The ultimate Overlawyered story? Minnesota: “An Eagan lawyer is suspended indefinitely after having an affair with a client whom he represented in a divorce, then billing her for time they spent having sex. … At various points, Lowe billed the woman for legal services on the dates of their sexual encounters, coding the time as meetings or drafting memos. … [He] won’t have a chance for reinstatement for at least a year and three months after the decision… by the Minnesota Supreme Court.” [St. Paul Pioneer-Press]
When Andrew Henderson videotaped police frisking a man about to be transported by ambulance in suburban Minneapolis-St. Paul, an officer confiscated his handheld videocamera, allegedly for evidence: “If I end up on YouTube, I’m gonna be upset.” Later, when Henderson sought to get his camera back, the sheriff’s office refused and instead charged him with misdemeanors. Among the notes on the citation: “Data privacy HIPAA violation.” A Stanford law professor says it would be nonsense to regard HIPAA, the federal health privacy law, as constraining the activity of bystanders like Henderson who are not legally defined as health providers. [St. Paul Pioneer Press]
One important reason same-sex marriage won on three state ballots last month is that many Republican voters, especially in affluent suburbs, crossed over to vote in favor of it. I’ve continued to document this phenomenon in a piece in this weekend’s Washington Post “Outlook” section (incorporating precinct-level detail on Minnesota and Maine) as well as in a second Huffington Post piece (with precinct-level detail on Maryland; my earlier HuffPo piece is linked here). Also, this Cato podcast:
One correction on the podcast: I mistakenly said Question 6 carried the two biggest Romney counties in Maryland, but I should have said two of the biggest three.
P.S. Mine was the second-most-popular article on WashingtonPost.com as of early morning Dec. 2.
No, these were not naughty pictures, they were driver’s license headshots. “The city’s liability could have been upwards of $565,000 because the statute provides $2,500 to be assessed per each unlawful look-up of the database, and we had 226 look-ups,” City Attorney Sara Grewing [of St. Paul, Minn.] told the Pioneer Press. “So we were looking at $565,000 plus attorney’s fees, if we were found liable.” St. Paul was one of several municipalities that settled with Anne Marie Rasmusson, whose picture fellow officers often looked up without proper authority in violation of a 1994 enactment called the federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act. [Kim Zetter, Wired "Threat Level"; CityPages.]
Voters in four states will decide same-sex marriage ballot questions on Nov. 6. As many readers know, I’ve been writing actively on the Maryland question, and those interested in catching up on that can follow the links here to find, among other things, my recent interview on the subject with the Arab news service Al-Jazeera, my thoughts on Judge Dennis Jacobs’s decision striking down Section 3 of DOMA (the federal Defense of Marriage Act), and my reaction to the other side’s “bad for children” contentions.
The Cato Institute has been doing cutting-edge work on the topic for years from a libertarian perspective; some highlights here.
Yet more: Hans Bader on religious liberty and anti-discrimination law [Examiner, CEI] And my letter to the editor in the suburban Maryland Gazette: “Civil society long ago decoupled marriage law from church doctrines.”
Will Oremus, Slate: “The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that the state has decided to crack down on free education, notifying California-based startup Coursera that it is not allowed to offer its online courses to the state’s residents.”
I’d draw some instructive moral from this regulatory train wreck, but better not: if my Minnesota readers found my comments to be educational, we might all get in trouble. Update: Minnesota backs off (h/t Gitarcarver and others)
Reader Dave Westheimer writes, regarding a news item that we briefly noted earlier:
Guess who’s coming to the suburb where I live? Erin Brockovich. She’s here and in the news.
Of course she’s not hearing “Fridley’s concerns” — she’s hearing the concerns of novices who’ve never heard of the Texas Sharpshooter Fallacy.
FWIW, “one of the worst Superfund sites in the country” refers to the old FMC plant in the southwest corner of the city by the Mississippi, well away from the closest residential neighborhood and more likely to affect Minneapolis than Fridley, if it affected anything at all. Fridley’s biggest industry is Medtronic’s headquarters. It’s a typical postwar residential suburb, mostly built in the 50s and 60s.
The neighborhood newspaper ran what I thought was a fawning article about her appearance here, written by an intern, along with a separate article about how the intern who wrote the article was so excited to meet her. So much for objectivity.
As the city’s water report (PDF) says, Fridley has never been in violation of the cancer causing agents standards in the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to pour myself another tall glass of city water.
Longtime Twin Cities attorney John Murrin lost money in a dodgy business deal, and started out by pressing what critics agree were some meritorious complaints arising from it. But courts began to look askance as he added more and more actions, pleadings and (nearly four dozen) defendants. Now a sanctions order has resulted in a bankruptcy proceeding. ["Lawyer's tactics leave him bankrupt," Minneapolis Star-Tribune].
Eugene Volokh predicts that a Minnesota jury’s award will not stand; not only are people “constitutionally entitled to speak the truth about others, even with the goal of trying to get them fired,” but the “First Amendment constrains the interference with business relations tort, just as it constrains the infliction of emotional distress and other torts.” [Volokh Conspiracy]
A volunteer clearing debris after the recent tornado in north Minneapolis has been hit with a $275 fine for tree trimming without a license [Star-Tribune via Coyote]
More: In other legal news of tree-trimming, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has settled a battle with San Francisco neighbors over charges that the growth of their trees was spoiling his view [WSJ, more] And the city of Charlotte, N.C., has fined a local church $4,000, or $100 a branch, for excessively trimming crape myrtle trees on its own property under a city tree ordinance [Brittany Penland, Charlotte Observer via Amy Alkon]
“A judge [last week] threw out a lawsuit filed by a Duluth physician who said he was defamed by a man who publicly criticized his bedside manner.” [Grand Forks Herald, earlier] More: Heller, OnPoint News.
“Though blogger John (Johnny Northside) Hoff told the truth when he linked ex-community leader Jerry Moore to a high-profile mortgage fraud, the scathing blog post that got Moore fired justifies $60,000 in damages, a Hennepin County jury decided Friday.” Moore, who was fired by the University of Minnesota after the post appeared, sued on a theory of “tortious interference” with his employment. [Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
Dennis Laurion took to the web to criticize a doctor he said had behaved in a rude and insensitive manner toward his family during the treatment of his elderly father. The doctor sued for defamation, and a judge is considering whether to allow the suit to proceed. [Duluth News Tribune and more]