Law blog roundup

Welcome to Tuesday and game two of the Battle of the Beltways. Here are some pregame news items.

– A man who helped give rise to many a Constitutional Law and bar exam question has died.

– President Obama will play Pick Three.

– Millions may have overstayed their welcome.

– Roger Clemens may have cheated off the diamond.

Law blog roundup

Opening DayWelcome to Monday and a day for fools. Here are some news items to get the first week of the baseball season started.

– A law professor provided perhaps the best explanation of what happened last week at the Supreme Court.

– Should detained immigrants have a right to counsel?

– Colorado prosecutors weigh seeking the death penalty for accused movie-theater murderer.

– Utah opens courtrooms to television and radio coverage.

General Assembly takes up bill to allow illegal immigants to get driver’s licenses

Maryland’s legislature is debating a bill that would overturn the state’s law prohibiting illegal immigrants from getting driver’s licenses.

Sen. Victor Ramirez, D-Prince George’s County, is sponsoring the measure. He says the granting of licenses to illegal immigrants is a “necessity” because it would “allow people to drive to work, to get insurance.” He also said the bill would offer more protections and generate millions of dollars in new revenue.

Under federal law, the licenses would be only for driving.

“You cannot use it to get on an airplane,” Ramirez told WTOP-AM. “You cannot use it for federal purposes.”

That fact would be specifically indicated on the license itself.

The bill has strong support from fellow Democrats. But opponents, such as Del. Kelly Schulz, R-Frederick, say the measure could take away incentive to become legal.

“When you give someone a state ID, it is an agreement for them to be here,” she told WTOP.

Maryland made it illegal to give licenses to illegal immigrants in 2009. Washington state, New Mexico and Illinois all permit illegal immigrants to get driver’s licenses.

Law blog roundup

Welcome to Monday, the 30th anniversary of the debut of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. On a more serious note, here are some news items to start your week.

– New York Times editorial addresses Iowa’s failure to “keep judicial decision-making … above the political fray.”

– A company famous for its species diversity in the workplace faces lawsuit for religious discrimination.

– Justice Department says no to illegal immigrant seeking law license.

– Was this killing murder or mercy?

The butler did do it.

Law blog roundup

Hello there, readers. Here’s hoping you’ve gotten your taxes in or plan to do it by tonight.

  • The working relationship between two Lululemon shop employees was good before one allegedly killed the other.
  • New York courts plan to lay off 400 to 500 people.
  • D.C.’s medical marijuana regulations are now in effect.
  • It’s all about who you know. Page Croyder looks at influence in the courtroom.
  • What does the state’s new Padilla rule really mean?
  • Barry Bonds’ appeal will probably focus on strange verdict.
  • Romanced by a client.
  • A federal judge has sanctioned administrators at Brooklyn’s Poly Prep Country Day School for covering up sexual misconduct by a former football coach who has since died.

Monday law blog round-up

Happy Monday! Here are a few law links to start your day:

  • Harford County lawyer becomes a Catholic priest, with his son, also a priest, performing vesting honors.
  • In its fortunetelling opinion last week, the Court of Appeals “said essentially, (and I’m translating the legalese into plain English here) that even if claims to be able to foretell the future are total BS,  how different is that really from all the BS that comes from news reporters and attorneys?  It’s all protected BS under the First Amendment.”
  • A company that operates three kosher food stands at the Mets’ Citi Field is suing the team for preventing it from selling on the Jewish Sabbath, claiming it has approval from its Baltimore-based kosher certifier, Star-K, to do so. There is no such approval, Star-K says.
  • A Miami attorney was stopped from seeing jailed client because her underwire bra set off the metal detector. She ducked in a bathroom and slipped it off–and was then stopped because prison visitor dress code requires women to wear bras. HT: ABA Journal.
  • The New York Times peeks inside the unit that investigates whether marriages between citizens and non-citizens are legitimate. “Some couples offer photographic evidence in the mistaken belief that the government requires proof of a marriage’s consummation,” the article says. Oh dear. HT: Above the Law.

Female circumcision case interesting for another reason

As if Caryn Tamber’s article weren’t compelling enough, our sister paper in Richmond points out another reason to study Gomis v. Holder.

“If the 4th Circuit’s current configuration leaves it in equipoise and publishing even fewer opinions than usual, it is at least going on the record with some of its disputes,” Deborah Elkins writes on the Virginia Lawyers Weekly blog

In recent days, the court has published two orders in cases in which it has denied rehearing en banc, with judges at each end of the spectrum publishing concurrences and dissents from those denials.

True, the judges don’t always fall into predictable patterns.  But their airing of views on classic issues such as the degree of deference to agency decisions and the “sanctity of the home” may be a preview of coming attractions, after some of the court’s five vacant slots are filled.

The agency-deference case Elkins refers to is Gomis, in which the court voted 5-5 not to rehear an asylum case. July’s panel decision deferred, 2-1, to the BIA’s finding that an adult woman’s father was unlikely to make good on his vow to have her circumcised because, among other things, the practice was outlawed in Senegal in 1999 and the State Department reports it is on the wane there. 

The “sanctity of the home” case is Hunsberger v. Wood, decided Sept. 14 by a 5-4 vote with one abstention. The decision let stand a finding of qualified immunity for a police officer who made a warrantless entry to a home at night, accompanied by a civilian who was looking for his missing stepdaughter.


This week in Maryland Lawyer

ON THE COVER: Top court returns — The Court of Appeals begins its September 2009 term this week. The high court will hear cases addressing the cap on non-economic damages, legal malpractice and whether a truck driver can be guilty of vehicular manslaughter for leaving the scene of a gravel spill from his truck.

Also on the Court of Appeals — the judges recall their summer break; columnist Chris Brown ranks last year’s votes; and plaintiffs’ lawyers Henry E. Dugan Jr. and George S. Tolley III explain the importance of last term’s landmark informed-consent decision.

In Breaking News, Baltimore City Councilwoman Helen L. Holton fights new charges; an immigration lawyer is disbarred after pleading guilty to fraud; and an attorney owes fees for having filed suit without sufficient justification.

In Verdicts & Settlements, a motorcyclist receives $200,000 in damages after colliding with a hand truck that fell from a passing box truck.

U.S. District Magisitrate Judge Charles B. Day of Greenbelt has no plans to take it easy after stepping down from the Federal Magistrate Judges Association after a decade in senior posts at the group.

Stay up-to-date with our Law Digest, which includes cases from the U.S. 4th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. District Court, Maryland.

No Sanctuary: What would Taney think?

The Taneytown City Council held a public hearing Wednesday night on a resolution that would declare the municipality “not a sanctuary city” for illegal immigrants. The council is expected to vote on the resolution Monday.

What would Taney — the former U.S. Supreme Court Justice who wrote the pro-slavery decision in the Dred Scott case — make of his eponymous town’s priorities? That illegal immigrants have no rights Americans are bound to respect?

BRENDAN KEARNEY, Legal Affairs Writer

Left Behind?

Remember Ellen Sauerbrey?

Former minority leader of the Maryland House of Delegates, two-time unsuccessful Republican candidate for governor, former U.S. Representative to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women, and now Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration.

Sauerbrey was on CBS News’ “60 Minutes” last Sunday, explaining why the United States government has admitted so few Iraqis to America, even though the Iraqis are translators who assisted the U.S. military, and whose lives — and those of their families — have been threatened by insurgents who accuse them of “collaborating” with the enemy.

According to “60 Minutes” correspondent Scott Pelley, there are about 100,000 Iraqis who have worked for America. Add their families and the number climbs to perhaps half a million people at risk. And how many have been admitted so far? “About 100,” Pelley said.

Although the State Department has said it would consider 7,000 applications, and admit some 2,000 to 3,000 people this year, there has been very little progress, according to Pelley.

Sauerbrey, who is in charge of the State Department’s refugee program, said the problem is the “very thorough security checks” that the U.S. put in place after Sept. 11, 2001. “ … It takes a lot of time to work people through the security process,” she said.

But the translators have already been vetted by the U.S. armed forces. They’ve worked with Americans in very sensitive positions, and they were trusted. Now they feel “left behind.”

“60 Minutes” also reported that. according to Julia Taft, a former assistant secretary of state who headed the program that saw the admittance of Vietnamese refugees into this country after the U.S. withdrew from Vietnam, there were 131,000 people admitted to the United States over an eight-month period in 1975.

“President [Gerald R.] Ford said, ‘Let them come. Let’s help them. This is what we must do for them. They deserve it,’” Taft recalled. And communities all over the United States accepted the refugees.

“It was a huge enterprise. But it never would have worked had there not been the sustained commitment on the part of the administration working with Congress to make it happen,” Taft said.

Where is the determination on the part of the Bush administration and Congress to help people who have helped us?

Asked if she’s not seeing the kind of political will and leadership in this case that she dealt with in 1975, Taft, a lifelong Republican, replied, “I’m afraid that’s the case.”

-PAUL SAMUEL, Associate Editor