Atlanta Is Worst For Avoiding Deportation

STEVE EBERHARDT FOR THE HUFFINGTON POST Kimberly Pineda Chavez and her mother, Lourdes, came to the U.S. from Honduras.

STEVE EBERHARDT FOR THE HUFFINGTON POST
Kimberly Pineda Chavez and her mother, Lourdes, came to the U.S. from Honduras.

Elise Foley, the Huffington Post’s immigration reporter, has a devastating story about Atlanta being the “worst” for immigrants hoping to avoid deportation. She notes that “… more than a third of the people detained under what the government calls Operation Border Guardian were from the Atlanta area, more than any other ICE jurisdiction.

There’s a reason for this. Immigration law doesn’t vary from state to state or court to court. But immigrants’ odds do, and by the numbers, Atlanta is one of the worst places in the country to be an undocumented immigrant hoping to avoid deportation. Justice Department-appointed judges in that court denied asylum 98 percent of the time in the 2015 fiscal year, the highest rate of any immigration court that heard more than five cases. Eighty-eight percent of cases that went before Atlanta immigration courts ended with a removal order. That’s way over the national average: In the country as a whole, immigration judges denied about 52 percent of asylum claims, and 69 percent of cases resulted in a deportation order.”

She also backgrounds that “…Atlanta immigration judges have been accused of bullying children, badgering domestic violence victims and setting standards for relief and asylum that lawyers say are next to impossible to meet. Given Atlanta immigration judges’ reluctance to grant asylum, some immigrants who fear returning to their native countries don’t even pursue it.”
Read the story here: Here’s Why Atlanta Is One Of The Worst Places To Be An Undocumented Immigrant

Lubbock, Texas Leads Nation to Higher LC1027 CSST Gas Tubing Standard

News Analysis
 
In a landmark vote that likely sets a national precedent, the Lubbock, Texas, city council recently elevated its performance requirements for the flexible gas piping which distributes fuel gas in millions of homes across the United States. It is believed this was the first U.S. community to adopt the higher standard.
 
In moving to raise the bar for safety and better protect against lightning initiated house fires, Lubbock adopted what engineers call the “ICC-ES LC1027″ performance standard, which requires more stringent testing for lightning performance of flexible gas piping systems called CSST, or “corrugated stainless steel tubing.” In effect, the council banned the sale and installation of conventional yellow CSST in new construction while requiring existing systems to be properly bonded and grounded if any permitted upgrades are done.
 
For years now, the earlier-generation “yellow” CSST has come under significant scrutiny across the country.  That’s certainly true in Lubbock, where officials became concerned after they learned of the tragic death of Brennen Teel in 2012.  Teel died after a lightning strike to a home, and subsequent fire, where yellow CSST was allegedly compromised.
 
This tragic event sparked a two-year comprehensive review of the testing standards for CSST and lightning risks by a special Lubbock Special Fuel Gas Committee, which unanimously recommended the city adopt the higher CSST performance standard due to its findings.
 
It is anticipated that the Lubbock adoption of the LC 1027 standard will embolden building code officials around the country who want to adopt stronger safety standards for flexible gas piping as well. And the higher safety standard has also been endorsed by the National Association of State Fire Marshals and the American Public Gas Association. With national safety organizations in support of the standard, momentum should build with other states’ fire and building codes officials.
 
Lubbock’s move did not come without its fair share of opposition and debate from some CSST manufacturers, but many officials close to the issue obviously believe this was a necessary step to improve public safety. The National Courts Monitor expects the higher standard for flexible gas piping safety will be adopted across the U.S., continuing the reform movement being initiated by the Teel family and a number of attorneys.
 

Fracking Brings Lawsuit Over National Forest Access

elk-nps2Five environmental groups are suing the federal government in hopes of stopping leasing some 20,000 acres of the Santa Fe National Forest for fracking, the process of extracting natural gas by applying pressure via water injection. The injections shatter rock formations and free the gas. In the new lawsuit, the Courthouse News website backgrounds that “… the U.S. Bureau of Land Management created 13 new mineral leases in the national forest in October 2014, without required environmental impact studies and without considering the harmful effects of fracking… in doing so, the BLM, the Forest Service, and the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture violated the National Environmental Policy Act and the Administrative Procedure Act, the groups say.”

The groups bringing the lawsuit are the WildEarth Guardians, Amigos Bravos, Diné Citizens Against Ruining Our Environment, and the Sierra Club. Read more here:

CNS – Greens Fight Fracking in National Forest

Silver Gets More Time Before Serving Federal Jail Sentence

Former Democratic New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exits Manhattan Federal District Court after being sentenced to 12 years on corruption related charges, Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Photo Credit: Bryan R. Smith / Bryan R. Smith

Former Democratic New York State Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver exits Manhattan Federal District Court after being sentenced to 12 years on corruption related charges, Tuesday, May 3, 2016. Photo Credit: Bryan R. Smith / Bryan R. Smith

The federal judge who sentenced former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver to 12 years in prison has granted the 72-year-old two more months of freedom before he begin to serve time. The delay comes because the U.S. Supreme Court is taking up the case of a convicted Virginia governor and one of the issues is what constitutes an “official act.”

The judge also set up a five-week briefing schedule after the Supreme Court rules in former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell’s challenge to his corruption conviction. That time will allow her to decide if Silver is entitled to bail pending appeal because a reversal is likely.

Read the story via NY Newsday here:
Silver’s prison surrender delayed by 2 months

Obama Administration Defending Jail-Like Family Detention Camps

Children walk to class at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Charles Reed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, McClatchyDC Report

Children walk to class at the South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. Charles Reed U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, McClatchyDC Report

Lawyers for the detained families filed a motion with the U.S. District Court of Central District of California Tuesday night charging the administration with violating a federal judge’s ruling last summer that prohibits children from being detained – even with their mothers – in jail-like facilities for more time than it takes to process and release them to family members, reports Franco Ordonez at McClatchy news service.

The report notes that “… U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles found that the Obama administration’s family detention policy violates an 18-year-old court settlement regarding the detention of migrant children. She gave the government until Oct. 23 to comply with her order that required officials release children within five days. She provided an exception that allows officials to hold families for about three weeks under exceptional circumstances like the 2014 border surge of nearly 70,000 families from Central America.”

As background, it is also noted that the “… court filing is only the latest in the family detention saga to cast a shadow on the Obama administration since resurrecting the controversial detention policy because of the surge… the United States is worried enough about violence in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras that its expanding the refugee program for vulnerable migrants. At the same time, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security continues to detain and deport families – many of whom have requested asylum because of the violence – to those same countries.”
Read the story here:
Obama administration pulled back to court over family detention

California Still Dealing With Epic Failure On Case Management System

California Gov. Jerry Brown is seeking another $12.5 million to help several courts update case management software, a situation that dates back to an epic failure to upgrade the entire state. That project was terminated in 2012 amid what The Courthouse News in L.A. called “damning criticism from legislators, trial judges, court employees and union leaders as a costly and technologically unwieldy boondoggle.” But several counties actually started using the failing system, and they want to now upgrade with new vendors.

The tech debacle was front-and-center as massive budget cuts brought some of the more severe justice rationing to the Golden State. Read the latest at CN here:

CNS – Budget Revise Gives Calif. Courts $12.4 Million More

Proposed California Bill May Be Life Line for Court Budget Cuts

As court funding continues its downward slide, one bit of good news for California courts is a potential policy reversal on rainy day funds. With the Great Recession, lawmakers were seeking every possible penny to pinch. As such, they limited the judicial system’s ability to squirrel away money in their rainy day fund when they came in under budget. The fund was limited to just one percent of their unspent dollars.

Courthouse News reports the policy has a good chance of changing during the new budget. They report, “The new bill now moving through the Assembly, AB 2458, would overturn that 2013 law and return to the previous status quo, allowing trial courts to keep a rainy-day fund for expenses over and above the day-to-day operation of the court, such as technology projects and emergencies.”

Court budgets have been slashed across the country, but California has seen a significant number of courthouses actually close.

The bill’s sponsor, Assembly Member Jay Olbernolte, is notably a Republican who says he’s seen first hand the effect courthouse closing can have on a community. Per the interview with Courthouse News:

“My first official act as mayor was to take a phone call from the presiding judge of the San Bernardino County court informing me that the courthouse in Big Bear Lake was to be closed. Barstow, Needles and Twin Peaks were also being closed,” he said in an interview. “Through the ensuing years I saw firsthand the impact that a lack of access to justice could have. That’s given me a deeper appreciation for what our courts do,” he said.

Read the full story at Courthouse News.

Courts Monitor Publisher In The Huffington Post

Sara Cocoran Warner, Founding Publisher of the California Courts Monitor

Sara Cocoran Warner, Founding Publisher of the California Courts Monitor

A small Texas city seems an unlikely champion for upgraded standards for the tubing that brings fuel gas into 35 million homes. Or does it? National and California Courts Monitor Publisher Sara Warner has published a report about Lubbock, Texas and how a tragedy may lead to reform. Find it here:

Lubbock, Texas Poised To Lead In National ‘CSST’ Fuel-Gas Lightening Issue

California Continues Judicial Rationing Game, Down About 270 Judges

California seems committed to continuing its judicial rationing shell game, with the state’s policy-setting Judicial Council’s “committee on legislation” voting to support a controversial law allowing the council to move five vacant judgeships from one county to another.

“It’s safe to say that the presiding judges statewide are divided on this issue,” Presiding Judge Brian McCabe of Merced County, who represents the state’s 58 presiding judges as chair of the council’s Trial Court Presiding Judges Advisory Committee, told The Courthouse News. He told the legislation committee that he had polled the state’s presiding judges and received some “very vehement” opposition to the idea. “There are a number of competing interests and concerns… the concern is this is a new arena we are stepping into, unprecedented, and it has people nervous.”

You think? California Gov. Jerry Brown’s plan in his 2016-17 budget package calls for moving five vacant judicial positions. The governor has been quoted saying that “… this will shift judgeships where the workload is highest without needing to increase the overall number of judges.” And Brown has been emphatic that these vacant judgeships need to be moved before he will agree to fund any new positions.

The CN notes how much of a drop in the judicial justice bucket this is, backgrounding that: “The understanding is that this will involve taking two open positions from Alameda County and three from Santa Clara County, and giving two to Riverside County, two to San Bernardino County and one to Kern County. All three south-state counties are in serious need, though nearly all judges agree that with the state down by about 270 positions every court is in desperate need of more judges.”

Read the CN’s excellent reporting here: CNS – Plan to Reallocate Judgeships Moves Ahead

Sen. Patrick Leahy: Many children facing deportation are forced to proceed before a judge without a lawyer

Immigrant children and their mothers arrive in Guatemala after being deported from the United States in 2014. The migrants had come to the U.S. to flee a humanitarian crisis in their homeland. Photo Credit CNN Report, 5/9/2016

Immigrant children and their mothers arrive in Guatemala after being deported from the United States in 2014. The migrants had come to the U.S. to flee a humanitarian crisis in their homeland. Photo Credit CNN Report, 5/9/2016

A powerful U.S.senator, who serves as the ranking Democrat on the Senate’s justice committee and on the body’s subcommittee on immigration, has authored a national CNN piece opinion piece blasting the nation’s current approach to the “border kids,” our term for often unaccompanied children seeking asylum in the U.S. Asserting that a fair day in court is “… a bedrock principle of our justice system,” Sen, Patrick Leahy of Vermont said that having legal representation is “… especially important for children who cannot advocate for themselves.”

The Democrat didn’t call out the Obama Administration, but does ask “… so how could we possibly expect children to navigate court proceedings on their own?” He answers by noting “… and yet, each year, the United States government does just that. In immigration court, in case after case, a trained federal prosecutor represents the interests of the government while too many children facing deportation are forced to proceed before a judge without a lawyer.” He also says that “.. it is the longstanding policy of the Department of Homeland Security and the Department of Justice to pursue immigration cases against children, even very young children, without lawyers. And it is a longstanding executive policy they are actively defending in federal court, right now.”

You can read his comments, which do not include plans from his various committees, here:

http://www.cnn.com/2016/05/09/opinions/children-need-lawyers-leahy/