American Bar Association jumps into immigrant-family fray

ABA President Hilarie Bass posted a short video asking America’s lawyers to help reunite immigrant families at the border reported the ABA Journal earlier this summer.

ABA President Hilarie Bass posted a short video asking America’s lawyers to help reunite immigrant families at the border reported the ABA Journal earlier this summer.

The American Bar Association Journal is promoting a web page that helps lawyers to volunteer, donate or advocate for detained and separated immigrant families.

The web page,  http://ambar.org/immigrationjustice, was promoted by ABA President Hilarie Bass, who posted a video “asking America’s lawyers to help reunite immigrant families at the border,” the ABA Journal reported this summer.

In the video, Bass talks about what she saw during her late June trip to south Texas, where she met with immigrant mothers detained at the Port Isabel Detention Center near Harlingen. Some of those women hadn’t seen their children in six weeks, Bass said; some had talked to their children on the phone, but knew the children were far away,” the ABA Journal reported.

“But what really disturbed Bass, she said, was that all of them would give up their asylum claims and return to the violence they’re fleeing if it meant their children would be returned.”

Same-sex partner wins legal standing after girl’s death

A same-sex partner won legal standing to sue for legal distress despite the lack of a state-recognized relationship.

“A woman whose same-sex partner’s biological daughter was killed in a traffic accident can seek damages for emotional distress even though she and the other woman weren’t married or in a civil union at the time, an appeals court ruled,” according to an Associated Press report published in U.S. News and World Report.

In the Aug. 17 ruling, Valerie Benning was given legal standing, reversing the findings of a lower court that found she wasn’t familiar enough with the girl.

“The 2-year-old girl was killed in 2009 when a firetruck and a pickup truck collided while she was waiting with her family to cross a street in Trenton to see a ‘Disney on Ice’ show at the facility now known as CURE Insurance Arena,” U.S. News notes.

Benning had been romantically involved with the girl’s mother for more than a year before the accident, according to the report.

L.A. jury awards $417 million in Johnson & Johnson talc powder case

Photo credit: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press as reported by The New York Times on 7/12/18.

Photo credit: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press as reported by The New York Times on 7/12/18.

Johnson & Johnson has sustained another major judicial loss in its defense of its talcum powder product.

On Aug. 22, the New York Times reported, “In what may be the largest award so far in a lawsuit tying ovarian cancer to talcum powder, a Los Angeles jury on Monday ordered Johnson & Johnson to pay $417 million in damages to a medical receptionist who developed ovarian cancer after using the company’s trademark Johnson’s Baby Powder on her perineum for decades.”

Eva Echeverria, 63, of East Los Angeles, was the plaintiff in the case, “one of thousands of women who have sued the consumer products giant Johnson & Johnson claiming baby powder caused their disease, pointing to studies linking talc to cancer that date to 1971, when scientists in Wales discovered particles of talc embedded in ovarian and cervical tumors.”

National Courts Monitor has charted the lawsuits across the United States against the company. In July, a jury in Missouri awarded $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatory damages to women “who had accused the company of failing to warn them about cancer risks associated with its baby and body powders.”

The Aug. 20 award in California prompted a vow to appeal.

“A spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson, Carol Goodrich, said the company would appeal the verdict handed up by a jury in the Superior Court of Los Angeles County and was preparing for additional trials,” according to the New York Times.

‘Dreamers’ could see fate resolved by Supremes

Photo Credit: Julián Aguilar/The Texas Tribune as reported in The Texas Tribune on 7/31/18.

Photo Credit: Julián Aguilar/The Texas Tribune as reported in The Texas Tribune on 7/31/18.

The future of DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, will become clearer as federal courts wrestle with the Obama-era initiative to shield young immigrants from deportation. And the U.S. Supreme Court may end the controversy once and for all.

The Washington Post reports that on Friday, Aug. 17, U.S. District Judge John D. Bates ruled that the Trump administration must continue processing renewals but that the administration can halt new applications for “Dreamers” while DACA is under appeal.

“Bates is one of the federal judges presiding over four different lawsuits aimed at maintaining or eliminating DACA, which was created by executive order by President Barack Obama and then ended by President Trump,” the Post reports.

The Texas Tribune notes that on Aug. 8, federal District Judge Andrew Hanen was scheduled to hear the state’s request for a halt to the program preliminarily “while the issue meanders its way through the federal court system.”

The fate of DACA could ”end up in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court,” the Texas Tribune reports. “In June, the Department of Justice asked Hanen to delay a possible injunction ‘so the United States can seek stays of all the DACA injunctions in the respective courts of appeals and the Supreme Court,’” the Tribune notes.

West Virginia Supreme Court justices impeached over spending

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis announced her resignation on 8/14/18. Photo credit: CRAIG HUDSON/CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL/ASSOCIATED PRESS, as reported in The Wall Street Journal, 8/14/18.

West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Robin Davis announced her resignation on 8/14/18. Photo credit: CRAIG HUDSON/CHARLESTON GAZETTE-MAIL/ASSOCIATED PRESS, as reported in The Wall Street Journal, 8/14/18.

West Virginia lawmakers have impeached all of the state’s Supreme Court justices over spending issues.

The Associated Press reports, “West Virginia lawmakers completed the extraordinary action of impeaching all four justices on the state’s Supreme Court of Appeals for spending issues, including a suspended justice facing a 23-count federal indictment.”

According to The New York Times, “Most of the articles involved the chief justice, Allen Loughry, a Republican, who has been suspended since June and is facing a 23-count federal indictment on charges of fraud and false statements. He is accused of using state property for personal use and of deceiving lawmakers, in addition to the charge of ‘unnecessary and lavish spending,’ most emblematically on a $32,000 office sofa.”

The New York Times also notes that a Republican governor will appoint replacements: “Democrats have described the whole process as a partisan power grab; the Legislature and the governor’s office are in Republican control, while a majority of the justices on the Supreme Court of Appeals, as the state’s highest court is officially known, were elected as Democrats.”

Trump administration cites success in migrant-family reunification effort, but what of ‘deleted families’?

Photo Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre/For The Washington Post as reported on 7/28/18.

Photo Credit: Ivan Pierre Aguirre/For The Washington Post as reported on 7/28/18.

By Thursday, July 26, when a court-ordered deadline loomed for the Trump administration to reunite hundreds of migrant families, government officials reported compliance.

The Washington Post reported on 7/26, “At the expiration of a 30-day court deadline to reunite migrant families separated during its ‘zero tolerance’ border crackdown, the Trump administration said Thursday it has delivered 1,412 children to parents in immigration custody and was on track to return all of those it determined were eligible for reunification.”

“President Trump ordered an end to family separations June 20 amid public outcry and spreading criticism within his own political party, as searing accounts emerged of traumatized children and anguished parents. Within days, Judge Dana M. Sabraw of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California, a Republican appointee, ordered the government to return children to their parents and imposed deadlines,” the Post reported.

However, some families, termed “deleted family units,” could not be reunited by the deadline. There was no classification for more than 2,600 children who had been separated from their families and placed in government shelters. According to a The Washington Post report on 7/28, when Customs and Border Protection “sent that information to the refugee office at the Department of Health and Human Services, which was told to facilitate the reunifications, the office’s database did not have a column for families with that designation.”

“After his 30-day deadline to reunite the ‘deleted’ families passed Thursday, U.S. District Judge Dana M. Sabraw lambasted the government for its lack of preparation and coordination,” reported The Washington Post.

The article continues, “‘There were three agencies, and each was like its own stovepipe. Each had its own boss, and they did not communicate,’ Sabraw said Friday at a court hearing in San Diego. ‘What was lost in the process was the family. The parents didn’t know where the children were, and the children didn’t know where the parents were. And the government didn’t know either.’”

California gun owners argue computer crashes hinder assault weapon registration

Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press as reported by Los Angeles Times on 7/11/18.

Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press as reported by Los Angeles Times on 7/11/18.

Gun owners are arguing in court that they can’t comply with California’s assault weapon registration due to computer problems.

Gun owner groups filed a lawsuit against California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra that “alleges that the system for registering so-called bullet-button assault weapons was unavailable for most of the week before the July 1 deadline,” the Associated Press reported earlier this month.

“Owners who were unable to register by the deadline now potentially face prosecution through no fault of their own, according to the lawsuit filed in Shasta County on behalf of three gun owners by The Calguns Foundation, Second Amendment Foundation, Firearms Policy Coalition and Firearms Policy Foundation,” the AP reported.

The lawsuit alleges the state Department of Justice’s registration system “was largely inaccessible, and inoperable on a wide variety of ordinary web browsers across the state,” Los Angeles Times reported.

In ruling, California visual artists lose rights to royalties

Artist Laddie John Dill was a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit seeking royalties under state law. Photo credit: Stephanie Diani for The New York Times as reported by The New York Times, 7/11/18.

Artist Laddie John Dill was a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit seeking royalties under state law. Photo credit: Stephanie Diani for The New York Times as reported by The New York Times, 7/11/18.

Visual artists in California will not receive royalties from resale of their work, a federal appeals court has ruled.

The New York Times reported on the decision, which strikes a blow to the rights of visual artists, including young painters just becoming established.

“A federal appeals court has ruled that visual artists will no longer be entitled to royalties from resales of their work in California — a decision that may discourage other states from considering royalty laws,” The New York Times reported on July 11. “The ruling, issued on Friday [July 6], addressed a 1977 law, the California Resale Royalties Act, the only of its kind implemented in the United States. The law benefited visual artists, who, unlike composers, filmmakers or writers, do not receive a share of any future sales under copyright law.”

The court determined that state law conflicts with a federal copyright law’s first-sale doctrine “that claims once a copyright owner sells work a first time, they lose control over future sales,” the article noted.

Johnson & Johnson ordered to pay $4.69 billion in talc case

Photo credit: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press as reported by The New York Times on 7/12/18.

Photo credit: Jeff Chiu/Associated Press as reported by The New York Times on 7/12/18.

Johnson & Johnson, in one of the largest punitive damage awards in history, must pay $4.69 billion to plaintiffs exposed to talcum-based products which they claimed caused them to develop cancer.

“Johnson & Johnson was ordered Thursday to pay $4.69 billion to 22 women and their families who had claimed that asbestos in the company’s talcum powder products caused them to develop ovarian cancer,” The New York Times reported on July 12. “A jury in a Missouri circuit court awarded $4.14 billion in punitive damages and $550 million in compensatory damages to the women, who had accused the company of failing to warn them about cancer risks associated with its baby and body powders.”

Six of the women who sued the company have died, according to The New York Times. Johnson & Johnson, which has successfully appealed a number of similar cases, vowed to file an appeal.

‘Zero tolerance’ policy on border swells federal caseloads

Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego. Photo Credit: Nehrams2020 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego. Photo Credit: Nehrams2020 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

A Trump administration policy to criminally prosecute illegal border crossings has created a renewed backlog in the federal justice system in the Southwest.

“Failures to bring new arrestees to court in a timely manner has been an issue off and on for years in San Diego and Imperial counties, and federal defense attorneys say that it has only magnified in the past couple months as the Trump administration has vowed to criminally prosecute all illegal border crossings under a ‘zero-tolerance’ policy,”reported Kristina Davis of The Los Angeles Times.

“Since mid-April, when U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced the new policy, public defenders in San Diego have filed 138 habeas corpus petitions, a civil remedy that in Latin translates to ‘produce the body.’ That’s compared to 13 filed during the same time frame last year, according to court records,” Davis reported.

As a result, more people arrested at the border spend longer periods of time in Border Patrol facilities rather than getting booked into the federal prison system, particularly the Metropolitan Correctional Center in San Diego, according to the report.