National Roundup

New Jersey
Lawyers fight to keep Afghan man who helped the military in U.S.

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — An Afghan man who has been detained for five months since he tried to enter the United States on a special visa for people who helped the U.S. military should be released or at least be given a hearing to determine whether his detention is justified, his lawyers have argued to a federal judge.

The American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey announced Tuesday night that it has asked the U.S. District Court to immediately release the 25-year-old man or order that he receive a bond hearing. He wasn’t identified in court filings because of the safety issues.

The man was detained at Newark Liberty International Airport on March 13. Subsequently, government lawyers argued he voluntarily withdrew his application for admission to the U.S. in an interview with a Customs and Border Protection officer at the airport.

The ACLU says he worked for five years in dining services for the U.S. Armed Forces and U.S. Embassy, and his service to the U.S. military puts his life at risk in Afghanistan. But the government said in a court filing the man has “explicitly stated that he has no fear of returning to Afghanistan.”

Attorney Farrin Anello, noting that the man speaks limited English, said Wednesday that an asylum officer later interviewed him with an interpreter and determined he has a “credible fear” of persecution in Afghanistan based upon his work for the Americans. She said special immigrant visas are only granted to those who face an “ongoing danger.”

Federal Judge Jose Linares in Newark cleared the way for his deportation, ruling that he was unlikely to succeed in his case against the government because his visa was already revoked. But the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in March temporarily blocked Linares’ decision.

An immigration judge last week ruled that he would not hold a bond hearing and that the deportation case against the man would proceed. The man’s next immigration hearing is set for Sept. 6.

The ACLU argues the man was held without a lawyer for over 24 hours and the application withdrawal was involuntary because of the language barrier.

“Our client has been jailed for the past five months in a country that promised to welcome him. It’s an egregious violation of our Constitution,” ACLU-NJ Deputy Legal Director Jeanne LoCicero said. “At the very least, he is entitled to a bond hearing after his prolonged detention. But for his rights to be honored, the government needs to release him.”

Cops: Ex-officer was passed out with baby in car

PITTSBURGH (AP) — A woman who once worked as a police officer in the Pittsburgh suburbs is facing charges she was found passed out in her car with her newborn son in the backseat and was revived with an opioid antidote.

O’Hara Township police say officers responding to a call Sunday of a shirtless man wandering around found the 32-year-old woman in the car and her 29-year-old boyfriend sitting on a curb.

They say the woman was revived with Narcan. They say the boyfriend first said they had taken Percocet possibly laced with heroin then he said she was on Xanax.

Nicole Mautino and Anthony Schulli face charges including endangering the welfare of children. Lawyers for them weren’t listed in online court documents.

The infant wasn’t injured but taken to a hospital as a precaution.

New Jersey
Appeals court refuses to halt dune project that led to ponds

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — A federal appeals court has refused to halt a beach replenishment project in New Jersey that led to ponds of bacteria-laden water after a storm.

Judge Thomas Vanaskie, writing for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Tuesday, denied Margate’s request to stay a lower court ruling that allowed the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to continue. The lower court also had ordered the Army Corps to fence off any areas that had accumulated 2 or more inches of water, along with other conditions.

The ponds of standing water are exactly what Margate residents had warned of in previous, unsuccessful litigation against the government’s plan to build the protective sand dunes at the coastal town south of Atlantic City.

A lower court on Aug. 10 overturned a state judge’s ruling and granted the request by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to let the project in Margate continue.

The work is part of a statewide effort to protect New Jersey’s 127-mile coastline following the devastation that Superstorm Sandy caused in 2012. But Margate has opposed it as unnecessary and harmful to its shoreline, and now a public health hazard.

Civil rights group sues state prisons system

OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — The Nebraska chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union is following through with its promise to sue the state prisons system because it hasn’t taken significant steps to remedy what the group calls inhumane conditions.

The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit late Tuesday on behalf of 11 prisoners. It names the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, its director and various prison system officials.

The lawsuit blames prisoner overcrowding and dangerous understaffing for the deadly riots, staff assaults and escapes of recent years. The lawsuit takes the system to task for what it says is excessive use of solitary confinement and gross negligence of inmates’ medical and mental health issues.

The lawsuit, which seeks class-action status, asks for a court order to require state officials to fix those problems.

Mother of slain child: Sentence is ‘downright insult’

RUTLAND, Vt. (AP) — The mother of a 2-year-old girl whose death spurred changes in Vermont’s child protection system says the 13-year-sentence the girl’s stepfather was given is a “downright insult” to the memory of her daughter.

The Rutland Herald reports that Sandra Eastman spoke in court Tuesday at the sentencing of Dennis Duby, who pleaded guilty in May to a charge of second degree murder in the February 2014 death of Dezirae Sheldon, of Poultney.

At the time of Dezirae’s death Eastman was married to the now 35-year-old Duby. They have since divorced.

Duby said he would never forgive himself for his actions.

Dezirae’s death and that of another child two months later helped bring changes to Vermont’s child protection system, including increased staffing levels.


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