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.

Judge Delays San Francisco Sugar Warnings

The San Francisco board of supervisors has approved an ordinance that would require warning labels to be placed on advertisements for soda and sugary drinks to alert consumers of the risk of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The San Francisco board of supervisors has approved an ordinance that would require warning labels to be placed on advertisements for soda and sugary drinks to alert consumers of the risk of obesity, diabetes and tooth decay. PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES

The city of San Francisco’s efforts to require health warning for soda and other sugar-added beverages, closely watching because of implications for similar warnings in other places, has been placed on hold by a federal judge. The delay, in effect, grants the beverage industry some more time pending the appeals process. The measure was set to go into effect July 25.

The Wall Street Journals explains that San Francisco seeks to “… require that billboards and other public advertisements include the language: ‘WARNING: Drinking beverages with added sugar(s) contributes to obesity, diabetes, and tooth decay. This is a message from the City and County of San Francisco.'”

The WSJ also notes that “… the American Beverage Association filed a civil complaint in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California last July, arguing that the requirement violates free-speech rights under the First Amendment. The California Retailers Association and California State Outdoor Advertising Association joined the complaint.”

Read more here: San Francisco’s Sugary-Drinks Warnings Delayed Pending Appeal

California Mourns the Loss of A Judicial Giant, Richard Mosk

The California Courts lost another great judge this week. Richard M. Mosk served on the California Court of Appeal, but was renowned for a career that spanned three decades of public service working on a host of high profile commissions.

While serving on the Warren Commission, Mosk had the rather unique task of directly investigating the background of Lee Harvey Oswald.

The LA Times reports: “He firmly believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was the lone gunman,” said Matthew Mosk, his son and an ABC News producer. “He did not want to see history distorted by conspiracy theories.”

Mosk also served on Iran-US Claims Tribunal at The Hague. The Tribunal was created following the hostage crisis to resolve issues between the two countries.

The Times reports, “Richard Mosk also served on the Christopher Commission — which investigated the LAPD in the wake of the Rodney King beating — the Los Angeles Board of Inquiry on Brush Fires, the Los Angeles Commission on Judicial Procedures, the L.A. County Law Library board and the Stanford Athletic Board. He also was on the boards of the California Museum of Science and Industry and Town Hall California.”

At CCM, we send our deepest condolences to his family and friends who are mourning his passing, and we salute a long-standing public servant of the California Courts

Rights Group Notes Immigration Courts Backed Up 3 Years

The Human Rights First advocacy group is noting its new study indicating that the U.S. Immigration Courts are backed up for about three years now, and it’s only getting worst. The Courthouse News in Los Angeles reports that the group “… says the problem is most pronounced in Texas and California where 89,000 and 81,000 immigration cases are pending, respectively.”

Also noted in the CN story: The group says: “The number of cases pending before the court will soon exceed 500,000, far too many for a court staffed with only 254 immigration judges – a fraction of the number needed to timely address removal cases.” Congress took a small step towards fixing the problem in December when it approved funding for 55 new immigration judges as part of a spending bill for fiscal year 2016, Human Rights First said.

But experts say lawmakers have been overly focused on the front door of illegal immigration, the U.S.-Mexico border, and the threat of terrorists entering the country so that, from 2001 to 2010, the number of Border Patrol agents at the border more than doubled to exceed 20,000.

Read the CN story here:
CNS – Report Outlines Backlog in Immigration Courts

A Personal Post From The Publisher:

Photo from: Giving Children Hope 12/29/15 Blog Post

Photo from: Giving Children Hope 12/29/15 Blog Post

Back in December, CCM Publisher Sara Warner joined Buena Park School District, Children Giving Hope & Brentwood Home to deliver Brentwood Mattress to families in need. This is her post about that visit:

The weekend before Christmas, a group of 50 volunteers loaded Premier Chevrolet trucks with Brentwood Home mattresses to deliver to some very deserving families in Buena Park, California. Hundreds of families were surveyed to find out if there were family members in need of a warm bed to sleep on. With the assistance of Brentwood Home and volunteers, the event was able to provide a joyful Christmas surprise to 70 families!

According to Vy Wynn, CEO of Brentwood Home, ” Christmas is all about caring for those in need and the less fortunate. I’m glad that we decided to partner up with the school district & Giving Children Hope.” Even though the parents had been notified of the gift they would be receiving, most of the mothers shed tears of delight when the team arrived with a memory foam Brentwood Home mattress and bedding.

It was humbling to see many of the living situations these families were in: multiple children in sharing one bed and parents on couches or the floor. Even in light of these tough ciircumstances, there was so much light in every room we entered. One single mother of four mother stated, “Receiving this bed is a blessing from God. I don’t sleep well as it is, but I know this will make such an impact, not only on my sleep, but my attitude throughout the day as well.” (Children Giving Hope http://www.givingchildrenhope.org/beds-for-christmas/)

It was such a honor to join Buena Park, Children Giving Hope & Brentwood Home in a event that gave back to a community. We are very passionate about issues involving education at the California Courts Monitor and it was nice knowing these mattresses would ensure that some children would get a better night’s sleep for the challenging school day ahead.

We made a donation to Children Giving Hope as we were so touched how they are changing the lives of so many school children.. I hope you join us by visiting www.givingchildrenhope.org and making a generous contribution today.

Related videos::

Sara Warner CCM Publisher at Buena Park Mattress Giveaway Event-video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lpgy8b0HeGk-video
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5vDSKksPXQ (spanish interview)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IdCy3j3B3Rk

Permalinks:
http://www.givingchildrenhope.org/beds-for-christmas/ (link to their blog)
www.brentwoodhome.com

Alabama Joins California In Civil Court Cuts, Delays

In a situation similar to what California faced in 2012 and 2013, Alabama is the latest state to face dramatic court system budget cuts. The now-familiar refrain is that criminal courts, with their constitutional guarantees, will remain a priority while civil cases will really feel most of the impact.  The Birmingham Business Journal has a good report and notes that “.. one overlooked aspect of cutting the court budget is how it will affect businesses. Already, short-staffed civil cases with businesses can take up to two years to resolve, but with the proposed budget cuts [a court source] said he sees these cases taking up to five years.
 
That would, in turn, change the local business landscape, the report argues.
 

Lawsuits Defining Marijuana Policy In California And ‘Legal’ States

While the Golden State is not among the “legal” states like Colorado and Washington, it continues to stumble toward a more permissive marijuana policy via civil litigation. An example is the recent Fresno-based case where a state appeals court ruled that growing medical marijuana is not a crime, but more of a civil infraction if it violates zoning laws. The Oakland-based East Bay Express reported that the case is precedent-setting for the rest of the state.
 
The report explains that “…. Fresno enacted one the state’s worst bans in 2014, prohibiting nearly all medical cannabis activity as nuisances or misdemeanors.” The resulting lawsuit, the report notes, “… went to the Fifth District Court of Appeal, which ruled that Fresno’s bans are valid under zoning powers, but medical pot growing isn’t a crime. It’s more like having a barking dog or playing loud music late at night”
 
The report also notes that public lands managers predict some 40,000 marijuana farms will be created in California and also checks in with marijuana policy in the “legal” states.
 

As Government Delays, Civil Lawsuits Set Pot Policies

As California considers a sweeping regulatory changes in how it handles marijuana use, the civil courts continue to define how laws will actually be applied. A good recent example, covered by NBC in San Diego, involves a “… couple whose home was raided by agents with guns drawn” who has filed a lawsuit against San Diego law enforcement, alleging their rights as medical marijuana patients were violated.
 
The report points out that “… the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court is the latest example of the ongoing debate over the rights of medical marijuana patients in California – how their treatment is regulated and how, according to their attorney, these type of cases are perceived by law enforcement.” This particular couple had previously arrested and put on trial for marijuana infractions, but found innocent.

California Finally Moves To Regulate Legal Marijuana

The Golden State was the first to legalize medical marijuana, but was also the first of several states to drag its feet on how to regulate growing and selling the now-legal medicine. Now, 20 years after the Compassionate Use Act of 1996, the state legislature has passed several bills that establish “seed to sale” systems. Proponents of medical marijuana are wasting little time in urging Gov. Brown to sign the bills into law, noting that he did help draft the regulations.
 
The Los Angles Times has a fine editorial asking the gov to not only sign the bills, but take an active role in making sure they are implemented. The LAT says that previous efforts have “… provided little guidance on how the state could help ailing patients get the drug — or how to keep it out of the hands of those who weren’t entitled to it. Legislators repeatedly failed to develop rules, so cities and counties adopted a patchwork of policies, which triggered a series of lawsuits and judgments that created a confusing mess for patients, law enforcement, cannabis growers and dispensary operators.”
 
Read the newspaper’s argument, signed by “the editorial board,” here: Gov. Brown, sign the medical marijuana bills

NYT Notes ‘Border Kid’ Crisis Is Not Over, But Has Moved

As reported by NPR: Detainees sleep and watch television in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed at a U.S. Customs facility in Nogales, Texas.

As reported by NPR: Detainees sleep and watch television in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed at a U.S. Customs facility in Nogales, Texas.

The New York Times has an important story about the “Border Kids” who arrived in the country amid headlines last summer. The paper notes that the number of kids has dropped, but the crisis has moved to courts. Meanwhile, a federal judge in California has given the U.S. government mere weeks to shut down several “family detention” centers because they are illegal.
 
On the court crisis, the NYT backgrounder is that “… about 84,000 children were apprehended at the Southwest border during the 2014 fiscal year and the first six months of the 2015 fiscal year, according to the Border Patrol. Of the 79,088 removal cases initiated by the government, 15,207 children had been ordered deported as of June, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonpartisan research group in Washington.
 
“While a small percentage of children have been granted asylum, most are seeking relief from deportation by applying for special immigrant juvenile status, federal officials said. And yet, rather than their claims being expedited, 69 percent of the children on the priority docket still have cases pending, statistics show.
 
“The burden is far more difficult for children if they do not have a lawyer — a right not granted to defendants in immigration courts — especially because of the accelerated time frame the government established for their cases. After being released to a sponsor, usually a relative, they are on the clock: They are required to make their first court appearance within 21 days of the court’s receiving their case to contest their deportation.”
 
Read the excellent report here: Immigration Crisis Shifts From Border to Courts
 
For a refresher on the Family Detention Center, check out our late August blogs, “Obama Admin. Fighting To Keep Family Detention Centers” and “Judge Orders Govt. To Release Detained Kids.”