Fact-checking a Maine Congresswoman: my latest at Cato-at-Liberty.
A little food stand in scenic Damariscotta, Maine calls itself Grill Zilla BBQ, and recently received a letter from trademark lawyers. Even if its owners hadn’t made the mistake of using a green reptile mascot, they would probably have heard from the Japanese conglomerate Toho, which is quite vigorous about policing verbal and visual echoes of its “Godzilla” mark. [Kennebec Journal]
- Naperville, Illinois: psychologist sues homeless man saying she was defamed in his blog [AP]
- Unusual case from Erie, Pa.: “Girl claims injuries from price scanner” [AP/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette] Judge dismisses complaint for lack of evidence [Erie Times-News]
- Too true: “Motion Control Advances Mean Future Generations Could Play Outside” [Brian Briggs, BBSpot via Free-Range Kids]
- Huzzah for Husson: Maine university drops quest to add law school [Bangor Daily News]
- Town sued over pool drowning of 13 year old boy seeks to add boy’s parents to suit [Ridgewood News, NorthJersey.com]
- Manhattan judge sanctions Morelli Ratner law firm $6,000 over “spiteful”, “wasteful” lawsuit against former client [NYLJ, January]
- “Canada is now a land that prosecutes comedians for their jokes.” [Steyn, Maclean’s] Ron Coleman’s unkind comment: “I’ve heard their comedians. It’s about time.”
- “Smokey the Bear’s rules for fire safety also apply to government: Keep it small, keep it in a confined area, and keep an eye on it.” [David Boaz, Cato at Liberty]
- Judge finds Army Corps of Engineers negligent in Katrina levees suit [WSJ Law Blog, Krauss/PoL]
- Feds raise the Gibson guitar factory in Nashville on an exotic-woods rap [The Tennessean] Eric Scheie has a few things to say about what turns out to be a remarkably comprehensive federal regulatory scheme on trade in wood enacted with little public discussion as part of the 2008 farm bill [Classical Values]
- In the mail: Amy Bach’s new book Ordinary Injustice: How America Holds Court, very favorably reviewed by Scott Greenfield not long ago (AmLaw Daily interview with author);
- Pension tension: link roundup on CALPERS mess [Reynolds]
- Maine passes very sweeping law banning marketers from collecting or using wide array of information about minors, but state acknowledges that much of the law probably wouldn’t pass constitutional muster and won’t be enforced [Valetk/Law.com, Qualters/NLJ]
- StationStops, which provides a mobile app for NYC commuter schedules, seems to have survived its legal tussle with New York’s MTA and thanks those who helped call attention to the story, with generous words for a certain “great blog”;
- Lawsuits cost Chicago taxpayers $136 million last year [Fran Spielman, Sun-Times]
- Blawg Review #238 is from Joel Rosenberg and bears the title, “Celebrating the International Day of Tolerance … and the NRA’s Birthday” [WindyPundit]
[Bumped Monday a.m. for readers who missed it over the weekend]
The piece appears in the business section of Saturday’s Times, and it’s a perfectly good one as far as it goes. It starts off with a wooden toy maker in Ogunquit, Maine, who estimates that it would cost him $30,000 to secure testing for the 80 items he makes, using such materials as maple, walnut oil and local beeswax. It touches on the strains between large and small manufacturers, as well as the thrift-store and vintage-book angles. Overall, it’s really not a bad piece of its sort.
Aside from its timing, that is. The Times has now gotten around to covering some of the harm done by this law ten months after the Washington Post and other media had begun reporting the basic outlines of the story; nine and a half months after a furor had built to national proportions, prompting both members of Congress and the CPSC to hurry out supposed clarifications; nine months after hundreds of bloggers were on the case, the law’s effects on thrift stores were making headlines from coast to coast, and the Times’s continuing failure to report on the law’s effects had commentators noting its “weird blind spot” on the issue; eight and a half months after a deeply clueless Times editorial assailed critics of the law who “foment needless fears that the law could injure smaller enterprises like libraries, resale shops and handmade toy businesses”; seven and a half months after protests by minibike dealers began drawing wide national coverage; seven months after critics rallied on Capitol Hill, and the Washington Post joined in reporting on the law’s dire effects on vintage (pre-1985) kids’ books; and so on to the present.
Okay, so the Times was — well, not a day late and a dollar short, but more like 300 days late and many billions of dollars in overlooked costs short. Still, let’s be grateful: the paper’s news side has now implicitly rebuked the editorial side’s fantastic, ideologically blinkered dismissal of “needless fears that the law could injure smaller enterprises”. And the Times’s belated acknowledgment of the story can serve as permission for other sectors of the media dependent on Times coverage — including some magazines and network news departments — to acknowledge at last the legitimacy of the story and begin according serious attention to the continuing CPSIA calamity. When they do, they will find much to catch up on. (& welcome Handmade Toy Alliance, Chris Fountain readers)
PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGE from Ethel Everett, illustrator, Nursery Rhymes (1900), courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.
Some opponents of wind turbine farms in Maine say they’re concerned not just about audible noise but “low-frequency noise, so soft you can’t hear it,” from the installations, which they claim is linked to a wide array of health problems, not to mention “the strobe effect created by the sun setting behind the spinning blades, which some say can lead to seizures”. On an anti-turbine website, a New York doctor describes “acoustic radiation” as a mix of “audible sound, infrasound and vibration, in a pulsating character, that appear to trigger serious reported health problems in those families living near wind turbine installations.” State officials in Maine, on the other hand, would prefer to keep the focus on sound levels loud enough to actually be noticed:
The state’s chief medical officer has her doubts about turbine-related health effects. When it comes to potential hazards, “If anything, there’s evidence to put a moratorium on fossil fuels not on wind turbines,” Dr. Dora Ann Mills said Friday.
John Duncan, once a prominent attorney with the Maine firm of Verrill Dana, was disbarred and faces prison after theft and embezzlement from the law firm, overbilling of clients and tax evasion. “His lawyer, Toby Dilworth, said Duncan had an ‘irrational’ desire to save more, to provide his family with greater financial security,” though over the period in question Duncan’s household had more than a million dollars in assets and an annual income topping a quarter million. (Martha Neil, “Ex-Chair of Prominent Maine Firm Gets 2 Years in Tax Case”, ABA Journal, Sept. 5).
Thus Helen Bailey, an attorney with the government-funded Disability Rights Center in Augusta, Maine. But things didn’t work out so well in the case of violent schizophrenic William Bruce, who was released from Riverview Psychiatric Center in Augusta against the recommendations of his doctors but after urgings from patient advocates. Two months later he murdered his mother. The young Bruce, now penitent, is not really on board any more with the corps of public interest lawyers that had swung into action on his behalf:
“They helped me immensely with getting out of the hospital, so I was very happy,” he said. He later added, “The advocates didn’t protect me from myself, unfortunately.” …
While William believes patients deserve some protection, he said he understands his father’s fight to strengthen commitment and treatment laws. That fight took another turn last month, when Ms. Bailey and another attorney filed a lawsuit that could undermine portions of a law Joe [the father] supported. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court in Maine, is directed at the law which makes it easier for hospitals to compel patients to take medication.
“There are times when people should be committed,” William said. “Institutions can really help. Medicine can help.”
“None of this would have happened if I had been medicated.”
(Elizabeth Bernstein and Nathan Koppel, “A Death in the Family”, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 16). The Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, whose heated response to the article is presumably expected any day now, can be found here.
More: A group called Treatment Advocacy Center is gathering horror stories about “experiences with federally funded Protection & Advocacy attorneys”.
In a Maine federal case, the court ruled in effect that the book producer occupied a legal status more akin to that of a copy shop than to that of a traditional book publisher. As to the underlying dispute, Eric Goldman writes, “From my outsider’s perspective, it seems obvious that the Sandler and Calcagni families are locked in a cataclysmic downward spiral that will make some lawyers rich and will leave a lot of other people very unhappy for many years.” (Technology & Marketing Law Blog, Jul. 18).