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. 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 The law can change rapidly and information in this blog can become outdated.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.
At a hearing this morning, Judge Damrell denied the Sekhon defendants' motions for new trial and/or judgment of acquittal. The only exception was Caza's motion for acquittal on count 11, which the court set for further briefing before decision.
The sentencings for all Sekhon & Sekhon defendants have been continued to April 16, 2010, at 10 a.m. The hearing on the defendants' motions for judgment of acquittal and for a new trial has been continued to February 19, 2010, at 10 a.m. Defendant Jagdip Sekhon's forfeiture trial has been continued to April 9, 2010, at 10 a.m.
The sentencings for all five defendants in the U.S. v. Sekhon, et. al. case have been continued to February 19, 2010, at 10 a.m. The Court also continued the hearing on defendants' motions for new trial and/or judgment of acquittal to January 22, 2010, at 10 a.m.
Steve Maganini's insightful piece in today's Sacramento Beehighlights the difficulties facing immigration judges in evaluating asylum claims. The article also notes that the San Francisco asylum office is interviewing each of the up to 700 former Sekhon clients to determine whether the government should seek to revoke their asylum.
For years, Sacramento's Sekhon & Sekhon law firm was renowned as a beacon of hope.
The firm, boasting a 95 percent success rate, helped more than 1,000 immigrants from a half-dozen nations get political asylum in the United States based on a fear of persecution.
Many of those new asylees now stand to be deported, because as many as 700 – coached by the firm's lawyers and interpreters – told phony stories of torture and rape to immigration judges and asylum officers.
In June, following a three-month trial in Sacramento's federal court, three of the firm's lawyers and two interpreters were convicted of conspiracy to defraud the government. Prosecutors call it one of the most brazen immigration scams in U.S. history.
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In the wake of the Sekhon case, the San Francisco asylum office is interviewing each of the 700 people caught up in the scam to decide whether to revoke their asylum.
If the government ends up sending hundreds of cases back to immigration court, they're going to pose a tremendous challenge, Judge Marks said.
"These are going to be hotly contested cases as to whether or not the person who says he was prejudiced by an unethical lawyer deserves a second chance," Marks said. "We're going to have to work through them case by case, judge by judge, and it's the judge's job not to be cynical and burned out."
While the other defendants remain scheduled to be sentenced on December 17, 2009, Jagprit Sekhon's sentencing has been continued to January 11, 2010, at 10 a.m. A forfeiture court trial with respect to his brother Jagdip Sekhon has also been set for November 13, 2009, at 10 a.m.