Courts Monitor Publisher Believes Kavanaugh Accuser

Sara Corcoran is correspondent, contributing editor, and founding publisher of the National Courts Monitor & California Courts Monitor.

Sara Corcoran is correspondent, contributing editor, and founding publisher of the National Courts Monitor & California Courts Monitor.

Based in part on the fact they attended the same Washington, D.C. area high school, Courts Monitor Publisher Sara Corcoran explains why she believes the woman accusing the U.S. Supreme Court nominee of a sexual attack. She posted her story at the Daily Caller website which you can find here.

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.”

Supreme Court agrees to hear civil forfeiture challenge

U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. Photo Credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite as reported by Forbes, 2/1/18.

U.S. Supreme Court in Washington. Photo Credit: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite as reported by Forbes, 2/1/18.

Billions of dollars in government revenue and one of the most contentious constitutional questions of the present day are at stake in a pending U.S. Supreme Court case over civil forfeiture.

“For the first time in over 20 years, the U.S. Supreme Court will have the opportunity to review the constitutionality of civil forfeiture laws, which allow the government to confiscate cash, cars, and even homes,” Forbes reported.

Civil forfeiture laws allowed local and state jurisdictions to reap millions of dollars: “from 2001 to 2014, the Justice Department and the Treasury Department’s forfeiture funds took in almost $29 billion,” Forbes reported.

The court has granted a cert petition from Tyson Timbs, “who was forced to forfeit his $40,000 Land Rover in civil court to the State of Indiana, after he pled guilty to selling less than $200 worth of drugs,” the Forbes article reported.

Timbs prevailed in lower courts, but last fall the Indiana Supreme Court ruled against him. “The Excessive Fines Clause does not bar the State from forfeiting Defendant’s vehicle,” the court ruled, “because the United States Supreme Court has not held that the Clause applies to the States through the Fourteenth Amendment.”

Now, the U.S. Supreme Court is poised to weigh in.

If Supreme Court upholds President Trump’s travel ban, will it rein in district judges who have opposed it?

Photo Credit: Evan Vucci / Associated Press as reported in Los Angeles Times, 4/25/18

Photo Credit: Evan Vucci / Associated Press as reported in Los Angeles Times, 4/25/18

A travel ban that limits immigration may secure a key legal victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, based on comments from justices on April 25, a major newspaper predicts.

The L.A. Times reports, “The Supreme Court’s conservative justices sounded ready Wednesday to uphold President Trump’s travel ban, potentially giving the embattled White House a big legal victory after a series of defeats in the lower courts.”

The third version of a travel ban “bars the entry of most immigrants and travelers from Iran, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya and North Korea as well as officials from Venezuela,” the L.A. Times reports.

“The justices issued a ruling in June that allowed the second version of the travel ban to take partial effect. Then, in December, with only two dissents, they set aside lower-court rulings to allow the administration to put the third version into practice, a strong indicator of where the majority was headed,” the newspaper reports.

This brings up the question about whether this ruling will override the “increasingly common practice of district judges handing down nationwide orders based on a suit brought by a handful of plaintiffs,” such as the district judge’s order in Hawaii that blocked the travel ban nationwide.

With separate process, ICE arrests generate more scrutiny

Photograph by John Moore / Getty as reported by The New Yorker, 11/8/17.

Photograph by John Moore / Getty as reported by
The New Yorker,
11/8/17.

It’s increasingly likely that the U.S. Supreme Court will end up reviewing the procedures used by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) for immigration arrests, according to experts who see this area of law growing more contentious.

The process for ICE arrests is “one of the most complicated areas of immigration law,” Ashley Tabaddor, president of the National Association of Immigration Judges, told Public Radio International.

In an April 12 report, PRI noted, “Broadly, the only evidence that an ICE officer needs to arrest a person is their identification and proof that they are not a citizen.”

One reason for the disparity is that ICE procedures often take place in civil courts.

The New Yorker chronicled the case of Sergio Perez, a native of Guadalajara, Mexico, who was in the United States as an undocumented immigrant before his arrest by ICE.

“Because immigration-removal proceedings are generally carried out under civil laws, they are exempt from many procedures mandated in criminal cases,” the New Yorker explained. “For example, the warrants that ICE uses to arrest unauthorized immigrants like Perez aren’t reviewed by a judge; they’re just written up by ICE office supervisors. Immigrant detainees don’t have a constitutional right to a lawyer. Fourth Amendment protections against unreasonable search and seizure don’t always apply when ICE agents investigate a target for arrest, because the cases typically don’t involve a criminal prosecution.”

Public Radio International cited an upswing in ICE activity under President Trump as one reason for the growing attention.

“From the day Donald Trump took office through Sept. 30, 2017, ICE arrests increased by 42 percent compared to the same time period the year before, according to an analysis of government data by Pew Research,” PRI reported. “Officers have been more aggressive in their tactics, too. They have shown up in courtrooms, conducted worksite sweeps and confronted people in their homes without warrants. Immigration lawyers say there is an increased need for immigrants’ legal protections to be reconsidered. ‘This is a brewing question that is becoming more intense,’ says University of Las Vegas law professor Michael Kagan.”

The legal status of undocumented immigrants took center stage earlier this year.

In February, National Public Radio reported on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that found immigrants, even those with permanent legal status and asylum seekers, do not have the right to bond hearings.

Supreme Court strikes down bond hearings for detainees

Supreme_Court2In a major immigration case, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its decision in Jennings v. Rodriguez, a class action lawsuit challenging the federal government’s practice of jailing immigrants while they litigate their deportation cases. It ruled that detainees held by the government for possible deportation are not entitled to a bond hearing even after months or years of detention. Civil rights advocates, such as the ACLU, question whether it is constitutional to “lock up immigrants indefinitely.”

The Washington Post reported on the Feb. 27 ruling, noting, “In a splintered 5 to 3 decision, the court’s conservatives said that the relevant statute does not even ‘hint,’ as Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. wrote, at the broad reading of the right to bail hearings adopted by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.”

The American Civil Liberties Union argued, “In the appeals court, we fought for and won on the principle that immigrants should be given the opportunity to present their case to a judge, allowing that judge to decide whether the detainee could be released without risk of flight or threat to public safety.”

US Supreme Court Nixes Appeal In Levee Case Against 97 Firms

Damage to wetlands caused by canals, such as seen here around the Delacroix community, was the focus of the failed lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.(Ted Jackson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archives)

Damage to wetlands caused by canals, such as seen here around the Delacroix community, was the focus of the failed lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.(Ted Jackson, NOLA.com | The Times-Picayune archives)

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a Louisiana flood protection district that had sued 97 oil and gas companies over environmental damages. The NOLA.com website explains that “… the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East had appealed a March decision by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a 2015 decision by U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown that the lawsuit involved enforcement of federal laws and thus should be heard in her courtroom, rather than returned to a state court as the levee authority wanted.”

The case also drew attention because of how it was structured. The legal team had a provision that allowed it to continue the litigation via appeals, and if the Authority decided to terminate the effort it would face millions in legal fees. If the litigation was ultimately unsuccessful, it would owe no fees. That came into play as political winds shifted and the new appointed Authority leaders actually opposed the lawsuit – but would not end the case in the face-off those fees.

Read the NOLA.com coverage here:
http://www.nola.com/environment/index.ssf/2017/10/us_supreme_court_wont_hear_app.html

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

Latino Community Rallies Around Clinton

Sara Cocoran Warner, Founding Publisher of the California Courts Monitor

Sara Cocoran Warner, Founding Publisher of the California Courts Monitor

Read the latest Huffington Post article, “Latino Community Rallies Around Clinton,” by Courts Monitor Publisher, Sara Warner. Sara provides her thoughts about the importance of the Latino community to the presidential election, as well as the implications it has on the U.S. Supreme Court and issues like immigration and civil rights.

Colorado City Settles ‘Debtors Prison’ Case

Nicole Beemsterboer/NPR

Nicole Beemsterboer/NPR

You can add Colorado Springs, Colo., to the list of American cities learning that turning “civil” cases like traffic tickets into jail-time cases might be illegal. National Public Radio did a deep-dive into the situation this week, offering the context that “… debtors’ prisons have long been illegal in the United States. But many courts across the country still send people to jail when they can’t pay their court fines. Last year, the Justice Department stepped in to stop the practice in Ferguson, Mo. And now, in a first, a U.S. city will pay out thousands of dollars to people who were wrongly sent to jail.”

The NPR story said that Colorado Springs and the American Civil Liberties Union of Colorado announced “… a settlement that will end the practice of jailing people too poor to pay their court fines. The city will even give payouts to people who were incorrectly sent to jail. Last year, the ACLU of Colorado discovered nearly 800 cases where people had gone to jail in Colorado Springs when they couldn’t pay their tickets for minor violations. Most of the people were homeless — and they were ticketed for things such as panhandling or sleeping in a park overnight. The settlement calls for people to receive $125 for each day they were in jail. One man featured in the story, illegally jailed after being fined for holding up a sign at roadside, will receive some $11,000.

NPR quoted ACLU attorney Mark Silverstein explaining that “… putting people in jail when they can’t pay their fines — without giving them alternative options such as community service — has been ruled unconstitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court” and also cited their previous work on the issue: An NPR investigative series in 2014 found the practice is widespread across the country. “The law is supposed to treat us equally,” Silverstein says. “So when people with means can simply pay a fine and move on and then the poor get sentenced to jail, because they’re poor, that’s a two-tiered system of justice that violates the principle of equal protection of the laws.”

That previous NPR investigation, which is truly alarming, noted that “… one of the first instances NPR found of fees charged to criminal defendants was in 1965 when California required payments to reimburse crime victims. By the 1980s, states started billing criminal defendants to reimburse taxpayers. Michigan, in 1984, passed the first law to charge inmates for some of the costs of their incarceration. By 1990, Texas reported that fees from offenders made up more than half the budget of the state’s probation agencies.” California now can charge people for their jail stays, public defender costs and other fees, as can 48 other states.

Read the Colorado Springs story here:

Colorado Springs Will Stop Jailing People Too Poor To Pay Court Fines