Archives for June 2016

Judge Rules For Texas Landowners In BLM ‘Landgrab’ Case

Photo credit, Courthouse News Service report, 6/30/16

Photo credit, Courthouse News Service report, 6/30/16

The Courthouse News Service is reporting that a federal judge this week ruled “… that Texas landowners can sue the U.S. Bureau of Land Management for its alleged seizure of 90,000 acres of private property along the Red River boundary with Oklahoma. U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor granted in part and denied in part the BLM’s motion for partial dismissal.

The report backgrounded that “… eight private landowners, Clay County Sheriff Kenneth Lemons Jr. and three counties sued the BLM in November. They claim it is “well established” that Texas begins at the southern bank of the Red River and that federal ownership is limited to the bottom half of the sandy riverbed outside of the state. They say the BLM asserts that the boundary extends past that, sometimes by more than a mile.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton intervened on the plaintiffs’ behalf within days, calling the action an illegal “land grab” by federal officials. The CN also noted that “… in a 40-page opinion Wednesday, O’Connor declined to dismiss the plaintiffs’ request for declaratory judgment, mandamus and an injunction ‘regarding the method for locating the boundary between their property and federal territory’ because they have constitutional standing.”

CNS – Texans Contesting U.S. Land Seizure Get Leg Up With Lawsuit

Native Americans Seeking Family Law Representation

We’ve noted before that one of the logical places to provide civil attorneys is family law, especially decisions involving child custody. It turns out that Native American tribes feel the same way and the Eureka Times Standard newspaper is reporting that “… a coalition of Native American tribes from across California are calling on the state’s top law enforcement office to begin investigating what it says are be systematic shortfalls and violations of tribal civil rights relating to the Indian Child Welfare Act.”

“Many of the tribes don’t have the ability to send their lawyers hundreds or thousands of miles to represent them in these courts, so you get really disjointed, disconnected kinds of representation,” said Yurok Tribal Court Chief Judge Abby Abinanti, one of seven co-chairs on the task force. “… We need some answers. The law is not being followed.”

The story backgrounds:”… passed by Congress in 1978, the Indian Child Welfare Act was created in an effort to keep tribal children with tribal families and communities. The act was passed in response to the large number of tribal children — 25 to 35 percent — being removed from their homes and being placed in foster homes, adoptive homes, or other institutions like board schools, according to the report. At the time the law passed, Native American children were eight times more likely to be placed in foster care than non-Native children, with over 90 percent of the Native American foster youth being placed in non-tribal homes, according to the report. While some progress has been made, Andreas and Abinanti said these statistics have not changed significantly since 1978.”

The regulations apply to state child custody proceedings and set regulations on how these state agencies work with federally recognized tribes in cases.

Read the story here: Report states tribal child custody laws neglected on statewide level

Iowa Supreme Court Issues Order On Civil Courts Access

GavelThe Iowa Supreme Court has established a special commission to tackle the problem of too many people lacking civil court representation. The move follows an order saying that “… inability to afford the cost of legal representation and other barriers to access justice unfairly impact the lives of too many Iowans,”

The Des Moines Register backgrounds that “… this cost often forces people to proceed without the assistance of a lawyer and represent themselves in court,” a fact that the court also wrote “unfairly impacts the lives of too many Iowans.” Brett Torsdahl, executive director of the Iowa State Bar Association Public Service Project, said financial costs, language barriers and specific cases can make getting an attorney difficult and causes many citizens to try to tackle their cases by themselves.

Read the latest effort to contain civil justice rationing here:

http://www.desmoinesregister.com/story/news/crime-and-courts/2016/06/27/too-many-iowans-dont-have-access-legal-aid-high-court-says/86447376/

‘Birthday Song’ Finally Gains Freedom

Photo Credit: California Magazine / Just In

Photo Credit: California Magazine / Just In

You can finally relax. “Happy Birthday to You” has finally re-entered the common grounds after years of being held by a corporate owner. The California Sunday Magazine is among those reporting on the good news, noting that “… Judge George H. King of the federal district court in Los Angeles initially ruled last September that the copyright was not valid, the company battled on, perhaps because with no rival as the most widely recognized and frequently sung song in the English language, the tune has steadily generated some $2 million a year for the publishing company. Settlement was finally reached earlier this year, and Judge King made it official today.”

The years-long saga of the song cost millions of dollars in time and effort and certainly makes for an interesting tale and is the subject of a documentary. Read the ins and outs here: ‘Happy Birthday’ Suit Resolved: The Most-Sung Song Is Free for All

VICE News Outlines Another Immigration Narrative

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Photo via Wikimedia Commons

While a recent U.S. Supreme Court made mainstream headlines for dealing President Obama a setback on his attempts to aid undocumented residents, a different narrative has been growing among more alternative media outlets. In particular, VICE has produced some powerful reporting on how the Obama Administration is going after asylum seekers from Central America. A recent pice noted that:

[A] legal coalition, known as the CARA Family Detention Pro Bono Project, reported 40 cases of women and children arrested by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) since the series of immigration raids began in May. The majority of those arrests took place in workplaces, homes, and schools, and the CARA project alleges that federal immigration officials engaged in “aggressive and inappropriate conduct.”

The Department of Homeland Security has said that immigration enforcement actions would target Central American migrants who had exhausted their legal options to remain in the United States, but the CARA project’s report suggests that in at least 21 of these cases, immigrants have valid asylum claims that have not yet been heard in an immigration court. Moreover, several of those arrested by ICE did not have an outstanding deportation order, according to the group.

You can see the VICE story here: Immigration Raids in the US Are Targeting People with Valid Asylum Claims, According to a New Report | VICE | Canada