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Rosita Lopez said armed gang members demanded money from her and her partner at their small grocery store on the Guatemalan coast and threatened to kill them when they couldn’t pay. When her partner was shot soon afterward, they sold everything and fled north.

Lopez was eight months pregnant when the couple arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border last year with their 1-year-old daughter. Just over a year later, an immigration judge in Los Angeles heard her case, denied her asylum and ordered her deported.

“I’m afraid of going back there,” she told the judge.

The decision for 20-year-old Lopez — who now has an American-born baby — was swift in an immigration court system so backlogged with cases that asylum seekers often wait years for a hearing, let alone a ruling on whether they can stay in the country.

But her case is one of 56,000 in a Trump administration pilot program in 10 cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles aimed at fast-tracking court hearings to discourage migrants from making the journey to seek refuge in the United States. The administration selected family cases in those cities from the past 10 months.

Immigration lawyers who often complain that it takes too long to get a court date said the new timetable is too fast to prepare their clients to testify and get documents from foreign countries to bolster their claims.



An attorney who previously led the North Carolina chapter of a group that advocates for Southern secession has been ordered not to handle clients' money.

A Wake County judge filed an order that prohibits Harold Ray Crews of Walkertown from accepting or disbursing client funds. The order signed Monday says the North Carolina State Bar received information that Crews had mishandled money entrusted to him.

It also says that Crews wants to cooperate and won't appeal the order. As recently as 2017, Crews was chairman of the state chapter of the Alabama-based League of the South, which advocates for Southern secession.

After a violent white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Crews sought charges against DeAndre Harris, a black man who was severely beaten during the rally. A judge acquitted Harris.


Rosita Lopez said armed gang members demanded money from her and her partner at their small grocery store on the Guatemalan coast and threatened to kill them when they couldn't pay. When her partner was shot soon afterward, they sold everything and fled north.

Lopez was eight months pregnant when the couple arrived at the U.S.-Mexico border last year with their 1-year-old daughter. Just over a year later, an immigration judge in Los Angeles heard her case, denied her asylum and ordered her deported.

"I'm afraid of going back there," she told the judge.

The decision for 20-year-old Lopez — who now has an American-born baby — was swift in an immigration court system so backlogged with cases that asylum seekers often wait years for a hearing, let alone a ruling on whether they can stay in the country.

But her case is one of 56,000 in a Trump administration pilot program in 10 cities from Baltimore to Los Angeles aimed at fast-tracking court hearings to discourage migrants from making the journey to seek refuge in the United States. The administration selected family cases in those cities from the past 10 months.

Immigration lawyers who often complain it takes too long to get a court date said the new timetable is too fast to prepare their clients to testify and get documents from foreign countries to bolster their claims.

"The families that are all ready to go and desperate, ready with counsel, have survived multiple atrocities can't seem to get before the judge, and others who seem to need time to get their cases together, they're pushing through without due process," said Judy London, directing attorney of the immigrant rights' project at Public Counsel, a pro bono law firm in Los Angeles.


They came bearing oversized images of the sons and daughters they lost to drug overdoses and signs demanding justice from the pharmaceutical company they hold most responsible.

The parents and their supporters rallied outside a Boston courthouse Friday as a judge heard arguments in Massachusetts' lawsuit against Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin, over its role in the national opioid epidemic.

"Unless you've lost a child, you don't know what that pain is like," said Kathleen Scarpone, a New Hampshire resident whose 25-year-old son died of an overdose in 2015, just a few years after serving as a Marine in Afghanistan. "You wake up every day and your heart breaks a little. I don't want anyone to ever feel that."

Scarpone was among more than 100 people gathered in front of Suffolk County Superior Court through the daylong hearing. The group laid poster boards filled with photos of hundreds of Massachusetts overdose victims on the courthouse steps.

Some held signs saying, "Sack the Sacklers," referring to the wealthy family that owns Purdue Pharma and whose name is emblazoned across major institutions such as the Smithsonian, Guggenheim and Harvard from years of philanthropy.

Organizers also sent letters to state attorneys general calling on them to dedicate all money recovered from opioid makers into addiction prevention efforts, substance abuse treatment and recovery support programs.

"They need to see the families," Cheryl Juaire, a mother from Marlborough, Massachusetts, whose 23-year-old son died of an overdose in 2011, said of company officials and the Sackler family. "They need to be held accountable for the deaths of our children."

Members of the Sackler family weren't present Friday as lawyers representing the company, former executives and family members argued that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey's lawsuit should be dismissed.

The suit is among more than 2,000 by state and local governments pending against Purdue Pharma and other opioid makers.


A court on Thursday upheld the rape and sexual assault convictions and 263-year prison sentence of a former Oklahoma City police officer whose case has been watched closely by the Black Lives Matter movement and some conservatives.

The Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals unanimously rejected appeals by Daniel Holtzclaw that included a lack of evidence, excessive sentence, prosecutorial misconduct, a “circus atmosphere” during his trial and a failure by the defense attorney to present an expert to offer an alternative explanation to how DNA of one victim wound up on Holtzclaw’s pants.

Holtzclaw’s family said in a statement that it is devastated by the ruling, but not surprised. Holtzclaw’s father, Eric Holtzclaw, said the family plans to file a new round of appeals in federal court, a process family members said could take more than a decade.

“We will fight for Daniel until he is free,” his sister, Jenny Holtzclaw, told reporters. She said her brother was convicted because of “biased claims” by prosecutors and fabricated accusations by “unreliable accusers.”

“He deserves freedom. He is innocent of all charges that were brought against him,” Jenny Holtzclaw said.

Prosecutors alleged Holtzclaw, 32, targeted black women and girls while on duty. He was convicted in 2015 on 18 charges involving seven women and one girl that occurred in 2013 and 2014. He was acquitted on similar charges involving five other women.

The DNA of one of the accusers was found on Holtzclaw’s pants, but his appeals attorneys argued that could have gotten there through “secondary transfer” when he searched the 17-year-old’s purse. Holtzclaw argued that because his DNA was not found on his own pants, the pants were not properly tested and that the presence of his DNA mixed with that of the girl would support his claim of a secondary transfer.



Arizona’s attorney general on Wednesday asked the U.S. Supreme Court to force the Sackler family, which owns OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma, to return billions of dollars they took out of the company.

The court filing marks the first time the high court has been asked to weigh in directly on the nation’s opioid crisis.

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich said the filing is meant to ensure that Purdue has enough money to pay any future judgments or settlements. Nearly all other opioid-related cases brought by states, including a separate one filed last year by Arizona, are in state courts.

“We need to do everything we can to stop the opioid manufacturers from profiting from this crisis,” Brnovich said in an interview. “They have siphoned off billions of dollars from the company, and I want to make sure that any money will end up with states and victims of the crisis — not in an account in the Cayman Islands or a Swiss bank.”

A spokesman for the Sackler family said they deny the allegations in the claim. Brandon Messina said Arizona’s claims are “inconsistent with the factual record.”

The filing is the latest maneuver from a state seeking to hold the drug industry accountable for a crisis that costs more American lives each year than vehicle crashes.

“It’s a power play,” Abbe Gluck, a law professor at Yale Law School, said of Arizona’s filing with the Supreme Court.

She said a ruling by the high court on the opioid issue, although a longshot, would have national impact.

Attorney Travis Lenkner, managing partner at a Chicago law firm representing Arizona in the Supreme Court case, said there were concerns that Sackler family members were sending some of the money abroad.


A prosecutor violated the constitutional rights of the 1960s black militant formerly known as H. Rap Brown during his trial for the killing of a sheriff's deputy, but it's unlikely that substantially affected the verdict, a federal appeals court found.

The finding came Wednesday in the case of the man now known as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, who gained prominence more than 50 years ago as a Black Panthers leader who famously said, "Violence is as American as cherry pie." He later converted to Islam, changed his name and was living in Atlanta as an imam in March 2000 when authorities say he shot two sheriff's deputies, killing one.

Al-Amin alleges that a prosecutor at his trial violated his constitutional rights and the court failed to take adequate steps to fix that violation. A federal judge rejected his challenge and the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed that ruling.

In 2002, Al-Amin, 75, was convicted of murdering Fulton County sheriff's Deputy Ricky Kinchen and wounding Kinchen's partner, Deputy Aldranon English. He was sentenced to life in prison.

Al-Amin's lawyers argued a prosecutor violated his right not to testify by directly questioning him during closing arguments in a sort of mock cross-examination. They also said the trial judge should have let his lawyers question an FBI agent who was present at his arrest about another incident involving the agent.


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