Court Cuts Spur ‘Private Trials’

Here’s the latest for your “as much justice as you can afford” file: The Tulsa (OK) World reports on a trend for private trails to deal with divorce cases. The report, noting that “more than 400 divorce cases are filed each month in Tulsa County” says some dockets delay an outcome “for months,” which might not sound bad in places where divorces can take years. But one option is to opt for a private trial.

The World explains that “… both parties must agree to a private trial. If judges feel that request is appropriate, they will appoint a referee to run the private trial. Unlike the guided negotiation that occurs during a mediation, appointed referees hear evidence and make findings of fact and conclusions of law that the judges who appointed them adopt as their verdict. Both parties have the same right to appeal that they would if a district court tried the case.”

Benefits include a speedy trial and increased privacy because only the outcome, not the specifics, are public record. Others note that, given the legal costs of longer divorces, hiring the judge, jury and paying for court recorders can still be cheaper than the regular justice system. Read the story here.


CityWatch Los Angeles: Dems Tone-Deaf on Veterans’ Asbestos Issue

CityWatch, an influential opinion, news and information website and newsletter in Los Angeles, has published the recent commentary by Courts Monitor publisher, Sara Warner. The piece, originally published on the Huffington Post’s national political page, argues that Democrats are tone deaf when it comes to the role that veterans play in asbestos bankruptcy trust issues.

Read it at CityWatch here.

After Fed Court Ruling, ICE Detainee Requests Go Unheeded

Reflecting on the fact that many immigration detentions are civil, rather than criminal, actions, more than 100 jurisdictions across the United States have stopped enforcing “holds” issued by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, or ICE. The policy changes follow a federal court ruling in Oregon declaring such practices unconstitutional.
More than a dozen of the counties changing the practice are in California, including Los Angeles and San Diego, where authorities have stopped complying with the ICE detainer requests, reports the Orange County Register. The newspaper quotes Julia Harumi Mass, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California: “Detaining people based on suspected civil immigration violations without probable cause not only wastes scarce local public safety resources and contradicts our sense of fairness – it undeniably violates the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” 
Read the Register report by Roxana Kopetman here.

‘Zombie’ Properties Targeted for Civil Action

New York moved closer to civil penalties for owners of abandoned properties, especially targeting large financial institutions that have been less than responsible for how they handle homes subject to foreclosure. This week, a group of 16 mayors endorsed Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman’s Abandoned Property Neighborhood Relief Act, calling on state lawmakers to vote on the proposal.

In a press release, backers of the proposal said it “… would provide critical support to communities that have been plagued by vacant and abandoned properties. Among other measures, the bill would make lenders and banks responsible for delinquent properties soon after they are abandoned – not at the end of a lengthy foreclosure process – and to pay for their upkeep. Banks or their servicers would be required to notify delinquent homeowners of their right to stay in their homes until ordered by a judge.

See the press announcement here: Mayors from 16 Cities Endorse Schneiderman Bill to Address Zombie Properties Across New York State |