Updates – August 8

by David Nieporent on August 8, 2007

1. Yet another Roy Pearson update: the Washington Post, confirming a previous rumor, reports that he’s closer to losing his job. The Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges (CSTALJ?) has voted to start the process of terminating him, by sending him a letter notifying him that he may not be reappointed to his job. Of course, the procedure alone makes the story a perfect fit for Overlawyered. Pearson can’t just be fired; that would be too easy. First, his boss had to make a formal recommendation. Then, the Commission had to decide to send that letter. And now?

Pearson is not out of work yet. The letter is a key step, though, alerting him that his reappointment is in jeopardy. He has 15 days to file a rebuttal and could push for reappointment by appearing before the commission at its next meeting in September.

The wonders of public employment. And then if he’s turned down, of course, he can sue!

Apparently trying to destroy a business by using the legal system to extort millions from the owners isn’t his big sin; his big sin is being rude to his boss:

Concerns about Pearson’s temperament as an administrative law judge preceded the publicity about the lawsuit this spring. The letter from the commission focuses on those concerns, addressing the lawsuit only briefly.

In e-mails sent to his fellow judges and cited in the letter, Pearson’s contempt for Chief Administrative Law Judge Tyrone T. Butler was evident. In one of the missives, he spoke of protecting himself from any attempt by Butler “to knife” him. In another, he questioned Butler’s competence and integrity.

Incidentally, he was serving a two year term, but if he wins reappointment, it will be for a ten year term.

2. Updating a story from Mar. 25, a federal judge has banned the navy from using sonar in training exercises:

Cooper said it was never easy to balance the interests of wildlife with those of national security. But in this case, she said, environmental lawyers have made a persuasive case that the potential harm to whales and other marine life outweighs any harm to the Navy while the court case proceeds.

Because, clearly, a bunch of lawyers are in the best position to design United States naval strategy.

(Other whale-sonar lawsuit coverage: May 17, Jul. 2006)

3. Remember the Kentucky Fen-Phen scandal? The one in which the class action attorneys were accused of misplacing $60 million of their clients’ money into their own pockets? (We’ve covered it May 20 and earlier) Well, a federal judge has now ruled that they need to repay $62.1 million to their clients. So far. Still to come: a ruling on punitive damages, a criminal trial, and the suit against Cincinnati attorney Stan Chesley, who’s accused of the same wrongdoing. (AP/Forbes)

{ 4 comments }

1 John Burgess 08.08.07 at 8:39 am

RE: #2

Would I be correct in assuming that submarine launched lawyers might not be an effective deterrent? Or that that might be classified as a crime against humanity, a pure terror weapon?

2 Deoxy 08.08.07 at 10:53 am

on numbr 2: and the Navy will listen to this numbskull? I sure hope not.

3 ShaneTuck 08.08.07 at 4:23 pm

Hello,

My name is Petty Officer Shane Tuck, and I have some information on the Navy’s perspective on this issue. The Navy issued the following release regarding the court decision:

Aug. 6, 2007

Court halts Navy’s ability to train realistically off Southern California

SAN DIEGO, Calif. – Navy officials say they are deeply concerned by today’s federal court ruling that prohibits the Navy from training realistically before deploying Sailors and Marines potentially into harm’s way.

A U.S. district judge in Los Angeles granted a preliminary injunction — requested by the Natural Resources Defense Council and other environmental and animal protection groups — that bars the Navy from using active sonar during critical joint task force training exercises and composite training unit exercises through 2009 in the ocean off Southern California.

“We are disappointed in the court’s decision and plan to appeal the imposition of an injunction,” said Mr. Don Schregardus, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for the environment. “The decision puts Sailors and Marines at risk by ordering the Navy to stop critical anti-submarine warfare training while we complete Environmental Impact Statements on our training ranges.”

Vice Adm. Samuel Locklear, the San Diego-based commander of the U.S. Third Fleet who oversees naval training in the Eastern Pacific, said, “To the extent this court decision prevents us from using active sonar, it potentially puts American lives and our national security at risk.”

The Navy has conducted similar exercises in the Southern California Operating Area for 70 years and has used similar active sonar technology for the past 40 years.

“In all those years, not a single stranding or injury of a marine mammal has been associated with the Navy’s use of MFA sonar in the Southern California Operating Area,” Locklear said.

Read full article at
http://www.cpf.navy.mil/news_images/0708/070806a.html

For more information, I recommend viewing
http://www.whalesandsonar.navy.mil/

4 Tom T. 08.08.07 at 10:31 pm

The flip side is that the Navy may not be in the best position to design US environmental policy. According to the article, the Navy’s own environmental assessment predicts “permanent injury” to 1/3 of the population of deep-diving whales off the West Coast.

There’s a Honolulu newspaper article about this decision that reports that the Navy has plans in the works to move much of this training to the Hawai’i area, where these whales apparently aren’t an issue. That might be a win-win.

I’m curious what law the environmental lawyers used to bring suit. The Endangered Species Act? The article mentions a companion case brought by a California state entity under something called the Coastal Zone Management Act, but that doesn’t sound like something that would be available to the NRDC.

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