Archives for December 2014

Immigration Judicial Complaints Remain Cloaked

A federal judge has ruled that identities of Immigration Court judges targeted by misconduct complaints can remain secret, including information like gender and even location of the court. The National Law Journal reports that “… the immigration office disclosed 16,000 pages associated with 767 complaints in the lawsuit, filed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA) in June 2013. The government released nonconfidential information from substantiated and unsubstantiated complaints. The names of individual judges were redacted.”
The government argued the public release of the judges’ names and other identifying information would infringe privacy interests. U.S. District Judge Christopher Cooper agreed, pointing out that the judges are career civil service employees and have privacy rights associated with that standing. That is a reference to Immigration Court judges not being “judges” in the typical sense, but are actually employees of the Justice Department.

Immigration Backlog Shows Need For More Lawyers

This photo was part of an NBC News report (12/14/14), “Demand Intensifies for Nonprofit Immigration Lawyers” discussing how the US immigration system is seriously lacking in how it represents the poor.

This photo was part of an NBC News report (12/14/14), “Demand Intensifies for Nonprofit Immigration Lawyers” discussing how the US immigration system is seriously lacking in how it represents the poor.

NBC News is among those taking a look back at 2014 and finding the country’s immigration system seriously lacking in how it represents the poor. Says NBC, “… the past summer’s flocking of children and families to the U.S.-Mexico border, the president’s impending executive action on immigration and the two-year-old Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, DACA, have intensified demand for immigration attorneys, particularly those who charge little to nothing. With each success, they amplify the difference good legal help can make in the lives of immigrants.”

NBC has this quote in it’s Storyline report: “We’ve long known that results in immigration court, in particular, vary widely depending on whether you have legal representation or not,” said Crystal Williams, American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILA, executive director. She adds that “… what we are seeing quite honestly, is the people who are getting asylum and are getting bonded out of (the immigration detention center in) Artesia, had the attorneys not been there, they would have been removed already.”

‘Border Kids’ Noted In AP’s Top 2014 Stories

AP photo used in Tampa Bay Times report on 12/22/14 shows "Young detainees sleep in a holding cell on June 18, 2014, at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville,Texas."

AP photo used in Tampa Bay Times report on 12/22/14 shows “Young detainees sleep in a holding cell on June 18, 2014, at a U.S. Customs and Border Protection processing facility in Brownsville,Texas.”

The unaccompanied Central American minors seeking refuge in the United States was a key event as “immigration” was a Top 10 story in 2014, according to the Associated Press annual survey of U.S. editors and news directors. The wire service said “police killing of unarmed blacks” was the top story and the Ebola outbreak in West Africa was second.

On immigration, the AP says that “… frustrated by an impasse in Congress, President Obama took executive actions in November to curb deportations for many immigrants residing in the U.S. illegally. GOP leaders in the House and Senate pledged efforts to block the president’s moves. Prospects for reform legislation were dimmed earlier in the year by the influx of unaccompanied Central American minors arriving at the U.S. border, causing shelter overloads and case backlogs.” Immigration courts are civil justice proceedings managed by the Justice Department. Judges in the system have called for an overhaul, including making the courts independent of law enforcement.
See the AP story list for 2014 here, via the Tampa Bay Tribune.

How Newport News, Va., Works Around State’s Pro-Business Laws

The NCM’s Sara Warner is noting how the judicial system in one Virginia city is using maritime law – the “laws of the sea” – to bypass that old asbestos litigation debate over state law vs. federal law. See her take on Newport News here.

Fla. Seeking Ways To Meet Civil Needs

A huge segment of society make too much money to qualify for legal aid, but not enough to hire an attorney, says one member of a Florida panel hoping to find solutions to that problem. The 27-member panel was created in November by Florida Supreme Court Chief Justice Jorge Labarga via an administrative order.

The Palm Beach Post reports that Greg Coleman, president of The Florida Bar and a partner in the West Palm Beach firm Critton Luttier Coleman, said he expects the members to educate business leaders on the need to expand financing. “We have a broken system right now with legal aid having severely reduced funding and a void in the court system in terms of access to justice by middle-income Americans who make too much money to qualify for legal aid but cannot afford a lawyer,” Coleman said. “These are people who are living paycheck to paycheck.”