John Balazs is an attorney in Sacramento, California, specializing in criminal defense, including appeals, habeas corpus, pardons, expungements, and civil forfeiture actions. After graduating from UCLA Law School in 1989, he clerked for Judge Harry Pregerson of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. John was an Assistant Federal Defender in Fresno and Sacramento from 1992-2001. He currently serves as an adjunct professor in clinical trial advocacy at the University of the Pacific McGeorge School of Law. Please email EDCA items of interest to Balazslaw@gmail.com. Follow me on twitter @balazslaw.
This blog is for informational purposes only. Nothing in this blog should be construed as legal advice. The law can change rapidly and information in this blog can become outdated. Do your own research or consult with an attorney.
For a year and a half, Jose Garcia-Alcazar has been sitting in jails in Richmond and Elk Grove while his lawyers fight the government’s efforts to deport him to his native Mexico. For more than six months now, Garcia-Alcazar, who has three children who are U.S. citizens, has not had a hearing to determine whether he is eligible for bail while the immigration courts figure out what to do with him.
Lawyers for the former car-wash employee in Rohnert Park call his extended stay in jail a case of indefinite detention. They also call it unconstitutional, and they say it stands in direct defiance of a 2011 appellate court ruling that guarantees incarcerated aliens a bail hearing – even if they have criminal records and made their way back to the United States after having already been deported. Garcia-Alcazar, 30, has drug convictions and once associated in Mexico with “coyotes” who smuggled people into the United States, one of his lawyers said.
Earlier this month, Garcia-Alcazar’s attorneys filed a lawsuit in federal court in Sacramento seeking class-action status to try to reinstate bail hearings for him and an untold number of other undocumented immigrants. In the lawsuit, the lawyers are challenging a memorandum issued by an immigration judge in San Francisco that says people like Garcia-Alcazar who return to the U.S. after being deported are not entitled to “redetermination” hearings that would give them a chance to make their case for bail.
While an immigration judge’s decisions are usually confined to his or her own courtroom, lawyers for Garcia-Alcazar say the one made by Anthony S. Murry on Dec. 12 has been reduced to an eight-page memo that is now being widely distributed. The plaintiff’s attorneys noted that the memo came out and that bail hearings began to be curtailed just a month after President Donald Trump was elected on a campaign that promised to build a wall across the southern border of the United States and cut off illegal immigration from Mexico.
“It is kind of weird that it started happening toward the end of the year,” said Joseph LaCome, the attorney who wrote the briefs in the case filed in Sacramento and who has filed similar lawsuits in Phoenix and San Francisco.
According to LaCome, it had been common practice in immigration courts before the election for judges to hold the bail hearings. He said such proceedings have since tailed off to “nothing.”
Plaintiff’s attorney LaCome, however, said he has been told by an attorney for the Office of the Chief Counsel – the arm of the Department of Homeland Security that prosecutes cases in immigration court – that Murry’s memorandum is now being distributed around the country, making the case to deny bail hearings to immigrants from coast to coast.
“The OCC attorney told me they took it and ran with it all over the 9th Circuit,” LaCome said. “The attorney told me it also was going all over the country.”
A spokesman for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which oversees the government’s lawyers in immigration courts, declined to comment on any pending case.
LaCome maintains in the suit, filed Feb. 9, that the Murry memorandum violates the 2011 Diouf decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that entitles aliens to bail hearings every six months, even if they have been rearrested after deportation.
The Garcia-Alcazar petition seeks “an immediate custody hearing before a federal district judge or magistrate, or an IJ (immigration judge) other than IJ Murry,” to determine whether the memorandum is lawful. It also wants to stop the U.S. Department of Justice, the Department of Homeland Security, the Executive Office of Immigration Review and U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement “from continuing their policy of influencing Immigration judges within this Circuit to deny Diouf bond hearings.”
After a four-day trial, a jury convicted Sacramento resident Mihran Melkonyan of wire and mail fraud involving a scheme in which the conspirators opened phony businesses to process fictitious American Express credit card charges. Also involved, a notorious Russian hacker known as "Non 202." The Sacramento Bee has the details on the case: one defendant convicted at trial, one skipped bail, one is being examined for mental competency, and a fourth pled guilty and testified for the government. No. 2:14-CR-083-GEB. In his closing, AFD Matt Bockman played the Trump card, referring to the federal prosecution being headed by President Donald J. Trump and Attorney General Jeff Beauregard Sessions. Expecting "alternative facts" arguments in the future.
Former Sacramento resident Silas Duane Boston, charged in the 1978 murder of two British tourists and suspected in the 1968 disappearance of his wife, has been hospitalized due to apparent complications from heart and liver disease, defense attorneys revealed in federal court Tuesday.
Boston’s medical issues came to light as federal prosecutors were asking a United States district judge to authorize in-court depositions for aging relatives of the two tourists, medical school graduate Christopher Farmer and his girlfriend, Peta Frampton.
One of Boston’s two attorneys, federal public defender Lexi Negin, said she was informed by Sacramento County jail officials that Boston has been hospitalized for nearly two weeks for “a very serious condition,” adding: “We are unsure if he is talking or conscious.”
A federal judge on Wednesday rejected a right-to-work lawsuit that sought to upend the way state government’s largest union collects dues from employees who do not want to fund political activities.
Judge William Shubb’s decision allows SEIU Local 1000 to continue registering employees with an “opt-out” format that requires them to explicitly withdraw from the union’s political campaigns if they oppose it.
The city of Sacramento has announced it has resolved a civil lawsuit in the July fatal police shooting of Joseph Mann, confirming reports from earlier in the week.
In an unattributed statement issued late Wednesday, the city said “there is no admission of liability on the part of the city,” but “at this time it is in the best interest of the city, and all parties to settle this matter.”
The city has agreed to pay $719,000 to Mann’s father, William Mann Sr., according to a source close to negotiations. The city did not immediately respond Thursday to a request to confirm the amount.
John Burris, a noted civil rights lawyer who represented William Mann, said that while the settlement amount was not as large as those given in other police-shooting cases across the country, the litigation was successful because it spurred police reforms.
Yesterday, according to this EDCA US Attorney press release, Judge Mendez sentenced Yan Ebyam to 6 years in prison for two separate conspiracies to grow and distribute marijuana in United States v. Ebyam, No. 2:11-CR-0275-JAM & 2:11-CR-0276-JAM.