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U.S. must provide incapacitated immigrants with lawyers, judge rules

Two mentally disabled immigrants must be given lawyers as they fight deportation, a U.S. district court judge has ruled.

Jose Franco-Gonzalez, 29, of Costa Mesa, and Guillermo Gomez-Sanchez, 48, of San Bernardino, are at the center of a case that marks one of the first instances in which a judge ordered representation for an individual in immigration proceedings, according to a coalition of advocacy lawyers arguing the men's cases.

The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Dolly Gee came last week just before Christmas. Both men have been free pending a bail hearing also ordered by Gee.

In a March lawsuit, the ACLU of Southern California and other advocates argued that the men's diminished mental capacities made them unable to voice their own interests. 

Franco, who is moderately retarded, was convicted and served a year in jail on an assault with a deadly weapon charge for throwing a rock during a fight between rival gangs, his attorneys have said. He doesn't know his birth date or how to tell time, and has an IQ no higher than 55, according to his attorney. 

Gomez is a paranoid schizophrenic who served one year of a two-year sentence for a 2004 assault conviction stemming from a scuffle over tomatoes he picked without permission. He has previous convictions, including for battery against a police officer, which his attorneys have attributed to his mental illness.

The lawsuit initially was filed only on behalf of Gomez and Franco. But the plaintiff's lawyers successfully petitioned the court to transform it into a class-action case on behalf of all detainees with mental disabilities, attorneys said

"Judge Gee's thorough opinion is a first step in ensuring that the rights of those who are rendered helpless by their mental illnesses are not ignored,'' said Michael Steinberg, a partner with Sullivan & Cromwell who is assisting in the litigation.

Both men are still facing possible deportation. Gomez is a legal resident and Franco has petitioned for a green card. Until they were freed in April, both had languished in detention centers and psychiatric hospitals for years because authorities considered them mentally incompetent, the plaintiffs' attorneys say.


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Comments () | Archives (37)

"Franco, who is moderately retarded, was convicted and served a year in jail on an assault with a deadly weapon charge for throwing a rock during a fight between rival gangs, his attorneys have said. He doesn't know his birth date or how to tell time, and has an IQ no higher than 55, according to his attorney." ........But he was smart enough to fight and join a gang? He knew how to use a rock as a weapon? Another pointless law suit of the ACLU! ACLU...the "real" threat to Homeland Security!

Franco doesn't know his birth date and can't tell time - but he does know how to file for a green card. Someone explain how that can be? Deport them both NOW!

Score one for upholding our Bill of Rights!

We can't afford this nonsense especially since they were smart enough to get on the compassionate side of the border.

Either way you slice this one you have two men walking the street that are known to be violent! This is just absurd!

As a white woman married to a Hispanic and a CHOLO, the comments made by people against illegal-immigration on the LA Times is deplorable! There are many white women as myself who are either married or have boyfriends who are Hispanic to speak out against this bashing. KUDOS to LA Times writers Gregory Rodriguez and Hector Tobar to paint a positive picture of this situation. In reality the people who are angry should be angry with the Capitalist system in this country like Wall Street who have received Billions in this country from all this bailout. These people who cry anti-immigration are afraid of the politicians and businessmen in this country because it is easier to pick on undocumented people they are brown and don't have a voice in this country. In fact a lot of illegal aliens are in financial debt and wonder if it was the right thing to come to the United States. For example, I work in the media industry and I have girlfriend who is white like myself dating an illegal-immigrant who is $20,000 in debt and wonders staying HERE is worth it because of LA's fast lifestyle. In fact a lot of them are in such BIG trouble that they don't fear the INS but the credit card companies because of the debt they have to pay off!! Other illegal-immigrants I know have to do 2 or 3 jobs just to keep their family afloat. This is slavery in the 21st Century!!!

LOL, Love how the judges and advocate attorney's came to bat for all the Americans that were bagged into the foreclosure process, gotta love em right.

Let me guess? They are so mentally deficient, they were able to cross the border and evade the CBP?

Give them a lawyer and then deport them.

I think the ACLU should pay for these individuals lawyers or provide free legal representation. Shouldn't those that sue be willing to take the case for free and unburden the taxpayers. This would truly show the ACLU has good intentions instead of fleecing the taxpayers, not only through their frivolous lawsuits, but the tax dollars they will take when the end up representing these people.

" ...was convicted and served a year in jail on an assault with a deadly weapon charge for throwing a rock... " "... previous convictions, including for battery against a police officer..."

Why should the taxpayer support these individuals that are not citizens?

wow---people who are not citizens are here anyway...causing lots of trouble...not family to keep them under control or with medical aid or to be responsible for their well-being and the safety of those around them (we, the unsuspecting public!) and now the US Gov't has to provide legal aid for free and house them in prisons and etc?
Where does this money come from?

If they have diminished capacities and they tend towards violence why can't we just send them back from where they came and let THEIR OWN GOVERNMENT and FAMILY pay to take care of them??

Why is is OUR problem?

Hey--if I had a mentally ill family member I wouldn't take them to France or Cananda or Guatemala and dump them off to let that country deal with the crime and medical issues. WHy is it OK that people do that with their family members here in the USA?

THis is criminal.

Can't wait for the haters to start spewing their hate towards those in the country illegally.

They are ILLEGAL immigrants, retarded or not. What is the fight about? Just deport them.

"Gomez, who served one year of a two-year sentence for a 2004 assault conviction stemming from a scuffle over tomatoes he picked without permission"

That's CALLED STEALING in English.

This propaganda RAG gets worse by the day. The LA Times (owned by out of town corporations who's goal is to force feed illegal immigration down the throats of Americans) does not belong in Los Angeles, California

This is ridiculous.

Mexico's illegals laws tougher than Arizona's


"Under the Mexican law, illegal immigration is a felony, punishable by up to two years in prison. Immigrants who are deported and attempt to re-enter can be imprisoned for 10 years. Visa violators can be sentenced to six-year terms. Mexicans who help illegal immigrants are considered criminals.

The law also says Mexico can deport foreigners who are deemed detrimental to "economic or national interests," violate Mexican law, are not "physically or mentally healthy" or lack the "necessary funds for their sustenance" and for their dependents. "

Isn't this a bunch of crap.

I thought I've read it all...now comes this. DEPORT!!!!

If they commit any more crimes during their bouts with
schizophrenia or whatever the other one has and if it is
sexual crimes and they could have been deported but
that attorney with held them then she should be commited
also for a crime too knowing in advance that both of these
men are potentially dangerous and one even assaulted a
Police Officer!
She is the beginning of what we should call the STALL THE
There are plenty of AMERICAN MEN in our country that need
her HELP but she goes to these ILLEGALS and turns it into some

Oh great!
Two ILLEGAL immigrants with mental problems "free on bail" and now the taxpayer will pay for all their legal costs....

Just great....but remember Illegal immigrants contributre more to society than they consume...right? Right? Bueller???? Anyone????


Of course the Times will CENSURE all criticle comments on this issue.

They have an agenda and it is relentless.

GREAT! And how much is all this costing the US taxpayer! Just what we need, a bunch of psycho immigrants who join gangs, steal, and break the law in general. They ought to house them in Dolly Gee's backyard! GAWD this country is sooo retarded!

"In a March lawsuit, the ACLU of Southern California and other advocates argued that the men's diminished mental capacities made them unable to voice their own interests."

Questions that should have been answered in the article:

How much was the ACLU and "other advocates" paid for the lawsuit ?
How much will the assigned lawyers be paid ?
The men are free, how are the supporting themselves and who is paying for their support ?
As a class action suit how many people does it represent and who is going to pay to support and represent all of these people ?

Isn't California broke ?

When are we going to get rid of these liberal judges in this country. They do not understand that we are flat broke. Nada, Nada, Nada. No more money for the citizens and we have to worry about the illegals? What does it matter whether they are mentally deranged or not. They came to this country and they were intelligent enough to make that choice. Now all of a sudden they do not have the capability of understanding that they are illegals? These liberals are selling this country to anybody and everybody. They will do all the illegals a favor but the citizens have to pay all the fines even for a little traffic ticket. EPA, OSHA will come and fine your business for not following the rules and they are worried about the pollution but they will not enforce the law as the illegals are dumping garbage after garbage every where in California central valley. Fed. worry about the survival of delta smelts but they do not care whether these people have 40% unemployment. All the liberals are equal to anarchism for they do not understand the meaning of a sovereign nation and it's border. If they really want to help these illegals, the liberals should all move to Mexico and try to become a citizen there and see how friendly the Mexican government is and whether they could get welfare, health care, scholarship as an illegals. Every one of the illegals are taking away the opportunity for the citizens of this country and we need to deport every one of them regardless of their mental status.

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L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
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