Banking and finance roundup

by Walter Olson on December 17, 2014

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Because, says Harvard Law professor Jeannie Suk, they’re afraid of upsetting students. [The New Yorker] Other views: Corey Yung, Concurring Opinions; Ann Althouse. More: Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic (trigger warnings, sensitive subjects generally).

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The new lawsuit by the prominent Connecticut personal-injury firm of Koskoff, Koskoff, and Bieder [news coverage: WSJ Law Blog, CNN] seeks to get around the 2005 Protection of Lawful Commerce in Arms Act by latching on to the law’s narrow exception for “negligent entrustment.” That’s not a reasonable reading of the law, and I argue in a new post at Cato at Liberty that courts should toss attempts like these to revive gun control through litigation, all the more so because legislative attempts to overturn PLCAA (as I discussed last year) are rightfully going nowhere.

Some out there seem to think it’s okay to use litigation as a way of lashing out against opponents, whether by way of a winning case or not:

More: “The Sandy Hook Families’ Lawsuit Against Bushmaster Will Fail. Here’s Why.” [Bob Adams, Bearing Arms] And Eugene Volokh’s analysis breaks down the provisions of PLCAA and its interaction with the specifics of Connecticut law, concluding that “unless there is some evidence that the defendant manufacturers and gun sellers in this case violated some specific gun regulations (judgments actually made by legislatures), plaintiffs’ claim will go nowhere — and rightly so, I think.” Yet more: Steve Chapman.

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When Horizon, a large Chicago apartment building manager locked in a legal dispute with one of its tenants, chose to sue her over a disparaging tweet a few years back (more), one of the owning family’s members was quoted in the press as saying that “the suit was warranted and that Horizon is ‘a sue first, ask questions later kind of an organization,'” a comment for which the company subsequently apologized. You’ll never believe what happened next

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Is a cemetery an objectionable land use, and does it matter if the neighbors’ objections are religious? [Gideon Kanner]

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NLRB and labor law roundup

by Walter Olson on December 16, 2014

The National Labor Relations Board has been so hyperactive lately reshaping the law for the benefit of labor unions that it gets a roundup all to itself:

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Marking Bill of Rights Day

by Walter Olson on December 15, 2014

Today is the commemoration of Bill of Rights Day. My colleague Tim Lynch says the Third Amendment safeguard against troop-quartering “is one of the few that is in fine shape.”

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I’ve got a new post up at Cato at Liberty about the Second Circuit’s sharply worded dismissal of two insider trading convictions, which alas came too late to avoid massive damage to the enterprises and people concerned. Quoting NYT “DealBook”:

The dismissal of the case also raises questions about the November 2010 raids of Level Global and Diamondback Capital Management by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Soon after the raid on Level Global, the hedge fund, which was started by Mr. Chiasson and David Ganek, shut down, in part because of requests by investors to redeem their money after the raid. Mr. Ganek was never charged with any wrongdoing by federal authorities.

Diamondback, where Mr. Newman was a portfolio manager, continued to operate for another two years, but it decided to close its doors in December 2012 after receiving a wave of investor redemptions.

Mr. Ganek chided the government in a statement on Wednesday. “For the dozens of my high-integrity colleagues at Level Global who lost their jobs and their reputations because the F.B.I. improperly raided our firm in this now-discredited fishing expedition, today’s legal vindication is a reminder how prosecutorial recklessness has real impact on real people,” he said.

Raids, as opposed to subpoenas and other dull ways of obtaining information sought in an investigation, are irresistible to the press — and they greatly reinforce the public impression that there must have been serious wrongdoing at a target enterprise. That in turn can spell doom especially for financial undertakings, whose business will often be built on client and public trust. And if the case subsequently fails to stick by the evidence or the law, well, it’s on to the next prosecution, right?

More from Stephen Bainbridge and from Ira Stoll (more), who unlike many in the press gave skeptical attention to the case throughout its course.

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Law firm's advertising text

It’s especially important to act quickly if you’ve been killed. (Fugly.com; seen via George Takei, and making the rounds on the internet).

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Police and community roundup

by Walter Olson on December 15, 2014

  • Oh, no: “Ferguson to Increase Police Ticketing to Close City’s Budget Gap,” because three arrest warrants per household is still too low [Bloomberg News via Zach Weissmuller (& thanks for quote), earlier]
  • In years 2011/12 alone, one Buffalo officer “killed as many dogs in the line of duty as the entire NYPD.” [WGRZ]
  • “He believed the poor had the right to buy and sell.” Tunisia yes, Staten Island too? [David Boaz, USA Today]
  • “The language of protest: Race, rioting, and the memory of Ferguson” [Abigail Perkiss, NCC/Yahoo, mentions me]
  • “Red light cameras to go dark in New Jersey” [Josh Kaib, Watchdog Wire] “Public opinion swings hard against traffic cameras” [AutoBlog]
  • On interpreting statistics on race and policing, point counter-point [Scott Alexander, Ezra Klein, Alexander] Reminder: increasing ranks of black officers does not necessarily lead to fewer shootings of black civilians [Jamelle Bouie, Slate]
  • “Sex, Spice, and Small-Town Texas Justice: The Purple Zone Raid” [Reason.tv video]

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The coroner’s inquest, familiar to readers of Agatha Christie, might be worth importing to the U.S. to look into police-caused deaths [Josh Voorhees, Slate, on ideas of Paul MacMahon]

Related: “The Grand Jury System Is Broken” [John Steele Gordon, Commentary, written post-Ferguson, pre-Garner]; New York Times “Room for Debate“; New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman asks for authority to take over prosecutorial authority in police shootings [WGRZ (auto-plays), New York Observer, Paul Cassell]; Harvey Silverglate via Todd Zywicki (don’t gut grand jury protections). And from Michael Bell, “What I Did After Police Killed My Son,” Politico: “In 129 years since police and fire commissions were created in the state of Wisconsin, we could not find a single ruling by a police department, an inquest or a police commission that a shooting was unjustified. …As a military pilot, I knew that if law professionals investigated police-related deaths like, say, the way that the National Transportation Safety Board investigated aviation mishaps, police-related deaths would be at an all time low.” (& Wisconsin aftermath)

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That’s National Public Radio, summarizing a new report from the federal Bureau of Justice Statistics that tells a very different story from the “1 in 5″ campus sexual assault slogan heard from the White House on down. Earlier here, etc.

P.S. Cato has now posted my Commentary article from last year on federal pressure for universities to reduce the procedural rights of accused students and faculty.

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“The vellum comes from the grass-fed cows of an area farm; to give the cows more agency in the vellum-making process, I let them choose the pumice I will treat their hides with after slaughter. I also make my own ink, using the ink of squid I raise myself in a PETA-approved salt-water aquarium in my office. …Don’t be lulled into a complacent life filled with …lawsuits that don’t reflect your uniqueness.” [McSweeney's, parody]

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I and others had criticized the Susquenita school district (more) for requiring middle schoolers to submit to drug tests as a condition of taking part in extracurricular activities, but the policy is gone now. [Harrisburg Patriot-News]

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“… the political class… uses the multiplication of criminal offenses as a form of moral exhibitionism.” [George Will, Washington Post/syndicated]

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Update: while the resulting regulatory costs could sink kitchen-table-based producers, the regulations don’t appear to be new [Reddit, Medical Daily; links and description updated] “Why aren’t underpants a medical device?” [Reddit commenter]

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Liability roundup

by Walter Olson on December 12, 2014

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“…the Seychelles or Tonga would have worked just as well.” David Rivkin and Andrew Grossman say President Obama is using international law to advance domestic controls on the sly.

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