Justin Caldwell Somers, in jail for not paying a jaywalking fine, brutally murdered his sleeping cellmate by stomping him to death on the cement floor, but was found not criminally responsible because he had been acting under the influence of delusions and hallucinations. Now he is suing various personnel of the remand center for not preventing the incident, in part by not heeding the recommendation of a nurse and psychiatrist that he be housed alone: since the murder Somers “has experienced severe mental anguish and mental distress as a result of his role in causing the death of Mr. Stewart, as well as a result of the conditions of his incarceration.” [Edmonton Journal]
“Canada Post — a failing, state-owned Crown Corporation — not only claims a copyright on the database of postal codes (a collection of facts, and not the sort of thing that usually attracts copyright). They also claim a trademark on the words ‘postal code,’ and have sent legal threats to websites that use the words factually, to describe actual postal codes.” (U.S. = zipcodes) [Cory Doctorow, BoingBoing; Eruci]
“They will spend 10 years and all their money on litigation because of their inability to agree on anything,” a therapist predicted accurately. Yet more unsettling: the mom leveled false abuse accusations at the dad before eventually recanting. [Winnipeg Free Press]
Humorous warning on a Canadian coffee cup: my new post at Cato at Liberty (with picture).
“Earls Restaurants will take beer sold under the 25-year-old brand off the menu after a Vancouver woman with albinism filed a BC Human Rights Tribunal complaint against the chain in 2012. The same craft beer will still be sold, but just as ‘Rhino.’” [Emily Jackson, MetroNews, Canada; earlier]
P.S. Frances Zacher at Abnormal Use on other beer-naming controversies.
Maybe it’s not just as simple as passing a new law. [Daniel Fisher, Forbes]
Canada: “It started with a car crash in 1988 that sparked a court case and, last month, three judges suggested it was time to end; in between, Ural Direk launched more than 120 lawsuits, filed thousands of pages of documents, filled a trailer full of evidence, sought secret hearings to unveil dark campaigns against him, and linked the outcome of his cases to a Jewish conspiracy.” Mr. Direk prevailed in his original lawsuit, but considered the $34,984 damages awarded unsatisfactory and filed a losing appeal whose ramifications have continued to this day. A judicial panel has now recommended that he be declared a vexatious litigant. [National Post]
Canada: “A woman in Peterborough, ON is demanding $25,000 in compensation from her neighbour because her teenage son is playing basketball too loudly in his driveway. … [Her] lawyers said in a letter she is a professional writer who requires peace and quiet to earn her living and there’s a growing body of evidence that suggests environmental noise is linked to cardiovascular disease.” She has unsuccessfully sought to involve police, fire, and even the province’s environmental commissioner against the playing. [Sun]
Durable as a matter of folk law though carrying no weight at all within most courts as actually constituted, various widely circulated theories (“free man,” “sovereign citizen,” etc.) purport to establish a right of litigants to escape courts’ ordinary jurisdiction; sometimes it’s also alleged that tax laws and other longstanding enactments are flawed and of no binding effect. Last month a Canadian jurist by the name of J.D. Rooke handed down an opinion anatomizing different varieties of “Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument” ["OPCA"] seized on as a basis for vexatious litigation [Meads vs. Meads, Court of Queen's Bench of Alberta, Sept. 18]
P.S. A glimpse of the “sovereign citizen” scene in the U.S., h/t Lowering the Bar.
After decades, farmers in western Canada are finally free to decide for themselves how and to whom to sell their crop, the result of a long political campaign led by free-market prime minister Stephen Harper with key help from Saskatchewan premier Brad Wall. I’ve got a new, celebratory post at Cato giving details. Next: getting our own Supreme Court to reconsider Wickard v. Filburn, the decision that laid out a charter for federal supervision of wheat growing and so much else besides? [Name screwup fixed now]
P.S. Milk still a big problem (although the U.S. is hardly free of cartel-like regulations in that sphere).
Peter Ferguson says the recitation of the Lord’s Prayer at Grey County meetings not only violated the national Charter, but caused him “anguish, discrimination, exclusion, rejection and loss of enjoyment of life” to the tune of C$5,000. [National Post]
The Toronto Globe and Mail prints my letter to the editor correcting some misrepresentations of U.S. labor law by Canadian Auto Workers union economist Jim Stanford. The text of the letter as it ran, slightly abridged, in the paper:
Jim Stanford says that in the 23 states with “right to work” laws, unions are “effectively prohibited; indeed, in right-to-work states, private-sector unionism is virtually non-existent” (Wisconsin’s Disease Crosses The Border – July 3).
This would come as a surprise to millions of employees in those 23 states who join and are represented at their workplace by unions. In Alabama, for example, which has had a right-to-work law since 1953, 183,000 workers (about 11 per cent of the labour force) are represented by unions, including 84,000 workers in the private sector. (source)
Emboldened or otherwise, Republicans in the states have no authority to alter the 1935 Wagner Act or other federal laws. In states like Wisconsin, they have sought to alter laws prevailing in about two-thirds of states that prescribe collective bargaining by public employees; these laws are of much more recent vintage than the New Deal, often dating to the 1960-85 period. Given Franklin Roosevelt’s well-documented skepticism toward collective bargaining by government employees, it is no surprise that he did not see fit to build any such element into his New Deal.
Walter Olson, senior fellow, the Cato Institute, Washington