New York’s WNYC radio has an excellent report on why the Big Apple’s immigration courts are backed up, noting that more than a half-million cases are pending nationwide and tens of thousands of those are in NYC. The reporter visits one of the city’s 28 immigration courts, which are actually not federal courts but administrative functions of the Justice Department. The story follows one immigrant and notes ” the whole process took about five minutes for each case, and Khan was scheduling future court appearances as late as August of 2018. This isn’t so bad given, that Schmidt said he was scheduling hearings for 2021 before retiring last summer.”
The reporting is in the context of Donald Trump presidency and any attempt to increase the pace of court-ordered deportations. The take-away is that there’s no real capacity to increase or even keep pace
See the story here: Why New York’s Immigration Courts Are Overwhelmed
As Democrats leveled sharp questions at Betsy DeVos, president-elect Donald Trump’s education nominee, this week, they stressed her decades of support for the charter school movement. Clearly, the Trump Administration and the GOP-controlled Congress will make “school choice” a spotlight issue, including the “parent trigger” movement that didn’t really come up in the DeVos questioning, perhaps because her efforts have mostly been in Michigan.
Parent trigger is the idea that parents can more or less take over a failing school. A half-dozen states have some level of parent trigger law, but the one that’s been most lawsuit-tested is California’s. The Golden State actually passed the nation’s first such law in 2010, and of course litigation came shortly after.
Natasha Lindstron, a respected reporter who has covered the California Parent Trigger since its passage, offers a good overview report here http://hechingerreport.org/parent-trigger-showdowns-loom-nationwide/
And if you’d like to see how The Los Angeles Times, which supported the original parent trigger legislation, feels about it now, check that out here:
After months of community meetings, a Montana panel has found (among other things) “… that low- to moderate-income Montanans most often face legal crises stemming from housing problems, custody disputes, domestic violence, and debt collection. These issues are often compounded with other complicating factors, the report said, such as mental illness or diminished capacity, substance abuse, physical disabilities, threats to safety, and child care. Many of these issues are intersectional, meaning they affect and intensify the other.”
The Flathead Beacon reported on the panel’s findings, noting that “… many Montanans don’t realize, for instance, that they don’t have the right to an appointed attorney while facing civil issues. They can be evicted, lose custody of their children, or lose their home without ever having the right to an attorney.”
The Beacon also reported that the Access to Justice Commission “… concluded that there needs to be a statewide inventory of services and programs available in each region, and a means for making this inventory known in those regions. Along with the inventory, the commission said there should be a means for linking Montanans with legal problems to the programs and service providers.”
Read the report, and find a link to the Commission’s complete findings, here:
Report Details Need for Education, Increased Access to Civil Legal Resources – Flathead
The Los Angeles city attorney is blaming distrust of police as a significant reason the city will have to borrow $70 million or dip into reserve funds. Those are the options laid out in a new city report.
The Los Angeles Times reports that “… the city paid out $110 million in legal cases last fiscal year, according to budget staff. In January 2016, the city agreed to pay out $24 million to settle lawsuits from two men who alleged that dishonest LAPD detectives led their wrongful murder convictions and caused them to spend decades behind bars… city lawyers concerned about the police misconduct allegations recommended the settlements, saying in confidential memos to the City Council that taking the cases to trial could be even costlier.”
In an interview with the Times on Monday, Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer “… cited several reasons for the increased payouts. He said juries are more skeptical about law enforcement when it comes to police liability, and cited a “significant” amount of deferred maintenance of city infrastructure.”
With payouts projected to total at least $135 million this fiscal year, budget officials said Monday that the city needs to immediately borrow up to $70 million to avoid dipping into its emergency reserve fund.
Read the story here: L.A. needs to borrow millions to cover legal payouts, city report says
President-elect Donald Trump may be the first president to conduct multiple lawsuits while in office. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Trump “… sat for an hour at Trump Tower to give testimony in a lawsuit he filed against Jose Andres after the chef cancelled plans to open a Spanish-themed restaurant at a new Washington hotel. Andres pulled out after Trump, in declaring his candidacy for president, called some Mexican immigrants “rapists” and said some were bringing drugs and crime to the U.S.”
The newspaper backgrounded that “… under the doctrine of immunity, presidents cannot be sued for actions they take in carrying out presidential duties. But anything outside that is open season. In its 1997 decision in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case against Bill Clinton, the Supreme Court ruled that presidents can be sued while in office for actions unrelated to official acts.”
Given his vast business empire and several ongoing civil actions, its expected that the new president may be doing depositions fairly routinely.
Read more here:
Trump, amid legal battles, gives deposition against chef
One impact of the pending Trump administration is already being felt as some states and cities are preparing funds to fight deportation. While it’s only one part of the issue, the funding is a boost to the movement for a “civil Gideon” policy that would provide a right to an attorney in some civil cases – like the right to an attorney for criminal cases. The Gideon case was the policy-setting decision for that criminal-case right.
Immigration advocates have long argued that some deportation cases should be among those requiring representation, especially when children are involved. Funding has always been part of the discussion, but some governments are finding cash in the wake of President-Elect Trump’s victory. For example, the Los Angeles Times reports that LA city and county leaders have “… unveiled a $10-million fund to provide legal assistance for residents facing deportation, the region’s boldest move yet as it prepares for an expected crackdown on illegal immigration by Donald Trump. If approved by lawmakers, Los Angeles’ two top government agencies could find themselves in the position of using public funds to challenge policies sought by the White House and Republican Congress.”
Similar efforts are under way in New York, San Francisco, Chicago and the state of New York.
For the past year, the Canadian journalist Paul Johnson has been making a documentary on the asbestos litigation industry. Entitled “UnSettled: Inside the Strange World of Asbestos Lawsuits,” it examines how the “business” of asbestos litigation has evolved over the years and focuses on just how politically aligned lawyers are on reform issues. Courts Monitor publisher, Sara Warner, spoke with Paul about the project and you can read the full interview in the Huffington Post.
Note: UnSettled will be screened for audience feedback at the Edward R. Murrow Room at the National Press Club, Washington D.C. this Wednesday, Dec. 14 at 3:30 p.m. Paul Johnson will hold a Q&A immediately following the screening. You can see the trailer at www.unsettledthemovie.com.