Archives for July 2015

Federal Judge Ready To Close 3 Immigration Detention Centers

As reported by NPR: Detainees sleep and watch television in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed at a U.S. Customs facility in Nogales, Texas.

As reported by NPR: Detainees sleep and watch television in a holding cell where hundreds of mostly Central American immigrant children are being processed at a U.S. Customs facility in Nogales, Texas.

A federal judge is poised to order immigration authorities to close three family detention centers housing some 1,700 people awaiting decisions on their stay-or-go arguments. Dolly Gee, a U.S. District judge in Southern California, ruled that federal authorities have violated key provisions of an 18-year-old court settlement that placed restrictions on detention of migrant children.
The Los Angeles Times notes that “…  The ruling, released late Friday, is another blow to President Obama’s immigration policies and leaves questions about what the U.S. will do with the large number of children and parents who crossed the border from Latin America last year.”
Judge Gee blasted the government and the conditions at both the detention centers (two in Texas and one in Pennsylvania) as she gave the government until Aug. 3 to explain why an order she plans to issue should not be implemented within 90 days. Read the LAT report here:

San Francisco Leads On Civil Gideon Moment

We’ve noted the push for a “Civil Gideon” for non-criminal offenses that carry life-changing results – like eviction, family custody and immigration status – so it’s worth noting that San Francisco still leads the movement among U.S. cities. The city’s bar association has a website that notes “… San Francisco is the nation’s first “Right to Civil Counsel City” that recognizes everyone should have access to legal services in cases involving basic human needs, including housing, child custody, sustenance, safety, and health.”
You can check out the progress here: Right to Civil Counsel Program

California Civil Case Against Bill Cosby Clears Big Test

The ongoing civil courts education known as the Bill Cosby case will apparently continue. The Washington Post is among those reporting that “… the California Supreme Court has turned down Bill Cosby’s challenge to a sexual assault lawsuit against him, meaning the suit can go forward and Cosby could be questioned under oath for the first time in years — by super-aggressive, feminist lawyer Gloria Allred.”

While “super-aggressive” might be in the eye of the beholder, it is clear that the case will continue to illustrate issues like civil-vs.-criminal trials and limitations on prosecution. The WaPo also has commentary from Allread: “We believe we have a right to take his deposition in this civil lawsuit. We are going to tomorrow provide him with dates in August when we are available to do that… we are willing to even go to Massachusetts where allegedly he resides and take it.”

Fla. Woman Pushes For Civil Court Language Access

Part of the “Civil Gideon” issue is that some civil actions, like evictions and child custody or even immigration cases, are life-changing events similar to criminal cases, but they do not carry similar guarantees of legal representation. Now a Florida woman has filed a Justice Department complaint against her state for failing to supply an interpreter in custody cases.

The Orlando Sentinel newspaper reports that a Mount Dora woman earlier this month lodged an administrative complaint with the U.S. Department of Justice against courts across the state, alleging discrimination against those who speak limited English. Says the paper “… Kathy Card’s complaint charges Florida courts with flouting federal law by failing to offer comprehensive free interpretation and translation services. While interpretation is always on hand for criminal matters, many circuits deny it for certain types of civil cases. The 61-year-old Card, who retired to Lake after a career working on language access throughout the legal system, said the policies she observed in Florida’s courts dragged her back into advocacy.”

She said she founded a group in June called the Florida Language Access Coalition to pressure state courts to change their ways. Read her story here: Mount Dora woman files civil-rights complaint on court-interpreter policies

Public Interest Attorney Notes Amicus Role For Immigration

Writing for the “Above The Law” website, attorney Sam Wright makes a case for increasing the role that amicus briefs might play for immigration court policies. Sam Wright, described as “a dyed-in-the-wool, bleeding-heart public interest lawyer,” focuses on the specific case of Cristoval Silva-Trevino, the subject of a Texas-based case with national implications.

A federal circuit court recently issued the latest guidelines in a years-long struggle over the case, but Wright makes the point that amicus briefs played an important role. For example, the Southern Poverty Law Center offered its opinion, along with another organization that the Center considers a hate-associated group.

See how it plays out, read here.