Integrity Legal

Archive for the ‘General Legal Information’ Category

27th December 2016

In an interesting recent turn of events, it appears that a court in the USA has recognized a Thai judgment pertaining to child support obligations of a man who apparently fathered triplets in the Kingdom of Thailand. To provide further insight it is necessary to quote directly from the website of the Chicago Law Bulletin:

A man who fathered triplets through assisted conception methods in Thailand must financially support them from the U.S. after a Cook County judge properly recognized the foreign court’s parentage judgment, a state appeals panel ruled…The father — identified as [NAME REDACTED]. in the panel’s unpublished order — argued the absence of a legal marriage between him and the children’s mother — identified as [NAME REDACTED]. — makes him nothing more than a sperm donor who is entitled to protection from such judgments through the state’s Parentage Act. But the 1st District Appellate Court affirmed Cook County Circuit Judge Jeanne R. Cleveland Bernstein’s order to enroll the foreign judgment, finding it is not contrary to Illinois public policy and he had a full opportunity to defend his case in Thailand.

Readers of this blog are strongly encouraged to click on the link above to read the article in full as this is something of an anomaly in Thai-American legal discourse. As Thailand and the USA are not bound legally by more than the US-Thai Treaty of Amity there is not a framework for any sort of automatic reciprocal recognition of court judgments in either country. Therefore, a judgment made in one country with respect to parentage, custody, or support of a child (or virtually any matter) will not necessarily be deemed enforceable by courts in the other country. What makes this case notable (and there are many aspects of this case which are very interesting hence the reason the reader is encouraged to read the full article) is due to the fact that the trial court in the USA found the Thai judgment to be reasonable and therefore recognized said judgment by determining it had comity and thereafter enrolling the terms of the judgment as a judgment of the Illinois Court. Moreover, the appellate court seems to have agreed with the determination of the trial court and found that the extension of comity and the enrolling of the foreign judgment as a judgment of the Illinois Courts was proper and upheld the lower court’s decision.

It was noteworthy that the court cited the fact that the American in question had an opportunity to defend his case in the Thai system and that such opportunity (along with other factors) resulted in the court finding that the foreign judgment was not contrary to State policy.

Even within the USA, interstate family law matters can be complex, but in an international context such matters can be vexing to a degree that borders upon indiscernible. Therefore, the aforementioned case should be analyzed especially in our increasingly interconnected world as this case may be a sign of things to come.

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12th January 2012

It recently came to this blogger’s attention that the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Thailand made no comment regarding the possibility of a Cabinet reshuffle although she did note that attendance at upcoming children’s day festivities is apparently encouraged by the Thai government. To quote directly from the official website of the Thai-ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) News Network at Tannetwork.tv:

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra avoided answering questions about a possible Cabinet reshuffle today and only smiled at reporters...The PM added that she would like to invite children to attend the Children’s Day celebration on Saturday at Government House as she has prepared some surprises for the kids…”

Concurrently it also came to this blogger’s attention that the government of Canada seems to have made some comments regarding same sex marriages performed in that nation. To quote directly from the website Advocate.com:

“Thousands of non-resident same-sex couples married in Canada may not be legally wed if the marriage is not recognized in their home country or state, according to the Canadian government…”

The issues surrounding the status of same sex couples has been an issue of debate in the United States of America especially as the Presidential elections continue to draw closer. However, politics does not appear to be the core concern of those who are the most effected by these issues. For example, those families wishing to maintain a same sex bi-national relationship with a non-American in the United States could be deeply impacted by both American and Canadian policy regarding same sex marriage. This issue could further be hypothetically defined where the same sex marriage (or civil union depending upon the jurisdiction) takes place outside of the United States as such a fact pattern could place the merits of the marriage under the purview of the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS). How this issue will ultimately be resolved in North America remains to be seen, there is one thing that seems to be a certainty: this issue is not one that will simply disappear since there are many in the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender) Community who wish to see full equality in matters reflecting their marital status. American Courts have dealt with this issue in recent months although a definitive decision does not seem to have been reached hopefully this issue will be resolved in short order.

For related information please see: Full Faith and Credit Clause.

For general legal information pertaining to South East Asia please: Legal.

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31st January 2011

The issue of Federal recognition of same sex marriage is one which remains stuck in this bloggers mind like a splinter. The issue is vexing because the United States Federal government has clearly usurped sovereign State prerogatives on the issue while simultaneously trampling upon individual civil rights to equal protection under the laws of the United States as well as the fundamental Constitutional right to freely and peaceably associate with whomever one wishes to associate with. That said, the issue is, in this blogger’s opinion, best analyzed pursuant to the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution of the USA.

The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) currently prohibits the United States Federal government from recognizing a marriage or civil union between two individuals of the same sex. Most legal scholars approach the issue of same sex marriage and the preclusion of Federal recognition from a civil rights perspective. Although this blogger wholeheartedly agrees that LGBT rights issues do generally fall under the umbrella of civil liberties, the ramifications of DOMA upon the sovereign American States is the most unfortunate aspect of the current state of affairs.

To quote directly from Wikipedia.com:

In Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Washington, D.C., marriages for same-sex couples are legal and currently performed.

This is important to note as there are American States which explicitly prohibit the recognition of marriages between two people of the the same sex. Conversely, as noted above, there are currently five (5) states which allow same sex marriage. This has lead to a situation in which there is little interstate uniformity regarding this issue. As their site puts things so succinctly it may be best to quote Wikipedia.com’s entry on this issue further:

There has been much speculation on the clause’s possible application to same-sex marriage, civil union, and domestic partnership laws and cases, as well as the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and the proposed Federal Marriage Amendment. Between 1996 and 2004, 39 states passed their own laws and constitutional amendments, sometimes called “mini DOMAs,” which define marriage as consisting solely of opposite-sex couples. Most of these “mini DOMAs” explicitly prohibit the state from honoring same-sex marriages performed in other states and countries. Conversely, several states have legalized same-sex marriage, either legislatively or by state supreme court judgment.

The United States Supreme Court has not ruled on how (if at all) these laws are affected by the Full Faith and Credit Clause. However, in August 2007, a federal appeals court held that the clause did require Oklahoma to recognize adoptions by same-sex couples which were finalized in other states.[18]

If the Full Faith and Credit clause is given its traditional interpretation, it has no application to same-sex marriage, and the DOMA legislation is superfluous and even dangerous, as it may lead to a misconstruction of the Full Faith and Credit clause. If a state is required to recognize a same sex marriage, it will be pursuant to the Equal Protection Clause, as was the case with respect to interracial marriages.

The final paragraph of this citation is most notable to this blogger as it is the section in which he is in disagreement. To understand the reasoning behind this blogger’s disbelief in the assertions stated in this Wikipedia.com posting one must first read the actual text of the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the US Constitution:

Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.

It is virtually self-evident, in this author’s opinion, that the plain language of the Full Faith and Credit Clause will compel broad recognition of same sex marriage in the USA. Rather than looking at the issue from a civil rights perspective (which requires lengthy analysis into what are, in this author’s opinion, superfluous issues such as personal or religious feeling regarding same sex marriage which have no place in a reasoned legal analysis of the issue) simply examine the plain language of the Clause itself. The clause explicitly states that Full Faith and Credit SHALL be given to the public RECORDS of every other State.

What does this mean from a practical perspective? To use a hypothetical: two people of the same sex go to the State of Iowa (a jurisdiction which, according to a citation above, both recognizes and solemnizes same sex marriage) and get married. To quote the official Iowa County, Iowa website:

Iowa Vital Records are official registrations of births, deaths and marriages. Certified copies of Vital Records can be obtained from a County Recorder’s office or the Iowa Department of Public Health.

Once an official record is made of a registered same sex marriage does not the Full Faith and Credit Clause operate to compel interstate recognition of such a record? One would think, but there are exceptions to this kind of broad application of the Full Faith and Credit Clause as States which have clear public policies in conflict with foreign State Judgments, Acts, or Records may be permitted to ignore such Judgments, Acts, or Records (foreign judgments always seem to be accorded more preference from an interstate enforcement standpoint).

InterState recognition of same sex marriage, or as this blogger prefers to refer to it: Horizontal Full Faith and Credit of same sex marriage; is not really the main thrust of this post as the more pressing concern for the purposes of this article is Federal recognition of same sex marriage notwithstanding the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). The interstate implications of some states fully recognizing same sex marriage while other states fail to recognize such unions are interesting topics, but the main issue of this posting is what this blogger refers to as Vertical Full Faith and Credit. Namely, Federal recognition of same sex marriage lawfully solemnized in a sovereign State. Since when was the United States Federal government able to pick and choose which State laws it was willing to recognize? To quote directly from USLegal.com:

The full faith and credit doctrine as applicable to the federal courts in recognizing the records and judicial proceedings of state courts is contained in 28 U.S.C. § 1738.  The full faith and credit rule pertains to recognition by state courts of the records and judicial proceedings of courts of sister States; this includes every court within the United States.  This provision also includes recognition of the records and proceedings of the courts of any territory or any country subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.  By this provision, the federal courts are also bound to give to the judgments of the state courts the same faith and credit that the courts of one State are bound to give to the judgments of the courts of their sister States…

Pursuant to a plain language analysis of the Constitution it is this author’s opinion that the Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional as it requires the Federal government to disregard the Acts, Records, and Judgments creating same sex marital relationships within the jurisdiction of Sovereign States in direct violation of the plain language of the Full Faith and Credit Clause itself. Although there is a Civil Rights perspective to this issue, the major point that should not be overlooked is that fact that the US Congress is attempting, through enforcement of the Defense of Marriage Act, to dictate to the States what shall constitute a valid marriage. In the past, legalization and solemnization of marriage was within the exclusive bailiwick of the State especially as such matters tend to pertain to public health and safety issues.

This has very large practical implications especially for same sex bi-national couples as the Federal government, pursuant to DOMA, cannot grant American family visa benefits to the same sex partner of a US Citizen (notwithstanding the fact that the couple may have solemnized a legally binding marriage within one of the sovereign American States that allows same sex marriages). Hopefully this injustice will be dealt with soon as it is unfortunate that the rights of the States and the people are being disregarded as a result of DOMA’s continued enforcement.

In recent months, efforts have been made to pass legislation such as the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA). Bills such as this would mitigate some of the discrimination which is routinely deployed against same sex bi-national families as the language of the proposed bill (and that of those similar to it) would allow for the “permanent partners” of American Citizens and lawful permanent residents to apply for US visa benefits in much the same manner as foreign fiancees and spouses of US Citizens and lawful permanent residents. This legislation, and that like it, is a good step in the right direction, but it does not address the myriad legal rights and privileges routinely deprived to same sex couples under the current Federal regime.

For related information please see: Same Sex Partner Visa.

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30th October 2010

In recent weeks, some websites have been abuzz with information pertaining to a recent memorandum from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) which discussed Social Media platforms and their relevance in the context of United States Immigration.  To quote sections of the memo directly, as posted on the EFF.org (Electronic Frontier Foundation) website:

The Internet has made it increasingly easier for people to get connected with each other whether that is with long-distance family, fiiends [sic], or to find new loves and friendships. Social networking sites such as MySpace, Facebook, Classmates, Hi-5, and other similar sites are designed to allow people to share their creativity, pictures, and information with others. Sometimes people do this to find romance, sometimes they do it to find fiiends [sic] with similar interests, and sometimes they do it to keep in touch with family…This provides an excellent vantage point for FDNS to observe the daily life of beneficiaries and petitioners who are suspected of fraudulent activities. Generally, people on these sites speak honestly in their network because all of their friends and family are interacting with them via lM’s (Instant Messages), Blogs (Weblog journals), etc. This social networking gives FDNS an opportunity to reveal fraud by browsing these sites to see if petitioners and beneficiaries are in a valid relationship or are attempting to deceive CIS about their relationship.

Visa and Immigration Fraud are fundamental concerns of the Department of Homeland Security, the USCIS, and Fraud Detection and National Security (FDNS). Therefore, investigation into the bona fides of a relationship that is the basis for submission of a visa petition can be rather routine in circumstances where a United States Citizen or Lawful Permanent Resident has submitted a petition for immigration benefits on behalf of a foreign loved one. That said, the implications of USCIS’s monitoring social media sites can be somewhat unnerving for many as evidenced by a recent quote from a blog post on the ImmigrationEquality.org website:

While we would never encourage anyone to engage in immigration fraud, it is disturbing to think of government officials “friending” unknowing immigrants to use the information in their personal posts against them. In these times of technology speeding forward, it’s important to remember that when you post anything on a public site you have to anticipate that it could be used against you.

Immigration fraud is a serious issue as the integrity of United States immigration law must be upheld both by those seeking immigration benefits and those adjudicating immigration petitions. New technologies offer new ways to stay connected to friends, family, and loved ones in a global context.  However, comments made on social media sites which may seem innocuous or humorous to an online poster at the time of a comment’s posting could be taken out of context by immigration adjudicators who are not personally acquainted with the person or persons making such comments. At the end of the day, the main themes that may be gleaned from the recent revelation of this memo: DO NOT EVER attempt to defraud the U.S. government in an attempt to obtain immigration benefits and even those seeking immigration benefits for bona fide reasons should be cognizant of the fact that information posted on social media websites could, at some point, be heavily scrutinized by immigration officers and/or adjudicators.

For related information please see: US Visa Processing Time or I-601 waiver.

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19th September 2010

This author has frequently discussed the myriad problems that Immigrants can face when dealing with an unlicensed American immigration “agent” or “specialist“. American law and Federal Regulations are clear regarding the issue of who is allowed to provide legal services in matters arising before the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS) specifically; or any of the other agencies which are overseen by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Only licensed attorneys from the United States of America are able to provide consultations about US Immigration matters for a fee. Furthermore, only an attorney licensed by the Highest Court of least one US State, Commonwealth, or outlying territory is allowed charge fees to represent clients before DHS, including USCIS.

Unfortunately, there are some unauthorized organizations throughout the world claiming to be able to provide advice and assistance in American Immigration matters. The internet has proven to be a great tool for those wishing to research matters pertaining to United States Immigration. Meanwhile, it has also provided a platform for some operations which claim legal expertise without appropriate training or licensure. Such individuals and entities ought to be avoided at all costs since information transmitted to such individuals and entities may not be protected by the usual legal protections accorded to communications conveyed between an American attorney and their client. Furthermore, one who is not legally trained or not licensed to provide legal services in a given jurisdiction or about a particular subject cannot provide effective counsel nor lawful confidentiality to those seeking their assistance. This can be especially important to those conveying sensitive information about a case pending before an immigration tribunal, agency, US Embassy, or US Consulate abroad. Those engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in the aforementioned manner are thereby placing their own interests, as well as those of their unsuspecting “clients’”, in jeopardy.

When comparing the costs of legal service it is important to understand the pivotal role of licensure when making a decision to retain counsel. No licensed legal professional is likely to have a problem with prospective clients shopping for a reasonably priced service with a professional that they feel comfortable dealing with. In general, licensed American attorneys find that competition with other professionals makes for a healthy and prosperous business environment, but to compare the services of a licensed American immigration attorney with one who is not licensed to practice law creates a false comparison as US law is clear that those without licensure cannot provide the services which they claim they can provide in an immigration context. In short: one cannot compare a legal service with an illegal service from a price standpoint as an illegal service provider simply cannot provide such services at any price.

For further information please see: licensed lawyer. To learn more about US Immigration from Southeast Asia please see: US Immigration Law Thailand.

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18th September 2010

This author is a frequent reader of the Economist magazine. The legal service industry was the main topic of an article printed in a recent issue. This article succinctly and truthfully got to the heart of a significant issue in the international legal community, that of Legal Process Outsourcing. The whole dynamic in the legal service community is changing as a result of the internet, world wide web, and the ramifications thereof. These ramifications are being felt in other industries as well, but they seem to be having the most interesting impact upon the legal service industry because the industry, or more precisely; profession if used in a more individualized sense, has not had to retool its customary payment structure or hierarchy for a relatively long period of time. To better understand the significance of this development one needs to read some passages from the online article itself:

Lawyers hate keeping track of their billable hours. Clients hate them even more; each month they receive bills showing that their legal representatives have worked improbably long hours at incredibly high rates. Billing by the hour often fails to align lawyers’ interests with their clients’. The chap in the wig or the white shoes has an incentive to spin things out for as long as possible. His client would rather win quickly and go home. Since there is clearly a demand for an alternative to the billable hour, you would expect someone to supply it. And indeed, this is starting to happen.

Many legal tasks, although not quite easy, are variations on a theme. The production of a certain document (such as a trademark registration) does not differ vastly from one instance to another… Automating the automatable stuff allows lawyers to spend more time talking to the client.

One of the most important aspects of an attorney’s (or lawyer’s) job is direct contact with clients, Courts, or government agencies. The more time that an attorney can devote to direct interactions which result in direct, immediate or long term, benefits to clients, the better. The more services that a lawyer can provide, the better. The more satisfied clients, the better. In short, if a strategy, service, system, or technology works, and it is legal and ethical; then an attorney or lawyer should take all reasonable measures to provide the best service required based upon the totality of the circumstances in a given case. As the technological advances in developed countries and developing countries continue creating new avenues for efficiency in the legal profession, the overall situation is having a collateral impact upon the very practice of law in many parts of the world:

More and more firms’ in-house lawyers, who typically hire and manage outside lawyers, have turned to alternatives to the billable hour since the beginning of the global recession in 2008. According to a survey by the Association of Corporate Counsel (ACC), which represents companies’ in-house lawyers, 44% of members asked their lawyers for alternative billing to cut costs in 2009, more than any other cost-reducing measure. Susan Hackett, the ACC’s general counsel, says that just a few years ago what she calls “value-based” billing was only 3% of her members’ legal spending. Now, she says, surveys show the average client laying out between 15% and 30% of their legal spending this way.

The idea of so-called “value based” billing is an interesting one as this trend becomes increasingly prevalent. Many companies, individuals, and corporations have begun making increasingly informed decisions regarding the retention of legal counsel as many areas of the legal profession are becoming increasingly specialized in tandem with the demands of prospective clients. This sometimes requires attorneys and/or lawyers to practice law in a very narrow context. This can be problematic if over-specialization occurs and the lawyer finds their expertise is decreasingly in demand. Fortunately, a naturally occurring economic phenomenon in combination with recent advances in technology will hopefully see to it that lawyers and attorneys maintain diverse and highly unique areas of expertise across a field of areas while being able to provide advice and counsel for an increasingly large and novel set of practice areas. The aforementioned naturally occurring economic phenomenon is: The Long Tail. For those unfamiliar with this as an economic concept, it may be best to provide a quote from Wikipedia on the subject:

The Long Tail or long tail refers to the statistical property that a larger share of population rests within the tail of a probability distribution than observed under a ‘normal’ or Gaussian distribution. The term has gained popularity in recent times as a retailing concept describing the niche strategy of selling a large number of unique items in relatively small quantities…

The Long Tail’s statistical property noted above can also apply in a service context and this author would dare say that the ramifications in terms of demand for increasingly novel services in increasingly novel fields is astounding as more consumers (or prospective clients) demand services which did not even exist in the very recent past. This property can be extremely beneficial to those in the legal profession as demand for legal services will be further reinforced by the differing aspects of the laws and statutes in various jurisdictions. These statutory and structural legal differences can be explored for further efficiency in an international trade and business context. As the long tail continues to further stratify consumer demand, client needs will continue to evolve, thereby leading to new avenues for further expansion for legal service providers. By sorting out the issue of legal fee payment in an efficient manner law firms in the future can reap the rewards of new opportunities in the interstate, supranational, regional, and international business communities. Then, lawyers and/or attorneys can focus on providing cutting edge legal service while the client can enjoy more reasonable fee structures which accurately reflect the costs of an attorney’s, time, advice, and expertise. A final note from the Economist article may put it most succinctly:

Both sides can then focus on the case at hand, rather than the bill.

This is important to note as most attorneys or other legal professionals prefer practicing law or providing services to discussing fees. Although all can understand that fees are required before services can be rendered, many legal professionals feel that fee negotiation with clients is not an effective use of time compared to time spent actually providing services to clients. Therefore, the increasingly innovative legal services that are being required as the long tail reshapes the business world will provide innumerable benefits to legal service firms world wide while providing clients’ with peace of mind in knowing that bills will not become unreasonable nor will the level of service suffer due to lack of specific expertise in a given area.

For related information please see: ecommerce law.

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3rd September 2010

Those who read this blog on a regular basis may have noticed that the administration routinely posts information about efforts by various law enforcement authorities to discourage human trafficking. Unfortunately, as the world becomes increasingly integrated due to globalization the instances of human trafficking seem to be rising. This apparent increase could be due to the fact that there are more media outlets covering this issue, but this author believes in giving credit where credit is due and many of those apprehended by American authorities were caught thanks to the diligent efforts of American and international law enforcement agencies and organizations.

To quote a recent story from the Associated Press that this author found distributed on the internet by Google:

HONOLULU — Six recruiters were accused Thursday of luring 400 laborers from Thailand to the United States and forcing them to work, according to a federal indictment that the FBI called the largest human-trafficking case ever charged in U.S. history.

The indictment alleges that the scheme was orchestrated by four employees of labor recruiting company Global Horizons Manpower Inc. and two Thailand-based recruiters. It said the recruiters lured the workers with false promises of lucrative jobs, then confiscated their passports, failed to honor their employment contracts and threatened to deport them.

Once the Thai laborers arrived in the United States starting in May 2004, they were put to work and have since been sent to sites in states including Hawaii, Washington, California, Colorado, Florida, Kentucky, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Utah, according to attorneys and advocates.

Many laborers were initially taken to farms in Hawaii and Washington, where work conditions were the worst, said Chancee Martorell, executive director for the Los Angeles-based Thai Community Development Center, which represents 263 Thai workers who were brought to the U.S. by Global Horizons.

A woman who answered the phone at Global Horizons’ Los Angeles office refused to take a message seeking comment Thursday.

The six defendants include Global Horizons President and CEO Mordechai Orian, 45; Director of International Relations Pranee Tubchumpol, 44; Hawaii regional supervisor Shane Germann, 41; and onsite field supervisor Sam Wongsesanit, 39. The Thailand recruiters were identified as Ratawan Chunharutai and Podjanee Sinchai.

They face maximum sentences ranging from five years to 70 years in prison, according to the Department of Justice.

The penalties imposed upon those who engage in human trafficking activities can be severe. This is likely due to the fact that this activity often leads to many negative results as noted in the story above. Many of those who are smuggled from one country to another are forced to work under inhumane conditions that are considered to be illegal in many jurisdictions.

This author is pleased to see public resources being expended upon truly worthy law enforcement programs such as this. Thwarting the activities of human traffickers should definitely be a top priority for international law enforcement agents. Hopefully, arrests such as those noted above will discourage and deter individuals in the future as such activity has an extremely detrimental impact upon society as a whole.

It should also be noted that human trafficking is considered by US Immigration authorities to be a legal grounds of inadmissibility. Therefore a finding by a Consular Officer that an individual previously engaged in human trafficking may lead to visa denial in a pending immigration petition or application. Furthermore, this ground of inadmissibility is unlikely to be remedied through use of an I-601 waiver.

For related information please see: US Visa Thailand.

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21st August 2010

The New York Times website reported the following:

BANGKOK — Viktor Bout, a Russian businessman who is expected to face gun-running charges in the United States following his extradition from Thailand, expressed confidence on Friday that he would ultimately be exonerated.

Those who are unfamiliar with this case may remember an American film which is supposedly based upon Mr. Bout’s life. The aforementioned article went further to note that:

Mr. Bout, who inspired the movie “Lord of War,” starring Nicolas Cage, is suspected of running a large-scale trafficking organization that provided weapons to governments, rebels and insurgents across the globe.

As a general rule, international extraditions in cases which are covered heavily by the media can be exceptionally tense especially where two different countries wish to see differing outcomes. In this case, the extradition request could be viewed as highly complex, both from a legal as well as political standpoint, and this proceeding would seem to represent an important achievement for American officials as the article went on to observe:

The court decision on Friday… was a victory for the Obama administration, which summoned the Thai ambassador in Washington to the State Department this week to “emphasize that this is of the highest priority to the United States,” a spokesman said. “There have been a lot of conversations of senior administration officials with their Thai counterparts about this,” said one American official, who spoke on condition of anonymity after staying up until 2 a.m. awaiting the news from Bangkok. American officials had feared that Russian pressure would prevail and Mr. Bout might be flying home. “This really was a welcome surprise,” the official said of the court’s decision.  Russia, which had been seeking to prevent Mr. Bout from being placed in the American legal system, reacted angrily. “We regret what, in my view, is an illegal political decision taken by the appellate court in Thailand,” Sergey V. Lavrov, Russia’s foreign minister, said Friday, according to the Interfax news agency. “Based on the information we have at our disposal, the decision was made under very strong outside pressure. This is lamentable.”

The United States of America and the Kingdom of Thailand share a long and amicable relationship as the two countries have a history of friendly bilateral political and economic relations. One of the foremost examples of this relationship is the US-Thai Amity Treaty. That said, the recent decision would seem to have be made on legal grounds and not based upon political considerations. However, not everyone was happy to hear the Thai court’s decision:

After the ruling, Mr. Bout embraced his wife and daughter, who wept. He said nothing to reporters in the courtroom as he was led out in leg irons. The court ordered his extradition within three months… Mr. Bout’s lawyers had argued that the extradition request was part of a pattern of the United States’ reaching beyond its borders to punish its enemies. Chamroen Panompakakorn, Mr. Bout’s principal lawyer, alluded to the rendition of terrorist suspects by the American government and argued that the overall credibility of the United States government had been tarnished after the failed search for unconventional weapons in Iraq.

Regardless of one’s opinion about the decision itself, this case may represent a major milestone in international jurisprudence as the Kingdom of Thailand, the United States of America, and many other jurisdictions around the world continue to work together to bring international and multi-jurisdictional criminal suspects before lawful tribunals in both the USA and abroad. Extradition represents one area of international criminal law where cross border cooperation by authorities is leading to apprehension of suspected criminals all over the globe. In another posting on this blog, the issue of Royal Thai Immigration‘s decision to connect to American warrant databases was discussed. In an increasingly “globalized” world, it is becoming evermore difficult for international criminal suspects to evade government authorities. Meanwhile, American authorities’ efforts to apprehend those with an American criminal warrant, fugitive warrant, bench warrant, or arrest warrant continue unabated. Those who find that they have an outstanding American warrant are well advised to seek the assistance of competent counsel in the form of a licensed American attorney in order to deal with the matter in accordance with all applicable laws.

For further related information please see: Warrant For My Arrest.

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16th August 2010

The J1 visa can be an effective travel document for those seeking admission to the United States for cultural and educational exchange. It was recently announced that certain changes will be implemented which may have a significant impact upon J1 visa applicants. The American State Department has made rule changes which may effect J1 visa processing, to quote a recent press release distributed by the American Immigration Lawyers Association (AILA):

On June 19, 2007, the Department published an interim final rule amending its regulations regarding Trainees and Interns to, among other things, eliminate the distinction between “non-specialty occupations” and “specialty occupations,” establish a new internship program, and modify the selection criteria for participation in a training program.

This document confirms the Interim Final Rule as final and amends the requirements to permit the use of telephone interviews to screen potential participants for eligibility, to remove the requirement that sponsors secure a Dun & Bradstreet report profiling companies with whom a participant will be placed and also amends this provision to provide clarification regarding the verification of Worker’s Compensation coverage for participants and use of an Employer Identification Number to ascertain that a third-party host organization providing training is a viable entity, and to clarify that trainees and interns may repeat training and internship programs under certain conditions.

It would appear that the US State Department is making these changes in order to better enjoy the benefits of technological advances. The use of telephone interviews for eligibility screening purposes will likely decrease overall processing time. Furthermore, repealing the Dun & Bradstreet report requirement will likely save individuals as well as companies time and resources when they opt to file for J-1 visa benefits on behalf of a foreign national.

The J-1 visa is often utilized by those who travel to the USA as exchange visitors. Often, those applying for such a travel documents do so at a US Embassy or US Consulate abroad. As the J-1 visa is a non-immigrant visa, the Consular Officer adjudicating the application must ascertain whether the applicant should be granted the visa notwithstanding the provisions of section 214b of the United States Immigration and Nationality Act which requires that those seeking a non-immigrant visa show “strong ties” to their home country and “weak ties” to the United States. Some are under the mistaken impression that a J-1 visa is a “dual intent” travel document akin to the L1 visa. Due to the provisions of section 214b of the INA, the applicant for a J1 visa should not maintain an intention to remain in the USA indefinitely.

For related information please see: US Tourist Visa.

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28th July 2010

Those who read this blog frequently would likely notice that we sometimes quote text, either directly or indirectly, from American rules, proposed rules, and notices of Federal agencies and organizations, as well as executive orders and other presidential documents. Regulations in the United States are often noted in the Federal Register. In the past, the public service of keeping the public informed about pending regulations and policies was provided in print form. As the world becomes increasingly digital, more and more informational resources are being provided on virtual platforms. It would appear that this is also true for the Federal Register as the following quote from an announcement issued by the Government Printing Office would indicate:

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Government Printing Office (GPO) and the National Archives’ Office of the Federal Register (OFR) launch the Federal Register 2.0 prototype, a user-friendly online version of the Federal Register. This daily journal of government has provided the public with access to government information and federal regulations for the past 75 years. Federal Register 2.0 features a new layout that organizes the content by topics similar to a newspaper Web site. The site displays individual sections for Money, Environment, World, Science and Technology, Business and Industry, and Health and Public Welfare. The Web site has improved search and navigation tools to guide readers to the most popular topics and relevant documents. Users can submit comments and stay connected through social media.

Although this news is quite interesting and evidences a strong commitment on the part the American government to keep the public informed about those regulatory matters which may have an impact upon the lives of US Citizens and/or lawful permanent residents, it should also be noted that the Federal Register has a distinguished history of providing information to the public in print form. To quote the aforementioned publication further:

The first copy of the Federal Register came off GPO presses on March 14, 1936. GPO partners with OFR to provide the information in the Federal Register to the American people in both print and electronic form. GPO coordinated the development aspects of the new Web site in collaboration with OFR. GPO’s Federal Digital System (FDsys), a content management system and preservation repository, feeds content into Federal Register 2.0 and acts as the holder of the official content and archived information.


“Federal Register 2.0 is a landmark achievement for the National Archives, OFR and GPO,” said Public Printer Bob Tapella. “This is an example of how the legislative branch and executive branch work together to make government information available and easily accessible for the American people. For 75 years, GPO has never missed a print deadline for the Federal Register and now we look forward to working with OFR to support Federal Register 2.0.”


“Federal Register 2.0 is an advance in the open government initiative of the Obama administration by being able to make the  Federal Register readily available and easily understood,” said Director of the Federal Register Ray Mosley. The GPO is the federal government’s primary centralized resource for gathering, cataloging, producing, providing, authenticating, and preserving published U.S. government information in all its forms. GPO is responsible for the production and distribution of information products and services for all three branches of the federal government.

In the information age, knowledge truly equates to power. Therefore, it is admirable that the government took the initiative in attempting to provide a user friendly platform for those seeking information about pending, as well as enacted, Federal rules. Although there are some who believe that the Federal Register should remain exclusively in print form, it seems prudent and far-thinking for the government to provide online services to Americans as well as other interested parties. With that in mind, there are those who feel that there could be a possible “information overload” scenario in which Americans, inundated by a constant barrage of news and media, will not be receptive to initiatives such as this. It is this author’s opinion that increasing information for public consumption will generally have a net positive impact upon the American population as a whole.

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