- Price of California eggs soars following animal-rights measure [WSJ via Michael Greve] “An Orangutan Has (Some) Human Rights, Argentine Court Rules” [Brandon Keim, Wired via Althouse, related U.S.]
- Trees cut down by utility “are priceless — each one I could value at $100K,” Fieger said” [Detroit Free Press via @jamestaranto, more on Geoffrey Fieger; henceforth sums of $100,000 will be known as “one Fieger-tree”]
- As New Englanders struggle with energy costs, pols kill the gas pipelines that could bring relief [Urbanophile]
- Power-plant regs from EPA, based on flimsy science, show “federal agency twisting statutory language to aggrandize its own power.” [Andrew Grossman; Cato brief in Michigan v. EPA]
- California state agency proposes regulations purportedly easing burdens of notorious Prop 65 warning law [Cal Biz Lit]
- “When I got there, there were people in SWAT attire that evacuated our entire factory.” [Chamber’s Faces of Lawsuit Abuse on Gibson Guitar raid]
- Would a minimalist state funded by Pigouvian taxes run a budget surplus? [Bryan Caplan]
- “Government Is the Biggest Threat to Innovation, Say Silicon Valley Insiders” [J.D. Tuccille, Reason]
- Acrimonious split between Overlawyered favorite Geoffrey Fieger and long-time law partner Ven Johnson [L.L. Brasier, Detroit Free Press]
- Case against deference: “Now More Than Ever, Courts Should Police Administrative Agencies” [Ilya Shapiro on Perez v. Mortgage Bankers Association; boundary between “interpretive” and “legislative” agency rules]
- “The Canary in the Law School Coal Mine?” [George Leef, Minding the Campus] Ideological diversity at law schools [Prof. Bainbridge and followup]
- Familiar (to economists) but needed case against state auto dealership protection laws [Matt Yglesias, Vox; our tag]
- Trial lawyers dump millions into attempt to defeat Illinois high court justice Lloyd Karmeier [Chamber-backed Madison County Record, Southern Illinoisan]
- A genuinely liberal regime would leave accreditation room for small Massachusetts college that expects students to obey Biblical conduct standards [Andrew Sullivan, more]
- Talking back to the “malpractice litigation is no big deal, docs should grin and bear it” theorists [David Sack, ACP via White Coat] “Worst states for medical malpractice risk” [White Coat]
- Jury awards $25 million against hospital that didn’t file abuse report after boy came in with broken wrist [Fayetteville, N.C. Observer]
- “Doctors Question Disability Decisions as Agency Moves to Speed Up Process” [WSJ via Walter Russell Mead]
- New “Federalist Society equivalents” in medicine (Benjamin Rush Society), business, foreign affairs [John J. Miller, Philanthropy]
- Fieger wins $144 million verdict blaming hospital for newborn’s cerebral palsy [suburban Detroit Tribune]
- Feds force birth control coverage on Catholic organizations, and free association suffers [Roger Pilon, Cato]
- Phone call from doc to patient’s home did not establish subsequent jurisdiction to sue there [Madison County Record] NY steps up program to streamline courts’ handling of med-mal claims [WSJ]
Aficionados of the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter scandal may have noticed a new attorney’s name cropping up in news reports: Lee Rohn of the U.S. Virgin Islands. From the New York Daily News:
One day before Edwards went public with the affair, Hunter and 6-month-old daughter Frances were flown to the Virgin Islands on a chartered jet, the Enquirer reported.
The $50,000 trip was paid for by friends of Edwards. The newspaper also said she stayed at the oceanfront home of another Edwards’ pal, lawyer Lee Rohn.
(Larry McShane, “John Edwards promised Rielle Hunter they’d be together – report”, Aug. 20)(via ABA Journal)(Update: Rohn vehemently denies the Enquirer story as false, saying she neither hosted Hunter nor is close to Edwards; see below). Readers may be wondering: is Rohn yet another attorney whose doings are going to make irresistible copy for a site like this, much as with Edwards chum/Democratic moneyman/perennial Overlawyered mentionee Fred Baron? To which the answer would appear to be, “you bet”:
St. Croix attorney Lee Rohn has stirred up a chorus of criticism and complaints about her professional practices both inside and outside the courtroom.
Her most vocal critics have been opposing parties or counsel in lawsuits she has filed. They have alleged a wide spectrum of professional conduct violations.
Among Rohn’s frequent targets is Innovative Communication Corp., which runs the Virgin Islands’ local telephone provider and the islands’ newspaper, and whose lawyers say they’ve lost count of how many times she’s sued them. The company’s chairman, Jeffrey Prosser, has called in vain for Rohn’s disbarment, complaining of “intolerable” and “abusive” instances of “ethical misconduct” as well as “vitriolic” public attacks: “In some cases with us, she coerced her clients to sign documents that were knowingly false [and] ignored judge’s orders on limits of discovery inquiry during depositions,” he wrote.
In 2002, Rohn publicly blasted one of the islands’ two federal district judges, Thomas Moore, accusing him of inappropriate behavior, and Moore recused himself from some of her cases citing the antipathy. Subsequently, after she moved to demand Moore’s recusal from yet another of her cases, he refused, stating in his written ruling, “I believe attorney Rohn’s personal attack on one of the two sitting judges in this jurisdiction was nothing more than a calculated litigation tactic that would be labeled ‘judge shopping’ in most places.” Moore, who has sanctioned Rohn for insulting and profane language toward witnesses and court personnel, wrote in another case, in which the Caribbean Geoffrey Fieger “sought to compel testimony from all the federal judges in the territory”:
“Nothing Lee Rohn does surprises me anymore, although subpoenaing all the federal judges in the jurisdiction is a high point of ingenuity and creativity in attempting to manipulate the system,” Moore wrote.
“I do not believe, however, that an attorney should be allowed to use her calculated personal attack on a sitting judge as a technique to prevent that judge from presiding over any of her cases, especially in a small district with only two judges.”
A few weeks ago, it may be recalled, we looked at the question of lawyers’ public denunciations of judges and whether they do or should result in recusal by those judges. (Jason Robbins and Lee Williams, “From judges to opponents, Rohn has no shortage of harsh critics”, Virgin Islands Daily News, Mar. 29, 2004 — the newspaper, it bears repeating, and its parent company have been frequent targets of Rohn’s litigation, as in this libel case arising from her airport pot bust). Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts has more, including a picture of the Rohn villa.
The National Enquirer, which keeps breaking new developments in the story, is now reporting that “a team of six more lawyers have been involved in the coverup”. They can’t all be as interesting as Baron and Rohn, can they?
Update Fri. 8:20 p.m.: the Daily News reports Rohn categorically denies the story’s truth:
The Enquirer quoted Virgin Island pol Anne Golden as saying Hunter stayed for 10 days in an oceanfront home owned by prominent St. Croix lawyer Lee Rohn.
Rohn hotly denied that to the Daily News and vowed to sue.
“It is absolutely false,” she told The News. “The Enquirer knows the story is not true as they sat on a hill above my house for a week with telephoto lenses and video cameras and had no sighting of her. The guest cottage she was supposedly staying in is under construction and has no floor.”
Rohn said that while she donated money to Edwards, she is not friends with him. Records show she gave $2,300 to Edwards a year ago and another $2,300 to Barack Obama early this year.
(Helen Kennedy, “John’s island girl Rielle fled to St. Croix on eve of cheating flap”, Aug. 21). And — hat tip to commenter Ken Floyd — the opinions of heated Rohn critic Jeffrey Prosser, the newspaper/telephone magnate, should be evaluated in the perspective of his own controversial and colorful business record, which recently culminated in high-profile bankruptcy proceedings involving his Innovative Communication empire. Some sources on that here, here, here, and here. For more background on the recusal disputes involving Rohn and Judge Thomas K. Moore, see this Moore opinion (U.S. v. Roebuck, PDF) and this Third Circuit opinion (Selkridge v. Mutual of Omaha, 360 F. 3d 155). DBKP wishes it had been a fly on the wall during an AAJ award ceremony honoring Rohn. And see commenter #7 below who seems to have been doing considerable digging.
- “Law school is not such a leap” for licensed Nevada prostitute’s next career move — hey, we didn’t say that, Robert Ambrogi at Law.com did [Legal Blog Watch, Bitter Lawyer]
- Today’s representative class-action plaintiff: “For five years, her diet consisted almost exclusively of Chicken-of-the-Sea tuna…” [PoL]
- Prolific California disabled-access filer Jarek Molski ordered to pay fees for “scorched-earth” tactics in one case, but wins a second [Metropolitan News-Enterprise via Bashman]
- Another sperm donor surprised by legal obligation to pay child support [Santa Fe, N.M. Reporter; earlier]
- “Lawyer Fees Jumped 50% After Bankruptcy Law Change” [ABA Journal]
- “Whatever it takes to win a case”, and checking out jurors’ Facebook profiles is the least of it [NLJ]
- High-profile U.K. attorney Nick Freeman registers his nickname “Mr. Loophole” [Times Online a while back]
- When can a plaintiff claiming sexual assault sue anonymously? Courts will apply mushy balancing test [NYLJ]
- Hold on to your hats, looks like Geoffrey Fieger is online [Fieger Time]
Fort Lauderdale, Fla., criminal defense attorney Sean Conway claims he was within his First Amendment rights and should not face disciplinary action over his blog comments calling one of the judges he practices before an “evil, unfair witch” who is “seemingly mentally ill”. (Jordana Mishory, “Attorney Argues His ‘Witch’ Comments About Judge Are Protected Speech”, Daily Business Review, Jul. 16; earlier). To me, this seems rather to miss the point: sure, almost everyone but a member of the local bar enjoys or should enjoy a First Amendment right to call a judge an evil, unfair witch. Lawyers admitted to practice, however, enlist as “officers of the court” with special obligations, among which may be (to name only one) to avoid the sorts of displays of enmity that might complicate future cases before that judge, as by provoking recusal. For an extreme instance, see the Geoffrey Fieger episode recounted here, here, here, and here. More on what lawyers can say about judges from Bruce Campbell (Campbell & Chadwick) at Texas Lawyer.
- Judge Henry Lackey, who went to feds to report bribe attempt by Dickie Scruggs associate, gets award and standing ovations at Mississippi bar convention, says he was just doing a judge’s job [NMC/Folo]
- Related: should Ole Miss Chancellor Robert Khayat have used official university stationery for his letter pleading leniency for chum/ benefactor Scruggs? [Daily Mississippian and editorial via YallPolitics, continuing coverage at Folo; earlier]
- Stephen Dubner: if lawyer/subscriber can sue Raleigh News & Observer over perceived decline in its quality, who’s next? [NYT/Freakonomics blog, earlier]
- Maneuvering over retrial of Kentucky fen-phen defendants Gallion and Cunningham [Lexington Herald-Leader]
- A Fieger sideshow: though acquitted in recent campaign laundering prosecution, controversial lawyer fared less well in lawsuit against Michigan AG Michael Cox; Sixth Circuit tossed that suit and upheld order that Fieger fork over attorney fees to Michigan Supreme Court Justice Stephen Markman over subjecting the justice to unfounded vilification [ABA Journal; fixed typo on Circuit]
- Citing long history of frivolous litigation, federal judge in central Texas fines disbarred lawyer Charles Edward Lincoln and his client and bans Lincoln from bringing any more federal suits [SE Texas Record]
- Faced with $18 million legal-malpractice jury verdict, Indiana labor law firm stays in business by agreeing to make token payment, then gang up on its liability insurer for the rest [Indianapolis Business Journal, Ketzenberger/Indy Star via ABA Journal]
Detroit’s liberal newspaper voice, which supports extending campaign finance law, has this to say in an editorial:
…There is no doubt that Southfield attorney Geoffrey Fieger completely subverted [the aims of campaign law] when he essentially laundered through employees of his law firm hefty contributions to the 2004 presidential campaign of John Edwards.
But can you make a federal case out of it? A U.S. District Court jury didn’t think so, refusing Monday to convict Fieger and law partner Vernon (Ven) Johnson of doing anything illegal. So congratulations to Fieger for gaming the system and then beating it.
But that doesn’t make what he did right. …
…the system ought to have some integrity, and the limits established by law ought to be enforced. Fieger got around them by being clever, pleading ignorance, then getting a jury to see it his way. It certainly helped that the local U.S. attorney’s office had been frighteningly aggressive in its pursuit of Fieger, and that he had the cash to hire an attorney who reputedly has never lost a case. Yes, money matters in criminal justice at least as much as it does in politics.
No doubt, Fieger’s acquittal gives a little more mettle to other fat cats who want to skirt the law. It’s a victory for him, but a step back for the political process.
Fieger himself has tried to put out the line that it is only because of some mean old plot against politically active trial lawyers that he was ever prosecuted at all. If the Free Press editorial is any indication, it doesn’t look as he’s getting very far with that line. More here and here.
Further: Scott Greenfield, and Freep reporter Dawson Bell (unless your name is Geoffrey Fieger, don’t try to get away with doing what he did: “It’s still a crime.”). Ted in comments adds: “And let’s not forget the all-too-typical and appalling sight of the defendant partying with the jurors he snookered.” Per the account in the Free Press, “Champagne sat on ice at each table” in the Greektown establishment. “A stocked bar was in the corner.” Earlier on post-trial juror fraternization with winning disputants and their lawyers here, here, etc.