Yale Law Students Organize To Aid Refugee Families

Photo Credit: Yale Law School Report, 6/29/16

Photo Credit: Yale Law School Report, 6/29/16

The story begins like this: “Cruz Montano and her daughter were two of the thousands of women and children who were taken to an immigration detention center in Dilley, Texas after crossing the border into the U.S. seeking refuge. They were also among the earliest clients of a newly formed organization called the Asylum Seeker Advocacy Project (ASAP), founded at Yale Law School.”
The Yale Law website backgrounds that “… Conchita Cruz ’16, Swapna Reddy ’16, Dorothy Tegeler ’16, and Liz Willis ’17 co-founded ASAP in the Spring of 2015 to respond to the unmet legal needs of Central American refugee families, both while detained in border detention facilities and after release. The project started as a volunteer effort funded by the Gruber Project for Global Justice and Women’s Rights at Yale when the co-founders traveled with fellow law students to the Texas detention center. There, they filled a gap in legal services by representing a Honduran mother at her trial, helping to secure her and her 8-year-old son’s legal status and release from the facility.”
Studies have indicated that refugees with legal help are many times more likely to gain residency status in the U.S.
Read about their effort here:

GOP Convention Underscores Cleveland Police Problems

Cleveland mounted police officer Abraham Cortes leans on his horse Paco with fellow officer Michael Herrin (R) on Bas during a demonstration of police capabilities near the site of the Republican National Convention July 14, 2016. Police in Cleveland say they aim to avoid mass arrests at the protests planned for next week’s Republican National Convention, but the fact that the city’s courts are preparing to process up to a 1,000 people a day has some civil rights activists worried. Photo By Rick Wilking/Reuters

Cleveland mounted police officer Abraham Cortes leans on his horse Paco with fellow officer Michael Herrin (R) on Bas during a demonstration of police capabilities near the site of the Republican National Convention July 14, 2016. Police in Cleveland say they aim to avoid mass arrests at the protests planned for next week’s Republican National Convention, but the fact that the city’s courts are preparing to process up to a 1,000 people a day has some civil rights activists worried. Photo By Rick Wilking/Reuters

As tens of thousands of GOP faithful and some of their critics gather in Cleveland this week, it’s worth noting that they are in a city under a federal consent decree demanding changes in how police do their work. The PBS Newshour notes that “… the consent decree was formed in May 2015 between the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and Ohio’s second-largest city after decades of complaints lodged by residents over excessive use of force and civil rights violations by members of the Cleveland Police Department.”

The Newshour backgrounds that “… a DOJ investigation found a pattern of ‘unnecessary and excessive use of deadly force,’ retaliatory force with ‘Tasers and chemical spray and fists’ and the ’employment of poor and dangerous tactics,’ among a slew of other conclusions.
But many of the stipulations forged in the agreement will not be installed in time for the Republican National Convention (RNC), according to interviews with the DOJ, legal and civil rights organizations and a court-designated independent monitor of the Cleveland Police Department.”

“The milestones and the benchmarks are not being met,” said Jacqueline Greene, a source for the PBS report identified as co-coordinator of the Ohio Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, and a civil rights attorney. “Therefore it won’t apply during the RNC”

See the report here: As GOP convention nears, Cleveland police reform rules still not in place

RNC Disrupts Local Civil Courts

Photo Credit: WKYC

Photo Credit: WKYC

We will hear much about how the Republican National Convention impacts Cleveland over the next week. Let’s start by noting that it shut down much of the local court activity. In a statement this week, the court administration said that the “…RNC poses significant logistical challenges to jurors, members of the public, those who do business with the court, and those who work in the court. As such, court dockets will be limited to critical matters. Trials and hearings are not scheduled for that week. Court staffing will be maintained at minimal levels.”

He says the court will handle: felony arraignments, review of bonds, walk-in Petitions for Ex Parte Civil Protection Orders, Writs, Motions for Temporary Restraining Orders and other matters of immediate concern. Most people on Probation will be asked to report the week of July 25. If you are under supervision by the Court’s Adult Probation Department and have any questions about your reporting requirements, please contact your probation officer.

Find details at WKYC, the NBC affiliate, here: Cuyahoga County Court parking, access, hours for RNC

California budget raid jeopardizes Modesto courthouse construction funding

A decision by California lawmakers to raid $1.4 billion from the judicial system during the budget crisis is having a direct impact on a $267 million courthouse construction project in Modesto, according to the ModBee. With 23 courthouse construction projects in the works across the state, the budget raid could have implications well beyond the city borders.

As budgets have become constrained, courthouses have closed, forcing existing courthouses to renovate to accommodate the influx of new cases. Brandi Christensen, facilities support service manager for Stanislaus County Superior Court told the Bee, “We don’t have an inch to move. Our courtrooms are packed every day.”

In addition to lack of space, many courthouses have fallen into deep disrepair from age. In the case of the Modesto courthouse, the Bee reports, “The most modern part of the current courthouse — which houses the courtrooms — was built in 1960. The other half of the courthouse was built in 1871 and remodeled in 1939. The courthouse has no holding cells for inmates, who are kept in jury rooms before their court appearances.”

The Judicial Council of California’s Court Facilities Advisory Committee met on June 28th in San Francisco to go over courthouse construction funding, and found it is coming up short. Very short. The Council directed the staff to develop funding recommendations, in concert with  the Department of Finance, in advance of their next meeting August 4th.

We’ll continue to follow the story, and you can get caught up with full details at the full Modesto Bee article here.

Yikes: ‘RBG’ Speaks Her Mind On Trump, May Disqualify Herself

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her Supreme Court chambers in Washington in July 2014. (Cliff Owen/AP)

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her Supreme Court chambers in Washington in July 2014. (Cliff Owen/AP)

It turns out that Donald Trump is not alone in speaking his mind and worrying even his biggest fans. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a New York Times interview, made it pretty clear she can’t imagine a United States under a President Trump. She even joked about moving to New Zealand, although to be fair she was quoting her late husband – but the sentiment was pretty clear.

That’s a problem, say legal scholars. There’s a reason that justices are seldom vocal in the political arena. If Mr. Trump is anxious about having a judge with Mexican heritage on his civil case, can you imagine him with a justice who has made her view so clear? Aaron Blake, writing for the Washington Post, notes that Ginsburg “…. goes to a place justices almost never do – and perhaps never have – for some very good reasons.”

The report cites some pretty strong voices saying this was a mistake. Like this: “Louis Virelli is a Stetson University law professor who just wrote a book on Supreme Court recusals, titled ‘Disqualifying the High Court. He said that ‘public comments like the ones that Justice Ginsburg made could be seen as grounds for her to recuse herself from cases involving a future Trump administration. I don’t necessarily think she would be required to do that, and I certainly don’t believe that she would in every instance, but it could invite challenges to her impartiality based on her public comments.'”

Read the story and gauge the fallout here: In bashing Donald Trump, some say Ruth Bader Ginsburg just crossed a very important line

Golden State Settles Charter School Case, But For How Much?

That big civil case between California and the charter-school operator K12 has been settled for $168.2 million, the state’s attorney general says. But the company says that’s wrong by more than a hundred million dollars.

The Wall Street Journal backgrounds that the company is “… a remote-learning, charter-school operator that was accused of violating advertising and competition rules” and that “… the settlement also covered 14 nonprofit schools known as the California Virtual Academies, or CAVA schools, affiliated with K12. The company manages 15 nonprofit virtual charter schools throughout California serving about 13,000 K-12 students, the attorney general said in a press release announcing the settlement.”

But the WSJ also notes that “… K12 said in response that the attorney general’s office ‘mischaracterized’ the settlement and the company added that it has made no admission of wrongdoing. According to the Herndon, Va., company’s statement, the $168.5 million figure cited by California authorities was “flat wrong.” The company said that the settlement was only $2.5 million.” Says the firm: “… K12 will be making an $8.5 million payment to the state,” it said. “Of that amount, $6.0 million is to defray the cost to taxpayers of the Attorney General’s investigation, and $2.5M are settlement costs related to the separate private lawsuit alleging misreporting of attendance at the CAVA schools.”

Read the WSJ report here: California Reaches Settlement With K12 Over False Claims Allegations

HuffPo Writer Notes Milestone For Immigration Court Backlog

The HuffPo writer B. Shaw Drake is noting an uptick in the number of immigration judges and some progress in Congress toward adding even more judges, a key to reducing the administrative backlog that leaves people waiting years and years to make their case for staying in the country. The report notes a new Human Rights First report: “In the Balance: Backlogs Delay Protection in the U.S. Asylum and Immigration Court Systems,” takes a deep look at the immigration court backlog, its causes and potential solutions. The report finds that chronic underfunding and hiring challenges have left the courts with two few judges to handle a steady flow of incoming cases. The result is wait times that stretch over three years nationally, and up to five or six years at the nation’s most burdened courts.

The crisis outlined: “As of May 2016, 492,978 cases were pending before the immigration courts, up from 480,815 just three months ago. That number that will likely top half a million cases when data is available for June 2016.”

You can read about the progress, such that it is, here: A Milestone In The Immigration Court Backlog Points To Progress

Thousands More Border Kids Swept Into Provide-Attorney Lawsuit

Remember that class-action lawsuit involving legal representation for thousands of “border kids” facing deportation? The one where a senior immigration judge named Jack Well said in a sworn deposition that children did not need legal representation and that he had “taught immigration law literally to 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds” who were facing deportation.
Just last month, U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly certified a class in that lawsuit, filed in 2014 by a coalition of immigration-rights groups, that officials say could impact thousands of immigrant children awaiting deportation hearings. Zilly ordered the class of immigrants swept into the lawsuit to include all children under the age of 18 residing in the 9th Judicial Circuit who are facing so-called “removal proceedings” after June 24. It also includes those children who don’t currently have an attorney and can’t otherwise afford one, and who may be eligible for asylum or protection under the United Nation’s Convention Against Torture, which forbids countries from returning people to any country where there is reason to believe they will be torture
“This ruling means that thousands of children will now have a fighting chance at getting a fair day in immigration court,” said Ahilan Arulanantham, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Immigrant Rights Project in Los Angeles.

Trump U. Deposition Video May Become Public

Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Melina Mara/The Washington Post/Getty Images

Ever wonder what a Donal Trump lawsuit deposition looks like? If so, you might find out soon as several news organizations and others are asking that sworn deposition video from the “Trump University” litigation are made public. At issue are actually two cases where people who bought into the educational program claim they were duped.

Transcripts are already public. The Courthouse News reports from San Diego, backgrounding that: “… many legal experts agree that the facts surrounding the case are unsavory, particularly as Trump University was billed as a university when in actuality it was a three-day business seminar that attendees paid around $2,000 to attend. During the seminars, which were often run by salespeople rather than real estate experts, attendees faced high-pressure sales techniques aimed at getting them to buy a Trump Gold Premium package, which cost $35,000.”

The CN also said that “… the package guaranteed a mentor would help students break into individual real estate markets, but the plaintiffs in both cases claim this mentorship never occurred as promised. However, the experts are not convinced the brouhaha necessarily means the plaintiffs are assured a victory.”

An expert cited in the CN report says facts are not really at issue, but rather if a “reasonable person” might rely upon the marketing to make a purchase decision. The Trump side is seeking a summary judgment from the court and the current fight is over whether to make the videotapes of the depositions part of the evidentiary record – which would likely make the public. The CN notes that “… a slate of media companies, including the Washington Post and Fox News, has intervened, asking the tapes be disclosed to the public. A hearing on the matter is set for July 13.”

As usual, the CN is all over the case: CNS – Transcripts Show Defiant, Evasive Trump

Judge Rules For Texas Landowners In BLM ‘Landgrab’ Case

Photo credit, Courthouse News Service report, 6/30/16

Photo credit, Courthouse News Service report, 6/30/16

The Courthouse News Service is reporting that a federal judge this week ruled “… that Texas landowners can sue the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for its alleged seizure of 90,000 acres of private property along the Red River boundary with Oklahoma. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor granted in part and denied in part the BLM’s motion for partial dismissal.

The report backgrounded that “… eight private landowners, Clay County Sheriff Kenneth Lemons Jr. and three counties sued the BLM in November. They claim it is “well established” that Texas begins at the southern bank of the Red River and that federal ownership is limited to the bottom half of the sandy riverbed outside of the state. They say the BLM asserts that the boundary extends past that, sometimes by more than a mile.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton intervened on the plaintiffs’ behalf within days, calling the action an illegal “land grab” by federal officials. The CN also noted that “… in a 40-page opinion Wednesday, O’Connor declined to dismiss the plaintiffs’ request for declaratory judgment, mandamus and an injunction ‘regarding the method for locating the boundary between their property and federal territory’ because they have constitutional standing.”

CNS – Texans Contesting U.S. Land Seizure Get Leg Up With Lawsuit