DOJ Court Filings: U.S. Constitution Forbids California Sanctuary City Laws

Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to file a lawsuit on behalf of President Donald Trump and his administration against the State of California, Gov. Jerry Brown, and Attorney General Xavier Becerra, seeking a court order that California’s sanctuary city laws violate the U.S. Constitution. This case is likely ultimately heading to the U.S. Supreme Court. “In this action, the United States seeks a declaration invalidating and … enjoining the enforcement of certain provisions of California law,” the 18-page lawsuit begins. “These provisions are preempted by federal law and impermissibly discriminate against the United States, and therefore violate the Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution.”“The United States has undoubted, preeminent authority to regulate immigration matters,” the initial complaint continues. “This authority derives from the United States Constitution and numerous acts of Congress. California has no authority to enforce laws that obstruct or otherwise conflict with, or discriminate against, federal immigration enforcement efforts.” Sessions’ lawsuit targets three California laws: one that makes it illegal for employers to cooperate with the U.S. government on immigration matters, one that makes it illegal for California police to cooperate with U.S. government agents, and one where California Attorney General Xavier Becerra claims the power to inspect federal detention facilities.“The Constitution affords Congress the power to ‘establish a uniform Rule of Naturalization,’ and to ‘regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and affords the President of the United States the authority to ‘take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed,’” the DOJ’s civil complaint continues. It then quotes the Supremacy Clause, which provides, “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which Continue Reading

Supreme Court Rejects Argument that Foreigners Must Be Released into U.S.A. if Detained for Extended Time

WASHINGTON, DC – Federal law does not force immigration officials to either give aliens held in federal custody periodic court hearings or release those aliens into the general U.S. population, the U.S. Supreme Court held on Tuesday. “Every day, immigration officials must determine whether to admit or remove the many aliens who have arrived at an official port of entry,” Justice Samuel Alito began for the Court. Although the “vast majority” of situations are decided quickly, in hard cases federal law authorizes detaining aliens during immigration proceedings.Alejandro Rodriguez is a Mexican who was in the U.S. legally until he was convicted for drugs and theft in 2004. His lawyers argued that he should not be deported. Although he could leave the United States at any time if he agreed to deportation, he has been in custody since 2004 because he is contesting the deportation process. He brought this case not only for himself, but for all other aliens in a similar situation. The lower court certified the case as a class action.Rodriguez’s lawyers made two arguments. First, a complicated statutory argument that several provisions of immigration law together require that he be entitled to occasional bond hearings – they say every six months – without which he must be released back into the general population. Second, if federal law does not entitle him to this, then those provisions of immigration law violate due process rights under the U.S. Constitution. A federal district judge in California agreed with the statutory argument, and would have ordered Rodriguez released. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit affirmed, siding with the him. On Tuesday, the Supreme Court reversed, in what was mostly a 5-3 decision. “When a serious doubt is raised about the constitutionality of an act of Congress, it is a cardinal principle that this Court will first ascertain whether a construction of the statute is fairly Continue Reading

White House nominates Cullen as U.S. attorney in western Virginia

President Donald Trump nominated Thomas Cullen on Friday to become U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia. Cullen is a 40-year-old Roanoke-based attorney at Woods Rogers and a former federal prosecutor. The U.S. Senate is likely to act in several months’ time on the nomination, said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond. If confirmed, Cullen could take office immediately. U.S. Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine called Cullen experienced and capable. "He will make an excellent U.S. attorney,” they said in a joint statement Friday. Trump’s announcement contains no commentary on Cullen, nor on any of four other nominees in his 11th batch of U.S. attorney nominations since taking office. The U.S. attorney is the chief federal law enforcement officer of a federal judicial district. The Western District of Virginia has offices in Roanoke, Charlottesville, Abingdon, Lynchburg, Danville, Big Stone Gap and Harrisonburg. The office has been run for 13½ months by Rick Mountcastle, a career prosecutor though not a presidential appointee. He stepped in after the prior presidential appointee, John Fishwick, resigned shortly before Trump's inauguration. Cullen received a bachelor's degree in 2000 from Furman University in South Carolina and a law degree in 2004 from the College of William & Mary. He clerked for one year for U.S. District Judge Robert Payne in the Eastern District of Virginia and for one year for Judge Roger Gregory of the Richmond-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, now that court's chief judge. He joined the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of North Carolina, in Charlotte, in 2006, and the U.S. attorney's office for the Western District of Virginia in 2010, taking the post of deputy criminal chief. Cullen left the prosecutor's office and joined Woods Rogers, ranked last year as the state's ninth largest law firm, in 2013. He represents individuals and companies Continue Reading

Trump seeks to bypass Ninth Circuit court in DACA immigration debate

Federal lawyers on Tuesday said they plan to go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court – bypassing a California appeals court that President Donald Trump dislikes – to overturn an injunction that forces the administration to keep in place an immigration program that protects some people from deportation who were brought to the United States illegally as children. The U.S. Department of Justice Tuesday filed a notice of appeal asking for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to review a decision by a California district court issued last week that required the government to maintain most aspects of its Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which provides legal residency and work permits to about 700,000 people brought by their parents across the border as children without documentation. The government said it will also file a petition later this week to seek a direct review of the injunction by the Supreme Court, where the Trump administration has had more luck defending its policies. “It defies both law and common sense for DACA – an entirely discretionary non-enforcement policy that was implemented unilaterally by the last administration after Congress rejected similar legislative proposals and courts invalidated the similar DAPA policy – to somehow be mandated nationwide by a single district court in San Francisco,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “We are now taking the rare step of requesting direct review on the merits of this injunction by the Supreme Court so that this issue may be resolved quickly and fairly for all the parties involved.” The White House decision to bypass the 9th Circuit isn’t completely surprising, given Trump’s frustration with the San Francisco-headquartered appeals court and its record of blocking his immigration policies. The 9th Circuit and its three-judge panels have struck down two of Trump’s travel bans, and also blocked Continue Reading

Supreme Court lets insider trading reversal stand

Wall Street just won a major victory over Uncle Sam.In a decision that is expected to undo some of the government's massive insider-trading crackdown, the United States Supreme Court Monday denied review of U.S. vs. Newman, an insider trading case that has been closely watched by Wall Street, prosecutors and the FBI.The denial lets stand an earlier decision to overturn the convictions of Anthony Chiasson and Todd Newman who were found guilty in 2012 of using inside information to make millions for their hedge funds. In December, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit reversed their convictions in a ruling that addressed long-held questions about how close someone needs to be to the source of an illegal tip to be culpable.Specifically, the 2nd Circuit appeals court ruled that in order to be convicted of insider trading a person must have direct knowledge of the insider doling out the tips. The court said the government must prove the person being accused of illegal trading was aware that the tipper breached his fiduciary duty and received some sort of benefit, like cash or a job, in exchange for the information provided.Newman and Chiasson traded on tips they received from their staff analysts, who were found guilty of scouring stock tips from a network of analysts and corporate insiders and then passing them on to their bosses. As a result, their bosses were shielded from direct communication with the tippers, who provided illegal stock tips on companies like Dell and Nvidia.The Supreme Court's decision not to review the case at the request of the government let's the lower court's decision overturning the conviction stand."Mr. Chiasson is deeply gratified by this complete vindication, one that ends the five year ordeal he and his family endured," said his lawyer Greg Morvillo said in a statement. "The Second Circuit Court of Appeals’ pronouncement of Mr. Continue Reading

Desert Water Agency appeals lawsuit dismissal

Desert Water Agency is appealing a judge's decision to dismiss its lawsuit against the U.S. Interior Department over regulations on Indian land it fears could cost it millions of dollars.The Palm Springs-based water authority filed an appeal Friday to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. The action comes two months after U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee dismissed the lawsuit because she believed DWA failed to prove that the federal regulations were harming its operations.The case — and a separate lawsuit the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians filed in January against Riverside County — deals with rules the Interior Department approved in late 2012 concerning economic development and taxation on Indian land.DWA filed its lawsuit in March 2013 over fears the regulations could cost it $7 million annually in lost taxes and fees it collects from customers on leased tribal land."Desert Water Agency remains deeply concerned that this federal regulation would prove to be very harmful to our customers," Craig Ewing, president of the DWA Board of Directors, said in a statement Friday addressing the appeal. "This action is another step to assure those customers that we remain a fiscally sound and reliable water agency."Gee has yet to rule on DWA's request to join the Agua Caliente lawsuit against Riverside County.In a court filing, the tribe argued against the request, saying the water agency is looking to expand the scope of the case. The Agua Caliente oppose a tax known as a possessory interest tax that's collected from private leaseholders of tribal land. The tribe said its case doesn't deal with user fees and other taxes the water agency collects.Riverside County has backed DWA's request, saying in a filing that the court's decision will affect local agencies, and they should therefore have a chance to be part of the case.The county said in its filing that the total possessory interest tax revenue for the 2013-14 fiscal year coming from Agua Continue Reading

Trump attacks judge again on travel ban; Pence predicts victory in courts

President Trump continued to attack a federal judge Sunday who voided his travel ban from seven Muslim majority nations, and said he would demand that homeland security officials give extra scrutiny to people entering the United States from those countries."Just cannot believe a judge would put our country in such peril," Trump tweeted. "If something happens blame him and court system. People pouring in. Bad!"While his Justice Department appeals the decision by U.S. District Judge James Robart striking down the ban, Trump also tweeted that he has "instructed Homeland Security to check people coming into our country VERY CAREFULLY. The courts are making the job very difficult!"Trump took to social media hours after Vice President Pence defended the president's attack on Robart. Pence also predicted that a higher court would eventually uphold the measure in the name of national security."We are going to win the arguments because we’re going to take the steps necessary to protect the country, which the president of the United States has the authority to do," Pence said on Fox News Sunday, one in a series of news show interviews.Pence told  ABC's This Week that Trump was "speaking his mind" when he denounced a "so-called" judge — Robart, who is based in Seattle — for ruling against the travel ban.Early Sunday, a federal appeals court rejected a request by Trump's Justice Department to immediately restore the travel ban; the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit based in San Francisco said a reply from the Trump administration is due on Monday.Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., also speaking on Fox, said Trump exceeded his authority with the order and people are well within their rights to challenge it in court, probably to the highest in the land."I have no doubt that it will go to the Supreme Court," Feinstein said.Trump criticized Robart in a series of tweets, including this one: "The opinion of this Continue Reading

Greg Anderson’s attorneys file motion seeking release of Barry Bonds’ former trainer from prison

Attorneys for Greg Anderson filed a motion with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit Tuesday night in an effort to have Barry Bonds' former trainer released from prison.Anderson, who turned 45 on Sunday, was found in civil contempt by U.S. District Court Judge Susan Illston when he appeared in her courtroom last week and again refused to testify against Bonds in the home run king's perjury trial. Although Anderson's lawyers - Mark Geragos and Paula Canny - filed a pleading that day in an attempt to sway Illston, the judge jailed Anderson. "You're causing us a lot of dislocation," Illston told Anderson then, before he was sent to a Dublin, Calif., prison facility. Tuesday night's filing, done by Geragos' offices in Los Angeles, is a motion for expedited treatment of recalcitrant witness appeal. Geragos and Canny also filed a request for an evidentiary hearing with Illston last week. Canny told the Daily News that if Illston rejected that request, she and Geragos would keep filing motions of appeal in an attempt to free Anderson. Illston said Anderson would remain behind bars for the duration of Bonds' perjury trial, expected to last up to four weeks. Join the Conversation: Continue Reading

Slew of U.S. federal court rulings impacting immigrants’ cases

Almost every day, U.S. federal courts decide cases that affect that lives of immigrants. The courts publish only a few of these decisions. When the court publishes a decision, it becomes the law for all within the court's jurisdiction - we refer to it as a "precedent decision." Cases that the court decides not to publish affect only those who brought the case, though sometimes the reasoning in a non-precedent case can influence other courts and judges.Here is a review of three recent precedent decisions.In USA v. Cerna, the Second Circuit - with jurisdiction over the New York area - reversed a criminal conviction for reentry after deportation. The reason? The petitioner, the person seeking review Cerna, had been poorly represented at his deportation hearing. His lawyer failed to file an application that may have prevented Cerna's deportation. Cerna argued that since he was not adequately represented at his deportation hearing, his conviction for reentry after being deported under that order should be reversed. The Circuit Court agreed. In doing so, it sharply criticized immigration lawyers."(T)his case gives us occasion once again to take note of the exceptionally poor quality of representation often provided by attorneys retained by aliens as they attempt to negotiate the complexities of our immigration law," Judge Robert Katzmann wrote for the court.In reversing Cerna's conviction, Katzmann added: "(F)or non-citizens at risk of deportation the consequences of inadequate counsel can be devastating. Because such incompetence undermines the fair and effective administration of justice, courts must be ever vigilant."Many immigration lawyers do a great job of representing their clients. When they don't, the results can be disastrous. This case reminds judges that when lawyers fail their clients, courts should step in to right the wrong. In Eneh v. Holder, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit in San Francisco ruled that an individual suffering Continue Reading

Inside the court’s ruling on ’03 MLB drug tests

Last week's ruling by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that federal agents improperly seized urine samples from drug testing facilities, far exceeding the limits of a search warrant that gave them access to the records of only 10 players, raised many questions about the "list" of 104 players whose records were apparently assembled by the government from information from the labs. Here are some of those questions, and the answers: Q: What was the core of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals' decision regarding the roughly 100 players who tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs in 2003? A: Federal agents investigating BALCO's link to steroids and athletes raided labs associated with Major League Baseball's 2003 survey testing, conducted to determine the extent of steroid use in the sport. The agents had a search warrant that permitted them to seize drug samples and test results of 10 players involved in the BALCO investigation. The agents, however, seized computers that gave them drug-testing records for hundreds of other ballplayers - as well as the records of thousands of other people. The court said the government had clearly overstepped its authority by seizing records of innocent bystanders without probable cause. "This was an obvious case of deliberate overreaching by the government in an effort to seize data as to which it lacked probable cause," Chief Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski wrote. Q:Why should the average sports fan care? A:The appeals court decision applies only to the Western states that fall under its jurisdiction, but it does establish a precedent that will be closely examined by other courts. The government, the court said, cannot examine computer records of people who are not targets of a search warrant simply because those records are on a hard drive seized during the course of a criminal investigation. Since virtually all businesses now keep records on computers, this ruling affects just about every Continue Reading