In Case ICE Comes, Immigrant Parents Need Plan for Children

With President Donald J. Trump enforcing U.S. immigration policies much more aggressively, the media is buzzing with stories of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) actions—and stories of immigrants being detained while their children are in school, suddenly removing any sense of safety and stability for the family. The increased possibility that parents will be detained and deported has heightened the need for families across the country to plan ahead by creating emergency plans for the care and custody of children, along with legal documents to ensure those plans are followed. The Immigrant Legal Resource Center, a national nonprofit group at the forefront of promoting and defending immigrant rights, suggests in a paper about parents and schools what could happen if parents don’t plan ahead: ICE has not been going into schools to arrest children. They have a policy against going into schools in most circumstances. However, ICE has been arresting parents near or outside of schools when those parents pick up or drop off their children. Also, if ICE detains a parent somewhere else, for example at work, ICE will go into a school to make arrangements for that person’s children. If parents don’t put safeguards in place, including such tools as custodial care agreements and limited power of attorney documents, then the decision-maker for a suddenly parentless child might be ICE. Also see our post: With Trump in Office, Immigrants Must Know Their Rights The Los Angeles Times this month chronicled the trend of fearful parents creating power of attorney agreements that give trusted persons authority to make school, medical and other decisions for children. National Public Radio...

What Municipal Attorneys Actually Do

By Ken Taylor Cramer & Anderson’s municipal clients include the City of Danbury and the Towns of New Milford, Kent, Cornwall, Sherman and Washington, along with many municipal boards, commissions and agencies. Just as our country is governed by elected officials whose policies and decisions please some and offend others, Connecticut’s towns and cities are led by elected and appointed officials whose actions draw both praise and criticism. Even the small towns in our region of western Connecticut are not immune to policy and political squabbles, which sometimes can be intense. Amid the process, and especially when a sitting administration is under scrutiny, voices of dissent will occasionally extend blame to the attorneys, or the firm, that represents the town. We understand the instinct underpinning that emotional response—but it’s criticism that has no basis in how things work. In the arena of Municipal Law, law firms do not represent an elected official, his or her administration, or any political party or partisan point of view. Law firms like Cramer & Anderson represent the town or city. We do not suggest policy or other initiatives. We do not make policy decisions or dictate what philosophy or path should be pursued on specific issues or areas of governance in general. We take pride in advising our clients as to what the law allows and what it doesn’t. Then the client—typically senior elected or appointed officials representing the municipality and all of its residents—makes an informed decision. It is not a municipal attorney’s role to sway that decision, other than counseling whether it dovetails with all existing and applicable laws, codes and...

Sharing the Roads With Cyclists, and How It Goes Wrong

By D. Randall DiBella According to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA), there were some 15,000 bike-versus-car accidents in 2014. And it is readily apparent how many of these collisions occur. Often the cause of the crash is driver inattention, and with the prevalence of cellphones and texting that continually consume drivers’ attention during a typical car trip, operator inattention is not likely to go away. Couple this negligence with apathetic drivers or vehicle operators who are ignorant that the rules of the road apply to not only other vehicles, but bicyclists as well, and the result is predictable. When those collisions happen, the rider is almost always the one injured. There are a number of ways bike-versus-car crashes occur. However experience teaches us that the most common types of bike/car cases, like motorcycle/car accidents, involve turns. And the largest share of the cases we have handled for injured bikers and motorcycle riders did indeed involve cars or trucks turning into the path of a biker or, in one case, failing to give room as the driver tried to overtake the bike rider. Also see these related posts: Winning a $1 Million Settlement for Estate of Cyclist Killed in Accident After Close Call, Attorney Stresses Bike Safety on Connecticut Roads These hazardous situations arise quickly during a bike ride, and it is important to recognize that such a condition is developing. An example is noticing a person sitting behind the wheel of a parked car when riding past a string of parked cars. Expect the door to open. If you’re a relative newcomer to biking or have kids...

My House Hasn’t Sold – Now What?

In this turbulent real estate market sellers are often frustrated when their home sits on the market for an extended period of time with little or no interest being generated by prospective buyers. When these sellers are unwilling, or unable, to reduce the asking prices, their Realtors often offer an alternative—renting the home. If a seller has to move out of the home, or has already relocated, and cannot afford to have their home languish on the market indefinitely, one way to offset the cost of carrying the home is to rent it. When a client approaches me with this idea I counsel them as follows: Realize there is someone else living in your home and the possibility of selling it diminishes when there is a tenant in a property unless a potential buyer can wait for the lease to expire, or is interested in keeping the tenant. You will need a tightly drawn lease agreement (I caution against using a “standard” realtor lease or other “prepared” lease from the internet or other source) to ensure that you are adequately protected. Remember, someone else is living in your home and you want to restrict how many occupants will be in the house, whether animals will be allowed, who pays for what maintenance, etc. Just collecting a monthly rental payment is generally not going to cover all of the financial and/or repair issues that may arise during the lease. You need to notify your insurance company that the property is no longer occupied by you or you will most likely not be covered if a claim is made. A standard...

How You Sign a Document Could Cost You Thousands

The most common advice you hear with regard to legally binding agreements is this: Be careful what you sign. We recently successfully wrapped up a case that comes with a modified warning everyone should heed: Be careful how you sign. Our client, Marion Mall Associates, LLC, filed a breach of a written commercial lease agreement claim against two defendants who had leased space in a commercial property at 2211 Meriden-Waterbury Road in Marion, a neighborhood in the town of Southington. Because of how the defendants signed the lease agreement and paid the security deposit—as individuals rather than strictly and formally as agents of their LLC—they ultimately faced a judgment against them individually, rather than against the LLC. If those defendants had signed the lease more carefully, the LLC would have been the sole defendant in the case and the individual defendants likely would not have been personally liable. This is a significant distinction for making a simple mistake that happened in seconds—being too casual in signing a legally binding agreement. The case underscores the necessity of consulting with an attorney before inking any document or deal that you could be on the hook for later. Here’s a bit of a deeper dive into the case, including the cautionary findings in the Memorandum of Decision from the Hon. Glenn A. Woods: On Feb. 12, 2013 the landlord and tenants entered into a written commercial lease agreement with a term of two years for two units within a commercial development, or roadside “mall.” The intention of the defendants was to open a liquor store. The lease was to commence that April...

Connecticut Education Decision Appealed; Impact Still Looms

It wasn’t a surprise that Connecticut Attorney General George Jepsen announced Sept. 15 that the state is appealing the landmark Sept. 7 decision in State Superior Court in Hartford on the way public education in funded. In his long-awaited, highly detailed, and at times poetic decision in CCJEF v. Rell, Judge Thomas Moukawsher ordered reforms so fundamental and broad that implementing the judge’s decision would bring dramatic changes to almost every aspect of public education in Connecticut. “This decision would wrest educational policy from the representative branches of state government, limit public education for some students with special needs, create additional municipal mandates concerning graduation and other standards, and alter the basic terms of educators’ employment – and entrust all of those matters to the discretion of a single, unelected judge,” the Attorney General said in his statement on appealing the decision to the Connecticut Supreme Court. Whatever the outcome of that appeal, the underlying issues in the case are not going away. The CCJEF v. Rell lawsuit, filed more than a decade ago by the Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding, centered on the allegation that the state’s funding formula shortchanged the poorest districts, heightening the disadvantages for students in those districts. “This is a landmark victory for Connecticut’s public school students,” Herbert C. Rosenthal, the CCJEF president, said in reaction to Judge Moukawsher’s decision, which may be on hold but remains indicative of issues that the state must, and will, address. Given that, analyzing Judge Moukawsher’s decision will help all stakeholders in the public education discussion prepare for likely eventualities. “The municipalities we represent will be...