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

L.A. Jury Awards Record $417 Million In Talc Cancer Case

 

The plaintiff, Eva Echeverria, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. PhotoCredit: The Los Angeles Times online article, 8/21/2017

The plaintiff, Eva Echeverria, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. PhotoCredit: The Los Angeles Times online article, 8/21/2017

The Los Angeles Times is among those reporting on a $417-million verdict against Johnson & Johnson over the company’s talc product, In effect, the jury found the company liable because it did not warn a 63-year-old woman diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer about the talcum cancer risks.
The Times noted that “… verdict marks the largest award yet in a number of suits claiming that the company’s talc powder causes ovarian cancer. More than 300 lawsuits are pending in California and more than 4,500 claims in the rest of the country, alleging that the healthcare giant ignored studies linking its Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products to cancer.”
The company says it will appeal, insisting that science is on its side. But the Times explained that the L.A. lawsuit “… cited a 1982 study that shows women who used talc on their genitals were at a 92% increased risk for ovarian cancer. The lead researcher, Daniel W. Cramer, later advised Johnson & Johnson to put a warning label on the product.”
The newspaper also backgrounded that “… ovarian cancer accounts for 1.3% of all new cancer cases in the U.S., according to the National Cancer Institute. But it is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related death among women. Fewer than half of all patients survive five years after a diagnosis.”

Read the LAT report here: L.A. jury hits Johnson & Johnson with $417-million verdict over cancer link to its talc

Will Pot + RICO Challenge State’s Federalist Trend?

Marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn., in 2015. (Jim Mone/Associated Press)

Marijuana plants grow at LifeLine Labs in Cottage Grove, Minn., in 2015. (Jim Mone/Associated Press)

Writing in The Washington Post, legal commentator Jonathan H. Adler outlines both the context and challenges facing “legal” marijuana now that a law targeting gangsters is being used for civil resistance to state pot reforms. We’ve reported before that the federal 10th Circuit court has taken a stand and it’s significant.
 
Adler outlines the federal context, including how the U.S. Congress has linked marijuana to funding legislation, before going into the looming challenges.
 
He notes that “… a bigger potential threat [to state legalization efforts] comes from the fact that marijuana possession and distribution are predicate offenses under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO). This means that those who produce or sell marijuana are potentially subject to civil RICO suits, whether or not such activities are legal under state law. So held the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit earlier this year. A federal judge once described RICO as “the monster that ate jurisprudence.” Barring real reform at the federal level, it could be the monster that ate marijuana federalism, too. Here again, an appropriations rider is insufficient.

 
Adler is arguing that the RICO use is a threat to the “federalism” model for state control. 
 
Opinion | Will marijuana make federalism go up in smoke?

Texas Journalist Explains Medicaid Flaw In Asbestos Lawsuits, Calls For Change

Photo Credit: File photo, Dallas Observer article, August 13, 2017

Photo Credit: File photo, Dallas Observer article, August 13, 2017

A Dallas-based journalist who pioneered coverage of asbestos lawsuit issues is calling for changes while explaining a “Catch 22″ that could be shortchanging states’ Medicaid coffers. Christine Biederman, writing as a contributor to The Hill newspaper in Washington D.C., explains that “… Medicaid secondary payer laws provide states potential funds. For example, if a Medicaid enrollee is sickened by asbestos, and Medicaid pays the healthcare bills, Medicaid is entitled to a share of any future personal injury settlement. Medicaid is theoretically required to recover part of the settlement.”

Biederman, who wrote a landmark Dallas Observer investigative story “Toxic Justice” 19 years ago, adds that “… in practice, this means that unless a lawyer, a defendant or another party to a personal injury claim is located in the same state as a Medicaid beneficiary, and thus required by state law to report payments, the state Medicaid agency will likely never learn about the money. Of course, the enrollee is supposed to report the windfall. If you think that usually happens … please get in touch, because I have an investment opportunity for you.”

The story benefits from the fact that Biederman is herself a Texas attorney and will be must-read material in the asbestos world. (Disclosure: Ms. Biederman contributed reporting to the documentary UnSettled by Canadian journalist Paul Johnson; the Courts Monitor has shared resources and research with producers of that film, scheduled for release this fall.)

Medicaid Catch-22: It’s time for the asbestos trusts to do what’s right