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Illinois

An Illinois state employee “was dismissed in 2011 from her $115,000 per year job as an arbitrator for the Illinois Workers’ Compensation Commission after a series of stories in the News-Democrat concerning more than $10 million paid to prison guards who complained that turning keys and operating locks caused them to be injured.” The investigation indicated that the arbitrator tried to hide from the press a disability application by a former state trooper convicted of causing highway deaths, and allegedly used her position in an unsuccessful attempt to pressure state officials to speed up her own claim, commenting that she had ‘two mortgages’ to pay.” After her departure from the arbitrator job she “found work training others for the very job from which she was fired,” and now is endeavoring to collect a “pending $25,000 settlement for a disability primarily attributed to typing,” which the state is resisting. [Belleville, Ill., News-Democrat]

For Daniel Taylor to be convicted of a murder committed while he was actually behind bars, at least three things had to happen: 1) a supposed confession extracted by Chicago police; 2) a conveniently corroborative sighting of Taylor at the scene by another cop; 3) improper withholding of exonerating evidence by the Illinois prosecutor. A Center on Wrongful Convictions video (via Balko)(& welcome Above the Law readers).

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Politics roundup

by Walter Olson on May 26, 2014

  • NY Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver hangs blame for a retrospectively unpopular position on the *other* Sheldon Silver. Credible? [NY Times via @jpodhoretz]
  • Julian Castro, slated as next HUD chief, did well from fee-splitting arrangement with top Texas tort lawyer [Byron York; earlier on Mikal Watts]
  • 10th Circuit: maybe Colorado allows too much plebiscitary democracy to qualify as a state with a “republican form of government” [Garrett Epps on a case one suspects will rest on a "this day and trip only" theory pertaining to tax limitations, as opposed to other referendum topics]
  • “Mostyn, other trial lawyers spending big on Crist’s campaign in Florida” [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine; background on Crist and Litigation Lobby] “Texas trial lawyers open checkbooks for Braley’s Senate run” [Legal NewsLine; on Braley's IRS intervention, Watchdog]
  • Contributions from plaintiff’s bar, especially Orange County’s Robinson Calcagnie, enable California AG Kamala Harris to crush rivals [Washington Examiner]
  • Trial lawyers suing State Farm for $7 billion aim subpoena at member of Illinois Supreme Court [Madison-St. Clair Record, more, yet more]
  • Plaintiff-friendly California voting rights bill could mulct municipalities [Steven Greenhut]
  • John Edwards: he’s baaaaack… [on the law side; Byron York]
  • Also, I’ve started a blog (representing just myself, no institutional affiliation) on Maryland local matters including policy and politics: Free State Notes.

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To curtail parody, stop being so parody-able in the aftermath of your decision to send cops after your Twitter critics [Radley Balko, more, earlier] Related: “Watch Repairer Goes Legal Over Tame Yelp Review, Streisand Effect Takes Over” [Geigner, TechDirt]

“Not long after learning about the parody Twitter account @Peoriamayor, the city’s real mayor, Jim Ardis, told police he wanted to find out who was publishing sometimes vulgar messages there, according to a search warrant filed Thursday. … Two judges signed off on warrants to get information from Twitter and Comcast. Another judge approved a Tuesday afternoon raid.” [Peoria Journal-Star via Scott Shackford/Reason; Justin Glawe, Vice]

P.S. Related from Starkville, Mississippi last year.

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It is now legally safer to record Illinois public servants generally, as well as cops in particular, as they go about their public duties. [Timothy Geigner, TechDirt]

  • Minimum wage laws are sentimental legislation with all-too-real effects [Jeffrey Dorfman] “Our Business’s Response to California $2 Minimum Wage Increase” [Coyote, with more on a union angle on minimum wage laws] Some experience from Europe [Steve Hanke, more, Cato overview of minimum wage debate]
  • Connecticut fires state labor department employee who gamed system to get benefits for friend, then reinstates after grievance [Raising Hale] Oldie but goodie: union contract in Bay City, Mich. gave teachers five strikes to show up work drunk before being fired [Mackinac Center two years back]
  • Background of Harris v. Quinn, now before SCOTUS: Blagojevich and Quinn favors for SEIU [George Leef, Forbes, earlier here, etc.]
  • If you decline to hire applicants who’ve sued previous employers, you may face liability over that [Jon Hyman]
  • More on class action seeking pay for volunteer Yelp reviewers [LNL, earlier]
  • “Intriguingly, returns to skills are systematically lower in countries with higher union density, stricter employment protection, and larger public-sector shares.” [Eric Hanushek et al, NBER via Cowen]
  • “L.A. Sheriff’s Department Admits Hiring 80 Problem Officers; May Not Be Able to Fire Them” [Paul Detrick, Reason]

Columnist George Will cites the Cato Institute amicus brief in Harris v. Quinn, the Supreme Court case over whether states may properly herd home caregivers reimbursed by government checks into collective representation [syndicated]. Earlier here. More: Ilya Shapiro, Michael Greve.

More: Reports on the oral argument from Ilya Shapiro, Cato, and from Reuters.

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  • Under new Illinois law, third offense of tossing cigarette to ground will be a felony [Andrew Stuttaford]
  • “The New York Times calls for prosecutors to establish an ‘open file’ policy to combat prosecutorial misconduct.” [Nicole Hyland, LEF; New York Times; Radley Balko, whose column at the Washington Post has now launched]
  • “Three Arrests Illustrate the Impact of New York’s Silly Seven-Round Ammunition Limit” [Jacob Sullum]
  • Forfeiture reform on the agenda in Michigan? [John Ross/Reason, Institute for Justice, earlier]
  • Speaking of law enforcement for profit, more on the proliferation of fees and third-party collectors that can land minor miscreants in “debtors’ prison” [Fox News; related, Balko]
  • “Want to stop repeats of Columbine and Newtown? Deprive mass killers of the spotlight. Can the media do that?” [Ari Schulman, WSJ via @garyrosenwsj]
  • “She’s regretted the lie that sent him to prison ever since.” [NY Mag]

According to the Chicago Sun-Times, an Illinois prison official “with a lengthy criminal history” has returned to the state payroll despite a record of “lewd and inappropriate emails” on the taxpayers’ dime and falsifying an earlier job application [Chicago Sun-Times]:

…Still, Gov. Pat Quinn’s administration struck a settlement with McCraven and his union, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees….

In June, [after withdrawing a lawsuit] he then dropped a union grievance and accepted a 10-day suspension, got six months of back pay and was transferred to the job he now holds as senior adviser to the chief of parole with the Illinois Department of Corrections.

Asked to explain why McCraven was allowed to stay on the state payroll, the Quinn administration cited the potential financial costs of losing a grievance case. …

The Chicago Sun-Times reported Monday that McCraven is working for the state prison system despite being arrested “at least” 24 times on charges including arson, illegal gun possession, attempted robbery, drug possession and aggravated assault.

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Police and prosecution roundup

by Walter Olson on September 30, 2013

  • Stop and bleed: Tennessee rolls out “no refusal” blood-draw DUI driver checkpoints, which already go on in Texas [WTVF, Reddit, Tom Hunter/Liberal America, Charles "Brad" Frye (Texas practice)]
  • Issues raised by growing practice of placing government “monitors” inside businesses to police compliance [Veronica Root, Prawfs]
  • “Faulty Justice: Italian Earthquake Scientist Speaks Out against His Conviction” [Scientific American]
  • California: suit could probe patterns of harassment against Orange County officials who’ve resisted police union demands [Krayewski, earlier]
  • Illinois “[makes] it a felony to flick cigarette butts onto streets for the third time” [Gideon's Trumpet]
  • Before making laws intended to benefit sex workers, take time to listen to them [Popehat via Maggie McNeill]
  • Report: state of Florida investigating Zimmerman prosecutor Angela Corey over sacking of alleged whistleblower [Washington Times, earlier] “A Visitor’s Guide to Florida’s Most Notorious Law Enforcement Agencies” [Mike Riggs, Atlantic Cities]

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Guns roundup

by Walter Olson on September 16, 2013

  • On Tuesday, Sen. Dick Durbin convenes hearing intended to bash “Stand Your Ground,” ALEC, and anyone associated with either; keep an eye on the testimony of my Cato colleague Ilya Shapiro who may prove more than a match [Sun-Times, Tuccille, Keating; background; hearing now postponed] Accuracy problems dog Coalition to Stop Gun Violence on SYG [John Hinderaker, PowerLine] Demagoguing Lane, Belton slayings is no way to “balance” media skew on Martin/Zimmerman [Ann Althouse]
  • Following “finger-gun” episode at another Maryland school: “Gun gesture leads to suspension for Calvert sixth-grader” [WaPo, earlier] Why a mom changed her mind on letting kid play with toy guns [C. Gross-Loh, The Atlantic]
  • Advocacy play-by-play: “A how-to book on inciting a moral panic” [James Taranto]
  • If you think gun liberties are shrinking overall in America, check out this map [Volokh] “Illinois Supreme Court: Second Amendment Protects Carrying Outside the Home” [Volokh] “Chicago abolishes gun registry in place since 1968″ [Reuters]
  • Forthcoming Nicholas Johnson book “Negroes and the Gun: The Black Tradition of Arms” [Law and Liberty]
  • Database cross-checks put California on slippery slope confiscation-wise [Steven Greenhut]
  • Cato amicus brief: Supreme Court should clarify that the Second Amendment “protects more than the right to keep a gun in one’s home.” [Shapiro, Cato; Woollard v. Gallagher, Maryland]

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Illinois isn’t exactly a state known as hospitable to liability reform, but here’s this: “The Illinois House and Senate recently passed SB1042, a bill that protects property owners from liability if they allow the public on their land to hike, fish, watch birds or participate in other forms of outdoors recreation. The bill now goes to Gov. Pat Quinn for his signature.” [State Journal-Register]

More, via Free-Range Kids, a surprisingly good insurance-company ad, from Allstate:

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  • After bank trespass, Occupy Philadelphia benefits from jury nullification and a cordial judge [Kevin Funnell]
  • Cato commentaries on Cyprus crisis [Steve Hanke and more, Dan Mitchell, Richard Rahn podcast]
  • “NY Court Reinstates Foreclosure, Chides Judge For `Robosigning’ Sanctions” [Daniel Fisher] “Impeding Foreclosure Hurts Homeowners As Well As Lenders” [Funnell]
  • SEC charging Illinois with pension misrepresentation? Call it a stunt [Prof. Bainbridge]
  • “Plaintiff Lawyers Seek Their Cut On Virtually All Big Mergers, Study Shows” [Fisher] As mergers draw suits, D&O underwriting scrutiny escalates [Funnell] “Courts beginning to reject M&A strike suits” [Ted Frank]
  • Will Dodd-Frank conflict minerals rules actually help folks in places like Congo? [Marcia Narine, Regent U. L. Rev. via Bainbridge, earlier here]
  • “Securities Lawyers Gave To Detroit Mayor’s Slush Fund”; city served as plaintiff for Bernstein Litowitz [Fisher]

Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on March 6, 2013

  • Despite sparseness of evidence, lawyers hope to pin liability on hotel for double murder of guests [Tennessean]
  • Celebrated repeat litigant Patricia Alice McColm sentenced after felony conviction for filing false documents in Trinity County, Calif. [Trinity Journal, more, Justia, earlier] Idaho woman challenges vexatious-litigant statute [KBOI]
  • “2 Florida Moms Sentenced for Staged Accident Insurance Fraud” [Insurance Journal, earlier]
  • With Arkansas high court intent on striking down liability changes, advocates consider going the constitutional amendment route [TortsProf] Fifth Circuit upholds Mississippi damages caps [PoL]
  • What states have been doing lately on litigation reform [Andrew Cook, Fed Soc] Illinois lawmakers’ proposals [Madison-St. Clair Record] Head of Florida Chamber argues for state legal changes [Tampa Tribune]
  • Crowd of defendants: “Ky. couple names 124 defendants in asbestos suit” [WV Record]
  • A bad habit of Louisiana courts: “permitting huge recoveries without proof of injury” [Eric Alexander, Drug and Device Law]

Politics roundup

by Walter Olson on February 15, 2013

  • Cuomo appointee Jenny Rivera, lawprof on “social justice” beat, likely to pull NY’s highest court leftward [Reuters; Kerr, with additional comments-section background on chief judge Jonathan Lippman] Notable plaintiff’s litigator Brad Seligman (Wal-Mart v. Dukes, etc.) elevated to bench by Gov. Jerry Brown [San Leandro Patch]
  • With Jeffrey Toobin assuring us that voter fraud is “essentially nonexistent,” tales like this from Cincinnati must not be real [John Fund, NRO]
  • Time for Republicans to get serious about an urban-policy pitch [Ed Glaeser, City Journal] “As the GOP looks for issues it can win on, how about lowering the drinking age?” [Instapundit]
  • Boldly smiting straw man, NYT says young people see government as possible “constructive force” [Ira Stoll, SmarterTimes]
  • Politics by other means: “From Statehouse to courtroom: Many Illinois issues being decided by judges” [Kurt Erickson, Bloomington Pantagraph]
  • Florida attorney John Morgan, of personal injury fame, became an inauguration bigwig the old-fashioned way [Orlando Sentinel, earlier here, here, here, here, etc., etc.]
  • Granholm at front of “not so bad when our guy Obama does it” parade [Damon Root]

Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on February 13, 2013

  • Officials: “36% of car-insure claims bogus” in NYC [NY Post]
  • Unseen but looks promising: “Cultures of Tort Law in Europe” [Journal of European Tort Law via TortsProf]
  • “The Limits of Texting Accident Lawsuits” [Ronald Miller]
  • Lawmakers wonder whether there’s some way around Missouri Supreme Court’s “no med-mal reform on our watch” attitude [Kansas City Star]
  • Trial lawyers unhappy as Michigan high court toughens standards on slip-fall suits [AP/Detroit News]
  • Fast track: Illinois legislature moves to increase fees lawyers can recover in med-mal cases [Madison-St. Clair Record]
  • New Jersey municipalities have stake in litigation reform [NJLRA]