SEATTLE – A U.S. appeals court says a former federal immigration lawyer who forged a document in an effort to get a man deported can be sued for damages.
Jonathan M. Love was assistant chief counsel for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Seattle in 2009, when he forged a document purporting to show that Mexican immigrant Ignacio Lanuza had voluntarily agreed to be deported in 2000.
Lanuza later obtained a new attorney, who noticed the document was fake: Its letterhead said “U.S. Department of Homeland Security” – a federal agency that didn’t exist in 2000.
Love was criminally prosecuted and sentenced to a month in prison in 2016. But U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman reluctantly dismissed Lanuza’s civil claim against him. The judge said legal precedent barred the lawsuit.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed that decision Tuesday. The panel called the forgery egregious.
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