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Category Archives: Civil Liberties

Asylum Outcome Increasingly Depends on Judge Assigned

Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse: “The outcome for asylum seekers has become increasingly dependent upon the identity of the immigration judge assigned to hear their case. While judge-to-judge decision disparities have long existed, a detailed comparison of asylum decisions handed down by judges sitting on the same Immigration Court bench showed that differences in judge denial rates have significantly increased during the last six years. Nationally, the average decision disparity in asylum cases worsened by 27 percent. Substantial increases in decision disparity in particular were seen in the Newark, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Antonio, Arlington, Baltimore, San Diego, Chicago and Boston courts. Overall the median level of asylum decision disparity that asylum seekers face is now over 56 percentage points. That is, the particular judge assigned the asylum seeker changed the odds of receiving asylum by over 56 percentage points. For example, while the specific ranges differed by court, the typical asylum seeker might have only a 15 percent change of being granted asylum all the way up to a 71 percent chance depending on the particular judge assigned to hear the case. The growing backlog of cases has also increased pressures to expedite proceedings. Other administrative courts facing management pressure to quicken case processing have had the unintended consequence of actually increasing decision disparity. It would not be surprising if pressures on immigration judges to speed decision making, along with the reduced time available for training and discussion on the practical challenges in deciding asylum cases, may also have been a source of the increasing asylum decision disparities that has occurred. For more details, including specific figures on each Immigration Court, see the full report at: http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/447/. To view a particular judge’s report, go to: http://trac.syr.edu/immigration/reports/judgereports/.”

Testimony of Scott Amey about Burdens of Overclassification and Government Secrecy

Testimony of Scott Amey, General Counsel Project On Government Oversight (POGO) before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform “Examining the Costs of Overclassification on Transparency and Security” December 7, 2016. “…Thank you for inviting me to testify today about the state of the federal government’s classification system. I am Scott Amey, General Counsel… Continue Reading

Census Bureau Releases 2016 Determinations for Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act

“The U.S. Census Bureau released today a list of 263 jurisdictions across the nation that must provide language assistance during elections for groups of citizens who are unable to speak or understand English adequately enough to participate in the electoral process. These determinations are pursuant to specifications, as amended in July 2006, in the Voting… Continue Reading

Snowden interviewed by Yahoo News in Russia

“In an exclusive interview in Russia with Yahoo Global News Anchor Katie Couric, Edward Snowden, the fugitive whistleblower who leaked information about U.S. surveillance activities, says he is “kind of encouraged” by the idea that Russian President Vladimir Putin might return him to the U.S. to stand trial because that would show the world he’s… Continue Reading

New on LLRX – Legal Tech Evangelist Calls for Engagement on Civil Liberties Post Election

Via LLRX.com – Legal Tech Evangelist Calls for Engagement on Civil Liberties Post Election. Nicole Black, a Rochester, New York attorney and Legal Technology Evangelist delivers a clarion call for colleagues to expand their engagement with groups that work for civil liberties in the United States. Continue Reading

The Terrorist Screening Database and Preventing Terrorist Travel

CRS – The Terrorist Screening Database and Preventing Terrorist Travel. Jerome P. Bjelopera, Specialist in Organized Crime and Terrorism; Bart Elias, Specialist in Aviation Policy; Alison Siskin, Specialist in Immigration Policy. November 7, 2016. “After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the federal government developed a unified regimen to identify and list known or… Continue Reading

The New Era of Secret Law

Brennan Center for Justice – New Report: “Secret Law” Governs Key Aspects of National Security Policy – “At least 74 opinions, memoranda, and letters issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) between 2002 and 2009 on core post-9/11 national security topics, including intelligence activities and the detention and interrogation of terrorist suspects,… Continue Reading

EFF Fighting NSL Gag Orders With Help From CREDO and Internet Archive

News release: “…EFF has been litigating the constitutionality of NSLs on behalf of unnamed clients in a total of three related court cases beginning in 2011. This week, telecom provider CREDO confirmed that it was the company involved in one of these long-running cases, and published the letters it received three years ago. CREDO, represented… Continue Reading

24/7 Wall St – Ranking Gender Inequality in All 50 States

“For many Americans, the election of Donald Trump represents a step back for the feminist movement. Whether or not the president-elect’s policies will result in meaningful progress for women’s rights, there remain severe inequalities the nation has yet to overcome. These issues include a gender pay gap, a lack of flexibility in the workplace during… Continue Reading

Commentary – Social Media Is Killing Discourse Because It’s Too Much Like TV

MIT Technology Review – Social Media Is Killing Discourse Because It’s Too Much Like TV We need more text and fewer videos and memes in the age of Trump. November 29, 2016. “…The problem with today’s Internet, driven less by text and hypertext (hyperlink-enriched text), is that it not only shares many of TV’s ills… Continue Reading

Internet Archive requests donations for a backup to be housed in Canada

This posting today by the Internet Archive’s Brewster Kahle – Help Us Keep the Archive Free, Accessible, and Private, is significant for all of us who use this resource, be it as as educators, librarians, attorneys, advocates for civil liberties, students, or as citizens or residents of the United States.  Brewster states: “We are building… Continue Reading

GAO Report on Whistleblower Protection

Whistleblower Protection: Additional Actions Would Improve Recording and Reporting of Appeals Data, GAO-17-110: Published: Nov 28, 2016. Publicly Released: Nov 28, 2016: “How can we better protect federal whistleblowers? The Whistleblower Protection Enhancement Act of 2012 seeks to strengthen the rights of and protections for federal whistleblowers. We found that the Merit Systems Protection Board—which… Continue Reading