Health Care Funds Enough To Warrant Trust-Fund Lawsuit?

Photo credit: Legal News Line online report, 3/29/17

Photo credit: Legal News Line online report, 3/29/17

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce-backed Newsline website has published a deep-dive (well, “deeper” anyway) into the mushrooming state attorney generals investigation into asbestos trust funds, including speculation that U.S. Justice Department attention would be a “whole new ballgame.” The story broker recently when Forbes’ Daniel Fisher wrote about the probe.

(Sara Warner, publisher of this website, echoed some of his reporting in a Huffington Post piece.)

The Newsline report quotes Mark A. Behrens, who co-chairs Shook, Hardy & Bacon’s Washington, DC-based public policy group: “If these cases get the attention of the Department of Justice, then it’s a whole new ball game.” That report background that “… In one case, Utah’s Attorney General recently sued four of the largest asbestos bankruptcy trusts to make them comply with civil investigative demands from 13 states on whether they are failing to reimburse states for Medicare and Medicaid. Federal law requires those who oversee settlements to pay outstanding bills for Medicare coverage” and added that “… the federal government and the states may have similar interests with regard to reimbursement of health care costs, business interests believe. It is estimated that some 30 percent of asbestos cases involve veterans. Many of these individuals would receive treatment at VA hospitals at the government’s expense. Given the age of many asbestos plaintiffs, many also would receive Medicare benefits, a federal health care coverage program.”

The Newsline piece is here:

CM Publisher Makes Case For Bi-Partisian Fix on Immigration Court

Sara Cocoran Warner, Founding Publisher of the California Courts Monitor

Sara Cocoran Warner, Founding Publisher of the California Courts Monitor

Courts Monitor Publisher Sara Warner, in a Huffington Post blog, makes her case that fixing the swamped immigration courts should be a low-hanging issue for bi-partisian action. Although, perhaps the parties have differing motivations.

See her argument here:

Swamped Immigration Courts Are A Bi-Partisian Fix Opportunity

Shackles In A Civil Case? With Immigration, That’s The Deal

PhotoCredit, Boston Gobe report, 8/29/16

PhotoCredit, Boston Gobe report, 8/29/16

A Boston Globe report has detailed that many detained immigrants show up in immigration court in shackles – even without any criminal record. The Globe reports that “… when detained immigrants have their day in immigration courtrooms in Boston and in many other courts around the nation, they almost always spend it in chains. Some of the immigrants have criminal records, but some do not, and the controversial practice has ignited protests from Connecticut to California. Critics say detainees in the civil immigration system are treated more harshly than people accused of violent crimes in state and federal courts. But others say shackling preserves public safety in the courts, where security is limited.”

We would background that immigration courts are not actually U.S. federal courts, but are actually run by the U.S. Justice Department. Those facing the courts do not have a right to an attorney, as they would if criminal charges were being considered, because the cases are considered “civil” actions.

Read the Globe report here: In Boston immigration court, chains are a familiar sound – The Boston Globe

Justice Dept. Suing Ferguson Over Failure To Make Changes

Photo of Michael Brown Sr., right, at a City Council meeting in Ferguson, Mo., from a New York Times report, 2/10/16, "Department of Justice Sues Ferguson, Which Reversed Course on Agreement"

Photo of Michael Brown Sr., right, at a City Council meeting in Ferguson, Mo., from a New York Times report, 2/10/16, “Department of Justice Sues Ferguson, Which Reversed Course on Agreement”

The U.S. Justice Department is suing the town of Ferguson over its refusal to make changes in how its police and justice system operates. Ferguson, of course, is the St. Louis suburb that been the focus of a national protest over police behavior since 18-year-old Michael Brown was killed in a police shooting there is 2014. Among other problems, the city’s court system was an example of how “civil” infractions like traffic tickets could become criminal charges if court dates, fines or other procedural milestones were missed. A federal report found that the police were acting more or less as a profit-generating system for the town’s budget.


Read about the lawsuit in a very solid New York Times story.

How Clinton’s Immigration Policy Would Differ From Obama’s

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton made headlines by calling for a path to full and equal citizenship for undocumented immigrants, but offered few details on how her programs as president would go beyond what President Obama has done by executive order. Immigration cases are civil actions and some 400,000 cases are backed up in the special “immigration courts” which are actually operated by the U.S. Justice Department, not the usual courts system.
The left-leaning website ThinkProgress has a solid analysis of how Clinton’s ideas differ from Obama’s, noting that the candidate “… called for granting ‘full and equal citizenship’ to undocumented immigrants; extending an existing executive action that provides deportation protections to so-called DREAMers, or undocumented immigrants, giving legal representation to immigrants in immigration court; and reforming immigration enforcement and detention practices ‘so they’re more humane, more targeted, and more effective.'”
See more of the analysis here.

Immigration ‘Rocket Docket’ Raises Ire In S.F.

Local officials in San Francisco are raising issues with the Department of Justice “rocket docket” for unaccompanied Central American minors who were caught or surrendered to authorities at the U.S. border. The San Francisco Bay Guardian newspaper is reporting that courts are now “… cramming through as many as 50 cases daily.”
“This new docket is dramatically accelerating the pace for the cases of newly arrived, traumatized children and families from Central America,” Robin Goldfaden of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Bay Area wrote in an email to the Bay Guardian. “For many, a wrong decision can mean being sent back to unspeakable harm – brutal beatings, rapes, even death. … But nonprofit legal services providers, already stretched beyond capacity, simply do not have the number of attorneys and other staff required to meet the ever-rising level of need.” 
At the Sept. 2 Board of Supervisor’s meeting, one county official proposed a budgetary supplemental to allocate $1.2 million for legal representation for unaccompanied youth being processed in immigration court in the Bay Area. “Under international law, many of these kids would actually qualify as refugees,” said the official. “And many of them have cases that would allow them to be protected by immigration law in the US…”

S.F. Stepping Up In Border-Child Crisis

Citing its tradition of being a “Sanctuary City” for immigration, documented or not, San Francisco has become the first California city to provide funding for attorneys representing immigrants facing deportation. The money will go through the nonprofit Lawyer’s Committee for Civil Rights. It’s an important move, in part, because government funding including most federal programs cannot pay for representing immigrants in deportation situations.
Terry Collins of the Associated Press reported that “.. since January, nearly 200 children in San Francisco who entered the country unaccompanied by an adult now have adult sponsors and cases pending in immigration court, the U.S. Health and Human Services Department reported… advocates believe there are hundreds more children who have sought refuge in the city without a sponsor, officials added.”
The AP report also noted that “… the U.S. Justice Department has ordered immigration courts to make cases involving unaccompanied minors entering the country a priority. California has the largest backlog of immigration court cases, followed by Texas and New York, according to the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse at Syracuse University. While San Francisco is the first Golden State city to offer attorney-focused assistance, the city of New York has a similar program and the state of California is spending several million dollars on the issue.

 Read more here: San Francisco to help fund immigration attorneys