I began this blog in May 2009 following the death of Marcia Powell at Perryville State Prison in Goodyear, Arizona. It is not intended to prescribe the path that leads to freedom from the prison industrial complex.

Rather, these are just my observations in arguably the most racist, fascist, militaristic state in the nation at a critical time in history for a number of intersecting liberation movements. From Indigenous resistance to genocidal practices, to the fight over laws like SB1070 and the ban on Ethnic Studies, Arizona is at the center of many battles for human rights, and thus the struggle for prison abolition as well - for none are free until all are. I retired the blog in APRIL 2013.

Visit me now at Arizona Prison Watch or Survivors of Prison Violence-AZ

Thursday, December 3, 2009

"Streamline" Immigration Hearings unlawful: Rule 11

From No More Deaths:

Dear No More Deaths Supporters:

Below is great news about ending Operation Streamline!  The 9th Circuit Court ruled these trials illegal and have been told they must stop holding these hearings!!  This is great news; hopefully, these trials (held in Tucson daily) will end immediately. 

The problem generated by the massive caseload on the court understandably led the court to adopt a shortcut. Abstractly considered, the shortcut is not only understandable but reasonable. 

The shortcut, however, does not comply with
Rule 11. We cannot permit this rule to be disregarded in the name of efficiency nor to be violated because it is too demanding for a district court to observe. We act within a system maintained by the rules of procedure. We cannot dispense with the rules without setting a precedent subversive of the structure.

Accordingly, on this challenge by an intrepid federal
public defender to the Tucson court’s taking of pleas en masse, we hold the procedure to be contrary to Rule 11.”

Or, read the AP article:

Court: Mass criminal immigration hearings unlawful
By ALICIA A. CALDWELL (AP) – 12 hours ago

EL PASO, Texas — Immigrants who have been arrested in zero-tolerance zones along the Mexican border must not be tried at mass criminal immigration hearings because the proceedings violate federal rules, an appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A three-judge panel with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that a federal court in Tucson, Ariz. — where mass hearings have been held for defendants arrested by U.S. Border Patrol agents — had violated Rule 11, which requires that each defendant be read their rights and be given an explanation of what a guilty plea means.

Any immigrants found in zero-tolerance zones established along the Mexican border under Operation Streamline can be arrested and prosecuted in a federal court on charges of illegal entry.

The program was initially credited with curbing illegal border crossings, but critics have long argued that immigrants are pushed through the system without being given a chance to fairly defend themselves or understanding the proceedings.

Most immigrants scooped up under those circumstances answer "yes" en masse when asked if they understand their rights and the consequences of pleading guilty, according to the ruling posted on the court's Web site. Most are not individually questioned by the judge, it said.

In a 19-page ruling, U.S. Circuit Judge John T. Noonan, said the mass hearings were understandable, given the number of immigration cases.

"Abstractly considered, the shortcut is not only understandable but reasonable," Noonan wrote in the ruling. "The shortcut, however, does not comply with Rule 11. We cannot permit this rule to be disregarded in the name of efficiency nor to be violated because it is too demanding for a district court to observe."

Jason Hannan, Tucson's assistant federal public defender who argued the case, did not immediately respond to a request from The Associated Press for comment.

Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis K. Burke, whose Tucson office handled the appealed cases, said some procedures would be changed as a result of the Appeals Court decision.

"While changes will have to be made to some change-of-plea proceedings to comply with the Ninth Circuit's decision, we are confident that the decision will not adversely impact our ability to prosecute individuals who violate the laws of the United States," Burke said in a written statement.
Copyright © 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Laura Ilardo
No More Deaths-Phoenix

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