Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Mentally Ill Immigrants Have the Right to Representation

California immigration lawyers are hailing it as a significant decision. A federal judge has ruled that immigration officials must provide legal representation to mentally challenged persons who are facing deportation.

The ruling involves two cases that have since become part of a class-action lawsuit, alleging that federal immigration officials failed to provide legal counsel to immigrants facing deportation, thereby depriving them of their constitutional rights to due process. The class-action lawsuit also alleges that by denying access to representation, the federal government has engaged in discriminatory practices against people with a disability.

The first lawsuit in this case was filed in March on behalf of a man from Costa Mesa, as well as another mentally challenged person. The man has severe mental challenges, and has the mental capacity of a child. The other man also suffers from serious mental disability. Both men were rounded up by immigration authorities, and spent time in detention without having the chance to speak with a lawyer, and without a chance to challenge their detention.

The American Civil Liberties Union of California filed suit on behalf of the two men. The suit was filed in March, and the two men were released pending a bail hearing. Soon, the suit expanded to include other mentally disabled immigrants who were also facing deportation charges. In November, the ACLU asked a federal judge to appoint lawyers for all the plaintiffs in the lawsuit who suffered from mental challenges. US District Court Judge Dolly Gee agreed that federal officials must provide legal representation to immigrants with severe disabilities who are facing deportation charges.

The federal government must now decide whether it will pay for legal representation, or find pro bono representation for these two plaintiffs. The ruling doesn't require representation by an immigration attorney, but the ruling does establish basic criteria for those representing the interests of mentally disabled detainees.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Supreme Court Hears Wrongful Retaliation Lawsuit

A wrongful retaliation lawsuit that has now come before the Supreme Court could change the scope of wrongful retaliation litigation as California employment lawyers know it.

The case, Thompson v. North American Stainless involves third-party retaliation. The plaintiff, Eric Thompson was an employee of North American Stainless. The company soon hired Miriam Regalado, and Thompson and Miriam Regalado soon began dating. They became engaged in 2002.

That same year, Miriam Regalado filed a gender discrimination lawsuit against North American Stainless. North American Stainless then fired Thompson. Thompson filed a wrongful retaliation lawsuit against the company. According to the lawsuit, he had been fired in retaliation for his fiancée's lawsuit against the company.

In the lawsuit that followed, North American Stainless successfully argued that Thompson had no basis for suing for wrongful retaliation, because there are no federal laws that prohibit a company from firing an employee for the protected activity of a fiancée. A Kentucky District Court and the US Court of Appeals found in favor of the company. The courts held that Thompson had no legal basis on which to sue North American Stainless. Thompson then appealed to the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court will likely be looking back at one of its earlier judgments when it hears these arguments. Last year, the court ruled on a similar third-party wrongful retaliation lawsuit. In that case, the retaliation lawsuit was filed by a woman Vicky Crawford, an employee of the city of Nashville, Tennessee. She had worked with a person who had been accused of sexual harassment in the workplace. She told investigators that the person, who had been accused of harassment, had also harassed her several times.

Instead of taking action against the harasser, the city made Crawford, and other persons in the company who had made the allegation, undergo a sexual harassment education and training program. After that, the city began an investigation of the accusers. Crawford was also placed under an investigation, and several false allegations were made against her, including those of drug use.

She then filed a retaliation lawsuit against the city. A federal court ruled against her because she had not brought a formal sexual harassment complaint against the harasser. However, the Supreme Court found that she did not need to bring a sexual harassment lawsuit to be protected from retaliation.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Feather River College Sued for Racial Discrimination

Despite great strides made in eliminating all forms racism based on race, California racial discrimination attorneys still continue to come across cases where people of color have faced racial or color bias. A former assistant head football coach at Feather River College has filed a racial discrimination lawsuit against the institution.

The lawsuit, filed by Eric Small, alleges that the 2010 athletic department of Feather River College was racist in its decision to cut black football players from the team. The lawsuit mentions Feather River College, director Merle Trueblood and head football coach James Johnson.

In 2010, Small was informed by the new coach that the face of the nearly all-black football team would change. And change it certainly did. The football team changed from an 80% black team to an 80% white team. According to the lawsuit, there has been a persistent strategy of discrimination by Trueblood, Head Coach Johnson and an assistant football coach at Feather River College who was allegedly, openly racist. Several claims of discrimination are included in lawsuit, among them one that involves a promise that Small would be given a coach position. The lawsuit alleges that the coaching position was then given to Johnson, who is a Caucasian. Small is African-American.

According to Small, he was informed in July that because of statewide enrollment caps, 21 new recruits to the team would have to be informed that they no longer had a place on the football team. These were players who had already booked airplane tickets, had applied for financial aid, and had made accommodation arrangements. According to the lawsuit, this made Small look like he had deceived the players.

Small then says he tried to get these players a place on the football team at Sacramento City College. Following that, Trueblood filed a complaint against him with the California College Athletic Commission, claiming that Small acted as an agent for the Sacramento college to the detriment of Feather River College.

This entire mess soon led to Small allegedly facing severely deteriorating working conditions at Feather River College. In August 2000, he was forced to apply for stress leave, and has since resigned.

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Mobile Application for Reporting Bad Drivers -Targeting Los Angeles

A technology company has developed an iPhone application where users can report the license plate number of vehicles they deem driving inappropriately The "app" called DriveMeCrazy is available for free and apparently promotes some aspect of hands free use, allowing the user to speak the license plate number.

From reading the FAQ on the application's website - the company does send over a list of offending vehicles plate numbers to the various Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) but they don't know if anything is done with the information.

The application also has social aspects as features, allowing for flirting with other people in the system - almost like a chat or message system based on your vehicle.

The company seems to have a special message Los Angeles drivers, as a quote from Philip Inghelbrecht, one of the entrepreneurs behind the company was reported in the LA Times -
And he wanted to broadcast a special alert to the traffic capital of the United State: Los Angeles.
"The AAA Foundation says that aggressive driving behavior is the cause of more than half of the 6 million automobile crashes that occur in the U.S. every year. We believe that bad driving comes from a feeling of motorist anonymity," Inghelbrecht said in an e-mail. "Currently drivers believe only police officers can report them. As a result, there is inadequate 'peer pressure' to avoid aggressive or dangerous driving."

Our city is definitely busy and auto-centric city. In Los Angeles, motor vehicle accidents of all types happen for many reasons, and aggressive as well as distracted drivers can be part of the causes. Will this "crowdsourcing" or peer-pressure effect do anything? Does this intrude on privacy and perhaps even safety? At the very least it is an interesting example of how the mobile internet can affect people in ways unimaginable just a few years ago.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Federal Government Will Use Drugged Driving Study to Promote Stronger Drug Crime Laws

A new study just released by the federal government will likely be used to promote the administration's policies against drug crimes. The study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the White House Office of Drug Control Policy analyzed traffic accident fatality data from 2009, and found that 33% of these fatalities had traces of drugs in their system. As expected, the media has taken the story and run with it, while ignoring many of the facts.

For instance, nowhere in the study does it mention what kind of drugs these persons were on when they were involved in the accident. There's nothing to differentiate a legal prescription medication from illegal narcotics. Besides, the report does nothing to address the fact that some drugs can stay in a person's system for days after being ingested. Take marijuana, for instance. It can stay in your system for weeks after inhalation or ingestion, and will have nothing to do with an accident many days later. The bottom line is that the marijuana in the system may show up in an autopsy report, but will have nothing to do with the accident, at all.

Besides, the report fails to differentiate between the amount of drugs consumed. We don't know how many of those 33% of traffic fatalities had low traces of drugs in their system that likely did not impact their driving abilities at all, or larger residues of medications.

San Diego criminal defense lawyers
understand it is a study that needs to be taken with a grain of salt, but it is part of the hype that drug enforcement officials wants to create to drum up support for stronger drug crime legislation.