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Australia

Steps

by Walter Olson on September 4, 2014

StepsTorty

Thanks to Australia’s Tortylicious Facebook stream for this warning sign. As commenter Alexander Cohen notes, the “Sign” sign is missing.

More: Lowering the Bar (“The similar sign at the top is just slightly less ridiculous, because gravity.”)

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on April 14, 2014

  • “Money spent trying to spread a political message is speech, whether you like the message or not.” [Michael Kinsley on McCutcheon v. FEC, earlier]
  • “Letter: Ken Avidor on Being Silenced By a Defamation Suit” [Romenesko]
  • “Canada’s first Twitter harassment trial has taken a strange twist.” [Christie Blatchford, National Post]
  • In union leader’s defamation suit, Philadelphia court orders anonymous commenter unmasked [CBS Philly]
  • New Jersey ruling letting parents be sued over kids’ Facebook posts will chill speech [Hans Bader/CEI, earlier]
  • More dispatches from Michael Mann-Mark Steyn litigation showdown [Steyn, Charles Cooke] Bonus: Steyn on Andrew Bolt case in Australia and on Nevada protests’ “First Amendment Area” (“The ‘First Amendment Area’ is supposed to be something called ‘the United States’.”)
  • “True-crime author Ann Rule’s suit against Seattle Weekly tossed” [KING]

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Nanny state roundup

by Walter Olson on February 12, 2014

  • Sock puppets: U.K. and E.U. governments both fund public advocacy campaigns on paternalism themes, effectively lobbying themselves at taxpayer expense. Sounds kinda familiar [Christopher Snowdon on Institute for Economic Affairs studies]
  • Federal government, in the form of the CDC, wishes your doctor would nag you more about your drinking [Jacob Sullum, more]
  • “$10m look into games and gun violence a bust” [Rob Beschizza; Mike Rose, Gamasutra; related, Scott Shackford]
  • Assumption of risk won a round at the California Supreme Court a year ago in a case on amusement park bumper cars [S.F. Chronicle, ABA Journal, related on Disneyland teacups] J.D. Tuccille on motorcycle risks [Reason]
  • As a country Australia is known for freedom, so why’s it a leader in enacting bans? [Vivienne Crompton, IPA "Freedom Watch"]
  • “Maine’s unwise and unconstitutional ban on disclosing the alcohol content of beers” [Jonathan Adler]
  • FDA mandate on removal of nicotine could benefit head regulator’s former client [Jacob Grier] Glaxo SmithKline, Johnson & Johnson also push bans on e-cigarettes, which compete with their nicotine therapies [Tim Carney] AGs from 24 states (AL, AZ, CA, CO, CT, DE, HI, ID, IL, IN, IA, ME, MD, MS, MT, NH, NM, NY, OH, OR, PA, RI, VT, WA) write FDA urging ban on menthol in cigarettes [CSPNet] “Cigarette Sin-Tax Hike Could Boost Black Markets” [Steven Greenhut] Brendan O’Neill on secondhand smoke [Reason]

Australia: “Lawyer argues Kevin Spratt may have been screaming in ‘joy’ while being tasered by police: A lawyer for two police officers says the court cannot rule out the possibility that a man was screaming with joy when he was being repeatedly tasered at the Perth Watch House more than five years ago.” [ABC] One never knows what will work in these cases: a jury in Orange County, Calif. recently acquitted two officers in the death of homeless schizophrenic Kelly Thomas, though it is not clear whether they accepted the suggestion of a defense lawyer that Thomas beat himself to death in police custody.

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November 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 11, 2013

  • Incoming Australian attorney general: we’ll repeal race-speech laws that were used to prosecute columnist Andrew Bolt [Sydney Morning Herald, Melbourne Herald-Sun, earlier]
  • Texas sues EEOC on its criminal background check policy [Employee Screen]
  • After Eric Turkewitz criticizes $85M announced demand in Red Bull suit, comments section turns lively [NYPIAB]
  • If only Gotham’s official tourism agency acted like a tourism agency [Coyote on NYC's official war against AirBnB; Ilya Shapiro, Cato; earlier here and here, etc.]
  • “Lawmaker wants Georgia bicyclists to buy license plates” [WSB]
  • Religious liberty implications of European moves to ban infant circumcision [Eugene Kontorovich]
  • Video on CPSC’s quest for personal liability against agency-mocking Craig Zucker of Buckyballs fame [Reason TV, earlier]

“A government worker injured during motel sex on a business trip is not entitled to workers’ compensation, Australia’s highest court has ruled.” [Debra Cassens Weiss, ABA Journal, earlier on Australian workers' comp]

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  • More details on my panel discussions on food issues next week at the Heritage Foundation [Monday, Sept. 23] and at Vermont Law School [Friday, Sept. 27];
  • “A Ban on Some Italian Cured Meat Is Ending” [Glenn Collins, N.Y. Times] “Market Forces Lead to Better Treatment for Farm Animals” [Steve Chapman]
  • “Tempering temperance: Puritan attitudes on alcohol still linger decades after Prohibition” [National Post]
  • Dozens of class-action suits: “Bay Area courts center of legal battle against food industry” [Mercury-News]
  • “Plain and/or Terrifying Packaging Considered for Junk Food in New Zealand (and Australia)” [Katherine Mangu-Ward]
  • If the dangers of rice aren’t enough to alarm even today’s Margaret Hamburg-headed FDA, they’re probably not very serious [ACSH]
  • North Carolina: home visits to make sure Medicaid recipient kids are eating their veggies? [Rick Henderson video]

Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on September 9, 2013

  • “It’s Not Illegal to Sell Anti-NSA Shirts Bearing the NSA Logo”
    [Volokh]
  • Can an American national be sued in American courts for working to persuade a foreign government to pass an oppressive law? [BTB on Scott Lively Uganda case]
  • “Court Rejects Religious Discrimination Claim Based on Associated Press’s Rejection of Plaintiff’s Religiously Themed Article” [Volokh]
  • Workings of British hate speech law: police visit clergyman who emailed pair of unwelcome religious tracts [Spectator]
  • “HIV Denialist’s Trademark and Defamation Claims Against Critical Blogger” [Paul Alan Levy]
  • Revisiting the practice of suing publishers of drug information in pharmaceutical liability cases [Beck]
  • “Australia’s Press Regulators Look To Enforce Ideological Conformity” [Tuccille, Reason]

Ethics roundup

by Walter Olson on May 22, 2013

  • “Robo-litigation”: ethical issues of the mass-foreclosure mess [Dustin Zachs, SSRN, via Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Roger Parloff on Chevron counterclaims against Patton Boggs [Fortune] “Judge Grudgingly Lets Donziger’s Lawyers Out Of Chevron Case” [Daniel Fisher; Reuters]
  • Should Australia dilute or abolish the “cab rank” rule? [John Flood via LEF]
  • “Ethical Limits on Civil Litigation Advocacy: A Historical Perspective” [Carol Andrews (Alabama), SSRN; Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “When Is a Demand Letter (Arguably) Extortion?” [John Steele, more, ABA Journal (Martin Singer demand letter threatening to expose target's sexual indiscretions]
  • Fifth Circuit denies Dickie Scruggs’s latest appeal [YallPolitics]
  • When crowdfunding meets litigation finance, watch out world [Richard Painter]
  • “Judge Orders Prenda Law Group Beamed Out Into Space” [Lowering the Bar, TechDirt]

May 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 10, 2013

  • Electric-car maker Tesla doesn’t get many kind words from free market types, but here’s one [Coyote] More: North Carolina auto dealer lobby strikes back [News & Observer]
  • One lawyer’s selection of the worst lawyer billboards, though they’re far from the worst we’ve seen [John M. Phillips]
  • House hearings on litigation abuse and on litigation and international competitiveness [Judiciary, more, Point of Law]
  • Ninth Circuit cites conflict of interest, throws out credit reporting class settlement [Trial Insider; Daniel Fisher]
  • Private pensions, market-based water rates and more: “Australian travel notes from a policy wonk” [Alex Tabarrok]
  • “Use elevators properly. Riding outside of cars can be dangerous and deadly” [Scouting NY, seen in Bronx apartment building]
  • “It’s long been my view that blawgs, law blogs, are the greatest peer reviewed content ever created.” [Greenfield]

Someone needs to organize one pronto, to judge by stories like this one from Ohio, where parents say they need pro bono help against a Child Protective Services attempt to seize custody of their six year old daughter for “neglect” that appears to include letting her walk around the neighborhood [Free-Range Kids, Shackford]

P.S.: Another story from Australia last year; and a happier one from Canada.

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Worker’s comp is intended to provide relatively liberal coverage in some ways — that goes with the territory of a “no-fault” compensation scheme — but a few of these outcomes might still raise an eyebrow, particularly when it comes to generous definitions of what’s “work-related.” [Cracked] More: Coyote (“Our problem tends to be that we get a whole heck of a lot of “injuries” in the 3-4 hours between when we fire someone and when they leave the property.”)

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  • Judge rules in first California “suitable seating at work” trial [The Recorder; earlier here, here]
  • On business travel: “Injury During Sex is Work-Related and Compensable, Aussie Court Holds” [Workplace Prof]
  • On the other hand: “Running in High Heels Was Probably Enough to Defeat This Workers’ Comp Claim” [Lowering the Bar]
  • Illinois federal court rules that unpaid volunteers may be covered by Title VII discrimination law [Eric Sigda, GTLE Blog]
  • Seattle to pay drama teacher $750K for not accommodating wishes re: renovation of building [Seattle Times, meanwhile]
  • Recalling AP v. NLRB, 1937, in which SCOTUS rejected First Amendment defense to Wagner Act, over Sutherland dissent [Gerard Magliocca, ConcurOp]
  • House Oversight Committee blasts NLRB for pro-union bias [press release and staff report PDF, Goldberg Segalla]

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on October 30, 2012

  • Australia: after talk displeasing to authorities, popular radio host ordered to undergo “factual accuracy training” [Sydney Morning Herald]
  • Jenzabar loses an appeal against documentary filmmaker [Paul Alan Levy, CL&P; earlier here, etc.]
  • “A Few Words On Reddit, Gawker, and Anonymity” [Popehat]
  • Canada: “Federal Court Upholds Hate Speech Provisions in the Canadian Human Rights Act” [Yosie Saint-Cyr, Slaw] “Canadian Government Official Calls Anti-Abortion Speech Illegal ‘Bullying'” [Hans Bader, CEI, Amy Alkon]
  • U.N.-regulated web? No thanks [Robert McDowell, Federalist Society, earlier here, etc.]
  • Further thoughts from Kevin Underhill on being sued by Orly Taitz [Lowering the Bar, earlier]
  • U.S. State Department official: we’re not just going to roll over on this free speech business [Volokh]

“After achieving a university entry rank of 99.95, winning fifth place in the state for chemistry and a place at the University of Sydney studying medicine, the former Abbotsleigh student Sarah Hui Xin Wong believed she could have done better in the [Higher School Certificate].” A New South Wales administrative tribunal has now turned down her complaint that she suffered disability discrimination by not being allowed further accommodations on the test, specifically a computer and extra time. But Australia does have loser-pays: “Ms. Wong has been ordered to pay some of the Board of Studies’ costs, including a proportion of the fees of the leading Sydney barrister Chris Ronalds, SC.” [Sydney Morning Herald]

In other Australia schools litigation news, a “former student who is suing Geelong Grammar School says she decided to seek damages after she failed to qualify for her preferred university course. Rose Ashton-Weir, 18, alleges Geelong Grammar gave her inadequate academic support, particularly in maths.” [Melbourne Age] More in update at The Age (“was perpetually disorganised and failed to attend classes, a tribunal has heard.”)

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Expanding, as is so often the case, at the expense of the rights of contract and property: “Australia’s hotel industry has been rocked by a court’s ruling that a prostitute was illegally discriminated against by a motel owner who refused to rent her a room to work from. The ruling has stunned hotel and motel owners, who thought they had a right to decide what sort of businesses were operating from their premises. … Prostitution is legal in Queensland, and discrimination based on lawful sexual activity is outlawed.” [Telegraph, U.K.]

Discussion: Catallaxy Files (“Australia’s leading libertarian and centre-right blog”).

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on May 2, 2012

  • “People’s Rights Amendment” paves way for government control of media and trampling of many other rights. Is your Rep a sponsor? [Volokh, more, Somin]
  • Indian skeptic charged with blasphemy for revealing secret behind “miracle” of weeping cross [Doctorow] “Arab world’s most famous comedian” jailed in Egypt on charges of “insulting Islam” [Volokh]
  • “Is the Real Intent of Cyber-Bullying Laws to Eliminate Criticism of Politicians?” [Coyote]
  • Timothy Kincaid: why I oppose the California “don’t say ex-gay” therapy-ban bill [BTB]
  • More on unreasonable IRS demands of tea party groups seeking nonprofit status [Stoll, Anne Sorock/Bill Jacobson, Houston Chronicle, earlier]
  • Denmark Supreme Court, 7-0, strikes down conviction of Lars Hedegaard for criticizing Islam in own home [Mark Steyn] Institute of Public Affairs launches campaign to defend free speech in Australia [Andrew Bolt case earlier] Free speech in Britain looking the worse for wear [Cooke, NRO] Belgian court throws out lawsuit seeking ban on allegedly racist “Tintin” comic book [Volokh] Group files criminal complaint against Swiss magazine over cover story on Roma crime [Spiegel]

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  • Arbitrator: felonious Montgomery County, Maryland cops should keep disability pay [Examiner] “Cop who took naked photos of rape victim can keep pension” [NY Post] Cop who pepper-sprayed UC Davis protesters is still on job, and maybe that’s how they’d have it [Radley Balko]
  • “Billions in retroactive liability” in pharma detailer wage/hour action before SCOTUS [Marcia Coyle, NLJ] And USA Today chose a faulty “worker discontent” theme on wage/hour case, since as class actions these suits are lawyer-driven;
  • Australia: “Worker injured during sex gets compensation payout” [News.com.au]
  • “Courts are finally starting to apply ADAAA—and it ain’t pretty” [Jon Hyman] ADA: “Judge Rules In Favor of Fired Employee With Bipolar Disorder” [ABC]
  • NLRB goes after Hyatt on employee handbook language [Gary Shapiro, Examiner] Union claims Indiana right-to-work law violates Thirteenth Amendment ban on slavery [James Sherk, NRO]
  • EEOC: sex discrimination law bars bias against transgender employees [AP, Hyman] “EEOC Obtains Substantial Settlement in Obesity Discrimination Suit” [Disabilities Law]
  • Law journal prediction: adherents of racism will claim Title VII protection [Lawrence D. Rosenthal, Temple L. Rev. via Workplace Prof]

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