Donald Trump, Sanctuary Cities, and Federal Funds

Sanctuary cities have been in the news a great deal ever since Donald Trump became President of the United States. One of Trump’s positions is that cities should not give sanctuary to those in the United States illegally (i.e. sanctuary cities). Those cities who insist on doing so, according to Trump, will no longer receive money from the federal government. In some situations, the federal government provides such huge amounts of money to local governments that cities can’t help but pay attention to Trump’s threat. Regardless of how you feel about politics, this brings up the legal question of whether such a threat actually has any teeth. In other words, could Trump withhold possibly substantial amounts of federal money as a way of forcing cities to no longer be sanctuaries? Assuming Trump does try to follow through with his threat, a lot will depend on the way in which funds are withheld. This is not specific or unique to Trump or to sanctuary cities. When it comes to the law, the “how” is always going to be very important. If we look past the “how”, however, one obstacle that Trump may run in to in withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities is a concept in Constitutional Law called the Anti-Commandeering Doctrine. In a nutshell, the Anti-Commandeering Doctrine places limits on the degree to which the federal government can force the states to undertake a particular course of action. This blog post is not meant to be a full and complete discussing on the Anti-Commandeering Doctrine. I only mean to bring up the term so that, if you’re interested, you...

Post-Judgment Interest

One of the things most people are surprised to learn is that if they sue someone for money and win, the court does not actually help them collect their money. In general, the judge will sign an order stating that Person X (say, the plaintiff) is awarded $X and that’s it. It is up to Person X to actually go and collect that money somehow. This collection might be easy and quick or it could be difficult and very time-consuming. If your situation happens to fall in the latter camp, one protection you might have is post-judgment interest. The idea of post-judgment interest is that it is interest that accrues from the date the judgment is signed by the judge and filed by the court. The details of this arrangement (e.g. the precise interest, whether the interest is simple or compound, etc) will depend on what jurisdiction your case is in. In California, for example, post-judgment interest is 10% simple per year, as specified in California Code of Civil Procedure section 685.010(a). A common question California creditors ask is whether the attorney’s fees they incur while collecting on their debt can be added to the debt. California Code of Civil Procedure section 685.040, unfortunately, says no, unless otherwise provided for by law or as part of the underlying judgment. Other costs besides attorney’s fees, however, should be recoverable. As always, consult with an attorney to see precisely what applies in your situation. An exception to this may be when the debtor is the government. In that case, the interest rate may be capped at 7 percent under California Civil Code...