Thursday, January 17, 2008

Megan Volz romance tests fairness of Nashville courts after brother Eric's trial raised same question in Nicaragua

Eric Volz vindicated on same day Megan goes to Nashville police

Visaless Uruguayan ex-boyfriend had five-year employment record in high-end Nashville restaurant scene: Park Cafe, Watermark, PM, Bound’ry, others

Relationship doomed after pregnancy and subsequent abortion

After assault charges, premature deportation would prevent defense at trial

"The sheriff is talking to local judges about whether such cases should be properly adjudicated."

The Nicaragua murder trial of Nashvillian Eric Volz, who has since been exonerated in the death of his former girlfriend Doris Jiménez, led to wonder aloud (see stories here and here) whether the anti-American sentiment that was whipped up against Volz in that Central American country was truly a foreign concept to Nashville, in light of the negative emotions that have raged against visaless internationals in this city.

In an incredible coincidence, as the Nashville Scene reports here less than one year after Volz's conviction, Volz's sister Megan has started what may be short-circuited criminal and immigration proceeding against her Uruguayan ex-boyfriend and his brother, both five-year Nashville residents without long-term visas:

Megan Volz and the Diemarch brothers

[O]n the same day a court was vindicating her brother, 24-year-old Megan went to Nashville police to report that she’d been assaulted by her then-boyfriend Guillermo Diemarch and his brother Juan Carlos Diemarch.
The brothers came to the U.S. legally five years ago on a 90-day visa from their native Uruguay. They never left and never reconciled their immigration status.
Volz and Guillermo met in 2006 while both were working at one of Nashville’s best restaurants, the tony Park Café in Sylvan Park. Volz worked in the dining room, Guillermo in the kitchen. Park Cafe was not his only employer.
In the five years that the brothers lived in Nashville, they worked at some of Nashville’s best culinary establishments—Watermark, PM, Bound’ry, Batter’d & Fried, Park Café and the now defunct Chu, to name a few.
Three months into the relationship, however, Volz got pregnant, Guillermo says. She had an abortion, and Guillermo says that it was extremely hard on both of them. “It was after that,” he says, “that we started fighting…. She was upset by that, and so was I. I understand that.”

Case sent to the grand jury, but no criminal trial, no immigration judge

Jailkeeper and judges make decisions together

Judge Turner then decided that this was in fact an incident of domestic abuse and ruled that the case be bound over to a grand jury.
“The computer for some reason did not read that there was a pending charge,” [Sheriff’s department spokeswoman Karla] Crocker says. As a result, Juan Carlos was picked up by ICE and transported out of Tennessee to a federal holding facility, even though he still faces charges in Nashville.
Crocker also says that the sheriff is worried about immigrants gaming the system by using all of their constitutionally protected rights. ... She says that the appeals can take months and the sheriff is talking to local judges about whether such cases should be properly adjudicated or if the immigrant defendants should just be deported.
Elliot Ozment, a Nashville immigration attorney who sits on Sheriff Hall’s 287g citizen review board, is aghast that the city’s jail keeper has such a cavalier attitude toward the appeals process.
The attorney says that he was unaware that the sheriff was consulting with judges about the disposition of criminal cases. ... "I don’t know why Metro’s jail keeper would have any standing to talk to a criminal judge about the adjudication of a criminal case or criminal cases in general unless it impacted jail conditions."

Ozment is concerned that such moves could be a signal of a larger trend in Metro’s legal system when it comes to immigrants. “I have some serious concerns about attempts by local officials to tilt our judicial system against the foreign born,” says Ozment. “I think it would call into question serious constitutional implications.”
No matter how the criminal charges are adjudicated, the brothers will be sent back to Uruguay without a hearing before an immigration judge.
Photo: Residents of de San Juan del Sur tried to lynch Eric Volz, one of the accused in the murder of Doris Jiménez. Source of photo and caption: La Prensa, Nicaragua

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