Report Outlines Why NY Has Huge Immigration Court Backlog

Photo credit: WNYC Audio Report, 1/17/17

New York’s WNYC radio has an excellent report on why the Big Apple’s immigration courts are backed up, noting that more than a half-million cases are pending nationwide and tens of thousands of those are in NYC. The reporter visits one of the city’s 28 immigration courts, which are actually not federal courts but administrative functions of the Justice Department. The story follows one immigrant and notes ” the whole process took about five minutes for each case, and Khan was scheduling future court appearances as late as August of 2018. This isn’t so bad given, that Schmidt said he was scheduling hearings for 2021 before retiring last summer.”

The reporting is in the context of Donald Trump presidency and any attempt to increase the pace of court-ordered deportations. The take-away is that there’s no real capacity to increase or even keep pace

See the story here: Why New York’s Immigration Courts Are Overwhelmed

Education Nominee Brings School Choice To The Federal Spotlight

Children hold up “Parent Revolution” signs during a press conference held next to Desert Trails Preparatory Academy in Adelanto in 2013. Parents used a state law to transform their local low-performing public elementary school into a not-for-profit charter campus. (Los Angeles Times)

As Democrats leveled sharp questions at Betsy DeVos, president-elect Donald Trump’s education nominee, this week, they stressed her decades of support for the charter school movement. Clearly, the Trump Administration and the GOP-controlled Congress will make “school choice” a spotlight issue, including the “parent trigger” movement that didn’t really come up in the DeVos questioning, perhaps because her efforts have mostly been in Michigan.

Parent trigger is the idea that parents can more or less take over a failing school. A half-dozen states have some level of parent trigger law, but the one that’s been most lawsuit-tested is California’s. The Golden State actually passed the nation’s first such law in 2010, and of course litigation came shortly after.

Natasha Lindstron, a respected reporter who has covered the California Parent Trigger since its passage, offers a good overview report here

And if you’d like to see how The Los Angeles Times, which supported the original parent trigger legislation, feels about it now, check that out here:

Montana Panel Finds Residents Expect Lawyers In Civil Actions, But Don’t Get One


After months of community meetings, a Montana panel has found (among other things) “… that low- to moderate-income Montanans most often face legal crises stemming from housing problems, custody disputes, domestic violence, and debt collection. These issues are often compounded with other complicating factors, the report said, such as mental illness or diminished capacity, substance abuse, physical disabilities, threats to safety, and child care. Many of these issues are intersectional, meaning they affect and intensify the other.”

The Flathead Beacon reported on the panel’s findings, noting that “… many Montanans don’t realize, for instance, that they don’t have the right to an appointed attorney while facing civil issues. They can be evicted, lose custody of their children, or lose their home without ever having the right to an attorney.”

The Beacon also reported that the Access to Justice Commission “… concluded that there needs to be a statewide inventory of services and programs available in each region, and a means for making this inventory known in those regions. Along with the inventory, the commission said there should be a means for linking Montanans with legal problems to the programs and service providers.”

Read the report, and find a link to the Commission’s complete findings, here:

Report Details Need for Education, Increased Access to Civil Legal Resources – Flathead Beacon

Police Skepticism Hitting L.A. In The Legal Fee Pocketbook

Photo credit: Los Angeles Times report 1/10/17

The Los Angeles city attorney is blaming distrust of police as a significant reason the city will have to borrow $70 million or dip into reserve funds. Those are the options laid out in a new city report.

The Los Angeles Times reports that “… the city paid out $110 million in legal cases last fiscal year, according to budget staff. In January 2016, the city agreed to pay out $24 million to settle lawsuits from two men who alleged that dishonest LAPD detectives led their wrongful murder convictions and caused them to spend decades behind bars… city lawyers concerned about the police misconduct allegations recommended the settlements, saying in confidential memos to the City Council that taking the cases to trial could be even costlier.”

In an interview with the Times on Monday, Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer “… cited several reasons for the increased payouts. He said juries are more skeptical about law enforcement when it comes to police liability, and cited a “significant” amount of deferred maintenance of city infrastructure.”With payouts projected to total at least $135 million this fiscal year, budget officials said Monday that the city needs to immediately borrow up to $70 million to avoid dipping into its emergency reserve fund.

Read the story here: L.A. needs to borrow millions to cover legal payouts, city report says

President-Elect May Continue Lawsuits During Term

In this Dec. 28, 2016 file photo, President-elect Donald Trump listens to a question as he speaks to reporters at Mar-a-Lago, in Palm Beach, Fla. Trump gave a videotaped deposition on Thursday, Jan. 5, 2017, for a lawsuit stemming from a clash with a celebrity restaurateur at his new Washington hotel. It was a rare legal proceeding for a president-elect or sitting president that highlights the legal woes that could follow Trump to the Oval Office. Photo Credit, San Francisco Chronicle file photo

President-elect Donald Trump may be the first president to conduct multiple lawsuits while in office. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that Trump “… sat for an hour at Trump Tower to give testimony in a lawsuit he filed against Jose Andres after the chef cancelled plans to open a Spanish-themed restaurant at a new Washington hotel. Andres pulled out after Trump, in declaring his candidacy for president, called some Mexican immigrants “rapists” and said some were bringing drugs and crime to the U.S.”

The newspaper backgrounded that “… under the doctrine of immunity, presidents cannot be sued for actions they take in carrying out presidential duties. But anything outside that is open season. In its 1997 decision in the Paula Jones sexual harassment case against Bill Clinton, the Supreme Court ruled that presidents can be sued while in office for actions unrelated to official acts.”

Given his vast business empire and several ongoing civil actions, its expected that the new president may be doing depositions fairly routinely.

Read more here:
Trump, amid legal battles, gives deposition against chef 

What Trump Could Mean To Asbestos Lawsuit Scandals

Sara Warner, Founding Publisher of the National Courts Monitor & California Courts Monitor

What will the Trump administration mean in terms of reform for the nation’s longest-running injury lawsuit industry? Courts Monitor Publisher Sara Warner has some thought published in The Huffington Post:

A Good Place To Discover ‘Civil Gideon’

This isn’t a gap. It’s a chasm. Image Credit: illustration, 8/27/16

Say what you will about president-elect Donald J. Trump, his election seems to have sparked interest in the concept of a “civil Gideon,” which would provide representation to people in non-criminal cases like eviction and child custody cases – and also, perhaps more to the point given the recent presidential campaign – in some immigration/deportation cases.

Immigration cases, often seen as “criminal,” are actually civil cases and do not include the same protections as criminal cases. For example, immigration “courts” are not part of the judicial branch but are actually functions of the Justice Department and the judges do not have the same power over prosecutors.

Our recent civil Gideon coverage brought some feedback, including some requests for background and some suggested reading, so we’ll refer you to a good website included in the feedback. Information will include the idea that a shocking number of civil cases involve somebody representing themselves:

The National Center for State Courts has released data about how often one side, neither side, or both sides have a lawyer in civil cases. The data, which is based on a representative sampling of 152 courts in 10 counties across the country examined in 2012-2013 (totaling over 900,000 cases) appears in the NCSC’s Landscape of Civil Litigation of State Courts report. The report found that “At least one party was self-represented (usually the defendant) in more than three-quarters of the cases.” As The Lawyerist website astutely observed, “This isn’t a [justice] gap. It’s a chasm.”