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Legal News for July

JURIST – News – Legal News & Commentary
Federal court denies motion to reconsider emptying of Dakota Access Pipeline
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 18:20:21 +0000

Judge James E. Boasberg, of the US District Court for the District of Columbia, denied an emergency motion by Dakota Access, LLC on Tuesday to stay his July 6 order directing the company to empty the Dakota Access pipeline (DAPL) within 30-days.

Since July 2016, the Standing Rock Sioux and Cheyenne River Sioux Tribes, along with several environmental groups, have challenged the validity of the federal permits which allowed the DAPL to carry oil under Lake Oahe, the main source of drinking water for the nearby tribes. Judge Boasberg’s July 6 opinion noted that the “U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had violated the National Environmental Policy Act [NEPA] when it granted an easement to Defendant-Intervenor Dakota Access, LLC to construct and operate a segment of that crude-oil pipeline running beneath the lake.” The violation occurred “because the Corps had failed to produce an Environmental Impact Statement [EIS] despite conditions that triggered such a requirement.” This failure resulted in the matter being remanded to the Corps back on June 14, 2017 for the preparation of an EIS and a separate briefing on the appropriate interim remedy.

However, over the years following the remand, the parties continued to battle over whether an EIS was required, each side moving for summary judgment. Ultimately, Judge Boasberg held in his July 6, 2020 opinion that the permits should be vacated pending the remand to the Corps. Under the test articulated in Allied-Signal, Inc. v. Director, Division of Taxation, the court reasoned that vacatur was the only appropriate remedy “given the seriousness of the Corps’ NEPA error, the impossibility of a simple fix, the fact that Dakota Access did assume much of its economic risk knowingly, and the potential harm [to nearby Tribes] each day the pipeline operates.”

Dakota Access filed a notice of appeal immediately following the July 6 order and according to the latest docket updates, “the Court will set a status hearing to discuss scheduling as soon as it receives Dakota Access’s motion for a stay pending appeal.”

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Category: South Dakota
US and China impose mutual visa restrictions over Tibet
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 21:02:37 +0000

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian announced Wednesday that China would impose visa restrictions on US personnel “behaving badly” on Tibet-related issues. The announcement followed US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s Tuesday announcement that visa restrictions on certain Chinese officials would be imposed under the Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act of 2018, for the lack of “fair, transparent and reciprocal treatment” from the People’s Republic of China.

The Reciprocal Access Act seeks to deny access to the US for Chinese officials known to be involved in restricting visits to Tibet. The visa restrictions are applicable to an unspecified number of Chinese government and Chinese Communist Party officials determined to be “substantially involved in the formulation or execution of policies related to access for foreigners to Tibetan areas”.

Pompeo’s announcement came a day after US Senate approval of a bill laying out economic sanctions against Chinese officials and Hong Kong police, as well as banks doing transactions with them.

Pompeo said that China continued systematically to obstruct travel to the Tibetan Autonomous Region (TAR) and other Tibetan areas by US diplomats and other officials, journalists, and tourists, while Chinese officials and other citizens enjoy far greater access to the United States.

He concluded his statement by saying that the US will continue to work to advance the sustainable economic development, environmental conservation, and humanitarian conditions of Tibetan communities within China and abroad.

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Category: visa
United Kingdom domestic violence bill approved by House of Commons
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 19:01:45 +0000

The UK Domestic Abuse Bill was approved by the House of Commons on Monday. The bill introduces new clauses to better protect domestic violence victims in the UK.

The bill which was first introduced a year ago has moved onto the second reading in the House of Lords. The bill will include a clause banning the “rough sex defence” which has been controversially used as a defense for serious harm. The catalyst for change came from the case of Natalie Connolley, whose partner was cleared of murder after using the rough sex defense in court.

The Domestic Abuse Bill will further introduce the first legal definition of domestic violence in the UK, recognizing children as domestic abuse victims, as well as including non-physical behavior such as coercive and controlling behavior. However, campaigners have cautioned that the definition of domestic violence included in the bill could lead to the omission of protection for migrant women who are victims of domestic violence.

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Category: United Kingdom
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
DOJ announces $2.2M funding to law enforcement agencies focused on community policing projects
Wed, 08 Jul 2020 20:00:14 +0000

The US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Tuesday that it will provide $2.2 million in funding to local law enforcement agencies that are focused on community policing projects.

This funding, which is through the Department’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Service (COPS Office) Community Policing Developing (CPD) Microgrants Program, provided awards ranging from $15,090 to $100,000. There were 29 awards granted overall, distributed in 21 different states.

The funds were awarded to applicants to help local, state, and tribal law enforcement agencies implement community policing strategies. Applicants had to propose projects that would advance crime fighting, community engagement, problem solving, or organizational changes to support community policing.

CPD Microgrants fund projects related to, among other things, hate crimes, human trafficking, violent crime, and youth engagement. The Narragansett Police Department in Rhode Island was awarded $99,993 to expand its response to individuals dealing with mental health issues. 

COPS Office Director Phil Keith stated, “The CPD Microgrants Program is a critical resource to advance innovative community policing projects across the country. These strategic investments from the COPS Office pay huge dividends to state and local law enforcement agencies and the communities that they serve.”

 

 

 

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Category: domestic