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(Photo: protestors demonstrating outside Irwin County Detention Center)

“22 women just went public with graphic descriptions of medical abuse in ICE detention,” reported Vice (11/19/20).

The First Amendment Clinic, together with UGA’s Community HeLP Clinic, represent one of these women and are helping all 22 to tell their stories in federal district court in the case of Oldaker v. Giles 7:20-cv-00224-WLS-MLS (M.D. Ga.). Each of the 22 women has filed a declaration supporting the claims of petitioner Yanira Yesenia Oldaker, who is represented by the Immigrants’ Rights Clinic at Columbia Law School.  The UGA clinics prepared a motion, filed by Oldaker’s lawyers, asking the court to allow 20 of the women to proceed under “Jane Doe” pseudonyms and to place all 22 declarations under seal.

The motion explains: “Regarding the non-party declarants in this case who are seeking to use a pseudonym and file under seal, disclosing their names in an action against [the Department of Homeland Security] means disclosing their names to the very government agency that controls immigration removal and has very recently (i.e., just days and weeks ago) demonstrated a pattern of retaliatory deportation of witnesses similarly situated to these declarants. Thus, the non-party declarants credibly fear that unless their declarations are filed pseudonymously, they will be deported next.”

On November 24, 2020 the Court granted the motion in its entirety.

While normally the First Amendment Clinic stands on the side of transparency in the courts, this time we argued for less public access in order to protect our client and the 21 other women from suffering retribution for exercising their free-speech right to describe their inhumane treatment to the court, and in so doing, petition the government for grievances.

Law student Anish Patel (3L) assisted clinic attorneys in preparing the motion.

New York University’s First Amendment Watch profiled the Clinic’s work in a December 2020 analytical feature.

Court Documents:

  • Memo of Law in Support of Sealing Motion (PDF)
  • Order Granting Motion (PDF)