*VAWA Confidentiality and Discovery Cases (December 6, 2021)

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission v. Sol Mexican Grill LLC (June 11, 2019):

The Court found that Defendants’ Reply and attached exhibit contain improper evidence of what was said and done during the EEOC’s conciliation with Defendants. By statute, such information cannot be used as evidence in this lawsuit. Defendants’ Reply in Support of its partial Motion to Dismiss remains sealed at this point.

Memorandum on People v. Alvarez Alvarez (March 15, 2019):

The decision did not discuss or point out how the defendant knew the victim had applied for a U visa. The decision held that the exclusion of U visa evidence was constitutional and within the court’s discretion. However, VAWA confidentiality is not discussed or presented as an argument before the court.

Diaz Silvas v. Horning Brothers LLC (May 14, 2018):

Protective order barring U visa discovery granted.

Cazorla v. Koch Foods of Mississippi LLC Order on U-Visa Discovery (March 20, 2018):

In an employment action, discovery of U visa case file was limited because the court was concerned that full discovery might intimidate individual claimants, compromise the U visa program, and law enforcement efforts more broadly. The Fifth Circuit directed the district court to craft an approach to discovery that ensures identifying information about individual victims was not revealed. Note: This type of anonymity may not be possible in a criminal prosecution or family court matter.

Cazorla v. Koch Foods of Mississippi REVISED (February 23, 2017):

In an employment action, discovery of U visa case file was limited because the court was concerned that full discovery might intimidate individual claimants, compromise the U visa program, and law enforcement efforts more broadly. The Fifth Circuit directed the district court to craft an approach to discovery that ensures identifying information about individual victims was not revealed. Note: This type of anonymity may not be possible in a criminal prosecution or family court matter.

Cazorla v. Koch Foods of Mississippi (September 27, 2016):

In an employment action, discovery of U visa case file was limited because the court was concerned that full discovery might intimidate individual claimants, compromise the U visa program, and law enforcement efforts more broadly. The Fifth Circuit directed the district court to craft an approach to discovery that ensures identifying information about individual victims was not revealed. Note: This type of anonymity may not be possible in a criminal prosecution or family court matter.

Guardado v. State of Maryland (October 14, 2015):

Holding that the trial judge properly limited the scope of the cross-examination of the victim about her immigration status where the “defense offered no evidence that [the victim] lacked stable immigration status, that she could be eligible for some sort of favorable immigration treatment as a crime victim, or, if it exists, that she was aware of the program at the time she identified [the defendant] as her assailant.”

Briggs v. Hedgpeth (October 7, 2014):

Finding that it was erroneous to preclude the defense from asking about U visa benefits that were offered to the
victim, but also found that it was harmless error because there was substantial evidence of the crime.

People v. AlvarezAlvarez (May 7, 2014):

(Cal. Ct. App. May 7, 2014), review denied (July 16, 2014). Finding that the trial court was well within its discretion to exclude reference to the U visa and that the defendant had other opportunity to question the credibility of the witness.

State of Maine v. Marroquin-Aldana (March 25, 2014):

The Supreme Judicial Court of Maine found that the lower court did not err in denying the defendant access to the victim’s entire immigration file. This Court found it sufficient that U visa certification was provided in discovery and that the defendant had the opportunity to cross-examine the victim and call credibility into question. It also noted the heightened protections given to “documents filed with immigration authorities pursuant to federal law.”

State of Arizona v. Buccheri-Bianca (October 30, 2013):

(Ariz. Ct. App. 2013), review denied (Feb. 11, 2014). Holding that the trial court did not err in excluding the immigration status of the victims because it found that the possible grant of a U visa was not the motivation for the disclosure of the crime and therefore, was irrelevant.

Demaj v. Sakaj (March 18, 2013):

The case found that seeking VAWA confidentiality protected information through custody case discovery is barred by federal statute, and VAWA confidentiality applies even when the victim disclosed that their crime victim related immigration case was approved.

Briggs v. Hedgpeth Order Denying Writ of Habeus Corpus (January 22, 2013):

Finding that it was erroneous to preclude the defense from asking about U visa benefits that were offered to the victim, but also found that it was harmless error because there was substantial evidence of the crime.

Demaj v. Sakaj 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS (February 14, 2012):

Motion to Compel U Visa file in child custody case was denied, finding that the disclosure would undermine the purpose of the statute meant to protect the confidentiality of applications. Disclosure of documents relating to the victim’s U Visa contradicts the purpose of 8 U.S.C. § 1367 which is “to protect the confidentiality of the applications by preventing disclosure of these documents to alleged criminals as disclosure would allow. . . to interfere with or undermine [victim’s] immigration case.”

Hawke v. U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security (September 29, 2008):

Finding that the defendant does not have the right to receive absolutely privileged information such as the VAWA self-petition and related records contained in Department of Homeland Security case files. The defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to compulsory process does not permit access to such absolutely privileged information. VAWA Confidentiality protects all cases unless the application was denied on the merits.

Rivera v. NIBCO INC (April 13, 2004):

Protective order issued regarding immigration status.

U.S. v. Brown (October 28, 2003):

Finding that the defendant’s right to confront witnesses was not violated when he was denied access to the witness’s immigration file and was not allowed to call an expert witness regarding the unusual immigration circumstances of the witness. The court found that the cross examination of the witness sufficiently addressed bias/motive.

U.S. v. Locascio (October 8, 1993):

Finding that the prosecution was not in possession of information acquired by federal agencies uninvolved in the state’s investigation or trial.