LEGAL NEWS ROUNDUP

Chad Klitzman, CLS’18

The Supreme Court has refused the Obama administration’s request for a rehearing of United States v. Texas. A 4-4 decision last term resulted in the upholding of a Texas court’s decision to blockade the implementation of President Obama’s executive actions for undocumented immigrants. In the event of a tie on the Supreme Court, the lower court’s decision is affirmed. The controversial program at issue, Deferred Action for Parents of Americans (DAPA), could assist more than four million undocumented immigrants who have lived in the United States since 2010 and who have children who are either American citizens or permanent residents. [Source: CNN / CBS News]

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that indigent criminal defendants may sue for alleged inadequate funding in a Pennsylvania public defender’s office. The criminal indigents maintained that their inadequate representation resulted in impairments to their 6th and 14th Amendment rights to counsel. According to Mary Catherine Roper of the ACLU, this decision will give criminal defendants the requisite standing to sue on the basis of inadequate public defender funding. [Source: ABA Journal]

President Obama commuted 102 sentences this week and has set a record for the greatest number of commutations in one year (590). In total, the President has commuted more than 774 sentences – more than the previous 11 presidents combined. The vast majority of the commutations are for drug crimes. White House Counsel Neil Eggleston explained that “The vast majority of [the grants] were for individuals serving unduly harsh sentences for drug-related crimes under outdated sentencing laws.” [Source: ABA Journal / USA Today]

Summer and Rusty Page are fighting to regain custody of their foster child in the face of the Indian Child Welfare Act, which was crafted in order to protect Native American children from large exercises of power by child welfare agencies. The legislation aimed to curtail the high percentage of Indian families broken up by the removal of their children, often without just cause, but the Pages contend that the law actually results in Indian children receiving disparate treatment – often resulting in placement against their own interests. [Source: ABA Journal]