OTHERWISE: A step forward for immigrants facing deportation.
Today there is wide recognition that there is a crisis of representation due to the unavailability of counsel for huge numbers of aliens facing removal from the country.
A step forward has now been crafted in an important ruling by a federal judge in California’s Central District – a place where the pastures of plenty are often harvested by immigrants. Though the numbers affected are small, the remedial innovation is important. In Franco-Gonzalez v. Holder federal District Judge Holly Gee in 2011 certified a class of “mentally disabled immigrant detainees who are held in custody without counsel”. She has now held that the Rehabilitation Act [29 USC 794]- which bars discrimination by an Executive Agency – compels the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of Immigration Review [EOIR] to provide class members with a “Qualified Representative” as a reasonable accommodation of disability.
OTHERWISE: Oyez Project Supreme Court Archive finishes job begun by Peter Irons.
The Oyez Project has completed its audio archive of Supreme Court arguments going back to 1955.
But the accounts so far have not mentioned the groundbreaking role of Peter Irons, the crusading lawyer/historian whose May It Please the Court presented the audio of twenty two landmark cases. He continues his landmark work in current efforts to get the U.s. Supreme Court to repudiate is decision in Korematsu v. U.S.
OTHERWISE: For the Defense, a Master of Delay – NYTimes.com.
The headline aside, this is actually a pretty favorable portrait of former prosecutor, now defense lawyer Douglas G. Rankin. He denies using delay as a tactic. It’s a profile that can be the basis for a good discussion of what it means to be a good lawyer.
OTHERWISE: Dear S.E.C. Chief – Clock Is Ticking on Mortgage Cases – NYTimes.com.
Times business columnist Gretchen Morgenson identifies cases like that against Sun Trust as opportunities for newly confirmed S.E.C. chair Mary Jo White. Skepticism is in order. After stepping down as U.S. Attorney she and her husband enriched themselves representing those she is now charged with overseeing, and where appropriate, prosecuting. It is not easy to bite the hand that so recently well-fed you.
Times Reporter Peter Lattman summarized recently just how complex is the web of interests which White and her husband John (a Cravath partner and former S.E.C. offical) must unwind or keep at arm’s length. It leads ne to ask is it even possible? D they know too much and own too much to ever be reliably independent protectors of the public interest?
OTHERWISE: Fed PD\'s – citing sequester, seek trial delay for Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Bin Laden’s Son-in-Law – NYTimes.com.
The lawyer’s duty of competence can be compromised by the lawyer’s financial resources. Here the federal budget impasse known as the “sequester” has sharply limited the ability of the federal public defender in a case that involves complex problems created by witnesses abroad, massive documents, translation costs, and other extraordinary expenses. The court’s duty to assure a fair trial creates a dilemma. Should the judge order a CJA lawyer to conduct the defense?
OTHERWISE: Exonerations Registry: 178 added in 2012.
The Naitonal Registry of Exonerations reports that prosecutors are becoming more willing to acknowledge that an erroneous conviction has been obtained.
Abbe Smith (who has a forthcoming book of her own – How Can You Represent Those People? – with Monroe Freedman) reviews two new books that “reveal the deep gap between cherished American ideals and the harsh reality” in the Sunday NYT Book Review. One of these books is Kids for Cash; Two Judges, Thousands of Children, and a $2.8 Million Kickback Scheme by William Ecenbarger. The title says it all and, as Smith explains, “in a festival of injustice, prosecutors, public defenders, teachers and court employees saw it all and did nothing.” Though the judges at the head of the scheme are now in prison, one wonders whether we will ever see meaningful reform to prevent this sort of thing or is it just another example of Amy Bach’s Ordinary Injustice. I first learned the details of the scheme a few years ago when a student wrote a paper for my First Amendment and Lawyers’ Speech seminar, which she later turned into an article: When Canaries Won’t Sing: The Failure of the Attorney Self-Reporting System in the ‘Cash For Kids’ Scheme, by Sarah Primrose. Primrose argues for reform to the reporting of attorney misconduct.
(Cross posted at the Legal Ethics Forum)