Arlington, VA

Morning Notes

Holiday Closures Start Tomorrow — “Arlington County Government offices, courts, libraries & facilities will be closed on Friday, July 3, 2020, for observation of Independence Day… Metered parking [will not be] enforced July 3-4.” [Arlington County]

Affordable Housing Provider Celebrates Scholarships — “Celebrating graduation may have looked a little different this year, but we could not be any prouder of the students from our College and Career Readiness (CCR) program who graduated from high school in 2020. All 31 of the amazing young people who participated in the program this year are off to college in the fall. In total, they were accepted into 135 schools and received an estimated $1.24 million in scholarships and aid.” [AHC Inc.]

Animal Welfare League Not Reopening Yet — “For the health and safety our staff, volunteers, and the public, we have decided to remain closed for the public, but we expect to introduce in-person adoption by appointment on a very limited basis in the coming days. We also hope to begin selling spay and neuter vouchers online very soon.” [Facebook]

New Pedestrian Law Now in Effect — “Drivers must now fully stop, not just yield, for pedestrians in all crosswalks in Virginia or they could be slapped with a $500 fine. The law that went into effect Wednesday, July 1 requires drivers to stop for pedestrians in any marked or unmarked crosswalk… Last year there were 166 crashes in Arlington involving pedestrians. Four people were killed.” [NBC 4]

Another I-395 Daredevil Caught on Camera — It keeps happening: this time, a commercial vehicle was caught on video backing up and crossing all lanes of northbound I-395 to reach the HOV bridge into D.C. [Twitter]

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Since launching in 2019, the Juris Master Degree Program (JM) at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School has assisted students in building professional and social connections.

The JM Degree is designed for professionals who interact with lawyers and legal issues regularly in the course of their careers. This type of program is in high demand and now offered by over half of all tier one law schools.

“We are proud to offer the Juris Master Degree Program at Scalia Law School,” said Dean Henry N. Butler. “This is an opportunity for professionals to learn the law, so they will be better equipped to provide leadership in their respective fields.”

Scalia Law’s two-year part-time program is offered at the Arlington campus, and enrollment for the August 2020 class is currently OPEN.

As listed on the JM Degree website, https://jurismaster.gmu.edu/, in addition to general legal research, writing and introductory law courses, JM students can select law school courses from six concentration areas:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Employment & Labor Relations
  • Financial & Commercial Services
  • Government Contracts & Regulations
  • Intellectual Property & Technology
  • National Security, Cybersecurity & Information Privacy

JM students can maintain employment schedules, while benefiting from the opportunities afforded by a tier-one law school.

There is a growing base of legal services and legal knowledge required by employers and the JM Degree is designed to educate students with the legal knowledge necessary for them to succeed in their chosen professions.

Applications are being accepted now. For more information about the JM Degree Program, please visit our website or contact Jessica L. Sartorius, Director of Juris Master (JM) Degree Program, at [email protected] or 703-993-8418.

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Since launching in 2019, the Juris Master Degree Program (JM) at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School has assisted students in building professional and social connections.

The JM Degree is designed for professionals who interact with lawyers and legal issues regularly in the course of their careers. This type of program is in high demand and now offered by over half of all tier one law schools.

“We are proud to offer the Juris Master Degree Program at Scalia Law School,” said Dean Henry N. Butler. “This is an opportunity for professionals to learn the law, so they will be better equipped to provide leadership in their respective fields.”

Scalia Law’s two-year part-time program is offered at the Arlington campus, and enrollment for the August 2020 class is currently OPEN.

As listed on the JM Degree website, https://jurismaster.gmu.edu/, in addition to general legal research, writing and introductory law courses, JM students can select law school courses from six concentration areas:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Employment & Labor Relations
  • Financial & Commercial Services
  • Government Contracts & Regulations
  • Intellectual Property & Technology
  • National Security, Cybersecurity & Information Privacy

JM students can maintain employment schedules, while benefiting from the opportunities afforded by a tier-one law school.

There is a growing base of legal services and legal knowledge required by employers and the JM Degree is designed to educate students with the legal knowledge necessary for them to succeed in their chosen professions.

Applications are being accepted now. For more information about the JM Degree Program, please visit our website or contact Jessica L. Sartorius, Director of Juris Master (JM) Degree Program, at [email protected] or 703-993-8418.

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Arlington’s state senators aren’t alone in pushing for gun control in Richmond this legislative session — their counterparts in the House of Delegates have also proposed a number of bills on the topic.

Other bills being reviewed by Arlington’s delegates this session range from a local civil rights fight to the recognition of some Arlington cemeteries as historic places.

The all-Democrat group of delegates have been empowered by a new Democratic majority in the state legislature. Many of the gun control measures proposed in the House of Delegates and the State Senate have already faced substantial pushback, particularly from a crowded gun rights rally on Monday that drew national headlines, though a number of bills have passed at least one of the chambers.

Below are some of the bills that have been proposed by each of Arlington’s delegates.

Del. Mark Levine

Among bills introduced by Del. Mark Levine is HB 180, which would eliminate the requirement that the race of spouses be included in the marriage record filed with the state. Levine is also sponsoring HB 301, which would decriminalize simple possession of marijuana. Both bills were referred to committees, and HB 180 was recommended by a subcommittee on Tuesday.

The requirement of couples to list their race on marriage licenses is an obscure holdover from Jim Crow laws that’s gotten some pushback over the years, including a lawsuit in September by a local lawyer that ended with a judge ruling the law was unconstitutional.

Levine also introduced several gun control measures as well, including restriction of firearm ammunition, prohibitions on ownership after certain criminal convictions, and a prohibition on the sale or transport of weapons defined in the bill as “assault firearms.”

Del. Patrick Hope

Hope is also the sponsor of the House version of Favola’s bill that would eliminate the death penalty for cases involving a severe mental illness. Hope’s HB 1284 would eliminate the use of isolated confinement in state correctional facilities and juvenile correctional facilities. One bill, HB 1120, would also dramatically increase the tax on tobacco products, from the current 30 cents per pack to $1.80 per pack.

Hope’s gun control legislation, HB 1080, would prohibit school boards from authorizing or designating any person to possess a firearm on school property other than those expressly authorized by state law.

Also of note is Hope’s bill, HB 712, which would allow anyone required to post ordinances, resolutions, notices or advertisements in newspapers to publish instead in an online publication. The requirement for governments to only post notices in print newspapers is a standing rule backed by organizations like the Virginia Press Association. The requirement has gotten some pushback in recent years by local jurisdictions like Vienna, which argue that the law is costly and unfair to areas without print newspapers.

Del. Rip Sullivan

Among Rip Sullivan’s proposed legislation is HB 213, which would add out-of-state student IDs to the list of acceptable forms of voter identification, and HB 379, which adds three cemeteries in Arlington (Calloway Cemetery, Lomax Cemetery, and Mount Salvation Cemetery) to the list of organizations that may receive funds from the Department of Historic Resources.

Sullivan’s gun control legislation includes HB 674, which would allow law enforcement to remove firearms from someone they deem poses a substantial risk, HB 458, which would make it a Class 1 misdemeanor for a fugitive to purchase, possess or transport a firearm, and HB 459, which would prohibit anyone convicted of assault and battery as part of a hate crime from possessing or transporting a firearm.

Del. Alfonso Lopez

Legislation from Lopez includes HB 1184, which opens up options for distributing generated solar energy by individuals and localities, and HB 219, which would automatically register individuals at the Department of Motor Vehicles who are applying for or replacing their driver’s license.

Lopez’s gun control legislation includes HB 264, which would remove the option for concealed handgun permit applicants to demonstrate competence electronically, and HB 260, which increases the allowed length of time for a background check from the end of the next business day to within five business days.

Crossover for legislation — when bills that pass one house are considered by the other — is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 11, and the last day to act on remaining bills is March 5. Gov. Ralph Northam can sign or veto legislation until April 6, and the new laws will take effect July 1.

Photo courtesy former Del. Bob Brink

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This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq. and Doran Shemin, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.

“Amnesty” isn’t the word that the Trump Administration would want to use — they’re calling “Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness” — but it walks like an amnesty and quacks like an amnesty, so, take it from your friendly local immigration lawyers: this is the Liberian Amnesty.

Not all Liberians qualify, but many do. Here are the rules, paraphrased and streamlined:

  1. You must file an application for a green card by December 20, 2020.
  2. You must be a citizen of Liberia.
  3. You must have been “continuously present” from November 20, 2014 to the date that you file your green card application.
  4. You must not have been convicted of a serious crime.
  5. You must not have persecuted others for their political or religious convictions.

Several of these rules include terms of art. “Continuously present” allows for short gaps in presence; “serious crime” is our plain-English way of saying “an aggravated felony or two or more crimes involving moral turpitude.” And there are waivers available for some people who might be otherwise disqualified. It’s complicated! If you’re Liberian, call your lawyer.

Non-Liberians in the audience are probably wondering why on earth the Trump Administration would do this. The short answer is that some Liberians have had TPS (Temporary Protected Status) and DED (Deferred Enforced Departure) since the George H.W. Bush administration promulgated temporary protections for Liberians in 1991. That was a long time ago — one of us was born in that year, and the other one was a first-grader at Ashlawn Elementary, right here in Arlington. (Hi, Ms. McCray!)

Between 1991 and the present, various Presidential administrations of various ideological dispositions have extended temporary protection to Liberians in the United States. The Trump Administration moved to abolish these protections as of March 30, 2020.

That move inspired Rhode Island’s Congressional delegation to add the Liberian Refugee Immigration Fairness Act as a rider to the National Defense Authorization Act. (Why Rhode Island? There are lots of Liberians there. The more you know!) And Rhode Island happens to be the home state for the Ranking Member on the Armed Services Committee, Sen. Jack Reed.

The world is full of surprises. The Trump Amnesty for Liberians is one of them. We suspect that it would come as a surprise to him, too. In President Trump’s comments after he signed the National Defense Authorization Act, he commented on the prolixity of the Act:

So it’s now my honor to sign the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act into law. And again, congratulations.  Thank you all very much. Very, very special people. Thank you very much. (Applause.)

This is the thickness. Can you believe that? (Laughter.)

(The act is signed.)

It’s now signed.  (Applause.)

We, too, applaud. Many Liberians across the United States will be able to finally stop worrying and become lawful permanent residents.

As always, be in touch with us directly if you need legal advice. If you have other sorts of questions, comment below. We love comments and will reply to all we can.

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This sponsored column is by James Montana, Esq. and Doran Shemin, Esq., practicing attorneys at Steelyard LLC, an immigration-focused law firm located in Arlington, Virginia. The legal information given here is general in nature. If you want legal advice, contact James for an appointment.

April is a busy month for daffodils, accountants and immigration lawyers.

The first week of April is the biggest week of the year for business immigration: H-1B season. The H-1B visa is a visa for foreign workers who will work in a specialty occupation in the United States on a temporary basis. Shorn of legalese, that means that foreigners who have specialty degrees — software programmers, accountants, lawyers — can work in the United States.

Demand greatly exceeds supply for these visas. Each fiscal year, there is a cap of 65,000 visas and a separate cap of 20,000 visas, known as the master’s cap, for foreign nationals with a U.S. master’s degree or higher, for a total of 85,000 available visas. Most employers submit applications for foreign workers under this program in April in the hope that foreign workers will start work at the beginning of the next fiscal year, in October. Demand is indeed intense.

Last year, USCIS began accepting fiscal year 2020 regular cap petitions on April 1, 2019. USCIS reached the 65,000-regular cap just four days later.

For the upcoming H-1B cap season, however, USCIS has changed the rules for the lottery. USCIS will use an electronic registration process for fiscal year 2021 cap season. Now, between March 1 and March 20, 2020, all employers seeking to file cap-subject petitions, including advanced degree petitions, must electronically register and pay a $10.00 fee to USCIS for each petition they wish to file. USCIS will then select registrations at random, and only those registrations chosen will be eligible to file a full cap-subject petition.

Previously, to file a cap-subject petition, employers submitted their petitions in full. This required many reams of paper and significant legal bills, with only a chance of having the petition selected. It also required tons of manpower on USCIS’s part to sift through all of the petitions. Now, employers will just submit a lottery ticket application with a $10 fee attached.

We can’t exaggerate how much this will lower legal bills for lottery entry. Is it good news for our bottom line? No. But it’s great news for clients!

If the new lottery system works, this will be a much better system for employers, especially smaller employers, who were understandably loathe to spend thousands of dollars on a petition that might not even be pulled out of the lottery. Now, smaller businesses will be able to compete with large companies on an equal basis.

The new H-1B lottery will be cheaper and better, but, if our experience is anything to go by, it won’t roll out smoothly. An experienced immigration lawyer can help companies navigate this new process. We are here to help.

As always, we welcome comments and will reply to all that we can. Happy Holidays!

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Since launching in 2019, the Juris Master Degree Program (JM) at George Mason University Antonin Scalia Law School has assisted students in building professional and social connections.

The JM Degree is designed for professionals who interact with lawyers and legal issues regularly in the course of their careers. This type of program is in high demand and now offered by over half of all tier one law schools.

“We are proud to offer the Juris Master Degree Program at Scalia Law School,” said Dean Henry N. Butler. “This is an opportunity for professionals to learn the law, so they will be better equipped to provide leadership in their respective fields.”

Scalia Law’s two-year part-time program is offered at the Arlington campus, and enrollment for the January 2020 class is currently OPEN.

As listed on the JM Degree website, https://jurismaster.gmu.edu/, in addition to general legal research, writing and introductory law courses, JM students can select law school courses from six concentration areas:

  • Criminal Justice
  • Employment & Labor Relations
  • Financial & Commercial Services
  • Government Contracts & Regulations
  • Intellectual Property & Technology
  • National Security, Cybersecurity & Information Privacy

JM students can maintain employment schedules, while benefiting from the opportunities afforded by a tier-one law school.

There is a growing base of legal services and legal knowledge required by employers and the JM Degree is designed to educate students with the legal knowledge necessary for them to succeed in their chosen professions.

Applications are being accepted now. For more information about the JM degree program, please visit our website or contact Jessica L. Sartorius, Director of Juris Master (JM) Degree Program, at [email protected] or 703-993-8418.

0 Comments

Morning Notes

‘Mabel’s Restaurant’ Coming to Arlington Heights — The restaurant coming to the grounds of the Dominion Apartments, at the former Sherwin Williams paint store (3411 5th Street S.), is called “Mabel’s Restaurant.” An outdoor seating area is planned for the restaurant, according to permit filings. [Arlington Economic Development]

Northam Visits Amazon — “In June, we were excited to open our first temporary office space for our Arlington headquarters in Crystal City. Today, we welcomed @GovernorVA to tour our new work space and meet with Amazonians from the Commonwealth.” [Twitter]

Crystal City Conducting Survey — “The area encompassing Crystal City, Pentagon City and Potomac Yard – Arlington is a dynamic mixed-use urban center and Virginia’s largest walkable downtown… we are embarking on a place branding effort to uncover our neighborhood story and create a striking visual identity.” [Crystal City BID]

History of Heidelberg Bakery — “Heidelberg Bakery is a local landmark in Arlington… In this oral history clip, Carla and Wolfgang Buchler, owners of the Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe, discuss the lack of diversity in breads that Wolfgang found in America when he first came to the U.S. in the 1970’s–and how tastes have changed, partly due to Heidelberg Pastry Shoppe’s delicious treats.” [Arlington Public Library]

Glebe Road Bridge Project — “The Virginia Department of Transportation on Tuesday, Aug. 13 will hold a community forum on its plans to rehabilitate the Route 120 (North Glebe Road) bridge over Pimmit Run to improve safety and extend the bridge’s overall lifespan. The event will be held on from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Williamsburg Middle School, 3600 North Harrison St. in Arlington.” [InsideNova]

‘Drunkard’ Ruling Won’t Be Appealed — “Virginia’s attorney general on Friday said he will not appeal a ruling that struck down a state law allowing police to arrest and jail people designated as ‘habitual drunkards.'” [Associated Press]

Oil in Sink Causes ‘Fatbergs’ — “If you pour used cooking grease down the kitchen sink, you’re not alone — according to a new survey, 44 percent of respondents in the D.C. region pour cooking oil, fat, or grease down the sink at least occasionally. In doing so — rather than dumping it in the trash–you may be contributing to the creation of something truly horrifying — a fatberg.” [DCist]

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Local and international police departments came together at Justice Center Plaza (1425 N. Courthouse Road) this morning (Friday) to commemorate the seven Arlington police officers who died in the line of duty.

“We’re here for a show of compassion and solidarity to those who are no longer with us,” said Arlington Police Chief Jay Farr. “There is a unique sense here — a kindred spirit that brings us together.”

The names of the officers, and the circumstances of their deaths, were read aloud as roses were placed at their memorial. The most recent was Corporal Harvey Snook III, who died in 2016 as a result of cancer contracted from rescue and recovery operations at the Pentagon following the 9/11 attacks.

After the names were read, Deputy Anne Nardolilli performed an original song called “More Than a Name,” celebrating the lives of the fallen officers.

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By Criminal Defense Attorney Allen Yates of Yates & Wheland

In May of 2018, Congress passed the First Step Act, a bipartisan bill that received special attention from White House advisor Jared Kushner.

This act implemented prison reforms that impacted many prisoners’ sentences. One of the most significant reforms in this bill was the reduced sentencing of drug offenders, with an emphasis on inmates who were in jail because of selling crack cocaine (many of whom were African-American). Many individuals saw their sentences slashed, with over 1,200 prisoners with drug charges freed. The act also allows inmates who are in jail because of selling crack cocaine to ask judges for a reduced sentence.

Furthermore, 3,100 prisoners have been slated to be released because of additional reforms included in the First Step Act, mostly due to time off for good behavior. However, 81 of these 3,100 prisoners are still having to fight the Federal government over their release. Additionally, 900 of the freed inmates were sent to immigration services because of criminal and deportation charges.

With the public confused as to why the Justice Department is seeking to send certain people back to prison after releasing them, they released an official statement explaining their reasoning: to ensure that the prisoners who received reduced sentences were not being treated more leniently than anyone currently facing prosecution for drug charges.

In the prosecution’s attempt to bring 81 of the prisoners back to prison, they combined all drug-related charges from each prisoner’s case, including any drugs that were found during the investigation and not just what was found on their person or vehicle–which is typically how many drug charges occur. The difference in the years of incarceration between these two drug charges can be vast, which would have a serious impact on how a case proceeds.

Since the freeing of these prisoners as a result of the First Step Act, prosecutors have only been able to succeed in the reversal of 9 of the 81 cases they have targeted to reverse. Despite this, prosecutors are undeterred. They’ve appealed three of the court decisions to date, and hope to appeal 12 more in the coming months.

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By Personal Injury Attorney Cade Parian of The Parian Law Firm, LLC

When manufacturers sell products that are defective and people become injured or killed as a result, those manufacturers can be held liable.

This area of law is known as product liability, and it is a fairly simple concept. When manufacturers have recalled those defective products, however, the situation becomes much more complicated. If consumers are hurt, is it their fault for continuing to use a defective product? Or should manufacturers do more to ensure the safety of consumers? This is an issue that has recently been brought to light due to defective infant sleepers.

The Case of the Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play

The Fisher-Price Rock ‘n Play is a baby product meant to gently rock infants to sleep. It is positioned on an incline and has soft padding and bedding intended to make children more comfortable. It also has restraints to hold children in place. Currently, the sleeper has been recalled due to over 30 infant deaths it has caused in the country.

It is a disturbing story. To add to it, many daycare centers around the country are still using the sleeper, putting more children at risk. According to a study conducted by the U.S. Public Interest Research Group and Kids in Danger, one in ten of the centers they surveyed still have the sleeper and use it on a regular basis.

Who is Liable?

The story sheds light on a legal issue many people face every day. If a product has been recalled but a consumer continues to use it and becomes hurt, who is liable? Is it the manufacturer for creating a defective product, or the consumer for using a product known to be unsafe? There is no definitive answer, unfortunately.

Recalls do not automatically make a manufacturer liable. That means, even though they have admitted that there is a defect in the product, consumers cannot rely on this alone to win their case. Consumers still must prove all elements of a product liability case, including that the defect caused their injuries. Evidence must also be brought forward that helps prove their case.

However, recalls also do not mean that manufacturers are automatically immune from liability. This is because simply issuing a public recall is not enough. Manufacturers must attempt to notify consumers directly to tell them of the defect and warn them to stop using the product.

It may sound like an impossibility for manufacturers to directly reach out to all customers and make them aware of the defect. However, it is not. If companies and manufacturers can collect our information to market to us and sell us more of their products, they can certainly use that information to warn consumers and tell them of any defect in their products that could cause harm.

This may be what courts around the country will find in the coming months and years as lawsuits are brought against Fisher-Price.

Lawsuits Involving Recalled Products

Lawsuits involving recalled products are complicated, and often have their own set of rules. For example, some courts will not allow evidence of the recall to be introduced during the case, for fear that it could bias a jury. However, that does not mean these cases are impossible to win. Several lawsuits have already been filed against Fisher-Price for their dangerous rockers, including two class-actions that were filed in April of 2019.

Anyone wishing to file a lawsuit should always speak with a product liability attorney first. This becomes even more important when the product has been recalled. Manufacturers are likely to argue that they recalled the product and so, they are not liable if a consumer continues to use it. An attorney will refute these points to show that a recall is not enough. This is often a very successful strategy when manufacturers did not take extra steps to contact consumers directly.

Of course, these lawsuits can sadly never bring back the children that have died from sleeping in Fisher-Price’s product. However, they can help get the products off the shelves and out of daycare centers by shining an even brighter light on the dangers associated with the product. Clearly, recalls alone are sadly often not enough.

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