CCM Publisher in HuffPo: 2016 Civil Courts Issues ‘Hung Over’ From 2015

Sara Cocoran Warner, Founding Publisher of the California Courts Monitor

CCM publisher, Sara Warner, looks back on her 2015 predictions about the top civil justice issues and highlights several issues to watch in 2016. Marijuana legalization, CSST piping, and litigation against police make the 2016 list. Civil justice issues hung over from 2015 are asbestos litigation and immigration. Read it in her latest Huffington Post blog post.

New Year Brings Increased Pressure On Immigration Courts

Photo: From Miami Herald report, 12/30/15

Photo: From Miami Herald report, 12/30/15

The new year brings a massive government roundup of women and families in the country illegally, which in turn raises the profile of would-be refugees claiming domestic violence as a reason for staying. The Miami Herald has an in-depth, potentially game-changing report that includes noting the half-million cases pending in Immigration Court, which is actually a civil function of the Justice Department and not a federal court in the usual sense.

The newspaper reported that in influx “… of unaccompanied minors and families from Central America that began last year has increased the backlog to nearly half a million cases in immigration court. To receive asylum in the United States, applicants must prove they have well-founded fears of persecution because of “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion.”

Which applicants are most likely to prevail often depends on judges’ backgrounds, what parts of the country the cases are heard in and whether they have lawyers, according to data from the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse, known as TRAC, at Syracuse University.

The newspaper also looks at recent judicial changes that might allow more families to stay, and notes the huge holding facilities in Texas. Really, a solid backgrounder in what is emerging as a potential presidential election issue, especially in the pivotal primary state of Florida.

SCOTUS Chief Justice Praises New Rules

In his annual state of the courts address, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts last week said that civil actions are sometimes “too expensive, time consuming, and contentious” and praised new rules aiming to streamline evidence discovery and encourage judges to help manage cases. That was among a spate of new rules approved Dec. 1 and going into effect this month.
One of the changes is that the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has posted revised forms on its website that can be used by people seeking to represent themselves in federal civil cases. While the overall federal judges’ caseload is down a bit from last year, the chief justice called for more assistance and less expensive process.
See the NBC report on the judge’s annual comments here: New Rules Will Streamline Federal Cases: Chief Justice