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June 2011 Archives

June 3, 2011

NOMINEES ANNOUNCED FOR HOLLADAY CITY JUSTICE COURT VACANCY

Holladay, UT—The Salt Lake County Nominating Commission has selected three nominees for an upcoming vacancy in the Holladay City Justice Court. The position will replace Judge Daniel B. Gibbons who has announced his retirement effective July 5, 2011.

Following are the nominees for vacancy followed by place of employment and residence:

Augustus G. Chin, J.D., Wasatch Advocates, Salt Lake City;
Clinton D. Jensen, J.D., Administrative Law Judge, Utah State Tax Commission, Salt Lake City;
Judge Sydney J. Magid, J.D., Salt Lake City Corp., Sydney Magid, PC, Salt Lake City.

A comment period will be held through June 13, 2011, before a final candidate is selected by the Holladay City Manager Randy Fitts, who has 30 days to make an appointment, which is subject to ratification by the Holladay City Council. The Utah Judicial Council must then certify the appointments. To submit written comments about the candidates, contact Shari Veverka, Administrative Office of the Courts, shariv@email.utcourts.gov.

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June 7, 2011

June 2011 e.Bulletin


MESSAGE FROM PRESIDENT ROBERT L. JEFFS
LAST CHANCE - 2011 Summer Convention in San Diego

Time is slipping away to book your July 6 – 9 Summer Convention getaway to San Diego, California. Our room block will expire on June 15th. White sand beaches, sunny weather and sparkling CLE are the ingredients for a great Summer escape. Disneyland is offering special half-day tickets, allowing us to get our CLE in the morning and have an afternoon and evening of family fun. Tickets to other San Diego area attractions are also available through our website. Among our convention highlights is the Honorable Dale A. Kimball who will speak to us on the importance of lawyers and judges in American life. Other keynote speakers include Dr. Kelly K. Matthews who will discuss the economic outlook and Dr. Noel C. Gardner who will regale us on personality disorders in the legal arena. View the convention program, room arrangements and local attraction tickets at http://www.utahbar.org/cle/summerconvention/Welcome.html. Don’t miss out – please plan to join us at this memorable event!

Continue reading "June 2011 e.Bulletin" »

June 22, 2011

Courts to gauge public's view of the judiciary

COURT CONDUCTING SURVEY TO DETERMINE
PUBLIC’S VIEW OF JUDICIARY

Salt Lake City, UT—The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) is conducting a survey this summer to gauge the experience of people who are doing business with the Utah State Courts. The Access and Fairness Survey is being conducted to measure the public’s experience and expectations of the courts.

“The court will use the data to ensure the public continues to have access to justice and is treated fairly in the courts,” said Utah State Court Administrator Dan Becker. “Knowing how the public feels about our performance will help us provide better service.”

Survey specialists will administer the Access and Fairness Survey June and July, 2011. Responses are collected for one day at 35 court sites. Every person at the courthouse that day is eligible to participate, except people visiting an agency other than the court. The survey is administered as people leave the courthouse.

Past survey results have shown that the majority of respondents had a positive perception about their court visit, felt Utah’s courts were accessible, and that court employees are respectful and responsive in working with the public.

The survey results also identified areas where performance fell short of the public’s expectations. Respondents said they would like more information on the work of the courts and self-represented litigant resources. In addition, a notable percentage of court users reported dissatisfaction with the time needed to complete their courthouse visit. The courts have used such findings to increase the amount of information and type of services that are available on the court website and expand self-help services.

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June 27, 2011

Justice Court Vacancy in Salt Lake City posted

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 27, 2011
Contact: Nancy Volmer
(801) 578-3994
Cell: (801) 712-4545

SALT LAKE CITY JUSTICE COURT JUDICIAL VACANCY POSTED

Salt Lake City, Utah—Applications are being accepted for a Justice Court judge position in Salt Lake City. The position will replace Judge Holly M. Barringham who is resigning effective July 29, 2011.

To be considered for the position, candidates must be at least 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States, a Utah resident for at least three years, and have earned a high school diploma or GED. In addition, candidates must be a resident of the county in which the court is located—or an adjacent county—for at least six months.

Information on judicial retention and performance evaluation is posted on the Utah State Court’s website at www.utcourts.gov under employment opportunities. An application for judicial office form must be completed and is available on the court’s website. The annual salary range for the part-time position is between $33,038 and $59,468. For benefits information, contact Jessica Weaver, Salt Lake City Corporation senior human resources consultant, at (801) 535-6615.

The deadline for applications is July 11, 2011 at 5 p.m. and should be sent to the attention of Shari Veverka, Administrative Office of the Courts, P.O. Box 140241, Salt Lake City, UT 84114-0241 or faxed to (801) 578-3843. For more information, e-mail shariv@email.utcourts.gov or call (801) 578-3844.

Utah law requires that a local county Justice Court Nominating Commission be created with representatives appointed from the county commission, the municipalities, and the local Bar Association. The Salt Lake County Nominating Commission is tasked with submitting three to five names to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker for consideration. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Salt Lake City Council and certification by the Utah Judicial Council.

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Nancy Volmer
Public Information Office
Utah State Courts
nancyv@email.utcourts.gov
(801) 578-3994
(801) 712-4545
Fax: (801) 578-3843
www.utcourts.gov
Ensuring Justice for All.

SALT LAKE CITY JUSTICE COURT JUDICIAL VACANCY POSTED

Salt Lake City, Utah—Applications are being accepted for a Justice Court judge position in Salt Lake City. The position will replace Judge Holly M. Barringham who is resigning effective July 29, 2011.

To be considered for the position, candidates must be at least 25 years of age, a citizen of the United States, a Utah resident for at least three years, and have earned a high school diploma or GED. In addition, candidates must be a resident of the county in which the court is located—or an adjacent county—for at least six months.

Information on judicial retention and performance evaluation is posted on the Utah State Court’s website at www.utcourts.gov under employment opportunities. An application for judicial office form must be completed and is available on the court’s website. The annual salary range for the part-time position is between $33,038 and $59,468. For benefits information, contact Jessica Weaver, Salt Lake City Corporation senior human resources consultant, at (801) 535-6615.

The deadline for applications is July 11, 2011 at 5 p.m. and should be sent to the attention of Shari Veverka, Administrative Office of the Courts, P.O. Box 140241, Salt Lake City, UT 84114-0241 or faxed to (801) 578-3843. For more information, e-mail shariv@email.utcourts.gov or call (801) 578-3844.

Utah law requires that a local county Justice Court Nominating Commission be created with representatives appointed from the county commission, the municipalities, and the local Bar Association. The Salt Lake County Nominating Commission is tasked with submitting three to five names to Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker for consideration. The appointment is subject to confirmation by the Salt Lake City Council and certification by the Utah Judicial Council.

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June 28, 2011

Court's Self-Help Center Services Expand to Fifth District

UTAH STATE COURTS EXPANDS SELF-HELP CENTER SERVICES
Center Now Assisting Self-Help Parties in Fifth Judicial District

Salt Lake City, Utah— On July 5, 2011, the Utah State Courts will expand its Self-Help Center services to the 5th Judicial District, which includes Beaver, Iron, and Washington counties. The Self-Help Center assists individuals who are representing themselves in court to better understand court processes.

The center staff provides legal information via a toll-free telephone help line, text messaging, and e-mail. The toll-free phone number is 888-683-0009; the text messaging number is 801-742-1898; and the email address is selfhelp@email.utcourts.gov.

Telephone help line services are available Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; email and text messaging services are available Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.; and the court website at www.utcourts.gov/selfhelp is available 24-hours. Help line services are available in Spanish from Tuesday through Thursday, 1 to 5 p.m.

The center staff provides information about what to do before going to court, how to prepare paperwork for court, how to represent oneself in court, and what to do with an order issued by the court. Assistance is available in all civil matters, including family law—such as adoption, paternity, divorce, custody and child support—as well as domestic violence, guardianship/conservatorship, probate, landlord-tenant disputes, expungement, small claims cases, and debt collection.

The Self-Help Center pilot program was launched in December 2007 in the 2nd and 8th Judicial Districts. Since then, the program has expanded to the 7th Judicial District in January 2009, the 6th Judicial District in January 2010, and the 1st Judicial District in October 2010.

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June 29, 2011

Migrant targets - Notorious 'notarios': scammers claim they can help illegals

Published: Sunday, June 26, 2011 10:43 p.m. MDT

WEST VALLEY CITY — The signs are big, colorful and easy to spot. Some are professionally painted and installed in front of posh-looking offices. Some are poster board, taped in the window of a shoe store or hung from the ceiling above a freezer full of convenience-store treats. The words — written in Spanish, as most things in this part of West Valley are — vary, but the message is the same.

"Public Notary," they tout. "We do immigration paperwork."

If immigration attorney Aaron Tarin parts the blinds in his office at 2700 South and Redwood Road, he can see one. There are at least five more within walking distance. "It makes me sick," Tarin said. Public notaries have no legal right to deal in immigration law. Most of the time, when they try, their clients end up on Tarin's doorstep a few thousand dollars poorer, facing deportation.

The con is not new. Notarios, as they are called in Spanish, have been swindling immigrants — both documented and undocumented — for nearly as long as immigrants have needed legal help navigating the complex world of visas and green cards. But as the topic of immigration reform has heated up over the past year, federal appeals courts have begun clogging up with immigrants who came looking for legal status and, because of incompetent or fraudulent lawyers, ended up in the labyrinths leading to deportation. While the government doesn't have hard statistics to describe the number of people getting scammed, in a recent news release, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services announced the problem has reached "epidemic" proportions.

In a major new push to protect immigrants from those who would prey on them, the federal government announced plans this month to crack down on people posing as immigration lawyers. The U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are working with local prosecutors and immigrant advocacy groups to educate the community and ramp up enforcement.

"We are dedicated to protecting vulnerable immigrants from those who seek to exploit them," said U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) Director Alejandro Mayorkas. "Through our sustained outreach, enforcement and education efforts, and our close collaboration with our federal, state and local partners, we will provide the communities we serve with the help needed to combat this pernicious problem."

Business at Utah's underground legal shops has been booming since the state Legislature approved a controversial package of immigration laws in March. Among other things, the laws enabled local police to enforce federal immigration laws and laid out plans for a program that would allow undocumented immigrants to legally work in Utah. Most of the laws have yet to go into effect, but immigrants, frightened by the new enforcement measures, have been flocking to notarios in desperate attempts to secure legal status, said Tony Yapias, director of the immigrant activist group Proyecto Latino de Utah. Some enterprising notarios have begun selling fake "Utah Work Permits" for as much as $2,500 each.

The scam

The transactions start out innocent enough. An immigrant needs a legal service. A lawyer — or someone who appears to be a lawyer — offers to help.

Language barriers and the fear of deportation isolate immigrants from mainstream society, making them particularly vulnerable to scams, Tarin said. For hispanics, the culture gap confuses the situation futher because the Spanish translation for "public notary" is "Notario Publico," a term that, in Mexico, is used to describe a high-level attorney.

"The ignorance factor is huge," Tarin said. "A lot of immigrants don't understand that things work differently in the United States,"

The fake lawyers are often "smart and kind and well-spoken," said Melissa, a victim of an immigration scam who asked to be identified only by her first name.

"They tell you what you want to hear, and you trust them," she said.

Melissa, an American citizen who married an immigrant, reached out to several attorneys last year hoping to start the process of getting her husband a green card. When a man later contacted her claiming a colleague had recommended her case to him, she didn't think anything of it. She gave the man the $10,000 he requested. She believed him when he told her, over and over again, that her husband's case would soon be resolved.

"You spend nearly a year and a half talking to someone, crying on their shoulder, and you come to rely on them," she said. "I thought I had made a friend."

But then she got news her husband would be deported. Soon she realized her two children, just 1 and 3 years old, would be growing up without their daddy.

Not all of the people who pose as immigration lawyers reach out to their victims, Tarin said. Many just put up a sign and wait for business to walk in the door. Most stories end the same, though.

"A lot of times the best advice you can give an undocumented immigrant who is looking for legal status is, 'Do nothing,'" he said. "When these fake lawyers file paperwork they're basically marking the case with a red flag. It almost always leads to deportation."

Catching the criminal

In recent years, the Utah Attorney General and the Utah State Bar have taken down a few con artists. Most notable was Leticia Avila, who fled the country in 2009 after she was accused of convincing up to 20 undocumented immigrants to pay her between $2,000 and $8,000 each for fraudulent work permits.

Still, most notarios have little to fear, said Jordan Cheng, who chairs the immigration arm of the Utah State Bar's committee on the unauthorized practice of law. The fake lawyers make no effort to hide their activities, advertising their fraudulent legal services on city benches, TRAX weather shelters and billboards.

Sgt. Mike Powell, public information officer for the West Valley City Police Department, knows what the ads mean. But because the victims are immigrants, they often hesitate to file complaints with the police, he said. Without complaints, the department will not investigate, he said.

The Utah State Bar operates similarly, Cheng said. The agency will not prosecute unless there is a written complaint and, even then, there must be a large number of victims.

"The biggest challenge in taking these people down is getting victims or potential victims to come out and say something," Cheng said. "A lot of immigrants fear talking to authorities. The fact is, if you start talking to authorities you could essentially expose yourself to the potential of deportation."

The federal government's campaign involves a blitz of advertising focusing on teaching immigrants how to recognize fake lawyers and consultants. Federal officials are also working with local prosecutors to bring criminal cases against notarios to serve as examples. Within the immigration court system there are plans to expand the number of nonprofit organizations trained and certified to provide basic legal services to immigrants.

Nationally, the initiative has been criticized as a campaign move — the Obama administration's answer to growing criticism from immigrant communities. Deportations have been at record highs for the last two years and immigration is gearing up to be a major issue in the 2012 elections.

Tarin and Cheng remain skeptical about the federal government's promises.

Tarn, the son of an undocumented immigrant who once fell prey to a notario, used to sue the fake lawyers in his spare time. They'd get scared and pick up and move. After a while, though, he realized they were just opening up shop in other parts of town.

"I started to feel like gardener who can't keep up with the weeds," he said. "I've almost given up."

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About June 2011

This page contains all entries posted to Utah State Bar News & Announcements in June 2011. They are listed from oldest to newest.

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