The federal judge who sided with Texas and 25 other states to block President Barack Obama’s controversial immigration programs back in 2015 issued a scathing order on Thursday reprimanding Justice Department lawyers for their behavior in the case.
In an unusual opinion, replete with a reference to “Miracle on 34th Street,” Judge Andrew Hanen of the US. District Court for the Southern District of Texas ordered that certain DOJ lawyers attend ethics courses.
Thursday’s order does not impact the executive actions, which Hanen previously blocked. The Supreme Court heard arguments on the actions earlier this year and is expected to issue a ruling on the merits by the end of June.
The controversy arose when the government acknowledged early in the litigation that it had made mistakes as to representing when the government would begin implementing one of the programs.
Hanen said that both he and opposing counsel were assured that the government would not start implementing an expansion of a program called the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals until February 18, 2015.
The judge relied upon that date when he enjoined the program effective February 16.
In actuality, the government implemented a part of the program before February and granted over 100,000 applications.
Hanen said that after reading the government briefs on the issue he determined that” Justice Department lawyers knew the true facts and misrepresented those facts.”
“Such conduct is certainly not worthy of any department whose names includes the word ‘Justice’” Hanen wrote in the 28-page order that also includes dialogue from the movie “Bridge of Spies.” “Suffice it to say, the citizens of all fifty states, their counsel, the affected aliens and the judiciary all deserve better.”
“An attorney owes a duty of candor and honesty to the court, and at the very least a duty not to misrepresent the facts to a judge or opposing counsel,” he wrote.
“The department strongly disagrees with the order” Justice Department spokesman Patrick Rodenbush said.
In his order Hanen also requested that the government provide him with the names, under seal, of the individuals in each of the plaintiff states who were granted benefits during the time in which the attorneys for the Justice Department “promised that no benefits were being conferred.”
“This is the latest of a long line of outrageous, outsized orders from this court, all of which inflict real, lasting harm on Dreamers and families,” said Karen Tumlin, Legal Director of the National Immigration Law Center.” We urge the Department of Justice to take all necessary steps to protect Dreamers and their families in light of this latest order,” she said.
Near the end of the opinion he excerpted a portion of the film “Miracle on 34th Street” when a young Tommy Mara Jr. says ‘Gosh, everybody knows you shouldn’t tell a lie, especially in court.’
“There are certain attorneys in the Justice Department who apparently have not received that message,” Hanen said.
CNN’s Evan Perez contributed to this report