Special Reports Coming to National Courts Monitor (NCM)

SPECIAL REPORTS: In the coming weeks, the National Courts Monitor (NCM) will be announcing a series of “special reports” focusing on some of today’s most urgent civil litigation issues. Similar to the print-edition special reports that helped launch the website in California (as the California Courts Monitor) more than a decade ago, the reports from across the country will include original reporting and production from the NCM while also showcasing investigative and writing from partner organizations. Watch this space for more information, and we are making this announcement now because our reporters and video producers are now in the field conducting the background research necessary for multi-media reporting on issues including environmental lawsuits, immigration issues and, of course, the rationing of civil justice in America.

– THE EDITORS

The bleak state of the immigration court system

A recent article by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) outlines the current state of the immigration court system and it is bleak: “In a report released earlier this year, the American Bar Association described the U.S. immigration court system as facing an ‘existential crisis,’ an ‘irredeemably dysfunctional’ system ‘on the brink of collapse.'”

The report notes a backlog of 900,000 cases quoting The Economist: “People will die of old age in America before they ever acquire the legal right to live in America. This is an extraordinary failure to govern.”

According to the article, Trump’s new regulations have just exacerbated the problem, comparing the complexity of the immigration courts system to the tax code. They also note that the massive backlog of cases “have led to judges rushing to complete cases, compromising their ethical obligations and violating immigrants’ due process rights…”

Judges require lawyers to disclose third-party funding

Judges are requiring plaintiffs’ lawyers to disclose third-party funding in lawsuits, revealing those who have a stake in cases.

An article by The Recorder at law.com reports on this possible trend.

“As rule makers and politicians continue to debate about whether to disclose third-party funding in multidistrict litigation, some federal judges have forged ahead in requiring plaintiffs lawyers to do just that,” The Recorder reports.

Recently, U.S. District Judge Casey Rodgers, in Pensacola, Fla., ordered plaintiffs’ lawyers to disclose how they are funding hundreds of lawsuits brought by U.S. service members over 3M’s combat earplug cases, the site notes.

“The motivations behind such orders aren’t entirely clear,” the article notes.

“Judges might simply want to know whether plaintiffs attorneys have enough money” to fund the entire lawsuit, one source says.

Apple Supreme Court ruling opens doors for more legal action against tech giants

Photo Credit: Qilai Shen/Bloomberg as reported by the Washington Post.

The Supreme Court ruled today that consumers could proceed with a large antitrust class action lawsuit against Apple.

The New York Times reports that the justices decided “that the plaintiffs should be allowed to try to prove that the technology giant had used monopoly power to raise the prices of iPhone apps.”

The report explains, “Apple charges a 30 percent commission to software developers who sell their products through its App Store, bars developers from selling their apps elsewhere and plays a role in setting prices by requiring them to end in 99 cents.”

According to the Washington Post, “The 5-4 decision could spell serious repercussions for one of Apple’s most lucrative lines of business, and open the door for similar legal action targeting other tech giants in Silicon Valley.”

Deportation order for 11-year-old draws attention to courts’ woes

Laura Maradiaga-Alvarado, 11, was ordered deported without her family. Photo credit: Fiel Houston as reported by NBC News.

The near-deportation of a solitary 11-year-old child earlier this year highlights, critics say, the backlogs and turmoil surrounding federal immigration courts.

“A federal immigration judge in Houston signed a deportation order for Laura Maradiaga-Alvarado, originally from El Salvador, on March 12,” explains an NBC News article.

In the wake of publicity about the child’s plight, the judge ordered a new hearing scheduled for May 20, officials said.

“The deportation order has been attributed to a mistake made after a hearing scheduled in February for the girl, her mother and her sister was delayed by the government shutdown,” the article notes.

A March report by the American Bar Association indicated “that since its 2010 review of the court system, things had worsened ‘considerably,’” NBC News reports.

“The same issues identified then persist nearly a decade later: inadequate staffing, training and hiring; growing backlogs; inconsistent decision patterns among judges, particularly in asylum cases, and adoption of video-conference technology that impedes fair hearings. The situation, it said, has been exacerbated by years of congressional inaction while enforcement has increased under the Trump administration,” the article notes.