The Gillam Law Firm

Immigration Judge Improperly Targeted by Office of Special Counsel, Denies Accusation of Anti-GOP Rhetoric

Immigration Judge on Front Lines Tells the Truth and Is Sued for It by Trump Appointee


Los Angeles, CA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 06/29/2018 --On June 27, 2018 the Office of Special Counsel ("OSC") filed a complaint against a United States Immigration Judge, claiming she illegally used her influence to interfere with or affect the 2016 presidential election, and asserting she promoted Hilary Clinton's campaign and the failure of the Republican Party while on duty. Office of Special Counsel v. Carmene Zsa Zsa DePaolo is a complaint under the Hatch Act before the Merit Systems Protection Board. The OSC issued a press release announcing the lawsuit (attached).

Judge DePaolo, who works at a detention facility on the California border with Mexico, vigorously denies the charges. According to her attorney, Los Angeles-based Carol Gillam, Judge DePaolo merely made statements of fact during a 2016 hearing when she was deporting a Mexican citizen. She understood it to be her obligation to advise the person being deported, who had no lawyer, of the factual consequences of his deportation. He was a young man who had grown up in the United States, and had no right to vote. He was being deported for a minimum of ten years. Judge DePaolo simply informed the young man of what the two major party candidates claimed they would do about the immigration laws if elected. There were no citizens in the courtroom. The only other person present was a government lawyer.

The Hatch Act has prohibitions barring federal employees from engaging in political activities while on duty, and preventing them from using their position to interfere with or affect an election result.

Ms. Gillam states, "This case stretches the Hatch Act far beyond where any reported case has ever taken it before. It seeks to muzzle a hardworking immigration judge from advising deportees of what may happen to them. It is this lawsuit that is being filed for an improper purpose. Nothing said by Judge DePaolo broke the law. It is hard to imagine this case ever being brought by any federal agency under any other president than the current one, whose anti-immigrant rhetoric has been very well publicized since the day he announced his candidacy. President Trump appointed Henry Kerner as the Special Counsel in 2017. The notion that Judge DePaolo could affect a presidential election by telling an undocumented immigrant the facts is absurd."

The government issued the following press release on June 27, 2018:

U.S. Office of Special Counsel
1730 M Street, N.W., Suite 218
Washington, D.C. 20036 4505
OSC Files Hatch Act Complaint Against Immigration Judge

CONTACT: Zachary Kurz, 202-804-7065;

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) today announced that it has filed a complaint with the Merit Systems Protection Board requesting disciplinary action against Carmene "Zsa Zsa" DePaolo, an immigration judge employed by the U.S. Department of Justice. In the complaint, OSC alleges that DePaolo violated the Hatch Act when she promoted then-Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton's plan for immigration reform during a deportation hearing over which DePaolo was presiding in March 2016.

According to the complaint, the respondent at the hearing was facing deportation and a subsequent ten-year bar on reentry into the United States, which DePaolo called "a pretty harsh thing" that Clinton intended to change, provided "the Senate becomes a Democratic body and there's some hope that they can actually pass immigration legislation." DePaulo said the Republicans, on the other hand, "aren't going to do anything" about immigration "if they can help it," other than to "try to deport everybody." The hearing was open to the public.

"When a federal immigration judge in a public setting uses her position to advocate for partisan campaign outcomes, that's a real problem," said Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner. "Judge DePaolo appears to be in clear violation of the Hatch Act and we believe she should face significant disciplinary action."

OSC charged DePaolo with violating the Hatch Act's prohibitions against engaging in political activity while on duty or in the federal workplace and using her official authority or influence to interfere with or affect the result of an election. Hatch Act violations can result in a range of penalties, including demotion, suspension, removal from employment, and debarment.

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Our basic authorities come from four federal statutes: The Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment & Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA). OSC's primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially reprisal for whistleblowing, and to serve as a safe channel for allegations of wrongdoing. For more information, please visit our website at