- All aboard! “Louisiana AG hires nine private law firms, 17 attorneys for federal antitrust pharmaceutical lawsuit” [Legal NewsLine]
- National Association of Insurance Commissioners has, and exploits, legally privileged status as collector of insurance data. Time for open access [Ray Lehmann]
- Europe’s antitrust charges against Google remind us of “the poverty of the standard antitrust doctrine” [Pierre Lemieux]
- Court blasts Morrison Foerster for ‘nonsensical’ legal theories and ‘carnival fun house’ arguments [ABA Journal]
- “Trolls aren’t the primary problem with the patent system. They’re just the problem Congress is willing to fix.” [Timothy Lee, Vox] What makes you think lawyers and rent-seekers aren’t going to turn “patent reform” to their own purposes? [Mark Mills]
- “It only goes that one direction, too.” Rachel Maddow recognizes the fairness problem with one-way fee shifting, this one time [Huffington Post on pro-defendant Colorado firearms law]
- CPSC still going after Zen Magnets, which isn’t backing down [Nancy Nord, earlier]
- Widely discussed new Charles Murray book, By the People: Rebuilding Liberty without Permission, includes extensive discussion of failures of law and litigation system [Carlos Lozada WaPo review, Cato’s Letter, podcast and related post, J.D. Tuccille/Reason]
- Rare and welcome book-length work on state attorneys general, Paul Nolette’s Federalism on Trial: State Attorneys General and National Policymaking in Contemporary America, I’ll have more to say about it in due course [Liberty and Law, discussion with author]
- The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom by my Cato colleague David Boaz, a revised and updated edition of his earlier Libertarianism: A Primer, includes chapter on law and the constitution as well as much related discussion; boasts blurbs from John Mackey, Peter Thiel, and Richard Epstein;
- Arnold Kling on Political Realism, new free e-book from Jonathan Rauch; also, Kling reviews a recent talk at Cato by Michael Shermer on his book The Moral Arc: How Science and Reason Lead Humanity toward Truth, Justice, and Freedom;
- “We will fight for a fair contract!” proclaimed then-N.J. Gov. Jon Corzine to government workers, neat trick if you accept assumption that he was on opposite side of negotiating table from them [Michael Toth on new Daniel DiSalvo book on public sector unionism, Government Against Itself: Public Union Power and Its Consequences]
- In the mail: Akhil Amar, The Law of the Land: A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic, on how the idiosyncrasies of particular states, regions, and localities have shaped our understanding of the U.S. Constitution;
- And: Jay Cost, A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption [related Cato event]
- And: Diana Furchtgott-Roth and Jared Meyer, Disinherited: How Washington Is Betraying America’s Young;
- And: Jack C. Fisher, Silicone on Trial: Breast Implants and the Politics of Risk [Sager Group]
- “The makers of smokeless tobacco products like to claim that their products are safer than cigarettes.” Hey, New York Times, that’s ’cause it’s true! [Jacob Sullum]
- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman pursues high-profile case against Standard & Poor’s, accepts $50K contribution from CEO of another credit rating firm [Richard Pollock/Daily Caller, some background]
- Megan McArdle on child support and the difficulty of replacing social norms with law [Bloomberg View, my recent Cato post and podcast]
- “Wisconsin Chief Justice Shirley Abrahamson should drop her lawsuit” [Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial, earlier; AP (federal judge declines to block law’s implementation while suit is pending)]
- CVS opposes certification of securities class action, saying government pension managers filing it were influenced by political donations from plaintiff’s law firm [Law360, reg]
- “Has Conley v. Gibson really been overruled? (And did the Fourth Circuit just tee up the next big SCOTUS case on pleading?)” [Adam Steinman, Civil Procedure Blog, arguing from premises different from mine, on Fourth Circuit’s decision in McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Department of Transportation]
- The Maryland knife law angle in the Freddie Gray story [Patrik Jonsson, Christian Science Monitor; my post at Free State Notes]
- Mississippi community rallies behind 88 year old doctor investigated by licensure board for practicing from his car [AP]
- Pennsylvania: “Kill deal between Attorney General’s office and law firm, nursing homes ask court” [Harrisburg Patriot-News; earlier on AG Kathleen Kane; related on law firm of Cohen Milstein, on which earlier]
- Hazards of overwarning in the wired hospital: “2,507,822 unique alarms in one month in our ICUs, the overwhelming majority of them false.” [Robert Wachter, Medium]
- JAMS arbitrator, a retired California Supreme Court judge, resists subpoena seeking explanation of settlement allocation decisions among Prempro clients of Girardi Keese [National Law Journal; see also from way back]
- Reports of VA-scandal retaliation raise question: do all the HIPAA laws in the world protect us from persons in high places wishing to pry into our medical records with ill intent? [J. D. Tuccille, Reason]
- New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman charged that 79% of herbal supplements lacked appropriate DNA, but that claim itself turns out to be hard to substantiate [Bill Hammond, New York Daily News]
- Nurses’ gallows humor defended against That’s-Not-Funny Brigade [Alexandra Robbins, Washington Post]
- Yikes: Nevada supreme court is nearly broke because it relies on traffic ticket revenue and cops are writing fewer [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
- Forced marriage in immigrant communities happening not just in places like English Midlands, but in U.S. as well; those who assist resistant teenage girls risk “aiding delinquent minor” charges [Washington Post]
- “Posner informs pro se litigant that the queen of England did not absolve him of need to pay taxes” [ABA Journal]
- Panel at Federalist Society on president’s power not to enforce the law [Randy Barnett, background on panel]
- Inside grand jury’s investigation of Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane [Philadelphia Inquirer] “Referral fees paid to wife of former Pa. Supreme Court justice questioned” [Harrisburg Patriot-News]
- Have you or a loved one been attacked by a Zebra? [Arkansas Matters] “Louisiana Man on Trial for Murder Says He Thought the Victim Was an Alligator” [People]
- Sneaky Oregon law will divert unclaimed class action dollars to legal aid and not incidentally boost legal fees [Sen. Betsy Johnson, East Oregonian]
The burgeoning Moonlight Fire litigation scandal, which has already tarnished government agencies that include the California fire and forestry agency, the U.S. Department of Justice, and the U.S. Forest Service, could also raise questions for California Attorney General and Senate hopeful Kamala Harris. John Fund:
“The misconduct in this case is so pervasive,” [California Superior Court judge Leslie] Nichols wrote, “that it would serve no purpose to attempt to recite it all here.”
Nichols also didn’t spare the office of California Attorney General Kamala Harris, now a candidate for Barbara Boxer’s U.S. Senate seat and a national Democratic star. Nichols wrote that he can recall “no instance in experience over 47 years as an advocate and a judge, in which the conduct of the Attorney General so thoroughly departed from the high standard it represents, and, in every other instance has exemplified.” Judge Nichols then ordered the state to pay Sierra Pacific a whopping $32 million in damages and expenses. Cal Fire denies any wrongdoing, while the offices of Harris and Governor Jerry Brown aren’t talking.
“Four law firms received three no-bid contracts for the secret investigations [of litigation prospects by the state of Pennsylvania against nursing homes and other defendants]. The firms and their lawyers donated a combined $191,400 to [attorney general Kathleen] Kane’s campaign from 2011 to 2013, records show. … Fees in most of the contracts are structured on a “contingency” basis, meaning the law firms typically get 20 to 25 percent of any final award — which ultimately could reap tens of millions for the state.” [Pittsburgh Tribune-Review] But this sounds better: as one of his first acts in office, Gov. Tom Wolf signed into law “a requirement that all private legal contracts go out to bid.” [Harrisburg Patriot-News] Earlier on Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane.
- Grand jury said to recommend charges against Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane [Philadelphia Inquirer, more, earlier here and here]
- Orin Kerr analyzes Obama admininstration proposals to expand law on computer crime [Volokh Conspiracy and more]
- “Religious Liberty Isn’t a ‘Dog Whistle’ – It’s a Necessary Practice of a Free Society” [Scott Shackford, Reason vs. Frank Bruni, New York Times]
- Scalia, Epstein, many others: videos now online from the Federalist Society’s recently concluded 2014 National Lawyers Convention;
- List of firms with non-disparagement clauses (of highly dubious enforceability) purporting to forbid negative comments from customers [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]
- “Red Tape Is Strangling Good Samaritans” [Philip K. Howard, The Daily Beast]
- I’ve written on this irony: antitrust lawyers collude among themselves to boost their fee take [Daniel Fisher]
The close working relationship between some state attorneys general and private trial lawyers — in which the AGs hire the lawyers to represent their states for a percentage fee of the haul — is not a new topic to us here at Overlawyered, but it’s nice to see it getting aired at length in the Dec. 18 New York Times piece by reporter Eric Lipton. The title gives a good introduction: “Lawyers Create Big Paydays by Coaxing Attorneys General to Sue” and in fact the private lawyers who commonly pitch the suits are themselves sometimes former state attorneys general, such as Michael Moore of Mississippi (of longstanding fame here), Patricia Madrid of New Mexico, Patrick Lynch of Rhode Island, Drew Edmondson of Oklahoma, and Peg Lautenschlager of Wisconsin. A few excerpts:
- Law firm donations to AGs or “party-backed organizations that they run” “often come in large chunks just before or after” inking contracts to represent the state. A sidebar chart, “Political Gifts from Plaintiffs Lawyers,” confirms that most of the money flows to partisan attorney general associations ($3.8 million to Democrats and $1.6 million to Republicans over a decade) or state parties ($1.5 vs. $445,000) as opposed to candidates directly ($2 million vs. $240,000, not counting AGs running for governor).
- When various AGs signed a brief to the Supreme Court supporting the plaintiff’s side in a securities litigation case, it was after being sedulously cultivated to do so by the lawyers.
- “…at least three former attorneys general are pitching painkiller abuse cases to states nationwide, although no state has yet publicly signed up.” More on the Chicago and California-county painkiller cases here.
- Yes: “‘Farming out the police powers of the state to a private firm with a profit incentive is a very, very bad thing,’ said Attorney General John Suthers of Colorado, a Republican and a former United States attorney.”
Who’d have guessed that movie studios would entrust populist Mississippi Attorney General and longtime Overlawyered favorite Jim Hood with a key role in pushing their rights as copyright owners against online services and search engines? Not I [Eli Lehrer, Weekly Standard] More from Mike Masnick at TechDirt: “it appears the MPAA and the major Hollywood studios directly funded various state Attorneys General in their efforts to attack and shame Google.” Related: The Verge.
Sequel: Google goes to court to block a sweeping subpoena from Hood [ArsTechnica, HuffPost (Hood: “salacious Hollywood tale”)] “One of Hood’s letters critical of Google, published earlier this week by The New York Times, was ‘largely written by lawyers for the movie industry,’ the company points out.” More: Hood vs. Google, from our archives.