I was very sorry to learn recently about the death of Immigration Judge David Crosland. Judge Crosland had been an Immigration Judge since 1997. I first met him when he arrived in Arlington, Virginia in about 2008. He later transferred to the Baltimore Immigration Court. Over the years, I have had many cases with Judge Crosland. In fact, I was scheduled to see him for an Individual Hearing tomorrow, for an Iraqi woman seeking protection from militias and terrorists in her home country.

Judge Crosland had his own style. Unlike most IJs, he started his hearings by questioning the applicants about their activities and instances of harm. Once he finished and established a framework for the case, he would turn things over to the applicant's attorney. We then had to build on his framework (and often correct issues that came up during his questioning). While this was a challenging way to present a case, and left us with more uncertainty about how the direct examination would go, it also allowed Judge Crosland to hone in on aspects of the case that were of most concern to him. I will say that this was not my favorite way to present a case, and applicants were often confused by the IJ's questions (and his soft voice). Nevertheless, Judge Crosland almost always "got it right" and it was hard for me to disagree with his decisions, even if we did not get the outcome we wanted.

One person who knew Judge Crosland well is former IJ and Chair of the Board of Immigration Appeals Paul Wickham Schmidt. In his blog, Immigration Courtside, Judge Schmidt paid tribute to his colleague--

Along with many others, I am saddened to learn of the death, over the weekend, of my former “boss” and judicial colleague, Judge David Crosland of the Baltimore Immigration Court. He was 85.

First and foremost, David was a dedicated public servant. A graduate of Auburn University and the University of Alabama School of Law [which awarded him the Profile of Service award in 2014], David served in the Civil Rights Division of the US Department of Justice during the tense and dangerous days of the 1960's. That was a time when speaking out for justice for African Americans in the South could be a life-threatening proposition.

Among many difficult and meaningful assignments, he helped prosecute Klansmen in Mississippi and also was assigned to prosecutions arising out of racially motivated police and National Guard killings in Detroit in 1967-68. After leaving the DOJ, he became the Director of the Atlanta Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law.

At Auburn, David had studied Agriculture. He sometimes liked to regale Immigration Court interns with tales of his “days on the farm” during summers in college!

I first met Dave in 1977, when Judge Griffin Bell appointed him to be the General Counsel of the “Legacy INS.” Shortly thereafter, David selected me to be his Deputy General Counsel, thus initiating my career as a Government manager and executive. During the second half of the Carter Administration, Dave was the Acting Commissioner of Immigration, and I was the Acting General Counsel.

In those days, my hair was actually longer than Dave’s, a situation that would become reversed in later years as our respective careers progressed. Indeed, during his “ponytail and gold earring days” in private practice, I reminded him of the times in “GENCO” where he used to encourage me to “get a haircut.”

We went through lots of exciting times together including the Iranian Hostage Crisis, litigation involving Haitian asylum seekers, Nazi War Criminal prosecutions, the Mariel Boatlift, the creation of the Asylum Offices, and the beginnings of a major restructuring of the INS nationwide legal program that eventually brought all lawyers under the direct supervisory control of the General Counsel.

Following the 1980 election, Dave went into private practice and became a partner in Ober, Kaler, Grimes & Shriver and then Crosland, Strand, Freeman & Mayock. He rejoined Government in 1997, when Attorney General Janet Reno appointed him as an Immigration Judge in Otey Mesa, CA. He later became an Assistant Chief Immigration Judge for several courts, as well as a Temporary Member of the BIA.

Our paths crossed again when we both served on the bench at the Arlington Immigration Court, roughly between 2009 and 2014. Then, David returned to Baltimore to be closer to his son and his residence in Maryland. He also served at various times as an Adjunct Professor of Law at GW Law and UDC Law.

David was a “character,” for sure. He had his own way of doing things that wasn’t always “strictly by the book.” But, he cared about the job and the people, was kind to the staff, and kept at it years after most of his contemporaries, including me, had retired.

One of the most moving tributes to David is from a member of the court administrative staff who worked with him for years: "We just learned that Judge Crosland passed away this weekend at the grand age of 85 years. No funeral requested by him as his last wishes. Please keep him and his family in prayer. He was an amazing man, had a brilliant career and he was a genuinely kind person, hardworking to the end. Judge Crosland was very good to me, and he would walk me to my car after the long work days that turned into nights. Always a true gentleman, he would make me his famous lemon ice box pie! G-d bless Judge Crosland."

My time with Dave at the “Legacy INS” will always be with me as one of the most exciting, sometimes frustrating, but highly rewarding and formative parts of my career. Rest in peace my friend and colleague. You will be missed.

After I learned about Judge Crosland's death, I contacted my clients to let them know that the hearing would be postponed. My clients' response echoes my own. They wrote: "May G-d bless his soul and he rest in peace." To receive such tributes from co-workers, attorneys, and noncitizen respondents reflects the character of this man. May his memory be for a blessing, and may he rest in peace.

Originally posted on the Asylumist: www.Asylumist.com