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Case Name Castillo v. Nielsen IM-CA-0138
Docket / Court 5:18-cv-01317-ODW-MAA ( C.D. Cal. )
State/Territory California
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Prison Conditions
Attorney Organization ACLU of Southern California
Case Summary
On June 19, 2018, Immigrant Defenders Law Center (IDLC) and private plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sued to challenge policies relating to immigrants held at the FCI ... read more >
On June 19, 2018, Immigrant Defenders Law Center (IDLC) and private plaintiffs filed this lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. The plaintiffs sued to challenge policies relating to immigrants held at the FCI Victorville Medium Security Prison. They alleged that the individuals had been denied the ability to visit, consult with, or contact an attorney since their incarceration at the prison. The plaintiffs, represented by the ACLU and private counsel, sought a writ of habeas corpus, as well as declaratory and injunctive relief. The complaint alleged violations of the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), the Fifth Amendment's Due Process clause, and the First Amendment. The plaintiffs also requested a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO) to allow detainees to consult with attorneys and attend “know your rights” trainings. The case was assigned to Judge Otis Wright.

Judge Wright granted the plaintiffs' request for a TRO on June 21, 2018, finding that the plaintiffs would suffer irreparable harm if injunctive relief was not granted. The TRO required the defendants to permit individuals incarcerated at FCI Victorville to communicate with immigration attorneys, conduct “know your rights” trainings for the detainees, and halt any proceedings until the detainees had an opportunity to consult with an attorney or attend such a training. Judge Wright also ordered the defendants to show cause why the court should not issue a preliminary injunction. Judge Wright extended the TRO multiple times in August 2018.

On August 28, Judge Wright extended the TRO again pending determination of whether a preliminary injunction should be issued. On October 16, 2018, the plaintiffs withdrew their request for a preliminary injunction. On December 14, the court asked the parties to file a joint report explaining why this case should not be dismissed since neither party had taken subsequent steps to prosecute the matter. The parties subsequently filed a sealed joint status report.

On October 30, 2019, the plaintiffs filed a stipulation to voluntarily dismiss the case. On November 21, they filed a motion for attorneys' fees under the Equal Access to Justice Act (EAJA). On December 2, 2019, Judge Wright ordered the case dismissed without prejudice.

After that, the parties litigated attorneys' fees disputes. The plaintiffs sought $190,718.89 in fees and costs under the EAJA, and the defendants argued that the court should deny the motion as: (1) the plaintiffs were not prevailing parties; (2) the defendants' position was substantially justified; and (3) the plaintiffs’ fees were unreasonable and should be reduced. The court granted the plaintiff's motion on May 26, 2020. Judge Wright found that the plaintiffs were the prevailing parties, citing the TRO, and that the attorneys provided specialized expertise. As such, their requested fees and costs were reasonable. The case is now closed.

Sichun Liu - 02/10/2019
Sam Kulhanek - 04/19/2020
Lily Sawyer-Kaplan - 09/15/2021

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Constitutional Clause
Due Process
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Access to lawyers or judicial system
Failure to train
Detention - conditions
Immigration lawyers
Plaintiff Type
Non-profit NON-religious organization
Private Plaintiff
Special Case Type
Type of Facility
Causes of Action Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 551 et seq.
Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. §§ 1101 et seq.
Defendant(s) Department of Homeland Security
Plaintiff Description Immigrant detainees held at FCI Victorville Medium Security Prison and the Immigrant Defenders Law Center.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations ACLU of Southern California
Class action status sought No
Class action status outcome Not sought
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Attorneys fees
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement Voluntary Dismissal
Order Duration 2018 - 2018
Filed 06/19/2018
Case Closing Year 2020
Case Ongoing No
Additional Resources
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  See this case at (May provide additional documents and, for active cases, real-time alerts)
  ACLU website on Castillo v. Nielsen
Date: Mar. 13, 2019
(ACLU Southern California)
[ Detail ] [ External Link ]

Court Docket(s)
C.D. Cal.
IM-CA-0138-9000.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
C.D. Cal.
Complaint [ECF# 1]
IM-CA-0138-0002.pdf | Detail
Source: ACLU
C.D. Cal.
Temporary Restraining Order and Order to Show Cause [ECF# 10]
IM-CA-0138-0001.pdf | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
C.D. Cal.
Amended Order Granting Plaintiffs' Motion for Attorneys' Fees [49] [ECF# 64] (2020 WL 2840065)
IM-CA-0138-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
show all people docs
Judges Scott, Karen E Court not on record [Magistrate] show/hide docs
Wright, Otis D. II (C.D. Cal.) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0138-0001 | IM-CA-0138-0003 | IM-CA-0138-9000
Plaintiff's Lawyers Arulanantham, Ahilan T (California) show/hide docs
Bitran, Eva Lucia (California) show/hide docs
Havens, Cassandra Eva (California) show/hide docs
Kaufman, Michael Bryan (California) show/hide docs
IM-CA-0138-0002 | IM-CA-0138-9000
Tsitsuashvili, Jaba (District of Columbia) show/hide docs
Ulin, John C. (California) show/hide docs
Defendant's Lawyers Pinchas, David E (California) show/hide docs
Wilson, Geoffrey Daniel (California) show/hide docs

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