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SCOTUS Watch Kavanaugh’s first case as a Justice deals with mandatory detention of immigrants
The first case Brett Kavanaugh will hear as a newly appointed Supreme Court justice on Wednesday deals with the government's interpretation of mandatory detention laws in deportation proceedings. Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union will argue that the government is incorrectly interpreting decades-old legislation, and authorities are keeping certain immigrants imprisoned for unnecessarily long periods of time without hearings.
Specifically, in Nielsen v. Preap, the ACLU's lawyers will argue that the government should not mandatorily detain immigrants whose "criminal histories" consist of crimes committed years, or even decades, ago. In press releases, the ACLU describes the cases of people like Astrid Morataya, a legal permanent resident who the government arrested and tried to deport for a low-level drug charge she had committed over 10 years earlier. Even though Morataya was a mother of three children (all of whom were U.S. citizens), she had to remain in jail without bail for two and a half years during her lengthy deportation proceedings.
The ACLU believes that immigrants who have re-entered and rehabilitated into society after their criminal proceedings should not be subject to mandatory detention during subsequent deportation hearings.
Lawyers for Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen will respond that the government's interpretation is valid and correct, and that the government ought to continue detaining immigrants with criminal histories during deportation proceedings.
Story by Pacific Standard >
Speaking of… At the Supreme Court, female lawyers are interrupted more often than their male colleagues
The United States Supreme Court is back in session, and this term it will rule on a number of important issues, including partisan gerrymandering of election districts. While it's impossible to predict which way the decisions will go, one thing can be said with near-certainty: Female attorneys arguing before the justices will be treated less deferentially than their male counterparts.
In a recently published study, University of Alabama scholars Dana Patton and Joseph Smith analyzed the transcripts of 3,583 oral arguments presented to the court over more than three decades. They found "female lawyers are interrupted earlier and more often, allowed to speak for less time between interruptions, and subjected to more and longer speeches by the justices compared to male lawyers.”
Their study, published in the Journal of Law and Courts, provides evidence that deep-seated gender bias infects even a top-level government institution that is rigorously committed to equal treatment.
"Men were allowed an average of 225 words before the first interruption (by a justice), compared to 192 words for women," they report. "Male lawyers spoke an average of about 95 words between interruptions, compared to 83 words for female lawyers."
"Female lawyers do not enjoy the well-documented positive effect of being on the winning side of a case," they write. "While male lawyers are treated substantially more deferentially when they represent the winning side of a case, female lawyers enjoy no such benefit."
Perhaps professional women are at an inherent disadvantage, no matter if the authority figure they answer to is wearing an expensive suit, or a judicial robe.
Story by Pacific Standard >
Perspective Eviction is a nationwide epidemic. It’s time to give all tenants access to lawyers.
The following editorial was written by Brian Gilmore, a law professor and director of Michigan State University’s Housing Law Clinic.
I deem an eviction the civil equivalent of capital punishment. The person or family that is evicted suffers civic death in society. They lose not only their housing but also their independence and dignity, often becoming isolated and hopeless.
With so much at stake, it’s unacceptable that in the average suit for eviction in the United States, tenants do not have legal counsel, while landlords do. In the District of Columbia, where I practiced as a tenant lawyer for many years, over 90 percent of landlords had lawyers and over 90 percent of tenants did not.
There is an obvious way to alter the legal inequity tenants often face in court, one that could reduce the bad outcomes they so often experience in eviction cases: Give all low- to moderate-income tenants free legal counsel, the same kind offered to people charged with criminal violations.
Some cities are already doing this. In August 2017, New York became the first city in the country to guarantee the right of low-income tenants to have legal counsel in court, if they wanted legal counsel.
All tenants deserve this access. Lawyers offer important benefits. First among these is time: They can slow down the assembly-line process by which eviction actions tend to proceed. Lawyers who know landlord-tenant law will examine the facts of the case more closely, and in turn ask judges to do the same. Tenants may or may not have claims against the landlords relating to their rentals; however, these claims rarely get brought before the court properly. Lawyers understand the procedural morass of the court system and can help tenants navigate it and present their case as best as possible.
Not only individual tenants benefit from this. Evictions are among the top pipelines to homelessness, so reducing evictions means reducing homelessness and the financial pressure on governmental systems that, in the end, wind up housing the evicted.
Just last month, the law school clinic I direct helped a young mother avoid homelessness in an eviction action. Her landlord cut off her water and electricity because she contacted housing code inspectors about the horrible living conditions in her unit. Without a lawyer, it is likely she would not have known her rights. She wasn’t the only one in this situation. Our clinic serves up to 25 clients in similar predicaments every week.
Right now, each state can do something and stop the enormous flood of evictions: Give the tenants a lawyer. By giving people facing a life-altering legal action the chance to fight back, the system is more humane and our communities are stronger.
Story by NY Times >
More of This Convicts seeking to clear their records find more prosecutors willing to help
The convicted men and women who visit Room B2 of Indianapolis’s courthouse cannot find jobs, or want better ones. Or they wish they could join their children for school field trips. Or they are simply seeking a measure of societal forgiveness.
“I had to talk my way into a lot of places because of my background,” said a woman named Fernell, who stopped by the subbasement room on a recent morning to discuss a conviction for resisting law enforcement when she was 19. “I want to put it behind me.”
What she and most visitors to Room B2 are finding is that the people who helped get them convicted in the first place now want to help make the black marks less perilous.
“It’s just a matter of trying to remove obstacles that would make it more difficult for someone to become a productive member of the community,” said Terry Curry, the elected prosecutor in Marion County, which includes Indianapolis and has a population approaching 1 million residents. “If an individual has stayed out of the criminal justice system, then why should they continue to have that stain forever?”
The proliferation of new laws, and newfound enthusiasm on the part of some prosecutors, has hardly erased all doubts about the wisdom of suppressing records. Many prosecutors, especially in rural areas, remain skeptical of any action to show mercy for a person’s past, and some judges engage in measured resistance, holding hearings more to complain about an expungement law than to weigh an application’s merits.
“You have prosecutors and judges who just think it’s wrong: ‘You’ve caused trouble in this county, you’re a wrongdoer and you shouldn’t get a blank slate,’” said Bernice Corley, the executive director of the Indiana Public Defender Council.
But Margaret Love, the executive director of the Collateral Consequences Resource Center and a former United States pardon attorney, said that clemency and expungements are part of the criminal justice process for a reason.
“It ought to be something that prosecutors welcome and use to their advantage to create criminal justice success stories, to advertise criminal justice success stories,” she said.
Fernell, the woman with the conviction for resisting law enforcement, sat anxiously in a chair along a wall and waited to talk with someone. She asked that her last name not be used to avoid undoing what she hopes will come with an expungement: better employment and educational prospects. Before she became eligible for expungement, three fast-food restaurants, she said, had rejected her for jobs because of her teenage behavior.
“A new beginning for me means I can grow with my business, my own interests,” said Fernell, 24. “I knew I wanted it done, but I was waiting it out for five years.”
Story by NY Times >
Even More of This The trans community has won two recent Court victories
In late September, two federal judges (one in Wisconsin and one in Minnesota) ruled in favor of trans people seeking medical coverage under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The two victories are a welcome sign for the trans community, who may have to rely on states for coverage if the Trump Administration makes good on its threat to rescind an Obama-era rule that interprets a section of the ACA as providing coverage to trans people.
In Wisconsin, a federal judge sided with two transgender workers who challenged the state’s ban on coverage for gender-affirming care. And in Minnesota, a federal judge sided with a woman who sued her employer, Essentia Health, for refusing to provide coverage for her son’s gender transition.
“This is where I was taken from,” he said, almost in a whisper. “It’s a hurt feeling, but I’ve got to move on.”
Contention over trans healthcare stems from the interpretation of Section 1557 that trans people are covered under the “sex” portion of the provision. Opponents of this interpretation, however, often rely on the argument that their freedom of religion is violated by being made to provide care and coverage to trans people. But that argument isn’t limited to gender-affirming surgeries. It could also extend to not providing care to trans people, LGBTQ+ people, and women at all.
“This lawsuit aims to undermine critical protections against discrimination in health care. No one — whether they’re male or female, transgender or not — should fear being turned away at the hospital door because of who they are,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director at the ACLU. “Religious liberty does not mean the right to discriminate or harm others.”
Trans people face an uncertain future under the Trump Administration, which has proven time and again that it is willing to make the community a target, as seen in the attempted ban on transgender service in the military. Federal rollbacks of trans rights will put the onus on states to ensure discrimination isn’t taking place, which can also make for a grim picture depending on where one lives. That means victories like the ones in Wisconsin and Minnesota are more crucial than ever.
Story by Them >
Watch This The resilience of the trans community
An intimate portrait of Kimberly and Kai Shappley: a mother has to confront her religious community while her 7-year-old transgender daughter navigates life at school, where she’s been banned from the girls’ bathroom.
Produced by the ACLU & Little By Little Films, with an LGBTQ-led team.
Job Opportunity Justice & Diversity Center hiring bi-lingual domestic violence lawyer
The Bi-lingual Domestic Violence Attorney will primarily represent survivors of domestic violence in cases before the San Francisco Unified Family Court. The position also provides brief advice and limited-scope representation on emergency matters.
Apply here >
Job Opportunity SF DA’s office hiring Assistant DA
California ChangeLawyers encourages progressive Brown, Black, and Queer lawyers to become reform prosecutors, to reform the criminal justice system from the inside out.
Apply here >
Job Opportunity PANA San Diego hiring staff attorney
San Diego County’s refugee and muslim communities face ongoing and growing legal needs. PANA is hiring a full-time attorney to develop a legal program that will triage legal services for refugees and asylum seekers
Apply here >
The Youth Law Academy at Centro Legal de la Raza is currently recruiting attorney mentors for this academic year. YLA is a legal diversity pipeline program working to open the doors of the legal profession for the next generation of underrepresented attorneys
Mentorship application here >
Free for Students Law school admissions conference at Pepperdine
This free event will provide attendees with a comprehensive overview of the law school application process. Panels consisting of law students and lawyers will share their pathways to law school and the legal profession and answer questions. Hosted by For People of Color, Inc.
October 20. RSVP here >
Free for Students How to become a United States Attorney
Informative discussion featuring Assistant United States Attorneys from the Criminal and Civil Divisions.
October 16 from 12:15 to 1:15pm. United States Attorney’s Office, 300 North Los Angeles St - 7th Floor (Weidman Training Room)
RSVP to Julia Choe at firstname.lastname@example.org