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Hague Convention: Child Abduction

Child abduction is a serious issue, particularly when it happens on an international level. It is estimated that every 40 seconds a child is abducted or goes missing in the United States. Globally, about 8 million children are abducted each year. The Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (“Hague Abduction Convention”) is a multilateral treaty providing a streamlined and quick method to return a child from one member country to another who has been abducted internationally by a parent. The Hague Abduction Convention became enforceable as of December 1, 1983. The primary purpose of the treaty is to preserve the “status quo” custody arrangement that was in place immediately before a purported abduction occurred by a parent. The treaty only applies to children under 16 years of age and as of 2021, there are 101 parties to the convention.
Only Procedural Remedy
It is important to understand that the Hague Abduction Convention does not change any substantive rights of the parents or the child. Instead, the treaty mandates that a court in which the Hague Abduction Convention action is filed should only determine the country in which the custody dispute should be adjudicated and not consider the merits of any underlying custody battle. Importantly, the allegedly abducted child is returned to the member state and not specifically to the parent seeking the return of the minor. The Hague Abduction Convention requires that all countries party to the treaty act expeditiously in all proceedings that seek the return of a child and that their institutions use the quickest procedures available with a final decision that happened within six weeks of the initiation of the legal matter.
Understanding Wrongful Retention or Removal
The Hague Abduction Convention defines retention or removal of a child as “wrongful” when:
● When the rights of custody are breached by a person, institution, or any other body under the law of the state where the child was a habitual resident immediately before the retention or removal; and
● At the time of the retention or removal the custody rights were exercised or would have been but for the child’s retention or removal.
Child custody rights may stem by operation of law, by a judicial or administrative decision, or by an agreement by the parties that is legally binding under the laws of the country of habitual residence. The retention or removal of a child is wrongful when it is done without the consent of the other parent, in disregard of the rights of that parent.
For more information on the Hague Abduction Convention, click here.

 

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Court Reporting: Common Misconceptions

Court Reporting Misconceptions

For those who work outside of the legal industry, it can be difficult to understand how important court reporters are to the legal field. And, not surprisingly, as more and more lawsuits are filed in American courts the value of a neutral record of all aspects of legal proceedings — inside and outside of the courtroom — also continues to grow. According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (“BLS”) the court reporting industry is expected to increase job openings for workers by 9% between 2019 and 2029. This growth is much faster than the average growth in other industries. The BLS has determined that this growth is affected, in part, by new federal laws requiring TV programming and real-time broadcasts to be closed captioned for the hearing impaired.

Despite the growing demand for court reporters, the trend is that fewer and fewer workers are entering the field. The reason for this, in part, is due to the misconceptions about the occupation. Below are some of these wrong assumptions.
● It is simply typing: Perhaps the most damaging myth is that court reporting is “just typing.” A stenograph, which most people have never seen, only has 22 unmarked keys. Court reporters often have to record high-profile cases with impeccable accuracy at an extremely fast pace. While the average person can type 40 words per minute with a 92% accuracy. The speed of the average court reporter is 225 words per minute.
● Anyone can do it: There is a common misconception that court reports can be easily replaced by digital recording devices or unskilled typists. In reality, court reporters can capture the meaning and nuances that even the most sophisticated artificial intelligence or algorithms miss. Court reporters have a flawless understanding of language as well as legal and/or technical terminology. Likewise, live court reporters do not malfunction like voice-capture technology can.
● The career is easy: While many institutions offer placement programs for newly minted court reporters, statistics show that a large percentage drop out within the first two years of their career. While the reasons for dropping out vary, the most common are due to the overwhelming pressure of speed and accuracy required by the job.
● Not much training: Aspiring court reporters must learn to use equipment like stenotypes and complete a court reporting program that awards an associate’s degree or certification. Reporters also undergo on-the-go training. Depending on the state, certification or licensure is required and likely involves passing an exam and skills test.
For more data on court reporting in the legal industry, visit the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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California Courts Determine Employers Need Not Provide ‘Suitable Seating’ to Workers

A California appellate court earlier this year gave a significant victory to employers in the state in a decision that provided the latest guidance on the current state-wide litigation on “suitable seating” for employees under state law. Specifically, these cases examine a California employer’s obligations, if any, to its employees to provide them with suitable seating under the state’s Industrial Welfare Commission’s (CIWC) orders. Section 14, the provision in most of the IWC’s wage orders, mandates employers to provide suitable seating to its workers in two situations — when the type of work reasonably allows the use of seats, and when a worker is not actively engaged in job duties that require him or her to stand (i.e., when there is a gap, or “lull” in business operations).
The Appellate Court’s Decision
LaFace v. Ralphs Grocery Co. was the first case on this issue that proceeded to trial after the California Supreme Court (CSC) decision in Kilby v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc. In Kilby, the CSC examined an employer’s obligation under the law to provide “suitable seating” to its workers under the CIWC’s wage orders. The issue was examined by the court as a matter of first impression. In LaFace the California appellate court decided two issues:
● An employer is not required to provide seating to workers when the expectation is that the employee keep busy and there is no gap in duties that would demand seating be provided; and
● Suitable seating claims, as well as other claims under the Private Attorneys General Act (PAGA) do not benefit from the right to a jury trial.
The Trial Court’s Decision
At the trial court level, LaFace challenged Ralph’s Grocery Co.’s policy of not providing seating to its cashiers. LaFace reasoned that these workers could reasonably perform their work duties while seated and that the grocer was obligated to provide seating for use by its employees during the “lulls” in the store’s operations. Following a three-week bench trial, the court found that the evidence was overwhelming in showing that the cashier work did not permit sitting.
Additionally, the court found that cashiers were expected to stay busy between customers, so there was no obligation to provide seating during operational lulls. Specifically, the evidence showed that Ralph’s Grocery Co.’s cashiers were expected to seek out new customers, restock products, straighten and arrange products in checkout stand lanes, put products left behind back in their aisles, and help other cashiers. LaFace appealed the second part of the trial court’s decision, but the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s holding.
The appellate decision is important, as it provides some direction to both employers and employees in California regarding the CIWC’s wage order and suitable seating.

For more interesting cases, visit our blog. 

Hungary’s Asylum Criminal Law Violates European Union Law, According to EU Court

The EU’s Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) recently ruled that Hungary’s law that criminalizes organization support for asylum seekers violated European Union law.

Hungary’s Law

The law at issue is Hungary’s asylum law. The law restricts asylum admissibility, permits restrictions on freedom of movement for offending suspects, and criminalizes activities that aids the lodging of asylum applications for applicants that do not qualify for the status. Additionally, Hungary’s law mandates asylum denials for asylum-seekers that are not from the EU who arrive in the country after traveling through safe third countries and safe countries of origin. These safe nations include Serbia and other Balkan nations.

Consequently, the European Commission (EC) pointed out Hungary to the CJEU and claimed that the nation failed to adhere with a 2020 Court of Justice order requiring Hungary to reform its restrictive asylum law. The EC asked the CJEU to institute a lump sum fine as well as daily penalty against Hungary until its law is amended. The Hungarian legislature, on the other hand, justified the law stating it prevents a misuse of the country’s asylum procedure and illegal immigration based on falsehoods.

The CJEU’s Decision

The CJEU made two important findings, agreeing with the EC. First, the CJEU determined that Hungary’s asylum law violated EU law by denying asylum to applicants who arrived in Hungary by way of countries in which the applicant was not at risk of serious harm or exposed to persecution. Second, the CJEU determined that Hungary’s asylum law violated EU law by criminalizing assistance for applicants seeking asylum, despite knowing that those applications would be rejected. As a result, the CJEU found that Hungary’s asylum law violated the rights expressed in its directives and restricted applicant’s access to asylum and the effectiveness of the asylum seeker’s right and ability to consult an attorney or other advisor at their own expense.
To read more about the case and the EC and CJEU’s decisions, click here.

International Human Rights

According to the United Nations, human rights are those rights that are inherent to all human beings regardless of sex, nationality, race, language, ethnicity, religion, or any other status. Basic human rights includes freedom of opinion and expression, the right to life and liberty, freedom from slavery and torture, and the right to work and education, among others. All individuals are entitled to these rights without discrimination. International human rights law lays the basis of the legal obligations countries’ governments have to act in ways that do not violate human rights.

 

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