Lawyers’ Committee in Court Thursday to Argue Habeas Corpus Case Concerning Rights of Immigrants Detained by ICE’s San Francisco Field Office

MEDIA CONTACT: Raya Steier, 530-723-2426,



Oral arguments in John Doe v. Merrick Garland, an appeal where the federal government asks the Ninth Circuit to overturn the District Court for the Northern District of California and hold that the Northern District lacks jurisdiction to hear certain habeas corpus cases challenging the constitutionality of mandatory detention imposed by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE)’s San Francisco Field Office.


Jordan Wells, Senior Staff Attorney, Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area (LCCRSF) will present oral arguments on behalf of Petitioner-Appellee John Doe.


Via live stream:

In-person: Courtroom 3, 3rd Floor, Room 307, James R. Browning U.S. Courthouse, San Francisco


Thursday, May 16, 2024, 9:00 AM


Plaintiff-appellee John Doe spent over 18 months in ICE detention without any review of whether his continued prolonged detention served a lawful purpose. The Northern District granted his habeas corpus petition on January 10, 2023, ruling that the government must afford him a hearing before an immigration judge. Following that hearing, the immigration judge ordered his release. The government’s appeal followed. The ICE San Francisco Field Office Director (“FOD”) has argued that because he has outsourced the detention of immigrant detainees in his custody to contract facilities in Kern County in the Eastern District of California, he is not the proper person to sue when challenging the legality of that detention. The SF FOD argues that immigrants instead should sue the civilian corporate employees who manage the contract facilities and file their cases in the Eastern District, where there is far less access to counsel and where justice may be delayed due to clogged court dockets.

LCCRSF will argue for the appeals court to affirm the ruling of the district court in San Francisco, which ruled—consistently with numerous judges of the Northern District of California—that it is proper (1) to name the San Francisco FOD as the respondent to a habeas corpus petition challenging mandatory immigration detention and (2) to file the petition in the Northern District.