Montebello Criminal

Legal News for July

JURIST – News – Legal News & Commentary
UN investigation concludes Syrian, Russian air strikes on Idlib infrastructure were war crimes
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 18:35:02 +0000

A United Nations Human Rights Council report released on Tuesday concluded that Syrian and Russian airstrikes on civilian infrastructure in Syria’s Idlib province amounted to war crimes.

The report assessed events that happened in Idlib province between November 1, 2019, and June 1, 2020. During this time, Idlib province was controlled by an armed group called Haya’t Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a UN-designated terrorist group. Idlib province was the only Syrian region not controlled by the government. Towards the end of 2019, Syrian and Russian forces attempted to recapture the Idlib province.

The Syrian government and Russian Aerospace Forces carried out both land and air attacks, which destroyed civilian infrastructure. Both the government-aligned forces and HTS took part in 52 attacks that led to civilian casualties or damage to civilian infrastructure. The attacks included 17 attacks on hospitals and medical facilities as well as 14 attacks on schools.

According to the report, the efforts of the pro-government forces caused Syrian children, women, and men to endure “unfathomable suffering,” in which hundreds of individuals were killed. Civilians were also allegedly indiscriminately subjected to aerial bombings, ground shelling, arrests, torture, and pillaging. As a result of the fighting, there has also been mass displacement from the region.

UN Commissioner Karen Koning AbuZayd stated, “The acts by HTS members amount to war crimes.” The report added that the Syrian and Russian airstrikes also amounted to war crimes.

The report urged all groups in the Syrian conflict to stop attacks on civilians and civilian objects. It also urged each group to take accountability for their actions during the war.

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Category: war crimes
Movement for Black Lives introduces proposed BREATHE Act
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 19:21:06 +0000

The Movement for Black Lives coalition unveiled proposed federal legislation Tuesday seeking to radically transform the US criminal justice system.

The proposals, collectively referred to as the BREATHE Act, follow protests against the police killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Rayshard Brooks, and Elijah McClain, as well as countless other individuals who perished at the hands of police years ago. This legislation seeks to “divest our taxpayer dollars from brutal and discriminatory policing and invests in a new vision of public safety—a vision that answers the call to defund the police and allows all communities to finally BREATHE free.”

The BREATHE Act has four main goals—divert federal resources from jails and police, invest in other methods of community safety, allot funds to rebuilding communities, and hold law enforcement officials accountable for civil rights violations. The act seeks to accomplish its first goal by eliminating federal programs used to support the criminal justice system. The policing, prosecution, sentencing, and jailing practices used in the criminal justice system adversely impact black and brown communities. Through this first goal, the BREATHE Act seeks to reverse the deleterious effects these communities experience on a daily basis. The second goal aims to provide community-led approaches to public safety by defunding local police forces. The act seeks to implement its third goal by promoting educational judgment, which would provide equal funding among all public institutions, close youth detention centers and replace them with community-based, rehabilitation focused centers and remove both armed police and security guards and surveillance equipment from schools. The last goal seeks to prevent voter suppression and disenfranchisement, which currently affects black and brown communities at a greater rate than white communities.

The four goals articulated in the BREATHE act seek to fulfill the Movement for Black Lives’ mission, which is:

“We are rising up against all the ways that the criminal-legal system has harmed and failed to protect Black communities. The current moment requires a solution that fundamentally shifts how we envision community-care and invest in our society. History is clear that we cannot achieve genuine safety and liberation until we abandon police, prisons, and all punishment paradigms.”

Members of Congress have yet to comment on whether they will introduce the BREATHE Act.

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Category: Uncategorized
Harvard, MIT file lawsuit to stop Trump policy prohibiting international students from staying in US if schools go online
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 20:04:45 +0000

Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) filed suit this morning after ICE announced that they were rescinding the COVID-19 exemption for international students who are currently attending US universities.

The complaint emphasizes that this is a direct contradiction to the earlier stance taken by the administration. The federal government is retracting their stance that they recognized initially which was that public safety was met by universities if they were able to continue their mission of educating, virtually.  Directly from the lawsuit, the plaintiffs pointed out that “on March 13, 2020, this recognition took the form of an ‘exemption’ issued by the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) to a preexisting rule that students in the country on certain nonimmigrant student visas (“F-1” visas) must attend most classes in person.” Due to ICE’s realization of the severity of this situation and acknowledging the value that international students hold in our higher education, “ICE provided that students holding those nonimmigrant visas could attend remote classes while retaining their visa status. At this time, the government made clear that this arrangement was ‘in effect for the duration of the emergency.'”

This guarantee by the government to keep this arrangement in effect for the entire emergency is particularly scrutinized by the plaintiffs. They argue that this contradiction hurts the entire industry, as most have been making plans to remain virtual to keep the community safe. They highlight that leading scientists and doctors have all stressed the need to limit large indoor human-to-human contact and this order clearly ignores that expert advice. As such, the suit declares that this announcement is forcing universities to reconsider their already “carefully calibrated, thoughtful, and difficult decisions to proceed with their curricula fully or largely online in the fall of 2020” in order to keep all of us safe.

The lawsuit also points out that this hurts the Higher Education industry in financial ways as well.  With hundreds of thousands of students being shipped home, the loss of income for an already struggling economy will be substantial.  The plaintiffs also were sure to highlight the great role that having diverse universities play on all of the student’s academic experiences. They indicated that this will have severe impacts on the role that international students play for creating the necessary diversity that our institutions need to foster optimal academics.

On count I, Harvard and MIT refer to a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act § 706 for being arbitrary and capricious due to the fact ICE fails to consider vital components of the problem before making the decision.  Citing precedent from Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass’n of United States, Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983) the plaintiff explains that “the APA requires this Court to hold unlawful and set aside any agency action that is “arbitrary, capricious, an abuse of discretion … or otherwise not in accordance with the law.” 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). Agency action that is not the product of reasoned decision-making is arbitrary and capricious.”  Even further supporting their claim with the recent case of Department of Homeland Sec. v. Regents of the Univ. of Calif., No. 18-587, 2020 WL 3271746, at *13 (U.S. June 18, 2020) which held “An agency that “entirely fail[s] to consider an important aspect of the problem” before it has acted in an arbitrary and capricious manner.”

On count II, they indicate another violation of the Administrative Procedure Act § 706 for being arbitrary and capricious as another violation.  That being, “because [the decision] fails to offer any reasoned basis that could justify the policy.”

Count III points to the “Violation of Administrative Procedure Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 553, 706) The July 6 Directive Violates The APA’s Requirement Of Notice-And-Comment Rule-making” This count relies on the precedent that the Court is to hold an agency action such as ICE’s on July 6 as unlawful when it does not meet the procedural requirements outlined by law 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(D).

As a result, the plaintiffs are requesting a temporary restraining order along with preliminary and permanent injunctive relief that will prevent the Defendants, Trump’s administration and ICE the right to enforce this policy announced on July 6.

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Category: trump
US Supreme Court rules land in eastern Oklahoma remains Native American reservation
Thu, 09 Jul 2020 16:25:18 +0000

The Supreme Court ruled Thursday in a 5-4 vote that a large part of Oklahoma remains a Native American reservation, with Justice Gorsuch authoring the majority opinion.

The issue before the court was whether the eastern half of Oklahoma is a Native American reservation, which would be exempt from local and state control.

Jimcy McGirt, a Native American man who was convicted of sex crimes against a child in Oklahoma state court, went before the Court. He argued that because he is a member of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation and the alleged crime took place on tribal land, he is not subject to the jurisdiction of local and state courts. Instead, he claimed to be subject to Creek Nation’s jurisdiction and federal jurisdiction.

Oklahoma argued that land must be “reserved from sale” to be considered a reservation. The Court disagreed, relying on the 1833 treaty that promised a permanent home for the Creek Nation, “so long as they shall exist as a nation, and continue to occupy the country hereby assigned to them.” An 1856 treaty later promised the Creek Nation the right of self-government.

Once a treaty establishes a reservation, only Congress can alter it. The Court found that Congress did not eliminate the reservation.

Justice Gorsuch wrote:

The federal government promised the Creek a reservation in perpetuity. Over time, Congress has diminished that reservation. It has sometimes restricted and other times expanded the Tribe’s authority. But Congress has never withdrawn the promised reservation. As a result, many of the arguments before us today follow a sadly familiar pattern.

Continuing, Justice Gorsuch claimed the pattern of unkept promises needs to end and reminded the court, “If Congress wishes to withdraw its promises, it must say so.”

Justice Roberts filed a dissenting opinion, which Justices Alito, Thomas, and Kavanaugh joined. Justice Thomas also filed a separate dissent.

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Category: supreme court of the united states
US Supreme Court rules Catholic schools cannot be sued for employment discrimination
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 19:07:28 +0000

The Supreme Court announced its opinion in the case of Our Lady of Guadalupe School v Morrissey-Berru on Wednesday. The Court ruled in favor of the Catholic schools, shielding them from employment discrimination suits under the First Amendment’s “ministerial exception.”

The lawsuit concerned two women who filed for employment discrimination from two Californian Catholic schools after their contracts were terminated. The Catholic schools used the 2012 Supreme Court’s “ministerial exception” precedent to argue that they were protected from employment discrimination suits, in order to “protect religious freedoms.” The legal issue justices ruled on was whether the termination of Biel and Morrisey-Berru’s employment qualified as ministers under the 2012 rule.

The 7-2 ruling deciding in favor of the schools reiterated that federal employment discrimination law did not apply to teachers in religion at church-run schools. The decision thus concluded that “the constitutional language that protects religious freedom barred [employees] from suing their religious schools for employment discrimination.”

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Category: Supreme Court