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

It Had To Happen: Immigrant Avoids ICE Hold, Now A Murder Suspect

It made headlines last year as jurisdictions, acting on a federal court decision out of Oregon, decided they would not honor “hold” requests by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, known as ICE. Now a San Francisco murder suspect was freed despite such a hold request just before committing the alleged killing. But an attorney for the San Francisco Sheriff’s Department says “…nothing in his background showed anything like that.”
As reported in the LA Times: Liz Sullivan and Jim Steinle, parents of Kathryn Steinle, who was fatally shot Wednesday in San Francisco. A suspect with seven felony convictions who had been deported five times has been arrested in connection with the shooting. (Lea Suzuki / San Francisco Chronicle)

As reported in the LA Times: Liz Sullivan and Jim Steinle, parents of Kathryn Steinle, who was fatally shot Wednesday in San Francisco. A suspect with seven felony convictions who had been deported five times has been arrested in connection with the shooting. (Lea Suzuki / San Francisco Chronicle)

Says an ICE spokesperson: “An individual with a lengthy criminal history, who is now the suspect in a tragic murder case, was released onto the street rather than being turned over to ICE for deportation… we’re not asking local cops to do our job. All we’re asking is that they notify us when a serious foreign national criminal offender is being released to the street so we can arrange to take custody.”
San Francisco County Sheriff Ross Mirkarimi said ICE misses the point. “ICE was informed about San Francisco’s position on detainers,” he said, “but did not seek a court order for Sanchez’s transfer as required under the law.”
The Courts Monitor follows immigration issues because the cases are civil, not criminal. Read more from the L.A. Times here:

In S.F., Court Clerks Ready To Strike

The court clerk strike talk in San Francisco Superior Court is getting serious. The Courthouse News Service reports that a poll “… showed that two-thirds of the 251 members of local court chapter of Service Employees International Local 1021 are ready to walk out if their demand for a pay raise goes unanswered. Out of the 186 clerk who filled out strike ballots, 169 voted to authorize a strike.
The clerks and court management are apparently deadlocked over wages. As background, the CN notes that “…. in July 2011, faced with statewide court budget cuts of $350 million, then-Presiding Judge Katherine Feinstein announced that 200 court workers at San Francisco Superior Court would lose their jobs in a belt-tightening that would also result in closed courtrooms, reduced public access and trial delays. In the end, San Francisco closed 11 courtrooms, laid off 67 employees, mainly court reporters. The court also imposed work furloughs and shortened its operating hours.”
The San Francisco Superior Court’s head clerk, Michael Yuen, says that any strike would be considered illegal because of no-strike wording in the latest labor contract. Read more here: Courthouse News Service

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

The ABA Meeting Continues Big-Name Draw

Not that anybody is saying anything new, but at least the big American Bar Association meeting in San Francisco is hosting the biggest names to say the old stuff. Like a Supreme Court Justice coming out strongly in favor of increasing civic education.
The ABA website is doing a good job keeping up with the annual conference via social and traditional postings. It says “…. Supreme Court Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy commended the American Bar Association for its efforts to call attention to the nation’s justice system, but he stressed that the ABA must do more with regard to civic education. Kennedy, speaking Saturday night at the Opening Assembly of the ABA Annual Meeting in San Francisco, said the association “must insist that civic education be recommenced and revitalized because freedom is not something that’s on automatic pilot.”
Keep up with the legal elite here.

Courts Begin New System For Rationing Budget

It was just a “drop in the bucket,” according to California’s chief courts fiscal officer, but the restored funding from our recently passed state budget is being allocated under a new formula that creates winners and losers. The San Francisco Appeal website has a good accounting of its local situation, noting that the “increase” actually “… still leaves the superior courts $201 million short of the amount received last year, on top of previous cuts of $214 million.”
The website explains “… the new allocation formula, developed by an advisory committee of judges and court executives, takes account of varying court workloads that may have changed in recent years because of population growth or other factors. The previous formula, used for the past 15 years, was based primarily on the share each superior court had in 1998, the year the state government took over court funding from the individual counties. That approach didn’t keep up with increased court workloads in counties where the population grew faster.”
The $60 million added to the state budget at the last minute is considered “new” spending and will come under the new guidelines.
In the Bay Area, it’s been widely reported that Contra Costa, Monterey, Solano and Sonoma county superior courts will get more funding under the new system than they would have under the old formula. Los Angeles Superior Court is also expected to get a slight increase over what it would have gotten before.

Strong NBC Report Getting Some ‘Legs’ Online

Good news: The NBC San Francisco affiliate investigative report on the court backlog (see July 24 post below) is getting some increased attention online and the reporter, Stephen Stock, is continuing the conversation on Twitter. The Twitter conversation even includes some high-profile judges. 

Recent Tweets include “CA ct backlog: collection filings can take anywhere from 5 months to 32 months!!! depending on which court” and “court backlog DEFINITELY affects tenant/landlord disputes!

Stock and the “Bay Area Investigative Unit” took a look behind the usual reporting on numbers and “official voices” and reported on the stories of actual people. They highlighted a mother who has been waiting for her day in court for three years – over custody of her children. 

This is the first story we have re-noticed here, and if you check it out you’ll see why. See it here (and note that the written text leaves out some of the good parts from the video; they are slightly different).