University of Michigan Law School
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Case Name Haitian Refugee Ctr. v. Smith IM-FL-0007
Docket / Court 79-2086-Civ-JLK ( S.D. Fla. )
State/Territory Florida
Case Type(s) Immigration and/or the Border
Case Summary
On May 9, 1979, the Haitian Refugee Center and eight individual Haitians brought a class action on behalf of over 4,000 Haitians in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, challenging the legality of the "Haitian Program." This program was instituted by the Immigration and ... read more >
On May 9, 1979, the Haitian Refugee Center and eight individual Haitians brought a class action on behalf of over 4,000 Haitians in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida, challenging the legality of the "Haitian Program." This program was instituted by the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in the summer of 1978 to accelerate the processing of applications made by Haitians for asylum. Haitians fled their country and feared persecution, imprisonment and death if they returned. Under the program, all of their political asylum claims were denied by the INS. The Haitians alleged that the actions of INS constituted impermissible discrimination on the basis of their national origin.

After a non-jury trial, the District Court (Judge James Lawrence King) issued a lengthy opinion dated July 2, 1980, in which it found that the manner in which INS treated the more than 4,000 Haitian plaintiffs "violated the Constitution, the immigration statutes, international agreements, INS regulations and INS operating procedures. It must stop." Haitian Refugee Center v. Civiletti, 503 F.Supp. 442 (S.D.Fla.1980). Judge King ordered the government to submit a plan for reprocessing the applications for asylum to the court for its approval and enjoined further deportation proceedings against class members. The government appealed and the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed with some modifications. Haitian Refugee Center v. Smith, 676 F.2d 1023 (5th Cir.1982).

After the appeal, the District Court awarded the plaintiffs attorneys' fees and costs of $441,094.98. Haitian Refugee Center, Inc. v. Smith, 644 F.Supp. 382 (S.D.Fla. 1984). The Court of Appeals affirmed. Haitian Refugee Center v. Meese, 791 F.2d 1489 (11th Cir. 1986). On rehearing, the judgment was vacated in part, to the extent that the District Court's fee award included "fees for fees" ($14,472.35 awarded to the attorneys for their work on the application for fees in this case). In all other respects, the fee award was left intact. Haitian Refugee Center v. Meese, 804 F.2d 1573 (11th Cir. 1986).

Dan Dalton - 01/03/2008

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Issues and Causes of Action
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Asylum - criteria
Asylum - procedure
Cuban/Haitian entrant
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Causes of Action Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. ยงยง 1101 et seq.
Defendant(s) Attorney General of the United States
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS)
Secretary of State
Plaintiff Description Over 4,000 Haitians who had petitioned for political asylum in this country.
Class action status sought Yes
Class action status granted Yes
Filed Pro Se No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer Yes
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Source of Relief Litigation
Order Duration 1982 - n/a
Filing Year 1979
Case Closing Year 1986
Case Ongoing No
No docket sheet currently in the collection
General Documents
Opinion (503 F.Supp. 442) (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0007-0002.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 07/02/1980
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (676 F.2d 1023)
IM-FL-0007-0001.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/24/1982
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (644 F.Supp. 382) (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0007-0003.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 05/25/1984
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (791 F.2d 1489)
IM-FL-0007-0004.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 06/24/1986
Source: Google Scholar
Opinion (804 F.2d 1573)
IM-FL-0007-0005.pdf | WESTLAW| LEXIS | Detail
Date: 12/04/1986
Source: Google Scholar
Judges Clark, Thomas Alonzo (Eleventh Circuit, Fifth Circuit)
IM-FL-0007-0004 | IM-FL-0007-0005
Henderson, Albert John (Eleventh Circuit, N.D. Ga., Fifth Circuit)
IM-FL-0007-0004 | IM-FL-0007-0005
Hill, James Clinkscales (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit, N.D. Ga.)
Hoffman, Walter Edward (E.D. Va.)
IM-FL-0007-0004 | IM-FL-0007-0005
King, James Lawrence (S.D. Fla.)
IM-FL-0007-0002 | IM-FL-0007-0003
Lynne, Seybourn Harris (N.D. Ala.)
Vance, Robert Smith (Fifth Circuit, Eleventh Circuit)
Plaintiff's Lawyers Barker, Timothy S. (California)
IM-FL-0007-0002 | IM-FL-0007-0003
Bierman, Donald I. (Florida)
Caldwell, Gary Lee (Florida)
IM-FL-0007-0001 | IM-FL-0007-0002
Dick, Mary D. (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0007-0004 | IM-FL-0007-0005
Forester, Steven (Florida)
Gollobin, Ira (New York)
Hunt, Thomas (Pennsylvania)
Hustead, Robert M. (Florida)
Kline, Thomas R. (Pennsylvania)
IM-FL-0007-0003 | IM-FL-0007-0004 | IM-FL-0007-0005
Kurzban, Ira J. (Florida)
IM-FL-0007-0001 | IM-FL-0007-0002 | IM-FL-0007-0003 | IM-FL-0007-0004 | IM-FL-0007-0005
Schey, Peter A. (California)
IM-FL-0007-0001 | IM-FL-0007-0002 | IM-FL-0007-0003
Sonnett, Neal R. (Florida)
Swartz, Dale (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0007-0001 | IM-FL-0007-0002
Trease, Nancy A. (Texas)
Weiss, Vera (Florida)
Defendant's Lawyers Bates, Lloyd G. Jr. (Florida)
Couvillon, Donald A. (District of Columbia)
Eskenazi, Jack (Florida)
Fromstein, Daniel E. (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0007-0001 | IM-FL-0007-0002
Kanter, William (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0007-0004 | IM-FL-0007-0005
Kellner, Leon (Florida)
Nail, William (Florida)
Nimkoff, Peter (Florida)
Singer, Michael Jay (District of Columbia)
IM-FL-0007-0004 | IM-FL-0007-0005
Wampler, Atlee W. III (Florida)
IM-FL-0007-0001 | IM-FL-0007-0002
Willard, Richard K. (District of Columbia)
Young, Rex (Florida)

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