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Congress, Trump block class-action lawsuits against banks

Richard Cordray will step down as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as reported in the New York Times, 11/15/17. Photo Credit: Andrew Mangum for The New York Times.

Richard Cordray will step down as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as reported in the New York Times, 11/15/17. Photo Credit: Andrew Mangum for The New York Times.

This month, President Trump signed a bill that blocked class-action lawsuits against banks, dismantling a rule issued by an Obama-era agency in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Two weeks later, on Nov. 15, Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the rule’s originator, announced that he would be leaving the federal agency by the end of this month thereby “removing a major opponent to the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle business regulations and unfetter Wall Street,” reports the New York Times.

With President Trump’s Nov. 1 bill signing, House Joint Resolution 111 became law, and lawsuits against banks faced a key legislative hurdle. The Senate voted Oct. 24 to kill the rule that, the L.A. Times reported, “would have allowed Americans to file class-action suits against banks instead of being forced in many cases into private arbitration.”

The L.A. Times noted that George Slover, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, said that the 51-50 Senate vote “means that big financial companies can lock the courthouse doors and prevent consumers who’ve been mistreated from joining together to seek the relief they deserve under the law.”

During congressional passage in October, the White House reported that “the rule would harm our community banks and credit unions by opening the door to frivolous lawsuits by special interest trial lawyers.”

Eshoo, and Issues, Crash a U.S. House ‘Platitude Party’

Sara Cocoran, Founding Publisher of the California Courts Monitor

Sara Corcoran, Founding Publisher of the California Courts Monitor

A new first responder network is facing some tough questions and a lawsuit over open records, especially from one congresswoman from California, reports Courts Monitor Publisher Sara Corcoran in a new post at The Huffington Post.

 

See the story here: Eshoo, and Issues, Crash a U.S. House ‘Platitude Party’

US Supreme Court Nixes Appeal In Levee Case Against 97 Firms

Damage to wetlands caused by canals, such as seen here around the Delacroix community, was the focus of the failed lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.(Ted Jackson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archives)

Damage to wetlands caused by canals, such as seen here around the Delacroix community, was the focus of the failed lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.(Ted Jackson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archives)

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a Louisiana flood protection district that had sued 97 oil and gas companies over environmental damages. The NOLA.com website explains that “… the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East had appealed a March decision by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a 2015 decision by U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown that the lawsuit involved enforcement of federal laws and thus should be heard in her courtroom, rather than returned to a state court as the levee authority wanted.”

The case also drew attention because of how it was structured. The legal team had a provision that allowed it to continue the litigation via appeals, and if the Authority decided to terminate the effort it would face millions in legal fees. If the litigation was ultimately unsuccessful, it would owe no fees. That came into play as political winds shifted and the new appointed Authority leaders actually opposed the lawsuit – but would not end the case in the face-off those fees.

Read the NOLA.com coverage here:
http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2017/10/us_supreme_court_wont_hear_app.html

San Francisco Leads Nation In Immigration Court Backlog

Those waiting to have their asylum cases heard find the reality that there currently aren't enough judges and staff to handle the demand leaving some applicants forced to wait for years while their witnesses and key evidence disappear. NBC Bay Area Senior Investigative Reporter Stephen Stock reports in a video that first aired on Sept. 25, 2017. (Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017) Source: San Francisco Leads Nation in US Immigration Court Calendar Delays - NBC Bay Area http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/As-immigration-delays-skyrocket-San-Francisco-leads-the-nation-447705953.html#ixzz4v1aLYU00  Follow us: @NBCBayArea on Twitter | NBCBayArea on Facebook

Those waiting to have their asylum cases heard find the reality that there currently aren’t enough judges and staff to handle the demand leaving some applicants forced to wait for years while their witnesses and key evidence disappear. NBC Bay Area Senior Investigative Reporter Stephen Stock reports in a video that first aired on Sept. 25, 2017. (Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017

Investigative journalism by NBC-owned stations, working with Telemundo stations around the country, has found that San Francisco leads the nation in backlogged immigration court cases, which is no easy task considering how badly things are going.

A joint investigation by NBC owned and operated stations in conjunction with Telemundo stations around the country found a record backlog of immigration cases clogging an overloaded and over stressed system. The NBC Bay Area report says that “… court records show waits that last more than 1,000 days in some cases. And, those records show, some immigration cases in US Immigration Court in San Francisco now are being scheduled as far into the future as July 2022. The reason: there simply aren’t enough judges and staff to handle such an overwhelmed Immigration Court system.”

They quote Judge Dana Leigh Marks, one of the very few immigration judges daring to speak about the crisis. Why? Because these are not really “federal” judges, but actually work for the Justice Department. Note how carefully they identify her role:

“It is painful for the judges and it is painful for the community we serve,” says Judge Dana Leigh Marks, who spoke to us in her role as President of the National Association of Immigration Judges. “A lot of people tell us that they fear for their very life if they’re sent back to their home country. That’s a death penalty case.”

Going beyond the numbers, the journalists document real-world impacts. It’s not an easy read, but find the milestone report here: San Francisco Leads Nation in US Immigration Court Calendar Delays – NBC Bay Area

http://www.nbcbayarea.com/investigations/As-immigration-delays-skyrocket-San-Francisco-leads-the-nation-447705953.html#ixzz4v1On6rTK

Victims Attorneys Confront Filmmaker After Asbestos Documentary Screening

Photo Credit: Image from 9/21/17 SE TexasRecord online report.

Photo Credit: Image from 9/21/17 SE TexasRecord online report.

In a panel discussing following a work-in-progress screening of his new asbestos documentary, filmmaker Paul Johnson might put at least two of America’s leading trail attorneys in the “needs more progress” category. The SE Texas Record reports that “… a couple of Texas’ most well-known toxic tort litigators had a few choice words after watching the unveiling of “Unsettled,” a documentary that offers a glimpse “Inside the Strange World of Asbestos Lawsuits.”

The Record also noted that the screening, which took place Sept. 20 at The University of North Texas/Dallas School of Law, drew a strong following: “… law Professionals from all walks of life were in attendance, including professors, students and a handful of prominent trial lawyers, who were all privy to a heated discussion between expert panelists following the viewing.”

Responding to the “heat,” Johnson pushed back, according to the Record: “… as the panelist discussion winded down, Johnson said he wanted his film to raise the following question: ‘At the end of the day, are lawyers taking too much money away from sick people?’ Without receiving much of a response, he asked Simon and Siegel if there was more asbestos attorneys could do to police the “bad actors” and if there was a better way to handle asbestos litigation so more money would go to those truly injured by asbestos products.”

See the report here: https://setexasrecord.com/stories/511224309-toxic-tort-litigator-jeffrey-simon-calls-unsettled-asbestos-documentary-poorly-produced-following-screening

(note: producers of the movie say the discussion will be posted to the film’s trailer site later this week.

PBS Airs Great Backgrounder On Immigration Courts Backlog Crisis

Amid the debate over President Trump’s immigration policies, it still gets overlooked that hundreds of thousands of people are in limbo because our immigration courts are backed up for years. Now PBS sheds some light with an interview featuring the San Francisco-based immigration judge who leads the National Association of Immigration Judges, Dana Leigh Marks. For years, hers has been a strong voice for the judges, who are not “federal judges” but who work for the U.S. Justice Department.

It’s a great backgrounder and you can find it here:

How a ‘dire’ immigration court backlog affects lives

Three State Will Lead On DACA Lawsuit

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, left, speaks with Graciela Nuñez, a DACA recipient, at a Seattle news conference called to announce Washington’s participation in a lawsuit against the Trump... (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, left, speaks with Graciela Nuñez, a DACA recipient, at a Seattle news conference called to announce Washington’s participation in a lawsuit against the Trump… (Alan Berner/The Seattle Times)

While 15 states and the District of Columbia are signed on to challenge President Trump’s planned removal of DACA, it turns out that only three – Washington, New York and Massachusetts – will take the lead on the lawsuit, That will include the state attorney general who is perhaps the most vocal in his opposition, Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who has long been an outspoken defender of DACA – the “Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals” program.

“It’s outrageous.” said Ferguson in a press conference. “It is. It’s outrageous. I’m not going to put up with it.” He also said this is “… a “dark time for our country.” The challenge will focus on claims of racial and ethnic bias against the “dreamers,” most of whom are from Mexico. The Seattle Times has coverage of Ferguson and the state’s leadership role here:

‘I’m not going to put up with it’: Washington AG Ferguson says lawsuit over DACA will show Trump’s bias

15 States, D.C., Sue Over Trump’s DACA Decision

Protesters gather at a federal building at Congress Parkway and Clark Street in Chicago on Sept. 5, 2017, to protest President Donald Trump's rollback of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

Protesters gather at a federal building at Congress Parkway and Clark Street in Chicago on Sept. 5, 2017, to protest President Donald Trump’s rollback of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program. (Terrence Antonio James / Chicago Tribune)

Fifteen states – including California, the nation’s largest state – and the District of Columbia sued the U.S. government Wednesday to block President Donald Trump’s plan to end protection against deportation for young immigrants. The lawsuit filed in federal court in Brooklyn asked a judge to strike down as unconstitutional the president’s action involving the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA.

The Chicago Tribune was among those reporting on the lawsuit, noting that “… the awsuit filed Wednesday says rescinding DACA will injure state-run colleges and universities, upset workplaces and damage companies and economies that include immigrants covered under the program. The lawsuit noted that Harvard University has over 50 DACA students while Tufts University has more than 25. Both schools are in Massachusetts.

Read more here: 15 states, D.C. sue Trump administration over ending DACA

With Trump’s DACA Decision, A Look At Context

Tomas Martinez, with GLAHR, a grass roots organization from Atlanta, chants to excite the crowd in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday, April 18, 2016. Hundreds gathered in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to show their support for President Obama’s immigration executive action as the Court hears oral arguments on the deferred action initiatives, DAPA and expanded DACA.  Photo credit: Lexey Swall

Tomas Martinez, with GLAHR, a grass roots organization from Atlanta, chants to excite the crowd in front of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington, D.C., on Monday, April 18, 2016. Hundreds gathered in front of the U.S. Supreme Court to show their support for President Obama’s immigration executive action as the Court hears oral arguments on the deferred action initiatives, DAPA and expanded DACA. Photo credit: Lexey Swall

The Texas Tribune continues excellent coverage of President Trump’s milestone decision on DACA, the Obama-era program that allows undocumented immigrants to stay in the county with some status if they came into the country before they were 16 years old and were 30 or younger in June of 2012. The “dreamer” act is a big deal everywhere, but none more bigly a deal than in Texas.

The Tribune reminded its readers that Texas has a leadership role in opposing the plan, both with civil lawsuits and threats of legal action. They also note the relevance for the Lone Star State: “… as of August 2016, more than 220,000 undocumented immigrants in Texas had applied for a permit or a renewal of one under the program, and nearly 200,000 of those have been approved, according to government statistics. It’s the second-highest total behind California’s estimated 387,000 applications and 359,000 approvals during the same time frame.”

Texas, we are reminded, led 10 states in legal challenges to the Obama policy.

More context:

“The DACA initiative preceded a broader but ill-fated 2014 program, known as DAPA, which would have expanded the eligible population of the program and lengthened the work permits to three years. That program was never implemented after the state of Texas sued the Obama administration and successfully convinced a district judge and an appellate court that Obama overstepped his executive authority. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court split on the matter and upheld the appellate court’s decision.
“The Trump administration officially rescinded that policy earlier this month but said that DACA and some expanded DACA permits would remain in effect. Paxton argued in Thursday’s letter that that’s not good enough and warned that if the 2012 program isn’t rescinded, he and the other plaintiffs from the 2014 lawsuit would go back to court to settle the issue.
“If, by September 5, 2017, the Executive Branch agrees to rescind the June 15, 2012 DACA memorandum and not to renew or issue any new DACA or Expanded DACA permits in the future, then the plaintiffs that successfully challenged DAPA and Expanded DACA will voluntarily dismiss their lawsuit currently pending in the Southern District of Texas,” they write. ‘Otherwise, the complaint in that case will be amended to challenge both the DACA program and the remaining Expanded DACA permits.'”

Follow the debate from what amounts to Ground Zero in Texas here:

Texas leads 10 states in urging Trump to end Obama-era immigration program

CM Publisher Updates Fuel Gas Story, Notes Texas Preempts Local Rules

Sara Cocoran Warner, Founding Publisher of the California Courts Monitor

Sara Cocoran Warner, Founding Publisher of the California Courts Monitor

Writing in The Huffington Post, Courts Monitor Publisher Sara Warner updates her coverage of a controversial fuel-gas tubing that brings natural gas into millions of American homes. The extend of fire danger from lightening strikes is at issue, but locals in the Lone Star State will not get to decide their own fate. After several communities banned one type of the pipe, called “CSST,” the state moved to block anyone else from adopting higher standards.

Read the story here:

CSST Gas Piping Industry Spends Big Money Against Higher Safety Standards… Thanks Texas Legislature