Proposed Immigration Court Reform Could Be ‘Death Knell’

Attorney General Jeff Sessions speaks at the Executive Office for Immigration Review in Falls Church, Va. Photo credit: Sait Serkan Gurbuz/AP as reported by The Washington Post,10/12/17.

Judicial independence would suffer under a plan by the Trump administration to streamline immigration hearings, according to the editorial staff at The Washington Post.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking on Nov. 17 to the Federalist Society national lawyers convention, said the Justice Department was focused on “restoring the rule of law,” particularly in the arena of immigration law enforcement.

But in an Oct. 22 editorial, “Sessions’ plan for immigration courts would undermine their integrity,” The Post warned that a proposed quota system for immigration judges could undermine judicial independence and actually slow down adjudications.

According to reporting by The Post, government documents show that the Justice Department “intends to implement numeric performance standards to evaluate Judge performance.” Such a metric would probably involve assessing judges based on how many cases they complete or how quickly they decide them — a plan that the National Association of Immigration Judges has called a “death knell for judicial independence.…”

The Post editorialized, “As part of Mr. Sessions’s push for an overhaul of the immigration system, the department also plans to begin evaluating immigration judges on the basis of how many cases they resolve. This proposal would do little to fix the United States’ backlogged immigration courts and much to undermine their integrity.”

Congress, Trump block class-action lawsuits against banks

Richard Cordray will step down as director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau as reported in the New York Times, 11/15/17. Photo Credit: Andrew Mangum for The New York Times.

This month, President Trump signed a bill that blocked class-action lawsuits against banks, dismantling a rule issued by an Obama-era agency in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.

Two weeks later, on Nov. 15, Richard Cordray, the director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the rule’s originator, announced that he would be leaving the federal agency by the end of this month thereby “removing a major opponent to the Trump administration’s efforts to dismantle business regulations and unfetter Wall Street,” reports the New York Times.

With President Trump’s Nov. 1 bill signing, House Joint Resolution 111 became law, and lawsuits against banks faced a key legislative hurdle. The Senate voted Oct. 24 to kill the rule that, the L.A. Times reported, “would have allowed Americans to file class-action suits against banks instead of being forced in many cases into private arbitration.”

The L.A. Times noted that George Slover, senior policy counsel for Consumers Union, said that the 51-50 Senate vote “means that big financial companies can lock the courthouse doors and prevent consumers who’ve been mistreated from joining together to seek the relief they deserve under the law.”

During congressional passage in October, the White House reported that “the rule would harm our community banks and credit unions by opening the door to frivolous lawsuits by special interest trial lawyers.”


Eshoo, and Issues, Crash a U.S. House ‘Platitude Party’

Sara Corcoran is a correspondent, contributing editor, and founding publisher for the National Courts Monitor & California Courts Monitor

A new first responder network is facing some tough questions and a lawsuit over open records, especially from one congresswoman from California, reports Courts Monitor Publisher Sara Corcoran in a new post at The Huffington Post.

See the story here: Eshoo, and Issues, Crash a U.S. House ‘Platitude Party’

US Supreme Court Nixes Appeal In Levee Case Against 97 Firms

Damage to wetlands caused by canals, such as seen here around the Delacroix community, was the focus of the failed lawsuit by the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East.(Ted Jackson, | The Times-Picayune archives)

The U.S. Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal from a Louisiana flood protection district that had sued 97 oil and gas companies over environmental damages. The website explains that  “… the Southeast Louisiana Flood Protection Authority-East had appealed a March decision by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals that upheld a 2015 decision by U.S. District Judge Nannette Jolivette Brown that the lawsuit involved enforcement of federal laws and thus should be heard in her courtroom, rather than returned to a state court as the levee authority wanted.”

The case also drew attention because of how it was structured. The legal team had a provision that allowed it to continue the litigation via appeals, and if the Authority decided to terminate the effort it would face millions in legal fees. If the litigation was ultimately unsuccessful, it would owe no fees. That came into play as political winds shifted and the new appointed Authority leaders actually opposed the lawsuit – but would not end the case in the face-off those fees.

Read the coverage here: environment/index.ssf/2017/10/ us_supreme_court_wont_hear_ app.html

San Francisco Leads Nation In Immigration Court Backlog

Those waiting to have their asylum cases heard find the reality that there currently aren’t enough judges and staff to handle the demand leaving some applicants forced to wait for years while their witnesses and key evidence disappear. NBC Bay Area Senior Investigative Reporter Stephen Stock reports in a video that first aired on Sept. 25, 2017. (Published Monday, Sept. 25, 2017

Investigative journalism by NBC-owned stations, working with Telemundo stations around the country, has found that San Francisco leads the nation in backlogged immigration court cases, which is no easy task considering how badly things are going.

A joint investigation by NBC owned and operated stations in conjunction with Telemundo stations around the country found a record backlog of immigration cases clogging an overloaded and over stressed system. The NBC Bay Area report says that “… court records show waits that last more than 1,000 days in some cases. And, those records show, some immigration cases in US Immigration Court in San Francisco now are being scheduled as far into the future as July 2022. The reason: there simply aren’t enough judges and staff to handle such an overwhelmed Immigration Court system.”
They quote Judge Dana Leigh Marks, one of the very few immigration judges daring to speak about the crisis. Why? Because these are not really “federal” judges, but actually work for the Justice Department. Note how carefully they identify her role:
“It is painful for the judges and it is painful for the community we serve,” says Judge Dana Leigh Marks, who spoke to us in her role as President of the National Association of Immigration Judges. “A lot of people tell us that they fear for their very life if they’re sent back to their home country. That’s a death penalty case.”
Going beyond the numbers, the journalists document real-world impacts. It’s not an easy read, but find the milestone report here: