Roger Pilon on NLRB v. Canning recess-appointments case [Cato]
States’ efforts to tax citizens of other states stretch Commerce Clause to breaking point [Steve Malanga]
Richard Epstein on his new book The Classical Liberal Constitution [Hoover, more; yet more on why Epstein considers himself a classical liberal rather than hard-core libertarian]
Corporate law and the Hobby Lobby case [Bainbridge]
Some state supreme courts including California’s interpret “impairment of contracts” language as constitutional bar to curbing even future accruals in public employee pension reform. A sound approach? [Sasha Volokh first, second, third, fourth, fifth posts, related Fed Soc white paper]
EPA malicious prosecution in Hubert Vidrine case won’t be “isolated” unless we change our thinking [Ken at Popehat]
Title IX coordinator training: “How federal regulations are making college ‘risk management’ lawyers rich” [Robert Shibley, Daily Caller] A lawyer spots more problems with Department of Education regulations on campus sexual assault [Robert Smith, RCP]
Ted Frank guessed right on outcome of Wal-Mart case but still lost big betting on it [PoL]
After feds seize online bettors’ money, Anne Arundel County, Maryland police department crows over windfall [CEI] And c’mon Maryland, surely we in the home state of H.L. Mencken and Frederick Douglass can do better in the liberty rankings than this;
During the successful campaign for Proposition 64 in California, reformers cited as an example of the sort of the “shakedown lawsuit” they hoped to eliminate a suit in which Bill Lerach’s class action firm demanded money from lock maker Kwikset because its product was marked “Made in U.S.A.” but included screws made in Taiwan. Nonetheless, the California Supreme Court has now ruled 5-2 that the proposition does not ban such suits after all, because consumers can claim to be injured by the arguable mislabeling, even though nothing was defective about the lock. Dissenting Justice Ming Chin, joined by Carol Corrigan, pointed out that to get around the Proposition 64 limit all that consumers “now have to allege is that they would not have bought the mislabeled product,” and that this “cannot be what the electorate intended” in voting for the measure. [L.A. Times, CJAC, earlier here, here, etc.]
Relatedly or otherwise: Glenn Reynolds interviews University of Tennessee law professor Ben Barton about his new book The Lawyer-Judge Bias in the American Legal System (“Virtually all American judges are former lawyers. This book argues that these lawyer-judges instinctively favor the legal profession in their decisions and that this bias has far-reaching and deleterious effects on American law.”)
If you’re thinking of starting in: “A law blogging FAQ” [Venkat Balasubramani] Recommended, even if not new: “Notes on blogging for journalists” from Felix Salmon [July]
Welcome the Originalism Blog, from Prof. Mike Rappaport’s Constitution Center at the University of San Diego. Acclaimed blogger Mark Herrmann is back, this time at Above the Law. Blogs proliferate on the hot legal area of employment class actions [Trask] Disgraced class-actioneer Bill Lerach has an online column now [John Frith/CJAC, HuffPo]
R.I.P: Peter Nordberg, attorney with Philadelphia’s Berger & Montague and a pioneer of online legal commentary with his outstanding site on scientific and expert testimony, Daubert on the Web [Tributes.com obituary, April 2010 but not seen until recently]
The disgraced class action king plans to teach an ethics-of-capitalism course at Irvine. Prosecutors wonder whether it’s really aimed at doing penance for his ethical failings, or instead will offer him a chance to blast away at his enemies while garnering “community service” credit. [Josh Gerstein, Politico; David Lat, Above the Law]
Update (sub-only NLJ via Ted at PoL): Judge John Walter denies Lerach’s request for the course credit and lambastes the unrepentant felon more generally:
“He misled and fooled the court into believing he had remorse at the time of his sentencing.” Walter said that he now believes the sentence was “way too lenient” and regretted having accepted Lerach’s plea deal.
Compensation awards to soldiers in the UK: £161,000 for losing leg and arm, but £186,896 for sex harassment? [Telegraph]
Judge in banana pesticide fraud case says threats have been made against her and against witnesses [AP, L.A. Times]
Teacher plans to sue religious school that fired her for having premarital sex [Orlando Sentinel]
Now sprung from hoosegow, class-actioneer Lerach on progressive lecture circuit and “living in luxury” [Stoll, Carter Wood at PoL and ShopFloor (Campaign for America's Future conference), San Diego Reader via Pero]
Connecticut law banning “racial ridicule” has palpable constitutional problems, you’d think, but has resulted in many prosecutions and some convictions [Volokh, Gideon]
Bill Lerach’s contemplated hop from the federal slammer to a teaching position may be especiallynotable, but Kai Falkenberg at Forbes reminds us that others with records of disgrace or lawbreaking have turned up at the law lectern too, including Sixties terrorist Bernardine Dohrn, long ensconced at Northwestern; disbarred felon Lynne Stewart, who addressed the celebrated Hofstra ethics conference; and smurfing specialist Eliot Spitzer, who “taught a class called ‘Law and Public Policy’ at City College during the fall 2009 term.” And had you heard that former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, whose trial on corruption charges is upcoming, gave a student-sponsored talk last month at Northwestern on the topic of ethics in government?
Sometimes it can be hard to tell the faculty panel discussion from the police lineup. In my forthcoming book Schools for Misrule: Legal Academia and an Overlawyered America — due out next spring from Encounter Books — I’ll have a lot more to say about the lessons that sends.
Released from prison, the felonious class-actioneer plans to join Dean Erwin Chemerinsky’s left-leaning new University of California law school to lecture students on the topic of “Regulation of Free Market Capitalism — Why Have We Failed?”. He also apparently intends to claim the time spent in this propagandistic effort toward his community service obligation. In an interview with Diane Bell of the San Diego Union-Tribune, he says of his past legal practice: “I would not have done anything differently.” “I also intend to be active in progressive political activities probably with the Campaign for America’s Future,” he says. [Sign On San Diego, WSJ Law Blog, Ribstein; cross-posted from Point of Law]
…The authors explain in their Prologue that initially, Dillon had intended to co-author a book with Lerach, but that project got waylaid when it became clear that Lerach’s legal difficulties were serious. …
Lerach’s skill and his excesses emerged in his first successful case in San Diego, in which he represented a group of retirees against the Methodist Church. Lerach’s legal performance was by all accounts brilliant, and produced a great result for his clients. But, the authors note, “along with the good came the other things: the hubris, the taunting, the acrimony with the opposing side, the hyperpartisanship borne of the Manichean world view.” …
The authors also methodically show how so much of Lerach’s crusading activities depending on his firm’s corrupt system for procuring plaintiffs on whose behalf to bring the suit, as well as on the testimony of a corrupt expert witness.
…Bill Lerach did not invent the criminal conspiracy; he joined it in progress. His “full cooperation” fails to name names and take numbers. … Lerach knows, but he isn’t telling, because the statute of limitations has not yet run for all of his crimes. …
Nevertheless, “Circle of Greed” is a must-read for lawyers and judges because even a “limited hang-out” by Bill Lerach reveals far more than he intended.
An excerpt from the book is at Politics Daily. LaCroix also interviews the authors (who note that while Lerach encouraged stories about a supposed conspiracy to get him, the Milberg prosecution “was managed by a dedicated civil servant in the Los Angeles U.S. attorney’s office named Richard Robinson who is not only a career prosecutor, but a Democrat.”) And San Diego public broadcasting outlet KPBS runs its Dillon-and-Lerach interview under the gag-worthy headline, “The Story Of Bill Lerach’s Fighting For Consumers.”
All four have completed their sentences and don’t seem to have it so bad, judging by a March 19 Bloomberg story. William Lerach is going to teach at a law school and work for a “progressive think-tank.” And for the Milberg law firm itself? “Over the past couple of years, while everybody has been laying off lawyers and cutting pay, we’ve been giving lawyers raises and extra bonuses.”
There’s no evidence that workers on automotive brakes (which sometimes contain asbestos) get mesothelioma at a greater rate than the rest of the population, but auto companies still get sued over it. Ford fought one in Madison County, rather than settle, and won. [Madison County Record]
Much of the riveting detail in “Circle of Greed” comes from Mr. Lerach, who cooperated fully with the authors. They seem to buy his line that his actions were motivated by his desire to protect innocent shareholders from greedy corporations. The book’s overall argument—as the title suggests—is that it was corporate greed that created Mr. Lerach and provided a model for his ethical failings. That claim is unfair to the many honest companies who were Lerach victims and implausible in any case, thanks to the authors’ own vivid evidence of Mr. Lerach’s outsize criminal behavior.
More: At New York Times “DealBook” (via Pero), Peter Henning reviewing the same book traces Lerach’s downfall in part to the nature of his famous “I have no clients” practice:
Clients are an important constraint on lawyers, the restriction on their desire to push as hard as possible for every little victory in a case. …
When your opponent is your enemy, and you can say whatever you want because there is no client there to restrain your baser instincts, then at some point you will step over the line and perhaps eventually pay a price.
Henning also recounts Lerach’s famous vendetta against scholar/consultant Daniel Fischel (“I will destroy you”), which put the world on notice of the class actioneer’s character years before the main scandal hit.
As longtime trial lawyer ally Phil Angelides gears up his banker-bashing hearings, the law firm formerly known as Lerach Coughlin (yes, that Lerach) has reason to smile [WSJ, WSJ Law Blog] Earlier at Point of Law here, here, and here.
“The Justice Department is fighting a request by former class action lawyer Bill Lerach, who is on probation after pleading guilty to hiding payments to plaintiffs, to take a 44-day vacation to 18 cities in Europe this summer accompanied by as many as 18 family members and friends.” What seems to especially gall prosecutors is the way Lerach, despite earlier promises of contrition, now goes around proclaiming his lack of regret over his past behavior. “Carl Cannon and Pat Dillon’s book on Lerach is due out in March”; it is entitled Circle of Greed. [Josh Gerstein, Politico]
Greenwich, Connecticut real estate board may discipline member whose blog (often linked in this space) regularly pokes fun at overpriced houses. Antitrust/First Amendment problem? [Chris Fountain, For What It's Worth]
“Religious group sued for allegedly inciting harm through prayers” [USA Today]
Get your copy today!My new book tackles the question of why so many bad ideas come from the law schools. "Cutting-edge commentary, hard-hitting, witty, astute." -- Publisher's Weekly. "Excellent... A fine dissection of these strangely powerful institutions" -- Wall Street Journal.