- 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.
- “Judge dismisses ‘American Idol’ racial bias lawsuit” [Reuters]
- “Don’t sue your art dealer, because you won’t win” [Shane Ferro, Business Insurance on fate of Ronald Perelman suit against Larry Gagosian]
- Lawyer with big case pending before West Virginia high court bought plane from chief justice’s spouse [ABC, Charleston Daily Mail, WV Record]
- Remembering Bruno Leoni, classical liberal known for theory of superiority of decisional law process over legislation [Cato panel this summer, Todd Zywicki/Liberty and Law]
- “If I ever shoot your wedding, I’ll be sure to add a clause of ‘You cannot sue me for $300,000.'” [@GilPhotography on PetaPixel coverage]
- “Court Unconvinced by Lawyer Dressed as Thomas Jefferson” [Lowering the Bar]
- Arizona attorney general to GM: gimme $10K for every vehicle you’ve sold in my state [Bloomberg]
- Latest Yank expatriate to get caught in IRS’s overseas tax/FATCA trap? None other than London mayor Boris Johnson [Robert Wood, Forbes]
- “He washes any hint of influence-peddling through the purifying font of his law firm, just as other Albany leaders do.” [Mark Cunningham, New York Post]
- Now why would Texas trial lawyer Steve Mostyn spend $1.2 million trying to get Charlie Crist elected governor of Florida, a different state? [Nancy Smith/Sunshine State News, earlier on Mostyn]
- Yes, that opinion-TweetWatch project at Indiana U. funded with federal NSF dollars was intensely if covertly political [Charlotte Allen, Minding the Campus]
- Qui tam/whistleblower plaintiff bar finds bright spot in election with elevation of Iowa Sen. Grassley who has so often been helpful to them in past [WSJ Law Blog, earlier]
- Considerable turnover in election results for state attorneys general (due to open seats, of course; you thought incumbent AGs get defeated?) [NAAG, Bingham McCutchen/Lexology]
- “John Doe froze conservative speech, targets say” [M.D. Kittle/Wisconsin Reporter, earlier]
- Weekly Standard runs my parody song about the local governor’s race, “Show Me the Way to Frederickstown, or, Lost in Maryland“; Update: Here’s Lauren Weiner’s rendition, to the tune of “Sweet Betsy from Pike.” Freelance writer Lauren Weiner has lived in Baltimore since 1992. [improved YouTube link with video]
- Also on Maryland governor’s race: it’s not every day a GOP challenger blames a Democratic incumbent for issuing too few pardons [Radley Balko; more on clemency]
- Harry Reid forces are latest to demagogue Stand Your Ground laws and role of American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), but Glenn Kessler calls them on it with Four Pinocchios [Washington Post “Fact Checker”]
- Enough non-citizens vote illegally “that their participation can change the outcome of close races.” [Jesse Richman and David Earnest, Washington Post Monkey Cage; a response]
- State attorney general offices are now politicized and targets of lobbying, and why should we be surprised at that given all the power they’ve grabbed for themselves as business regulators in recent years? [David Boaz, Cato] Hot state-AG races this year include Wisconsin, Nevada, New Mexico, Arkansas [John Fund]
- Two views on Alabama proposed Amendment One, curbing use of foreign law: Paul Horwitz (adds nothing to Alabama constitution not already there), Quin Hillyer (insurance against bad judicial decisionmaking);
- More about the Greg Abbott tree-fall settlement called into question by opponent Wendy Davis [Hugh Kelly, TLR, earlier]
- Long Island legislator withdraws from State Senate race after charges of high-dollar law-firm misconduct [Newsday]
- Defaulted mortgages: “Coakley lawsuit has ties to key backer’s interests” [Boston Globe via Funnell] Flashback: Radley Balko in 2010 on Martha Coakley’s awful prosecutorial record (up to that point) [Politico; related, Harvey Silverglate on prosecutors who run for higher office; earlier]
- Say nay, laddie: Unsettling new Scotland law will assign each child state interest guardian (“named person”) [BBC, Scottish government, more, Josie Appleton/Spiked Online, opposition group and another] More: Skenazy.
- Why Judge Alex Kozinski doesn’t like jury nullification [Reason interview last year]
- “Asbestos Ruling Boosts Transparency —- and Threatens Plaintiffs’ Attorneys” [Paul Barrett, Business Week, on Garlock ruling]
- Winona, Minn. town cap on rental conversions violates property owners’ rights [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
- Challenger claims Ohio attorney general’s hiring of debt collection firms amounts to pay to play [Columbus Dispatch]
- Mixed verdict in Philadelphia traffic court prosecutions [Inquirer, ABA Journal, earlier]
- Save the date! Cato’s annual Constitution Day returns Wed., Sept. 17, with panelists and speakers like P.J. O’Rourke, Nadine Strossen, Tom Goldstein, Judge Diane Sykes, Roger Pilon, and a host of others [details]