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Boston

December 2 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 2, 2014

  • “Lying to a Lover Could Become ‘Rape’ In New Jersey” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason, Scott Greenfield]
  • “A $21 Check Prompts Toyota Driver to Wonder Who Benefited from Class Action” [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog]
  • On “right of publicity” litigation over the image of the late General George Patton [Eugene Volokh]
  • HBO exec: “We have probably 160 lawyers” looking at film about Scientology [The Hollywood Reporter]
  • Revisiting the old and unlamented Cambridge, Mass. rent control system [Fred Meyer, earlier]
  • Lawyers! Wanna win big by appealing to the jurors’ “reptile” brain? Check this highly educational offering [Keenan Ball]
  • “Suit claims Google’s listings for unlicensed locksmiths harmed licensed business” [ABA Journal]

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A new paper estimates that Massachusetts voters’ decision to end rent control added $2 billion to the value of Cambridge, Mass. residential housing stock over 10 years. While some of this represents the improved worth of rental property whose value had been artificially suppressed by the previous law, much of it reflects improvements in the value of other, nearby property that had never been under rent control, as increased rates of renovation and improvement made whole neighborhoods more desirable. “In net, our estimates imply that more than half (55 percent) of the capitalized cost of rent control was borne by owners of never-controlled properties, illustrating both the importance of spillovers in housing markets and the potential unintended side effects of price ceilings.” [David H. Autor, Christopher J. Palmer and Parag A. Pathak, Cato Research Briefs in Economic Policy]

If done by anyone other than unionists, this would by now be a trending national story:

The Teamsters picketers were already mad. By the time Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi’s car pulled up to the Steel & Rye restaurant in the picturesque New England town of Milton just outside Boston, one of them ran up to her car and screamed, “We’re gonna bash that pretty face in, you f*cking wh*re!”

“She was scared,” said a Top Chef crewmember who witnessed the incident.

Bravo had incurred the wrath of Charlestown-based Teamsters Local 25 by using its own production assistants as drivers, reports the Boston Herald:

The picketers lobbed sexist, racist and homophobic slurs at the rest of the cast and crew for most of the day, the website reported, and when production wrapped, the “Top Chef” crew found that tires were slashed on 14 of their cars. Milton police confirmed that the union members were “threatening, heckling and harassing” but said no arrests were made.

The Herald quotes a spokeswoman for Local 25, Melissa Hurley, sounding completely unapologetic: “As far as we’re concerned, nothing happened.” Or to put it differently: Teamsters Will Be Teamsters.

More, including the violent history that makes this incident anything but “isolated,” from the Boston Globe. I’ve posted on the curious exemption of unions from the law of harassment, stalking, hostile environment, etc. here, here (more on Philadelphia Quaker meetinghouse arson), and in various other posts, as well as in my book The Excuse Factory.

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  • Boston’s North End, the home-as-one’s-castle doctrine, and how we got the Fourth Amendment [Ted Widmer, Globe]
  • NYT sniffs at Origination Clause as basis for ObamaCare challenge, but many framers of Constitution saw it as vital [Trevor Burrus, Forbes; Ilya Shapiro; four years ago on another Origination Clause episode]
  • Justice Scalia, concurring in Schuette, knocks the fabled Carolene Products footnote down a peg [Michael Schearer]
  • SCOTUS lets stand New Jersey’s very extreme gun control law. Was it serious about reviving the Second Amendment? [Ilya Shapiro]
  • Didn’t link this earlier: Kenneth Anderson discusses his excellent Cato Supreme Court Review article on Kiobel, the Alien Tort case [Opinio Juris]
  • Kurt Lash guestblogs on 14th Amendment privileges and immunities clause [Volokh Conspiracy]
  • Supreme Court reviving law/equity distinction? (Hope so.) [Samuel Bray, SSRN via Solum]

It’s illegal to have an open bar at a ticketed event in Massachusetts, and if you overlook that rule the Boston cops might just show up and get you to “voluntarily” turn some of the event’s proceeds over to them. [Clark at Popehat]

Public employment roundup

by Walter Olson on December 13, 2013

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Carlos Miller, whose “Photography Is Not A Crime” blog argues for the right of citizens to film police, has been charged by Boston police with — with what, exactly? [Brian Doherty; Ken at Popehat ("What a accomplishment: the Boston Police Department has discovered a way to make it a crime for citizens to contact the person it designates to talk to citizens.")]

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The columnist has a priceless anecdote of a fact-checking query mistakenly left in a pre-publication book version sent out by Prof. Dershowitz’s publisher; also, why those who complain about being called celebrity lawyers should probably not call attention to lists of the famous people they’ve represented. [Boston Globe]

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Mark Hansen in the ABA Journal with an overview of how crime labs have finally come under scrutiny following a “string of shoddy, suspect and fraudulent results” in Boston, New York, North Carolina, Nassau County, N.Y. and elsewhere.

In St. Paul, Minn., assistant public defender Lori Traub stumbled into her local lab’s problems and

says she was horrified by what she found: The lab, an old-fashioned “cop shop,” was run by a police sergeant with no scientific background, had no written operating procedures, didn’t clean instruments between testing, allowed technicians unlimited access to the drug vault, and didn’t have anyone checking anyone else’s work. Analysts didn’t know what a validity study was, used Wikipedia as a technical reference, and in their lab reports referred to “white junk” clogging an instrument.

It gets much worse. A West Virginia state serologist, following the DNA clearance of a man he had previously identified as a rapist, “was eventually found to have falsified test results in as many as 134 cases during a 10-year period.” Oklahoma City Police Department crime lab chemist Joyce Gilchrist

who testified as a prosecution expert in 23 death penalty cases, including those of 12 inmates who were later executed, was fired in 2001 for doing sloppy work and giving false or misleading testimony. Nicknamed “Black Magic” by detectives for her seeming ability to get lab results no other chemist could, Gilchrist was never prosecuted for her alleged misdeeds, though she reportedly was named a defendant in at least one lawsuit against the city by a convicted rapist who was later exonerated.

More: And according to a new paper, it turns out that many state police labs are actually paid per conviction, a practice that tends to incentive false-positive error.

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According to a panel discussion hosted by the law firm of Edwards Wildman Palmer, sponsors of the Boston Marathon could face liability claims over the terrorist bombing of the event. One panelist cited the Station nightclub fire litigation in Rhode Island, in which plaintiffs lodged claims against upwards of 90 defendants, such as beer and radio-station sponsors of the concert, and won substantial settlements — $22 million from the parent company of the local radio station and $21 million from the beer defendants, for example. [Sheri Qualters, National Law Journal]

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City of Boston vs. fun

by Walter Olson on January 15, 2013

A certain disapproving attitude toward nightlife is not exactly new among Beantown authorities, but discouraging the playing of darts, solitaire and board games in taverns does sound like something of a novelty [Boston Herald]

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The Boston suburb of Chelsea, emulating New York City and other municipalities, is banning trans fats in restaurant recipes effective Jan. 1, leaving bakery owner Richard Katz “vowing to stop selling pastries rather than peddle what he calls ‘awful’ tasting trans fat-free baked goods.” [Fox Boston via Keep Food Legal]

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Says the sponsor of Brookline, Mass.’s proposed Styrofoam ban. [Boston Globe via Ira Stoll; earlier on Concord water bottle ban]

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Speeches in October

by Walter Olson on September 27, 2012

I’ll be speaking at these five law schools in October, sponsored by the Federalist Society and at lunchtime unless otherwise specified:

Oct. 2, Lewis and Clark, Portland, Ore., debating Prof. Henry Drummonds, on federal quotas on disabled hiring (more).

Oct. 3, University of Oregon, Eugene, Ore., on tort law and the “invisible fist” theory (U of O calendar).

Oct. 9, University of South Carolina, Columbia, S.C., on Schools for Misrule, debating Prof. Jacqueline Fox (Facebook event page, FedSoc).

Oct. 29, Boston University, Boston, Mass., topic to be announced.

Oct. 30, New England School of Law, on tobacco litigation, debating Ilana Knopf.

To inquire about having me speak to your group, email editor – at – overlawyered – dot – com.

Upcoming October travel

by Walter Olson on September 3, 2012

I’m set to speak in October in Boston, South Carolina, and Oregon. If you want to add on a speaking stop for me in one of these places or someplace nearby, let me know quickly before I buy air tickets. And if you’d like to book me to speak to your group, drop me a line at editor – at – overlawyered – dot – com.

Labor roundup

by Walter Olson on August 7, 2012

  • I dreamed someone sabotaged the memory care unit by switching Rosa DeLauro’s name tag with Rosa Luxemburg’s [Fox; Raising Hale, Labor Union Report with more on alleged nursing home sabotage and the Connecticut pols that enable it]
  • New York’s Scaffold Law will inflate cost of Tappan Zee Bridge rebuild by hundreds of millions, according to Bill Hammond [NYDN]
  • “In Michigan, a ballot measure to enshrine union rights” [Reuters, WDIV]
  • Massachusetts voters rejected unionizing child care providers, but legislature decided to do it anyway [Boston Herald]
  • SEIU flexes muscle: “Surprise strike closes SF courtrooms” [SFGate, NBC Bay Area]
  • If it goes to arbitration, forget about disciplining a Portland police officer [Oregonian via PoliceMisconduct.net] Boston police overtime scandal [Reason] Related, San Bernardino [San Diego Union-Tribune]
  • Louisiana teacher union furor: “Now There’s A Legal Defense Fund For Schools The LAE Is Threatening To Sue” [Hayride, earlier]
  • As unions terrorize a Philadelphia construction project, much of the city looks the other way [Inga Saffron, Philadelphia Inquirer, PhillyBully.com; via Barro]

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Chicken scraps

by Walter Olson on August 2, 2012

  • I joined hosts Mark Newgent and Andrew Langer of RedMaryland on their BlogTalkRadio show Monday evening to talk about the Chick-Fil-A furor, the efforts of politicians in Boston and Chicago to use regulatory permissions to push the company around, and the resulting lessons for political and economic freedom; I went on to discuss my efforts to rally opinion in favor of Maryland’s new same-sex marriage law. You can listen here or here (UStream).
  • Relatedly, here is Ted Frank’s comment: “Every chicken sandwich you don’t buy deprives anti-gay organizations of approximately $0.0001. Probably less than that. Or, you can do what I did and donate some real money that might actually make a difference to [Marylanders for Marriage Equality] to campaign about the gay marriage initiative on the ballot in that state.”
  • “Unwise…won’t work.” The New York Times, oft indignant on other topics, seems rather tepid in criticizing the various city halls’ attacks on speech;
  • No united flock: the restaurants in question, many run by strong-minded independent franchisees, seem to be politically a various bunch themselves.
  • Speaking of non-united flocks, I think the ACLU’s Illinois affiliate may have a thing or two to teach its Massachusetts affiliate. Following the Chicago alderman’s threats to block the restaurant, ACLU of Illinois attorney Adam Schwartz was both forceful and correct: “what the government cannot do is to punish someone for their words. … We believe this is clear cut.” On the other hand, Carol Rose of the ACLU of Massachusetts strangely dismissed the Boston controversy as “little more than a war of words – which is protected by the First Amendment as core speech,” as if the Mayor had merely subjected the sandwich chain to a volley of verbal abuse, without more. Perhaps Ms. Rose wrote the piece while glancing only at Mayor Menino’s official letter to Dan Cathy, which stays generally within “war of words” territory, and was unaware of the July 20 coverage in the Boston Herald, which quoted Menino thus: “If they need licenses in the city, it will be very difficult — unless they open up their policies.” That’s no more a mere “war of words” than “If you run that editorial, I’ll have you arrested.”
  • More coverage: Tom Palmer Cato podcast; Hans Bader of CEI First Amendment analysis; David Boaz, Roger Pilon and Brad Smith at Politico; must-read Glenn Greenwald column; earlier here, etc.
  • And: “By handing Chick-fil-A a valid grievance, Menino and his ilk rallied popular support for the company” [Josh Barro, Boston Globe]
  • Yet more: Pressure group friendly to Chicago alderman filed antidiscrimination complaint based on chain execs’ speech [Volokh; HuffPo ("negotiation")] Some further thoughts on where the First Amendment’s relevant in the whole affair, and where it isn’t [Jim Huffman, Daily Caller]

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July 30 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 30, 2012

  • Backing down, sort of: “Menino says he can’t actively block Chick-Fil-A” [Boston Herald; Michael Graham on the Boston mayor's curious standards] Glad for small favors: Maryland public officials have wisely stayed out of the fracas [my post at Maryland for All Families got an Instalanche, thanks Glenn Reynolds] Earlier here, here, here;
  • Trying to start a business in Greece? What to expect [Reuters on shrimp farm]
  • Proceeds of California’s Prop 63 “millionaire’s tax” were supposedly earmarked for mental health. Here’s where the dollars have actually been spent [AP]
  • George Will on prosecution of whale-watcher for “harassing” humpback [WaPo, our January coverage]
  • Tries to slide down banister four stories up, survivors now suing Chicago’s Palmer House hotel [Chicago Sun-Times]
  • Link bait: the ABA Journal picks the 12 greatest courtroom plays;
  • Prop 65 and carryout bags: “California, Land of the Free” [David Henderson]

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