Judge V. Stuart Couch, an immigration judge, is under fire this week after he allegedly threatened a Guatemalan child that he would have a “very big dog” bite him if he did not keep quiet. Kathryn Coiner-Collier, a legal advocacy group coordinator, signed an affidavit accusing Couch of the repeated threat to the child.
According to the affidavit, Couch told the child during an immigration hearing in March 2016 that “I have a very big dog in my office, and if you don’t be quiet, he will come out and bite you.”
Couch then allegedly continued as the child remained undeterred by the threat of a judicially mandated mauling: “Want me to go get the dog? If you don’t stop talking, I will bring the dog out. Do you want him to bite you?” He later asked Coiner-Collier to carry the boy out of the courtroom and sit with him but allegedly added that he had used the threat with other children with great success but not this one.
Couch was promoted in August to the Justice Department’s Board of Immigration Appeals. He is a graduate of Duke University (1987) with a juris doctorate from Campbell University (1996) and a master of law degree from George Washington University Law School (2008). He was originally appointed by Attorney General Eric Holder in 2010.
Neither Couch nor the court has publicly responded to the allegations.