Appeals court to decide if immigrant children get court-appointed attorneys

immigrant child in custodyEleven federal appeals court judges have heard testimony in a lawsuit over whether undocumented children have the right to a government-paid lawyer. Lawyers for an immigrant minor who was unrepresented in immigration hearings argue that the Fifth Amendment guarantees the minor the right to an attorney, according to KPIX. 

“We want a ruling that children facing deportation are entitled to legal representation,” said C.J.’s lawyer Ahilan Arulanantham, told reporters after the hearing. Arulanantham, who is Senior Counsel at the ACLU of Southern California, argued the case before the judges.

Cost is an issue. If each of the 102,000 migrant juveniles apprehended near the US-Mexico border were provided an attorney, it would cost more than $276 million, KPIX reports. Meanwhile, the minor plaintiff in the lawsuit is attending high school in Los Angeles while he awaits the panel’s decision, which is expected in 2019.

Asylum claims jump nearly 70% in 2018

migrant familiesDespite the Trump administration’s tougher immigration policies, the Department of Homeland Security says the number of migrants seeking asylum in the US along the border with Mexico went up nearly 70% from 2017 to 2018, according to CNN. You may recall that President Trump signed a proclamation in November preventing migrants who enter the country illegally from seeking asylum. Customs and Border Protection Commissioner Kevin McAleenan says the dramatic increase in asylum-seekers is “straining border security.” He also says Congress needs to “Address these vulnerabilities in our immigration system which continue to negatively impact border security efforts.”

Disabled senior swindled out of savings by son

disabilityAn 81-year-old disabled senior is seeking advice after signing over his life savings to his son, who he says is refusing to return the money. In a letter to The Moneyist at Marketwatch, the man says he financially supported his son, an artist, for years after raising him alone following a divorce. The disabled parent had planned to move into a long-term care facility, and his son advised him to place his savings in the son’s name for protection. However, after the father’s plans changed, he says his son is refusing to transfer his savings back into his name. What kind of advice would you offer the senior? Read more about the dilemma at Marketwatch. 

Podcast: How millennials and the gig economy affect workers’ comp

workers compNext year, the number of millennials in the US is expected to be greater than the number of Baby Boomers. The following year, the number of Americans working for themselves is supposed to triple, with millennials making up 42% of them. How will these trends affect the workers’ comp landscape? The Legal Talk Network’s podcast Workers Comp Matters takes a look as guest host Judson Pierce talks with attorney Ryan Benharris about the gig economy, millenials vs. boomers, and how working at home affects workers comp.

Acting AG Matthew G. Whitaker Lacks Authority to Decide Immigration Case, Say Immigration Groups

The American Immigration Council and other immigrant rights organizations have filed a legal brief that explains why President Donald Trump’s designation of Matthew G. Whitaker as acting attorney general is unlawful. As a result, the brief asserts, Whitaker lacks the authority to decide a critical immigration case.

In November 2018, President Trump appointed Whitaker in an acting position to replace former Attorney General Jeff Sessions as head of the Department of Justice. The amicus (friend of the court) brief argues that Whitaker’s designation is unconstitutional, and therefore, he lacks authority to exercise the powers of the head of the Justice Department. These powers include referring already-decided immigration cases to himself in order to revisit their holdings.

The brief was filed in Matter of Negusie, a case in which Sessions referred to himself the question of whether asylum seekers found to be persecutors may continue to qualify for asylum by showing they acted under coercion or duress. Sessions invoked a federal regulation that allows the attorney general to reconsider cases already decided by the Board of Immigration Appeals—the body that hears appeals from immigration courts nationwide—but he resigned from office before deciding the case.

The brief argues that Whitaker’s designation as acting attorney general violates the Appointments Clause of the Constitution and a specific federal statute governing succession to the Office of the Attorney General. Also outlined in the brief are the critical flaws in the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel’s opinion that was issued to defend Whitaker’s designation.

“Implicit in the authority granted to the attorney general over immigration cases is the legality of his or her appointment,” said Trina Realmuto, directing attorney at the American Immigration Council. “The improper appointment of the acting attorney general not only is unlawful, but undermines the rule of law that the head of the Justice Department is obligated to uphold.”

“We can add the Appointments Clause to the long and growing list of constitutional protections this president has overrun. The result here is that Mr. Negusie’s fate could be decided by an illegitimate attorney general. It would be a travesty if the U.S. Justice Department, the agency responsible for law enforcement, followed such a lawless path,” said Robert N. Weiner, partner at the law firm of Arnold & Porter.

The amicus brief was authored by the Council and the law firm of Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP. ASISTA Immigration Assistance, Harvard Immigration and Refugee Clinical Program, Her Justice, Immigrant Defense Project, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, and Southern Poverty Law Center are signatories to the brief.

You can view the full brief online here.

Don’t Rush Into A December Divorce For Tax Reasons

cash moneyNobody likes to rush in a divorce, but frequently things happen that may make a couple want to get it done more quickly than usual.

This year, the reason may be taxes for some couples.  Since 1942, the person paying alimony got to take payments off of their income and the person receiving it had to declare alimony as income. This all will change with any divorce finalized on or after Jan. 1, 2019. After this date, neither party’s income will be adjusted for paying or receiving alimony.

Lawyers are expecting December to be a busy month for divorces due to the change.  Any case settled before the end of the year will continue to follow the old rule.

But that is not as important as taking your time to make sure everything about the divorce is properly handled.

“The few dollars somebody may or may not save on their tax bill is not a reason to rush a divorce proceeding,” says Pegotty Cooper, co-founder of Divorce Coaching Inc., (www.certifieddivorcecoach.com), which both provides divorce coaching and trains divorce coaches.  “Frequently, in complicated divorces, issues surface halfway through the proceeding that will take time to investigate.”

Cooper, a co-author of Taking the High Road in Divorce – Simple Strategies for Creating a Healthy Divorce, said it is in the best interest of both parties to focus on the divorce and make sure everything is done properly instead of trying to meet artificially induced deadlines.

Cooper offers the following tips for those about to enter divorce proceedings:

  • Don’t forget who the decision makers are. The decision maker in the proceeding is not the judge or your attorney – it is you. More than 90 percent of cases never make it to trial, so don’t think the judge necessarily will set all the issues straight.
  • “My way or the highway” is the wrong attitude. Taking this attitude will be more costly, emotionally draining and time-consuming than you realize. The only one that will benefit is your attorney, who will rack up legal bills fighting tooth and nail for everything instead of negotiating.
  • Don’t throw in the towel. You may want to quit early in the divorce proceedings just to get it over with. This may result in forgetting about important things that you wanted to be resolved.
  • Don’t bet the farm on another relationship. Don’t give up on negotiating just because you have met somebody new and you want to end the divorce as quickly as possible.  Your focus should be on ironing out the details of an equitable agreement with your spouse, no matter how long it takes.

“While it may be uncomfortable and even distressing to go through a divorce,” Cooper says, “it is rarely a good idea to try to speed up the process.”

 

Legal terms for divorcees

divorceThe rate of divorce may be declining, but those seeking to split up may have little to no experience with the legal system. Couples filing for divorce may be unfamiliar with the legal terminology that they’ll need to know as they navigate the process. Understanding the legalese they’ll be facing can help them be better informed and make better decisions. Glamour has created an A-to-Z list of legal terms for divorcees that you can find here. 

Brittney Dobbins to serve as 2019 Top 40 Under 40 president

Brittany DobbinsThe National Advocates — Top 40 Under 40 announces that Brittney Dobbins will serve as the organization’s president for 2019. Ms. Dobbins is an associate in Buchalter’s San Diego office and a member of the firm’s Labor & Employment and Intellectual Property practice groups. Ms. Dobbins represents individuals and businesses in employment, patent, trade secret, and trademark litigation, including both single plaintiff and class action defense before state and federal courts and agencies, and in mediation and arbitration. In addition to litigation, Ms. Dobbins offers preventative advice regarding all aspects of labor and employment law, as well as trademark prosecution.

A former elite gymnast and student-athlete, Ms. Dobbins offers a very motivated, confident, and disciplined practice of law. In addition to her regular practice, she is an active member of her community, contributing significant time and effort to civic and philanthropic causes as well as pro bono matters.

While attending law school, Ms. Dobbins clerked for Foley and Lardner LLP and was a judicial extern within the Los Angeles Superior Court and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of California. Prior to attending law school Ms. Dobbins worked full-time as a civil litigation paralegal. She also spent four years in supervisory/operative level management for the retail clothing and accessory industry.

Professional Recognition

  • The National Black Lawyers Top 40 Under 40, 2018
  • The National Advocates Top 40 under 40, 2018
  • The National Advocates Top 40 under 40
    • 2019 Executive Committee President 

Memberships and Associations

  • The National Black Lawyers
  • The National Advocates
  • The National Bar Association
  • Earl B. Gilliam Bar Foundation
  • Enright Inn of Court 

Presentations

  • “Women’s History Month: Let’s Talk About Gender Equality in the Workplace,” San DiegoCW6 News, January 1, 2015

Education

Ms. Dobbins earned her Juris Doctorate with a concentration in Intellectual Property Law from California Western School of Law. During law school Ms. Dobbins was a member of the mock trial competitive team, she served as the president of the Black Law Students’ Association, she founded an organization entitled Law Students for Disability Rights, and she received awards for her proficiencies in intellectual property law, her commitment to diversity in the legal profession, and her commitment to pro bono services.

Ms. Dobbins earned her Bachelor’s degree in Political Science with a minor in Sociology (with a concentration on jurisprudence) Cum Laude from DePaul University in Illinois. During undergrad Ms. Dobbins was a member of the Golden Key International Honour Society, and Pi Sigma Alpha.

Bar Admissions

  • California

Court Admissions

  • United States District Court for the Central District of California
  • United States District Court for the Northern District of California
  • United States District Court for the Southern District of California

Asylum seekers being turned away by ICE

migrant familiesRefugees seeking asylum in the United States now face an even more difficult process after President Trump signed a presidential proclamation limiting applications to official ports of entry. CNN explains: 

The proclamation put into effect a new rule the Trump administration entered into the federal registry on Friday that would ban migrants from applying for asylum outside of official ports of entry. The American Civil Liberties Union has already called the rule “illegal,” and legal challenges are expected to follow.

However, The Daily Beast reports that even those who are following the latest orders are being turned away because of bottlenecks resulting at official ports of entry. And HuffPost has more on the ongoing fight to get justice for migrants being detained at the border by ICE.

What happens when a nation ends birthright citizenship

President Donald TrumpIn his anti-immigration actions before the midterm election, President Trump threatened to end birthright citizenship, a constitutionally-guaranteed right. According to CNN, “Such a step would be regarded as an affront to the US Constitution, which was amended 150 years ago to include the words: ‘All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States.'” While critics pointed out that Trump couldn’t simply eliminate constitutional rights with an executive order, what would happen if a nation did decide to stop granting birthright citizenship? That’s what the Dominican Republic did. How did it work out? Find out in this article at The Atlantic.