- Prohibition triple threat: Sen. Marco Rubio would “crack down on marijuana if elected President,” cites “damage” alcohol is doing America and is foe of online gambling too;
- An ever-so-sympathetic take on invading/disrupting other people’s political events, and don’t even ask what the press coverage would be like if Tea Partiers were doing this to anyone;
- Hey, I didn’t meet with a lobbyist! It was a…strategic consultant, yeah, that’s it [Crain’s New York last year]
- Ideology matters: Democrats still more likely than Republicans to support rural subsidies even though they now represent few rural areas [David Henderson]
- Wisconsin John Doe investigator: “No one is going to know what you and I talk about today.” Uh-huh [Right Wisconsin]
- Jack Shafer on Trump’s appeal [Politico] “Trump Lawyer Bragged: I ‘Destroyed’ a Beauty Queen’s Life” [Tim Mak/The Daily Beast, earlier, more]
- Harry Reid raises $1 million from trial lawyers after flying to fundraiser on one of their private jets [Politico]
Sheldon Silver’s arrest prompts Jeffrey Toobin to relate a war story regarding the now-defunct law firm known as Morris Eisen, P.C., “an outfit so extravagantly corrupt, so hilariously dishonest, and so creatively malign as almost to defy belief.” (I’ve written a number of times about the Eisen firm myself.) Eisen’s son-in-law, who had gotten his start with the firm, went on to found the firm of Weitz & Luxenberg, where Silver had his no-visible-duties job and to which he occasionally sent lucrative asbestos referrals from his friends at the Columbia clinic and elsewhere.
Weitz & Luxenberg (which has not been charged with any wrongdoing in the federal investigation, and says it has asked Silver to take a leave of absence) is also a big political player nationally, not just in New York. As Kim Strassel notes at the WSJ, “Then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s top contributor from 2009 to 2014 was Weitz & Luxenberg. The firm played the same role for Bruce Braley, the trial-lawyer Democrat who just lost an Iowa Senate race.” The other large asbestos firm to receive lucrative patient referrals from Dr. Robert Taub’s now-discontinued Columbia University mesothelioma center is the Simmons firm of Illinois, another big political donor that Strassel says has been the single biggest backer of Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.).
Previously on the Silver arrest here and here. More: “Tarnished Silver: Speaker’s arrest upends most everything in Albany” [Andrew Hawkins, Crain’s New York (“his support for the teachers’ union has kept education reformers at bay”); Henry Goldman, Bloomberg; Wayne Barrett on Silver’s “Friends of Shelly” network of pals, including Chief Judge Jonathan Lippman (“In his varied posts, Lippman has long overseen the very courts hearing the asbestos and other cases brought by Silver’s firm.”)
And this Joseph Nocera column from the weekend, which is particularly strong on Silver’s influence over the judiciary in New York, built up through methods all “perfectly legal.” But note this NYT correction stating that Nocera’s discussion of the judiciary in that column was “premised on several factual errors.” (More on that: New York Sun.) The New York Post believes the feds are sniffing around Manhattan trial courts.
Former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff were arrested Thursday on a combined 23 counts arising from a series of episodes in which the two men are said to have accepted cash and favors from persons with business dealings with their offices; Swallow is also accused of destroying and falsifying evidence to cover up dealings with a now-deceased entrepreneur from whom he had allegedly accepted $17,000 in gold coins. The two men, both Republicans, say they are innocent and expect to be vindicated. The Salt Lake Tribune’s coverage saves the Harry Reid angle for paragraph 19; the Las Vegas Review Journal gives it more attention, emphasizing Reid’s strong denial of any wrongdoing. Unrelated but also depressing: a former New Mexico AG and a penny stock.
Also: Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, officials have placed plaques beneath portraits of four lawmakers in the state capitol with details of their eventual criminal convictions. I have more details in a Cato post.
Sen. Harry Reid seems to have been central:
“We felt really good the last couple of days,” said the tech lobbyist. “It was a good deal—one we could live with. Then the trial lawyers and pharma went to Senator Reid late this morning and said that’s it. Enough with the children playing in the playground—go kill it.”…
Trial lawyers are heavy donors to Democratic politicians, including Reid. … The long history of the divide over other kinds of legal tort reform loomed over the bill, which was dubbed the Innovation Act in the House. The fact that it was the trial lawyers’ lobby that reportedly delivered the death blow suggests that the rift only got wider as debate dragged on.
Key Litigation Lobby allies like Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) spoke out against the legislation on the Senate floor. [Joe Mullin, ArsTechnica]
- “Sources: Trial lawyers expect tax break from Treasury Department” [Legal NewsLine, PoL, earlier; measure would reportedly replicate contents of bill that didn’t pass Congress]
- No doubt totally unrelated: eight Dem Senate candidates journey to Vancouver for AAJ fundraiser [The Hill, David Freddoso, ShopFloor, more]
- Report: elderly man jailed after making “bomb” joke about carry-on at airport [NBCNewYork]
- New York debt collection law firm files 80,000 actions a year, critics say errors and lack of documentation inevitable [NYT]
- Kimberly-Clark: quit letting asbestos plaintiffs forum-shop against us [SE Texas Record] How a new asbestos defendant can get “passed around” among claimants [Global Tort, scroll] Prosperity of one Cleveland asbestos law firm I’d never heard of [Briefcase]
- North Carolina court of appeals: employee rushing to bathroom after getting off work not acting within scope of employment [Matthews v. Food Lion, PDF]
- “Curse of the greedy copyright holders” [Woodlief, WSJ, via de Rugy, NRO; TechDirt]
- Update: “Ninth Circuit suspends Walter Lack, reprimands Thomas Girardi” [famed California lawyers tripped up in Dole suit; Legal Ethics Forum, PoL, earlier]
Things you’re missing if you’re not following my other site:
- Rick Esenberg on health care reform and the Constitution (with Mark Steyn link, no less). And Peggy Little on shifting views of state AGs’ role;
- A first: attorneys nailed in asbestos fraud (more: Law.com)
- Jonathan Wilson: Georgia high court strikes down medical malpractice damages cap, while upholding offer of judgment rule and emergency room liability standard.
- “That nice Mr. Smith does not have to pay this personally, does he?” Jurors and insurance;
- James Copland on the friends of Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid;
- Lawyers up, lobbyists down, which creates opportunities for arbitrage in D.C.
- Are you a member of Tyson chicken or H&R Block Express IRA class action settlements?
- Jim Copland on Harry Reid and the trial bar. [NRO]
- Jim Copland on the Ground Zero settlement, which may pay lawyers $200 million—but the judge plans fee scrutiny. [NY Post; NY Daily News]
- Kevin LaCroix interviews the Circle of Greed authors. [D&O Diary]
- Judgeships: Rhode Island lead paint trial lawyer in despite mediocre rating, but Sri Srinivasan out because of his clients—not Al Qaeda, but, heaven forfend, eeeevil corporations like Hertz.
- 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]
- Overview of defensive medicine at work. [AP]
- Pantsless Rielle Hunter on John Edwards: “He’s very honest and truthful.” [GQ]
My Manhattan Institute colleague Jim Copland has an op-ed today in the WSJ explaining how current campaign finance rules magnify the influence of trial lawyers, as through the favored status of “bundling”. Excerpt:
Over the current six-year senatorial election cycle, four of the top seven donors to the campaign committee and leadership PAC of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) were plaintiffs firms. Plaintiffs firms were the top two donors to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.).
The first piece of legislation signed by President Obama—the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 — gutted statutes of limitation in employment lawsuits. The first legislative triumph for new Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.), an amendment to the defense appropriations bill, foreclosed employment arbitration clauses for federal contractors.
More from Jim at Point of Law, including a mention of Trial Lawyers, Inc.: K Street–A Report on the Litigation Lobby 2010, the newest installment in the Trial Lawyers, Inc. series, which will be available later today here.
Sean Higgins’ article quotes me today on the lameness of the Reid health bill’s allocation of $50 million to liability demonstration projects carefully screened to avoid anything that might bother the trial bar. (Earlier here and at Point of Law.) I also joined Mike Rosen on his radio show today to talk about the provision’s political role as a fig leaf for Democratic members who feel they need to say back home that they made some gesture on this topic.