Feb
28

The PTO Pandora's Box - the Evolution of Handbook Disclaimers in Minnesota

Minnesota state law has never had a requirement for employers to offer paid time off, much less pay out paid time off upon a separation from employment. But since the Minnesota Supreme Court’s 2007 decision in Lee v. Fresenius Med. Care, employers that had a PTO policy in place had to at least follow their own policy. 741 N.W.2d 117 (Minn. 2007). That decision, and related decisions elsewhere, led many employers to include disclaimers in their policies stating that the policies did not create any binding agreement and that the employer was free to change the policy and benefits at any...

Feb
26

Toxic Enhancement - DWIs and Mandatory Minimums

In Minnesota, a DWI is classifed as an enhanceable offense.  Enchanceable means is that each time you are convicted for a DWI the penalties get more serious. In fact, Minnesota law mandates jail penalties and actual confinement depending on the number of prior DWI convictions or alcohol related loss of driver’s license and the timing of each offense.[1]

First time offense: there is no mandatory jail time if it is first time offense.  A court will usually order a sentence, but often will stay the sentence (pause) the in custody portion if a person completing probation and programming. ...

Feb
22

Beware the Wolf v. Oestreich at the Door - A Lesson in Managing Legal Custody and School Decisions

For parents going through a divorce or separation, one of the first questions that comes to mind is the designation of custody. Minnesota law labels two types of custody of children – legal and physical. Legal custody is defined by Minn. Stat. § 518.003 as “the right to determine the child’s upbringing, including education, health care, and religious training.” Physical custody is defined as the routine daily care and control of the child and can also include the designation of one parent’s home as the primary residence of the child.

Most separated parents in Minnesota share...

Nov
4

The Uncertain World of Surrogacy and US Immigration

When exploring the use of an overseas surrogate to give birth to a child, it is vital to plan for immigration-related issues that may arise. While many international surrogacy agencies provide guidance on how to have your baby, many lack the guidance about how to return to the United States once your child is born. This causes stress, frustration, and panic while in a foreign country. Depending on the immigration status of the parent(s), the child will either derive U.S. citizenship at birth or must submit an adjustment application to become a lawfully admitted permanent resident.

In...

Jun
24

USCIS Is Broke for All the Wrong Reasons

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) says it’s out of money and they want immigrants to pay for it even though the agency’s misplaced priorities and expenditures are to blame.   Within the last several years, the Trump administration has inappropriately changed the mission of the agency.  In 2019 , the controversially Trump appointed Acting  USCIS Chief , Kenneth T. (Ken) Cuccinelli, , declared USCIS as “a vetting agency, not a benefits agency.”  Consequently, the agency has invested a majority of its resources into what they’ve mislabeled as “vetting” and...

Apr
15

Criminal Defense While Staying at Home - the State of the Courts

What is happening to my Case during the Pandemic? Like virtually every other aspect of society, the Minnesota court system is greatly impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the emergency peacetime “Stay at Home” orders put into place by Minnesota Governor Tim Walz  during March through the middle of May, 2020.  During this public health crisis, we continue to work to protect the rights of persons accused of crimes, and to keep you informed of your rights and some adjustments the courts are currently making.  Here is a brief guide for some of your immediate questions.

Do I still have...

Apr
15

Up in Smoke - Legalized Marijuana and the Loss of Immigration Status

Although legalization of marijuana is becoming more prevalent throughout states, the use and sale of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. Because immigration benefits are controlled by federal law, this differential could pose serious inadmissibility, removability, and good moral character issues for noncitizens living and working in states where marijuana is legal. Even if a noncitizen possessed, used, or sold marijuana in accordance with state law, his or her lawful immigration status, or ability to obtain lawful immigration status, could still be in jeopardy.

In states where...

Feb
23

Credible Fear Interviews and the Third Country Transit Rule

For individuals seeking asylum in the United States, arriving at the US border may signify the end to their physical journey; however, it also marks the beginning of a longer legal journey navigating the credible fear screening process and, more recently, the “third-country-transit asylum eligibility bar.” Think of the credible fear screening process as the key to a locked door – if the individual can obtain the key (a positive credible fear determination), then he or she can “enter” the United States and apply for protection. But, if an individual cannot obtain the key (a...

Jan
18

When Is a Person a Good Person? USCIS' Evolving Character Standard

When is a person a good person?   The law is rather clear.  However, USCIS continues to engage in a campaign to rewrite the law to get it getter authority to deny otherwise qualified applicants for naturalization.    This is part of the administration's vigorous effort to slant the law against approving an application instead of toward approving an application.   The latest twist ignores years of litigation that established clear boundaries for who can and cannot prove whether they are a person of good moral character.   

When making the decision to apply for naturalization, there...

Jan
18

Can I Ever Get Out? Pursuing Release from Custody

Every year there are hundreds of immigrants who languish for months and often years in county jails or private detention facilities awaiting deportation. Some are seeking asylum; others are legal residents. Many have criminal records for crimes committed years ago, some decades ago. Most are appealing their removal orders, and the vast majority have never had a chance to argue their release in front of an immigration judge. They are denied the opportunity for a “bond hearing,” where the judge would determine whether they are a flight risk or a danger to the community. Many beg for the...

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