Tag Archives: law

Follow up: Rulings Against Sheriff Arpaio

A while back images where shown of Sheriff Arpaio, from Arizona, having 220 immigrants march in a line with shackles.  (One story here).  This story, among others, prompted lawsuits against Arpaio. The first case granted an injunction against Arpaio and the Sheriff’s Office.  The second case ruled that the Human Smuggling Act (which allowed the arrest and prosecution of immigrants).

It is interesting to point out that these decisions came before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals decision (Oct. 8, 2013), discussed here, which held Arizona S.B. 1070 was void and preempted.

In Manuel de Jesus Ortega Melendres v. Arpaio, No. CV-07-02513-PHX-GMS (D. Ariz. Oct. 2, 2013), U.S. District Court Judge Snow granted an injunction and listed reforms in which Arpaio and the Maricopa Sheriff’s Office must comply with.  This list includes, for example:

  • Supervisors shall provide effective supervision necessary to direct and guide Deputies.  Some of these include, for example: Respond to certain arrests; confirm the accuracy and completeness of Deputies’ daily reports;and hold Deputies accountable.
  • Supervisors enforcing Immigration-Related laws will directly supervise law enforcement activities.
  • Appointment of a federal independent monitor;
  • Hiring a Community Liaison Officer who is a sworn Deputy fluent in English and Spanish; and
  • Video recorder in every patrol car to record every traffic stop.

In We are America v. Maricopa County Bd. of Supervisors, No. CIV 06-2816-PHX-RCB (Sept. 27, 2013), U.S. District Court Judge Broomfield enjoined Arizona’s Maricopa Migrant Conspiracy Policy.

Sheriff Arpaio created this policy based on the Human Smuggling Act, Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-2319 which allowed for the arrest and prosecution of immigrants for “conspiring to transport themselves within Maricopa County.”

District Court Judge, like the reasoning of the 9th Circuit a few days later, ruled that the statute was preempted by the Immigration and Nationality Act (INA), 8 U.S.C. 1101 et seq.

The court also certified the class, which included “all individuals who pay taxes to Maricopa County and object to the use of county tax revenues to stop, detain, arrest, incarcerate, prosecute or penalize individuals for conspiring to transport themselves, and themselves only, in violation of Ariz. Rev. Stat. 13-2319 [Human Smuggling Act].”

via Courthouse News Service.

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Law Schools Cuts

The ABA Journal reporting on an interesting trend.  Law Schools are trying to deal with the current economic situation and the decline of law school applicants.

The Wall Street Journal  (subscription required) reports that LSAC’s (Law School Admission Council) most recent data shows that as of July 5th, applications for the entering class of 2013 fell by 36% compared to the entering class in 2010.

These faculty cuts are noted in the article:

  • Hamline University School of Law in St. Paul, Minn., has cut full-time faculty about 18 percent since 2010. Fourteen faculty members have left or plan to leave after accepting early retirement incentives.
  • Eight professors at Vermont Law School have agreed to retire early, take pay cuts or give up tenure.
  • Twenty-one professors accepted buyout packages at Widener University School of Law in Wilmington, Del., and Harrisburg, Pa.
  • Seven professors accepted early retirement packages from the University of Dayton School of Law.
  • Seven untenured professors at Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark, N.J., have received notice that their contracts might not be renewed for the 2014-15 academic year.
  • The University of the Pacifics McGeorge School of Law in Sacramento, Calif., is accelerating plans to cut the size of the law school and use some of its campus for other graduate-level classes.

via Law schools cope with declining enrollment by quietly cutting faculty – ABA Journal.

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Is a Fourth Branch in the horizon?

The Washington Post has a very interesting article, which highlights the increased deferment of cases to government agencies.  Instead of going through the court system, many cases are increasingly going through administrative agencies instead.

The question posed here is whether the right for court accessibility being challenged?  The Washington Post raises its concerns:

The growing dominance of the federal government over the states has obscured more fundamental changes within the federal government itself: It is just not bigger, it is dangerously off kilter.  Our carefully constructed system of checks and balances is being negated by the rise of a fourth branch, an administrative state of sprawling departments and agencies that govern with increasing autonomy and decreasing transparency.

The Washington Post reports that the vast majority of laws governing the United States are not passed by Congress but are issued as regulations.  A study found that in 2007, Congress enacted 138 public laws, while federal agencies finalized 2,926 rules, including 61 major regulations.

The Washington Post also reports that a citizen is 10 times more likely to be tried by an agency instead of an actual court.  While federal judges conduct roughly 95,000 adjudicatory proceedings (including trials), federal agencies complete more than 939,000.

However, there are several items the Washington Post fails to mention.  The increasingly use of administrative agencies does not only fall upon the agency.

Take for example the individual’s decision to file a charge/claim.  Going through administrative agencies is more cost-effective.  Lawsuits in court have become more expensive.  Technology, electronic evidence, growth in documents and companies, among others, lead to a higher volume of issues and motions that increase the cost of litigation.  Given both alternatives, it makes sense that an individual might choose to go through an administrative agency.

For example, an individual going through the EEOC for a discrimination charge does not have to pay anything.  While an individual going through the court system may have to pay attorney fees and might be responsible for attorney fees.

 

 

Saying that, however, the issue of transparency and timing is highly concerning.  Administrative decisions are not public.  In addition, the length of an administrative decision might take several years.

via The rise of the fourth branch of government – The Washington Post.

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Misclassification of workers and the DOL’s take on it

Labor Employment Perspectives reports on a possible change that the Department of Labor (“DOL”) regarding classification of workers.

DOL suggests that it may push forward changes to the record keeping requirements under the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”) regulations.  These changes will bring to the forefront issues relating to the misclassification of workers as independent workers when they are, in fact, employees.

On January 11, 2013, the DOL requested comments on a public survey designed to look at worker classification and determine the workers’ knowledge and understanding of employment laws and rules regarding basic laws and misclassification.

The DOL states,

The purpose of this study is to design and administer a new survey to collect information about employment experiences and workers’ knowledge of basic employment laws and rules so as to better understand employees’ experience with worker misclassification…..

The data collection effort with this group will gather information about workers’ employment and pay arrangements and will measure workers’ knowledge about their current job classification, and their knowledge about the rights and benefits associated with their job status.

As a backdrop, in 2010, DOL commissioned a study, which found that 10% to 30% of audited firms for state unemployment insurance had one or more of its employees misclassified as independent contractors.  In the fall of 2010, the DOL proposed a change to the regulations regarding record keeping designed to “enhance the transparency and disclosure to workers of their status as the employer’s employee or some other status, such as an independent contractor…”

In other words, the regulations, if passed as suggested in 2010, would require employers to inform workers of whether they are (1) employees, (2) independent contractors, or (3) other status.  Currently, the law does not require this.

Given their renewed interest, as evidenced by the public survey focused on worker classification, FMLA regulations may change.

 

via Right-to-Know Regulations May Move Back to the Forefront; Time to Check If You Have Misclassified Your Workers! | Labor & Employment Law Perspectives.

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Admission to the MN Bar changes

On January 17, 2013, the Minnesota Supreme Court has affirmed changes to the admission to the Bar.  The amendments that changed the Rules of Admission are:

Definitions:  Rule 2A(12) definition of Uniform Bar Examination.  Under the new amendment, UBE is “an examination prepared by the National Conference of Bar Examiners (NCBE), comprised of six Multistate Essay Examination questions, two Multistate Performance Test questions, and the Multistate Bar Examination.  See amendments to Rule 7C (Admission by UBE score).

Requirements for Admission:  Rule 4A(4) was amended to state that an eligible applicant must provide satisfactory evidence of a passing score on the written examination under Rule 6 and is not eligible for admission under Rules 7A (Eligibility by Practice), 7B (Eligibility by MBE), 7C (Eligibility by UBE), 8, 9, or 10.

Requirements for Admission:  Rule4B was stricken.  Rule4B previously stated that the applicant had to be a resident of Minnesota or maintain an office in Minnesota or designate the Clerk of Appellate Courts as agent for service of process for all purposes.

The Examination:  Rule 6E(1) Essay Questions was amended to delete the following subjects:

  1. Civil Procedure (but note that the amendment added a Federal Civil Procedure subject);
  2. Ethics and Professional Responsibility;
  3. Federal Individual Income Taxation;
  4. Uniform Commercial Code Art. 1 &2 (but note that under the Contracts subject, the amendments include the UCC; as well as the new subject of Negotiable Instruments); and
  5. Wills, Estates and Trusts (but note that there is a new subject of Trusts and Estates).

The Examination:  Rule 6E(1) Essay Questions added the following subjects:

  1. Conflict of Laws;
  2. Federal Civil Procedure;
  3. Negotiable Instruments (Commercial Paper) under the UCC;
  4. Secured Transactions under the UCC; and
  5. Trusts and Estates.

The Examination:  Rule 6E(1) Essay Questions further stated what topics where covered under the following subjects:

  1. Business Associations – the subject no longer includes proprietorships;
  2. Contracts – the amendment stated the subject includes contracts under the UCC; and
  3. Trusts and Estates – the subject includes Decedents’ Estates, and Trusts and Future Interests

The Examination: Rule 6E(2) Multistate Performance Test stated there will be two 90-minute questions.  The prior rule stated one or two.

Admission Without Examination:  Rule 7A(C) Eligibility by UBE score was added to the ways an applicant may be admitted.  Rule 7A(C) states that the applicant might have received a certified scaled score of 260 or higher.  Rule 7A(C) also states the application must be completed within 36 months of the date of the examination.

Admission Without Examination:  Rule 7A(D) Transfer of MBE or UBE score was amended to add UBE.

Confidentiality and Release of Information:  Rule 14C(4) Examination of Data now includes the disclosure of the UBE.  In addition Rule 14C(5) specifies that the director may release copies of unsuccessful examinee’s answers to MEE and MPT questions.

via STATE OF MINNESOTA. (published by Minnesota Lawyer – subscription required).

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Update on NYPD’s surveillance and infiltration of Muslim groupds

Are Muslim communities being unfairly targeted by law enforcement?  This is the conversation being raised after the New York Civil Liberties Union sought to revisit a 41-year old case.

You may have heard about news articles discussing NYPD’s surveillance and infiltration of New York-based Muslim groups.  Last year, the Associated Press confirmed the existence of a program, called the Assessment Program, formerly known as the Demographics Unit, which spied on Muslims.

As way of background, in 1985, a Manhattan federal judge ordered a consent decree (known as “Handschu guidelines”) whereby the police is barred from investigating political and religious organizations without “specific information” linking the group to a crime.  In that case, Handschu v. Special Services Division, the police had extensive dossiers on a large array of political groups, including the Black Panthers.

After 9-11, the judge loosened the Handschu guidelines to give police wider powers to investigate political groups in the war on terror.

The New York Civil Liberties Union released a memorandum, submitted to the court, seeking to end the NYPD’s Assessment Program.  In the memorandum there is testimony stating that an informant was paid as much as $1,500 a month to take part in the NYPD’s alleged “create and capture” program.  The informant stated,

This meant I was to pretend to be a devout Muslim and start an inflammatory conversation about jihad or terrorism and then capture the respond to sent to the NYPD.

I did this on numerous occasions with people I met at the mosques and other locations.

The question to be decided is – how much latitude law enforcement given when conducting surveillance of political and religious groups?

As a side note, you may have also come across the story regarding the FBI’s surveillance on Muslims groups, known as “Operation Flex.”  That story has been reported in many news circles, including the Business Insider here.

via Courthouse News Service.

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Wisconsin labor fight heats up

Public school teachers filed a class action against a public school district that claims it can cut their pay at will and fine them up to $2,500 if they don’t sign their contracts on time.

The class action, which has a putative class size of 230 teachers, alleges that the school district’s contracts have illegal and unenforceable provisions.  For example, the contract allows

  1. The district to fire or reduced the pay and benefits of tenured teachers for vague and undefined reasons;
  2. The district can fine tenured teachers $1,000 to $2,500 if they don’t sign the contract by the time the school district wants it, or seek release from the contract.

The class action further claims:

  • The 2012-13 contracts illegally allow the district to “make salary adjustments ‘due to disciplinary action and/or changes in full-time equivalency warranted by the district,’” in violation of Wis. Stat. § 118.21;
  • The contracts illegally allow the district to cut salary and benefits “if in the sole discretion of the district, the educator fails to meet the expectations referenced in the contract, acts in a manner that is not in the best interests of the district’s students, fails to abide by the terms of the Employee Handbook, fails to carry out the duties and responsibilities of the job description, or if the district decides to reduce the professional staff for financial or other lawful reasons,” in violation of Wis. Stat. § 118.21, § 118.21, and state contract law; and
  • The contracts illegally set up “a liquidated damages schedule that begins assessing damages on June 1,” with fines beginning at $1,000, escalating to 2,500, for failing to sign contracts by June 15, or seeking release from contract; this “unlawfully assesses damages to teachers seeking release from their contracts prior to the statutory date for acceptance.”

The contracts state “that failure to return a signed contract … would result in non-renewal of the teacher’s contract,” the teachers say: “A stigma is attached to being non-renewed by a school district, as it suggests that a teacher’s employment was not continued for performance reasons or misconduct.”

The class cites violation of Wisconsin Statute 118.21, under which the school district must fix teachers’ wages, violation of Wisconsin Statute 118.22, under which the school district must set the contract acceptance date at June 15, and violation of Wisconsin Statute 118.23, under which it can terminate permanent only employees for good cause.

via Courthouse News Service.

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NLRB holds dues check-off survives CBA expiration

Recently, the NLRB released its decision (3-1) in WKYC-TV, in which the NLRB reversed the long-standing rule Bethelem Steel that agreements for dues checkoffs will not continue after the contract expires.

The new rule will not apply to pending cases.   The essence of the majority decision is that because dues checkoffs are mandatory subjects of bargaining, the normal Katz rule for such topics–that they must continue while a new contract is being negotiated–should apply unless there is a reason for an exception; the majority found that there wasn’t.  In making this conclusion, the majority distinguished clauses that involved the waiver of rights, like no-strike clauses.  The majority also criticized Bethelem Steel for treating dues checkoff provisions the same as union security clauses (in part because of its reading of Sections 8(a)(3) and 302(c)).

Member Hayes dissented, arguing that there was no evidence that the old rule wasn’t working. Further, he disagreed with the majority’s statutory interpretation.  He also stressed that limiting dues checkoffs to an active collective-bargaining agreement was more consistent with the concept of voluntary unionism.

via Workplace Prof Blog: Dues Check-Off Now Survives Contract Expiration.

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NLRB recent decisions

This is the list of the most recent and significant decisions decided by the NLRB:

Hispanics United of BuffaloThe Board found that the employer unlawfully fired five employees because of their Facebook posts and comments about a coworker who intended to complain to management about their work performance. In its analysis, the Board majority applied settled Board law to the new world of social media, finding that the Facebook conversation was concerted activity and was protected by the National Labor Relations Act. Member Hayes dissented.

Alan Ritchey, Inc. – In a unanimous decision that resolved the last of the two-member cases returned following the 2010 Supreme Court decision in New Process Steel, the Board found that where there is no collectively-bargained grievance-arbitration system in place, employers generally must give the union notice and an opportunity to bargain before imposing discipline such as a discharge or suspension on employees. Member Hayes was recused.

Latino Express In a decision that will affect most cases in which backpay is awarded, the Board decided to require respondents to compensate employees for any extra taxes they have to pay as a result of receiving the backpay in a lump sum. The Board will also require an employer ordered to pay back wages to file with the Social Security Administration a report allocating the back wages to the years in which they were or would have been earned. The Board requested briefs in this case in July 2012. Member Hayes did not participate in the case.

Chicago Mathematics & Science Academy – Rejecting the position of a teachers’ union, the Board found that it had jurisdiction over an Illinois non-profit corporation that operates a public charter school in Chicago. The non-profit was not the sort of government entity exempt from the National Labor Relations Act, the Board majority concluded, and there was no reason for the Board to decline jurisdiction. Member Hayes dissented in part.

United Nurses & Allied Professionals (Kent Hospital) – The Board, with Member Hayes dissenting, addressed several issues involving the rights of nonmember dues objectors under the Supreme Court’s Beck decision. On the main issue, the majority held that, like all other union expenses, lobbying expenses are chargeable to objectors, to the extent that they are germane to collective bargaining, contract administration, or grievance adjustment. The Board invited further briefing from interested parties on the how it should define and apply the germaneness standard in the context of lobbying activities.

WKYC-TV, Gannet Co. Applying the general rule against unilateral employer changes in terms and conditions of employment, the Board found that an employer’s obligation to collect union dues under a check-off agreement will continue after the contract expires and before a bargaining impasse occurs or a new contract is reached. Member Hayes dissented.

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Continued Dip in Number of Female Associates

The ABA Journal has this troubling trend to report:  a decline of female associate lawyers.

The percentage of female associates in law firms has fallen slightly for the third year in a row, even as women made small gains in partnership ranks, according to NALP, the Association for Legal Career Professionals.

Women made up 45.05 percent of associates in an “incremental but steady slide from 45.66 percent in 2009,” according to a NALP press release.

Women account for 19.91 percent of law firm partners, compared to 19.54 percent last year. Overall, women represent 32.67 percent of lawyers in law firms in 2012, compared with 32.61 percent in 2011 and 32.69 percent in 2010. The high water mark, reached in 2009, was 32.97 percent.

Minorities make up 20.32 percent of the associate ranks, up from 19.9 percent last year.Minority women are “the most dramatically underrepresented group” at the partnership level, comprising 2.16 percent of partners in 2012, the press release says.

via Continued Dip in Number of Female Associates Is Significant and Troubling Trend – News – ABA Journal.

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