amendment Due Process Clause or the Eighth Amendment Excessive Bail Clause. After hearing, the Court ALLOWS IN PART and DENIES IN PART Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 453) and ALLOWS IN PART and DENIES IN PART the Government's motion for summary judgment (Docket No. 455).

In summary, the Court holds and declares as follows: First, as the Government agrees, mandatory detention without a bond hearing under 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) violates due process when an noncitizen's individual circumstances render the detention unreasonably prolonged in relation to its purpose in ensuring the removal of deportable noncitizens with criminal records. Second, the determination of whether mandatory detention without a bond hearing has become unreasonably prolonged is a fact-specific analysis. The most important factor in determining whether detention has become unreasonably prolonged is the length of the detention. The Court rejects Plaintiffs' request that the Court impose a bright-line six-month rule on the ground that it is unsupported by the record and the caselaw. Third, in the unusual instances when mandatory, categorical detention lasts for more than one year during agency removal proceedings, excluding any dilatory tactics attributable to the noncitizen, the delay is likely to be unreasonable. This one-year period reflects the Government's own regulations and policies, which aim to complete removal proceedings in no more than nine months, and statistics showing that most removal proceedings take less than one year. However, detention of under a year may be unreasonably prolonged if the matter just lingers on the immigration court or Board of Immigration Appeals ("BIA") docket.

Fourth, a noncitizen subject to mandatory detention without a bond hearing under § 1226(c) must bring a habeas petition in federal court to challenge his detention as unreasonably prolonged. If the court agrees, the individual is entitled to a bond hearing before an immigration judge at which the Government bears the burden of proving that he is either dangerous by clear and convincing evidence or a risk of flight by a preponderance of the evidence. If the Government demonstrates that the individual is dangerous or a risk of flight, for example if he has a serious criminal record, he is not entitled to release. Fifth, in making its release determination, the immigration court may not impose excessive bail, must evaluate the individual's ability to pay in setting bond, and must consider alternative conditions of release such as GPS monitoring that reasonably assure the safety of the community and the individual's future appearances.


The Court assumes familiarity with the complex procedural posture of this case from its October 23, 2018 memorandum and order and only briefly summarizes the relevant background. See Reid, 2018 WL 5269992, at *1-3.

On July 1, 2013, Plaintiff Mark Anthony Reid filed a petition for writ of habeas corpus and complaint for injunctive relief that raised statutory and constitutional claims challenging mandatory detention under § 1226(c). On January 9, 2014, the court (Ponsor, J.) granted Reid's individual habeas petition. Reid v. Donelan, 991 F. Supp. 2d 275, 282 (D. Mass. 2014), aff'd, No. 14-1270, 2018 WL 4000993 (1st Cir. May 11, 2018). Following its earlier decision in Bourguignon v. MacDonald, 667 F. Supp. 2d 175 (D. Mass. 2009), the court held that § 1226(c) "include[d] a ‘reasonableness’ limit on the length of time an individual can be detained without an individualized bond hearing" to avoid due process concerns with indefinite detention, Reid, 991 F. Supp. 2d at 279. The court evaluated two approaches to implementing this reasonableness requirement: an automatic bond hearing once mandatory detention exceeds six months ("six-month rule") or a bond hearing only when mandatory detention has become unreasonable as analyzed on a case-by-case basis ("individualized reasonableness rule"). See id. at 279-82. The court determined that Reid was entitled to a bond hearing under either approach but suggested it would adopt the six-month rule. See id. at 279.

On February 10, 2014, the court (Ponsor, J.) certified the following class under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(b)(2) : "All individuals who are or will be detained within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts pursuant to 8 U.S.C. § 1226(c) for over six months and have not been afforded an individualized bond hearing." Reid v. Donelan, 297 F.R.D. 185, 194 (D. Mass. 2014). Three months later, the court (Ponsor, J.) awarded summary judgment and a permanent injunction to the class on the basis of its holding that § 1226(c) includes a requirement for a bond hearing after six months of mandatory detention. See Reid v. Donelan, 22 F. Supp. 3d 84, 88-89, 93-94 (D. Mass. 2014), vacated, No. 14-1270, 2018 WL 4000993 (1st Cir. May 11, 2018). The court also held that due process did not require that the Government bear the burden of proof at the class members' bond hearings, let alone by clear and convincing evidence. Id. at 92-93.

On appeal, the First Circuit agreed that "categorical, mandatory, and indeterminate detention raises severe constitutional concerns" and that the canon of constitutional avoidance necessitated reading a bond hearing requirement into § 1226(c). Reid v. Donelan, 819 F.3d 486, 494 (1st Cir. 2016), withdrawn, No. 14-1270, 2018 WL 4000993 (1st Cir. May 11, 2018). Disagreeing with the district court, however, the First Circuit held that Supreme Court precedent required it to adopt the individualized reasonableness rule. See id. at 495-98. It instructed district courts evaluating the reasonableness of § 1226(c) detention without a bond hearing to "examine the presumptions upon which [mandatory detention] was based (such as brevity and removability)" and consider "the total length of the detention; the foreseeability of proceedings concluding in the near future ...; the period of the detention compared to the criminal sentence; the promptness (or delay) of the immigration authorities or the detainee; and the likelihood that the proceedings will culminate in a final removal order." Id. at 500. Based on this holding, the First Circuit vacated the grant of summary judgment to Plaintiffs on the class claims. Id. at 501. Since its decision raised questions as to the continued propriety of class certification, the court declined to address Plaintiffs' cross-appeal challenging the district court's holding that due process does not require the Government to bear the burden of proof at a bond hearing. See id. The court noted, however, that Plaintiffs raised "a bevy of weighty constitutional arguments" concerning the procedural protections required at a bond hearing. Id.

Two months later, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in Jennings v. Rodriguez, a class action in the Ninth Circuit also challenging mandatory detention under § 1226(c). See ––– U.S. ––––, 136 S. Ct. 2489, 195 L.Ed.2d 821 (2016) (mem.). The First Circuit stayed this lawsuit pending resolution of Jennings. On February 27, 2018, the Supreme Court held that the explicit language in § 1226(c) requiring mandatory detention during removal proceedings barred courts from invoking the canon of constitutional avoidance to read an implicit requirement for bond hearings into the statute. Jennings v. Rodriguez, ––– U.S. ––––, 138 S. Ct. 830, 846-47, 200 L.Ed.2d 122 (2018). Because the Ninth Circuit did not decide if such mandatory detention is constitutional, the Court declined to rule on that question. See id. at 851.

Shortly thereafter, the First Circuit withdrew its previous opinion in this case. See Reid, 2018 WL 4000993, at *1. In a summary decision, it affirmed the district court's judgment for Reid individually, vacated the judgment for...

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