No, la Hon. Sonia Sotomayor no hizo un viaje relámpago desde D.C. a Río Piedras para compartir hoy con estudiantes de nuestra Escuela. Esto ocurrió en el mes de mayo cuando fue invitada por la ACLU a su Jornada Anual. En la UPR, departió en una charla organizada por la División Estudiantil de la Federal Bar Association.
Pero hoy, a un día de haberse iniciado el proceso de confirmación en el Comité de lo Jurídico del Senado estadounidense, La Palestra cree conveniente publicar estas fotos, cortesía de José Carlos Vélez-Colón, Vicepresidente de la División.
Pueden también acceder al artículo que la futura jueza del Supremo publicó en el Yale Law Journal:
Por favor, confirma tu asistencia enviándonos un email a ProBonoPLIEGOS@gmail.com. ¡Gracias!
Reacciona contra el presidente de Nicaragua
Por Maricarmen Rivera Sánchez
23 de abril de 2009 12:00 pm
El secretario de Estado, Kenneth McClintock, envió una carta a la embajada nicaragüense quejándose porque el presidente de Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, dijo que Puerto Rico está sometido a políticas colonialistas.
“Sería nuestro deseo que todos los gobiernos de las Américas respaldaran la iniciativa del Presidente de los Estados Unidos y respetaran el derecho de los puertorriqueños a escoger su status político entre opciones de pleno Gobierno propio”, dijo McClintock en su carta.
Durante la sesión inaugural de la Quinta Cumbre de las Américas en la que participó el presidente estadounidense Barack Obama, Ortega lamentó la ausencia de Cuba y Puerto Rico.
“Otro pueblo que no está aquí presente, porque a diferencia de Cuba, una nación independiente, solidaria, ese pueblo está sometido todavía a las políticas colonialistas…me refiero al hermano pueblo de Puerto Rico. Llegará el día en que los pueblos Latinoamericanos y caribeños, como ya está aconteciendo, donde ya se ha incorporado Cuba en el Grupo del Río, donde estamos trabajando para construir una gran alianza, una gran unidad de los pueblos Latinoamericanos y caribeños, llegará el día en que ahí también, en esa gran alianza, estará el pueblo de Puerto Rico. Tengo la convicción, tengo la seguridad, que ese día llegará”, dijo Ortega.
McClintock, en una carta enviada a Alcides Montiel Barrillas, encargado de negocios de la Embajada de la República de Nicaragua, dejó saber que las expresiones del Presidente no le gustaron.
“Deseamos expresar nuestra profunda insatisfacción ante las expresiones del Presidente Ortega con respecto a Puerto Rico, las cuales consideramos como una intromisión indebida en los asuntos de los ciudadanos estadounidenses de Puerto Rico y lesivas al derecho de los puertorriqueños a la autodeterminación”, dijo el Secretario de Estado.
Reconoció en la carta que Puerto Rico “no ha alcanzado un status de pleno Gobierno propio”. Alegó que los puertorriqueños han expresado “libre y democráticamente el deseo de conservar la ciudadanía americana”.
Vean el controvertido documento y lleguen a sus propias conclusiones.
– ¿Se están violentando los derechos a la asociación y a la libre expresión?
-Esta estrategia del estado, ¿puede interpretarse como indebida?
-¿Qué tangencias y diferencias puede tener lo dispuesto en este memo con la lucha contra el terrorismo y la persecución política?
SAN FRANCISCO — Elise Barros made her way to the front of the courtroom, convinced that the lawsuit against her was a mistake and would be quickly dismissed.
“I don’t understand why I’m even here,” said Ms. Barros, who was challenging a lender’s claim that she owed it more than $7,000. She had repaid the loan, she told the judge in state court in March. “I have proof — documents.”
What she did not have was a lawyer.
So the judge sent her and the lender’s lawyer into a mediation session, where it became clear that Ms. Barros actually did not have the documents, at least not the right ones. When the judge returned to her case later in the day, he ordered her to come back in three weeks, when the process would begin again.
Financially pressed people like Ms. Barros are representing themselves more and more in court, according to judges, lawyers and courthouse officials across the country, raising questions of how just the outcomes are and clogging courthouses already facing their own budget woes as clerks spend more time helping people unfamiliar with forms, filings and fees.
“We all know that the numbers are through the roof,” said James K. Borbely, a circuit court judge in Vermilion County, Ill. “You just look at the courtrooms.”
Judges complain that people miss deadlines, fail to bring the right documents or evidence and are simply unprepared for legal proceedings. Such mistakes make it more likely they will fare poorly — no matter the merit of their cases.
Reliable numbers for people representing themselves in noncriminal cases are hard to come by. Nationally there is no tracking system, and each state’s court system follows its own rules. Many people hire a lawyer for one phase of a proceeding but then drop them later. (In criminal cases, of course, defendants have a right to an appointed lawyer.)
Records of New York’s family courts, in which a vast majority of people appear without a lawyer, are imperfect. But in the first six weeks of this year, nearly 95 percent of litigants in paternity and support cases did not have a lawyer, compared with 88 percent in all of 2008.
Preliminary reports in California, where the total number of nonfamily civil suits for more than $25,000 declined by 8 percent last year, the portion of plaintiffs without a lawyer rose by 22 percent, while defendants representing themselves rose by 36 percent, according to Ronald M. George, the chief justice of California’s Supreme Court.
Even though the number of disputes may be on the rise in the economic downturn as people clash with their landlords, creditors and others, Judge George perceives a reluctance to go to court because of the expense.
“People aren’t going to court as much anyway because they can’t afford counsel,” he said. “But those that are proceeding are more likely to represent themselves.”
The best evidence of the increase in self-representation could come from individual courthouses, where the shift is evident in growing lines at self-help centers like the one in Superior Court in San Francisco. Tracy Penny, who was filing for divorce, waited there on a bench in the hallway last week to get help with her paperwork.
“I didn’t think I would need” a lawyer, Ms. Penny said. But, “money was a factor.”
In Travis County, Tex., which includes Austin, the number of unrepresented people seeking help from lawyers on the courthouse staff jumped more than 10 percent in 2008. And in Superior Court in Atlanta, the number of people calling the court’s family law information center for help with their cases rose by nearly 1,500 in 2008, to 22,590.
Ms. Barros, who used to work at a call center before she was laid off in September, got some help from a San Francisco bar association program that offers advice on coping with debt collection. She did not try to hire a lawyer; too costly, she said, and not necessary.
This is her second legal tangle with the lender, Household Finance; last year the company sued her over a different $7,000 loan and she ignored the complaint. The lender won a default judgment against her and took more than $10,000 (with interest and fees) out of her bank account. When Household sued her again this summer — over the same loan, she thought — she paid more attention. She said she forgot that she had taken a second $7,000 loan around the same time she took the first one. She collected proof that the money had been taken from her account and filed a handwritten response with the court.
Elizabeth A. MacDonald, Household’s lawyer, said that the company filed the second lawsuit because Ms. Barros had taken out another loan by signing a subsequent check she received from the lender in the mail. Ms. Barros did not think that the money from that second check was ever deposited in her bank account and so she did not owe Household anything. But she did not have paperwork to show that.
After the unsuccessful mediation effort, Ms. Barros returned to court this week and was at last prepared to concede that she had received a second check. But in the meantime, she also had at last consulted with a lawyer and concluded that she would file for bankruptcy.
Even people with much higher incomes than Ms. Barros’s are going it alone in court, according to courthouse staff.
James M. Mize, presiding judge in Superior Court in Sacramento, recalled receiving a request for a waiver of court fees from a man who earned $4,000 to $5,000 a month. “He’s caught in this subprime problem,” Judge Mize said of the man, who claimed to be a victim of mortgage-related fraud.
“He had a large mortgage that exploded” and took up 90 percent of his income, Judge Mize said. The judge granted the fee waiver. “He doesn’t have the money to pay the filing fee, let alone hire a lawyer.”
Courthouse workers also say that people are representing themselves in more complicated cases, involving divisions of complex assets, home foreclosures, houses worth less than a mortgage balance and combinations of these and other problems. Such cases in the past were more likely to involve a lawyer.
Overseeing a proceeding where one or both sides lack lawyers puts a judge in a difficult position: The judge is supposed to be neutral but also has an interest in moving things along.
“If you see a person making a terrible mistake, you can’t always jump in and save them,” said Judge Borbely, the circuit court judge in Vermilion County, Ill. “You cannot take the role of an advocate.”
To ensure fair outcomes, courts must do more to help people navigate the courts, said John T. Broderick, the chief justice of New Hampshire. “If you and I went to the hospital and they said, ‘Do you have insurance?’ and we don’t, and they said, ‘There are some textbooks over there with some really good illustrations,’ ” Judge Broderick said, “we would think that was immoral.”
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