ICYMI: NYT features Louisville lawyers, bourbon’s early slave labor, jail audit and more

It’s 70 degrees in Louisville in February, so you’ve probably been outside enjoying the winter respite. Here’s what you may have missed…

Louisville lawyers featured in New York Times film about Trump’s travel ban and refugees

A short film front and center on the New York Times website features two lawyers in Louisville who are “Taking On Trump’s Travel Ban.” The film looks in on the work of civil rights lawyer Dan Canon and immigration lawyer Becca O’Neil to help an Iraqi refugee, Mohammad Alqalos, bring his four-month-old daughter to the United States from Jordan. The child has an Iraqi passport.

“In the lead-up to the election there was already anxiety in the communities that I serve,” O’Neil says in the film. “Now it turns out they had a good reason to be worried.”

“The rules of the game are changing every day,” Canon says. “The judiciary is on the front line on the vindication of individual’s constitutional and civil rights.”

Alqalos says that his wife is afraid to come to the United States because “I see on the news everybody speaking against the Muslims.” He said that he tells her not to worry; the United States is not like the news.

Canon was lead counsel for the Kentucky plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court case of Obergefell v. Hodges. O’Neil is an attorney with the Kentucky Refugee Ministries.

Earlier Tuesday, the Trump administration released new rules that allow for far more deportations.

According to The New York Times:

Under the Obama administration, undocumented immigrants convicted of serious crimes were the priority for removal. Now, immigration agents, customs officers and border patrol agents have been directed to remove anyone convicted of any criminal offense.

That includes people convicted of fraud in any official matter before a governmental agency and people who “have abused any program related to receipt of public benefits.”

It also instructs agencies that control the borders to “begin reviving a program that recruits local police officers and sheriff’s deputies to help with deportation, effectively making them de facto immigration agents.” That program was significantly scaled back during the Obama administration.

Update on Charismatic’s death

Charismatic | File photo

Yesterday, IL reported that the Preakness and Derby winner, Charismatic, had died suddenly at age 20. He was found dead in his stall at Old Friends Equine, the Thoroughbred Retirement Center in Georgetown, Ky.

Old Friends’ released the following statement today:

“A necropsy performed at the University of Kentucky Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory revealed that Charismatic suffered a severe catastrophic fracture of his pelvis that resulted in fatal bleeding,” the statement read. “Pelvic fractures will in some cases also lacerate the large arteries of the pelvis and cause severe internal bleeding. Fatal pelvic fractures are uncommon and usually unforeseeable. It is not possible to know exactly how the injury happened or any factors that may have led to its occurrence.”

City orders audit of jail over inmate releases

An immediate audit of Metro Correction’s “inmate release activity” has been ordered by the city to determine if there are inconsistencies in the release of prisoners, reports WDRB. The audit was requested by Metro Council David James, D-6th District.

“There seems to be an issue with inmates being either released early or held longer than they are supposed to be,” James said in an interview with WDRB. “The way to get to the bottom of it would appear to be to have an auditor go back and look.”

Last week, the Metro Council’s Public Safety Committee called jail director Mark Bolton in front of the committee to talk about drugs in the jail and whether or not there had been improper releases.  It was revealed that inmate David Reyes stayed in the jail five months after serving out his sentence and was turned over to ICE upon release, according to The Courier-Journal.

WDRB reports that lawyers for two former inmates have filed a federal lawsuit against the city and Bolton, claiming hundreds of inmates have been unlawfully imprisoned by being detained after judges ordered them released. The suit is seeking class-action status for hundreds of inmates impacted in the last year.

The audit will cover releases between Jan. 1, 2016 and last month.

Bourbon writer explains the history of slave labor in early bourbon production

Local bourbon writer, Fred Minnick, published a post on Tuesday about the history of slavery in early bourbon production in honor of Black History Month.

At slave auctions, a premium was put on slaves who had prior experience in the Carribean rum industry, Minnick explains. Some of the slaves knew more about distilling than their bourbon-making owners.

Minnick lists the number of slaves owned by the owners of various distilleries in Kentucky, noting that every big name in bourbon benefited from slave labor.