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“The Nebraska Supreme Court has upheld the dismissal of a libel lawsuit filed over an email that referred to a Seward home inspector as a ‘total idiot.'” [AP/Omaha World-Herald via @VBalasubramani]


In Philadelphia, the city has seized a widow’s home and car for forfeiture after her son was nabbed on charges of selling pot [Inquirer] “Minneapolis police plan to keep $200,000 seized in a raid of a tobacco shop, even though they didn’t find any evidence to merit criminal charges. Meanwhile, a former Michigan town police chief awaits trial on embezzlement and racketeering charges for allegedly using drug forfeiture money to buy pot, prostitutes and a tanning bed for his wife.” [Radley Balko] Nebraska cops seize nearly $50,000 from a Wisconsin man driving from Colorado, “a known source state for marijuana,” but a court orders it returned [same]. Connecticut police use forfeiture proceeds “to buy new police dogs, undercover vehicles, technology, fitness equipment — and to pay for travel to events around the country.” [New Haven Register]

More: Half-forgotten history of how the feds pushed the states to embrace forfeiture [Eapen Thampy, Forfeiture Reform] And for once good news: “Rand Paul introduces bill to reform civil asset forfeiture” [Balko again] And: Rep. Tim Walberg introduces a bill on the House side; video of Heritage panel today with Balko, Walberg and IJ’s Scott Bullock, Andrew Kloster of Heritage moderating.

A buzzed-about scheme for state AGs (of all people) to wade into the patent troll controversy might have hit a snag in Nebraska. [John Steele/Legal Ethics Forum, earlier]

In Nebraska next week

by Walter Olson on September 4, 2013

I’ll be speaking at the University of Nebraska College of Law on Monday and Creighton University School of Law on Tuesday, both lunchtime addresses sponsored by the Federalist Society. More of my speaking schedule for this fall:

Sept. 17, Washington, D.C., panel moderator, Cato Institute annual Constitution Day.

Sept. 19, Baltimore, Md., Baltimore Lawyers Chapter, Federalist Society.

Sept. 25, Ann Arbor, Mich. University of Michigan Law School, Federalist Society.

Sept. 27, South Royalton, Vt. Vermont Law School conference, “The Disclosure Debates: The Regulatory Power of an Informed Public.”

Oct. 15, Frederick, Md.

Oct. 30, Buffalo, N.Y., Canisius College.

Nov. 7, Baltimore, Md., University of Baltimore School of Law, guest lecture.

Nov. 11, Chicago, Ill. University of Chicago Law School, Federalist Society.

If you’d like me to visit your campus or group, drop me a line. (& welcome Joe Patrice, Above the Law readers)


“Washington D.C. city council members are considering a bill that would give D.C. residents the strongest protections against the abuse of civil asset forfeiture in the country.” [John Ross] “Court Ruling Forces Nebraska Police to Return $1 Million Seized from a Former Exotic Dancer by Asset Forfeiture” [Ilya Somin, Lincoln Journal-Star] The American Bar Association, admittedly not a wholly disinterested party, “is supporting the right to a pretrial hearing to challenge court orders freezing assets that a defendant needs to retain counsel.” [ABA Journal] And not necessarily a forfeiture story, but worth pondering even if not: “Undercover Informant Plants Crack Cocaine in Smoke Shop, Business Owner Saved by Tape” [Scotia (Schenectady County), N.Y.; Krayewski]

  • Arkansas: “‘Corruption of Blood’ Amendment Withdrawn After House Supporter Is Reminded What Century It Is” [Above the Law]
  • George Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case heads for trial [TalkLeft, Doug Mataconis, and Richard Hornsby via Megan McArdle on evidentiary standards, earlier]
  • Is New Hampshire citizens’ group harassing town parking meter enforcers, or monitoring their work? [Union Leader, ABA Journal, Reason]
  • New York politicos quarrel over Hank Greenberg suit, overbroad Martin Act is to blame [Bainbridge]
  • Enforcement grabs higher-ups in Ralph Lauren Argentine customs bribery case [FCPA Professor, earlier]
  • Who stole the tarts? “Mom has son arrested for stealing Pop-Tarts” [Lowering the Bar; Charlotte, N.C.] Tip from Georgia cops: avoid situations where you might have to cling to hood of moving car [same]
  • “Omaha officers told: Don’t interfere with citizens’ right to record police activity” [Omaha World-Herald via @radleybalko ("Good work, Omaha.")]

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A federal judge has declined jurisdiction of the Oglala Sioux tribe’s lawsuit claiming that liquor sellers just over the Nebraska border are legally answerable for the harms of alcoholism on the reservation. The dismissal is without prejudice to possible refiling of the claims in state court; New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof had promoted the cause. [BBC]

P.S. Kristof vs. college sophomore, advantage sophomore [James Taranto, WSJ, fifth item; Robert James Bidinotto] And don’t get us started about his chemophobia.

August 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 20, 2012

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I’ve got a piece out at Reason today in which I de-foam the Times columnist’s highly aerated assertions about beer sales near the Pine Ridge, S.D. Oglala Sioux reservation. And a followup at Cato: Kristof has written about the failures of the Drug War, so why does he not apply those lessons here? See also: NYT “Room for Debate” discussion. A different view: Eric Turkewitz.


“An American Indian tribe sued some of the world’s largest beer makers today, claiming they knowingly contributed to devastating alcohol-related problems on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Indian Reservation.” The Oglala Sioux tribe is asking for $500 million. [AP; Lincoln Journal-Star; Don Surber] More: Jacob Sullum, Ted Frank.


Dogs in the dorms

by Walter Olson on December 1, 2011

The Justice Department has sued the University of Nebraska-Kearney and its regents and employees for allegedly “denying reasonable accommodation requests by students with psychological or emotional disabilities seeking to live with emotional assistance animals in university housing.” [Disability Law]

More/update: Inside Higher Ed.


“Jeffrey McCave was sentenced in a county court to thirty days in jail, two years of probation and a $1000 fine for listening to music in an undriven car parked on his father’s driveway while drunk. The Nebraska Supreme Court on Friday used the case to clarify that the charge of driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) does not apply in a personal driveway.” [The Newspaper]


Nebraska inmate Randall Robbins II is serving time for strangling his girlfriend and blames the antidepressant pill. He wants millions from Pfizer and a Lincoln doctor. [AP/Forbes]

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Fit for a foot chase?

by Walter Olson on March 20, 2009

Dismissing a police officer for being out of shape is one thing, making it stick in court is another.

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Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha has lost another round in his legal jousting with the Almighty. [CBS4Denver, Lowering the Bar, earlier here and here]

It’s happening at the Morton James Public Library in Nebraska City, Neb.:

A federal child product safety law has staff at the Morton James Public Library quarantining books behind bright orange plastic and wondering how many must be pulled forever from the shelves. …

Over 1,000 books with 1985 or older on the copyright page have already been quarantined behind an orange curtain.

Library Director Barbara Hegr said librarians will try to determine if the edition is a printing after the copyright date, so the book may be preserved.

Click through to the news story at the Nebraska City News-Press for more details, as well as a photo you may not soon forget. You can also Digg the story here.


Difficult divorces dept.

by Walter Olson on January 8, 2009

The divorce between Dr. Richard Batista of Ronkonkoma, Long Island, New York, and his wife Dawn has taken an unfortunate turn with Dr. Batista’s demand that she return his left kidney, which he had donated to her in a transplant operation. (Or at least its fair market value) Experts predict that the court will be less than sympathetic to his request [SSFC; Sally Satel, Daily Beast] And in Nebraska, the essential level of trust and goodwill that one would hope to see in a divorce has been undercut by William Lewton’s discovery of a secret recording device concealed in his four year old daughter’s teddy bear [WSJ Law Blog]


Microblog 2008-10-30

by Walter Olson on October 30, 2008

  • Days of “Clean up your room or I’ll drop you off in Nebraska” threat may be numbered [NY Times; earlier] #
  • Bigger jury verdicts during the holidays? A bit of legal folklore is disproved (at least if you posit that the cases docketed at that time of year are a random selection) [Point of Law] #
  • NY budgeters, dependent on Wall Street tax revenue, built a public sector house of cards [McMahon/City Journal] #
  • Funniest Photoshop: “Toto, I have a feeling we are not in Alaska anymore” [Zincavage] #
  • Why they call it Euro-sclerosis [Coyote] #