Gordon VanGilder, a 72 year old retired schoolteacher, now faces felony charges for possessing a 225 year old flintlock pistol, which he says he told a sheriff’s deputy about during a routine traffic stop. [NRA YouTube] More: Charles Cooke, Scott Greenfield (current New Jersey law specifically prohibits possession of antique firearms, a provision one lawmaker there would like to fix). For more on the tender mercies of New Jersey gun control laws, see our coverage of the Brian Aitken case.
- Lester Brickman, others testify before House subcommittee on proposed asbestos-reform FACT Act [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine]
- “B.C. student-turned-dominatrix awarded $1.5M after car accident left her with new personality” [National Post]
- Here, have some shredded fairness: New Jersey lawmakers advance False Claims Act bill with retroactive provisions [NJLRA] Maryland False Claims Act, which I warned about last year, reintroduced as leading priority of new attorney general Brian Frosh [Maryland Reporter; my coverage here, here, etc.]
- Oregon: a “man badly burned when he poured gasoline on a fire is suing Walmart, claiming the gas can he bought there was defective.” [KOIN]
- Minnesota jury is latest to buy sudden-acceleration case, awards $11 million against Toyota [Reuters]
- Insurers, trial lawyers gear up for Texas legislative fight over hailstorm litigation [Bloomberg/Insurance Journal]
- Breaks ankle in “watch this” stunt, files negligence claim, but some spoilsport posted the footage to YouTube [U.K.: City of London police]
In several 2010 posts we covered the story of Brian Aitken, who was imprisoned by the state of New Jersey simply for carrying unloaded guns and ammo in his trunk (really, that was the extent of the crime). Last week Cato hosted Aitken to talk on his new book The Blue Tent Sky: How the Left’s War on Guns Cost Me My Son and My Freedom. Tim Lynch of Cato moderated, and I gave comments. Event description:
In 2009 Brian Aitken, a media consultant and web entrepreneur, ran afoul of New Jersey’s draconian gun laws when he was arrested while transporting two handguns unloaded and locked in the trunk of his car. Despite the fact that Aitken owned the guns legally and had called the New Jersey State Police for advice on how to legally transport his firearms, he found himself sentenced to seven years in prison.
In 2010 New Jersey governor Chris Christie commuted Aitken’s sentence. But Aitken’s experience, like that of other law-abiding gun owners who’ve faced long prison sentences for honest mistakes, raises troubling questions about gun-law overreach, prosecutorial discretion, and judicial abdication.
I recommended the book as a riveting and outrageous read, yet leavened with hope because of the story of the strong public movement that formed to protest the injustice of his incarceration. In my comments, I mentioned the feds’ heavily armed raid on an Indiana antiquities collector. More on that story here.
- Oh, no: “Ferguson to Increase Police Ticketing to Close City’s Budget Gap,” because three arrest warrants per household is still too low [Bloomberg News via Zach Weissmuller (& thanks for quote), earlier]
- In years 2011/12 alone, one Buffalo officer “killed as many dogs in the line of duty as the entire NYPD.” [WGRZ]
- “He believed the poor had the right to buy and sell.” Tunisia yes, Staten Island too? [David Boaz, USA Today]
- “The language of protest: Race, rioting, and the memory of Ferguson” [Abigail Perkiss, NCC/Yahoo, mentions me]
- “Red light cameras to go dark in New Jersey” [Josh Kaib, Watchdog Wire] “Public opinion swings hard against traffic cameras” [AutoBlog]
- On interpreting statistics on race and policing, point counter-point [Scott Alexander, Ezra Klein, Alexander] Reminder: increasing ranks of black officers does not necessarily lead to fewer shootings of black civilians [Jamelle Bouie, Slate]
- “Sex, Spice, and Small-Town Texas Justice: The Purple Zone Raid” [Reason.tv video]
- Illinois legislature rams through trial lawyer bills before new governor takes office [Chamber-backed Madison Record: retroactive lifting of statute of limitations on asbestos suits, reduction of jury size from 12 to 6]
- “The NFL Concussion Settlement: Class Action Exploitation” [Howard Erichson]
- Thanks to plaintiff-friendly California law, suits over “Made in USA” labels proliferate [WSJ]
- Fraud complaints related to Hurricane Katrina above 30,000 and more continue to come in [Insurance Journal]
- Pennsylvania Supreme Court addresses products liability in case of Tincher v. Omega Flex, Inc., but falls short of coherence or clarity [Deborah La Fetra, Pacific Legal Foundation; Max Kennerly with a plaintiff’s-side view].
- “Fraud on a Federal Court Allows Vacation of Remand Orders” [Fourth Circuit asbestos suit against Colgate-Palmolive; Beck, Drug & Device Law]
- New Jersey Consumer Fraud Act now menaces unwary businesses nationwide [Joanna Shepherd, more]
- “Lying to a Lover Could Become ‘Rape’ In New Jersey” [Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason, Scott Greenfield]
- “A $21 Check Prompts Toyota Driver to Wonder Who Benefited from Class Action” [Jacob Gershman, WSJ Law Blog]
- On “right of publicity” litigation over the image of the late General George Patton [Eugene Volokh]
- HBO exec: “We have probably 160 lawyers” looking at film about Scientology [The Hollywood Reporter]
- Revisiting the old and unlamented Cambridge, Mass. rent control system [Fred Meyer, earlier]
- Lawyers! Wanna win big by appealing to the jurors’ “reptile” brain? Check this highly educational offering [Keenan Ball]
- “Suit claims Google’s listings for unlicensed locksmiths harmed licensed business” [ABA Journal]
- Cute: Outgoing Massachusetts Gov. Patrick shifts 500 managers to union status, now incoming GOP successor can’t touch ‘em [Fox Boston]
- Despite opposition from police union, Montgomery County, Md. eventually managed to correct disability scam [Washington Post editorial, Ed Krayewski]
- “Retired CUNY professor gets $560K a year pension” [New York Post]
- “L.A. Cannot Afford Budget Busting Labor Agreements” [Jack Humphreville, CityWatch L.A.] Major changes needed to Nevada public collective bargaining laws [Las Vegas Review-Journal] “States And Cities Coming To Grips With Economic Reality” [Brett Joshpe, Forbes]
- “Public-Sector Unions and Government Policy: Reexamining the Effects of Political Contributions and Collective Bargaining Rights” [George Crowley/Scott Beaulier, Mercatus, PDF]
- “Newark forced to rehire tenured teacher despite new state law” [NJ.com]
- Time Magazine says not-especially-controversial things about tenure system, gets attacked by teachers unions [Weekly Standard] Throwing their money and influence around in elections [RiShawn Biddle on Democracy Alliance, same on AFT]
New Jersey: Monmouth County Superior Court Judge Dennis O’Brien has granted summary judgment to the defendant law firm of Wolff, Helies, Duggan Spaeth and Lucas and dismissed Thomas Hickey’s suit over his injuries in falling off a reclining chair in its office during a deposition. Hickey’s lawyers had argued that the law firm as owner and maintainer of the chair was negligent not to check its settings for safety before each use. The court found that whatever hazards might inhere in the chair’s low-tension setting, Hickey had been sitting in it for 90 minutes which was “sufficient time for him to learn the chair was designed to tilt and to appreciate its tension setting.” [Ashley Peskoe, NJ.com]
A successful whistleblower, he’s featured on the reality-TV show “Real Housewives of New Jersey” and one can only commend his pacific spirit, at least as regards physical combat:
I don’t fight. I think it’s stupid. I’m trained as an attorney. If I want to hurt you, I’m going to sue you. I’m going to leverage your house. I’m gonna give you three years of hell in a courtroom. I’m going to bleed you dry financially, and I’m going to humiliate you as I depose you for eight hours and make you my bitch.