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North Carolina

Duking it out

by Walter Olson on July 10, 2014

Duke University and the heirs of the late actor John Wayne have been fighting in court for nearly a decade over trademark/licensing rights to the word “Duke” [Eriq Gardner, The Hollywood Reporter]

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Durham police paid undisclosed “conviction bonuses” to informants in drug cases, a practice both prosecutors and defense lawyers say comes as a surprise to them [IndyWeek]

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I spoke on Thursday to the Bastiat Society chapter in Charlotte with some observations rooted in public choice theory about the “three-tier” system of state liquor regulation familiar since Prohibition. A few further links for those interested in the subject:

Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on February 25, 2014

  • Cato Institute reissues Jonathan Rauch’s classic Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks On Free Thought after 20 years, with new introduction by George F. Will and new afterword by the author [Jason Kuznicki; Reason Foundation] The free-speech Supreme Court decision without which there would have been no gay-rights movement [Rauch guestblogging at Volokh Conspiracy]
  • Important stuff: Ken White vs. Mark Steyn on how to respond to lawsuits against speech [Popehat]
  • “Blogger: Go Ahead and Sue; I’ve Got Nothing To Lose” [Greensboro, N.C., sued by developer; Romenesko] Is it possible to defame a business by putting up a Craigslist post linking to an online docket showing lawsuits against it? [Cook County Record]
  • U.K. aims to tweak existing X-rated internet filters to block “extremist” websites [TechDirt] Europe’s hate speech laws may actually prepare the ground for sowers of hate [Jamie Kirchick, Tablet]
  • Public Citizen’s Paul Alan Levy, ACLU of Maryland assist anonymous blogger targeted by Brett Kimberlin [Consumer Law & Policy]
  • “Rhode Island Cops Vigilant In Face of Scourge of People Making Fun of State Representative Scott Guthrie” [Popehat]
  • “If you are determined to sue 1,200 people for linking to a newsworthy article, you may begin with me.” [John Scalzi]
  • After criticism of heavy-handed Ankeny, Iowa police raid on persons suspected of credit card fraud, not actually reassuring to be told militarized methods needed because one house occupant had firearms carry permit [Radley Balko, more, more]
  • Advocates strain mightily to fit unpopular Dunn verdict into Stand Your Ground theme [David Kopel, Jacob Sullum] More: sorry, pundits, but Rasmussen poll shows public’s plurality SYG support unshaken [Althouse]
  • “‘Drop the Cabbage, Bullwinkle!’: Alaskan Man Faces Prison for the Crime of Moose-Feeding” [Evan Bernick, Heritage] “Criminalizing America: How Big Government Makes A Criminal of Every American” [ALEC "State Factor"]
  • “We’ve also bred into dogs … an eagerness to please us.” Bad news for K-9 forensics [Balko]
  • “Has overcharging killed the criminal trial?” [Legal Ethics Forum] Is the “trial penalty” a myth? [David Abrams via Dan Markel, Scott Greenfield]
  • What if cops, as opposed to, say, gun owners, were obliged by law to purchase liability insurance? [Popehat]
  • That’s productivity: North Carolina grand jury managed to crank out roughly one indictment every 52 seconds [Tim Cushing, TechDirt]

“A Charlotte man blames the breakup of his marriage not only on the other guy, but also on the online infidelity service that he says made it happen. … North Carolina remains one of only a half-dozen states that still awards punitive damages when a marriage fails and someone other than the husband and wife is to blame. The so-called alienation of affection/criminal conversation laws have survived numerous efforts by judges, lawyers and some legislators to repeal them, and in recent years they have led to million-dollar judgments for wronged spouses.” [Charlotte Observer]

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In North Carolina, lawmakers seem inclined to favor the big distributors, who as a group are major campaign donors. [NBC Charlotte]

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  • More details on my panel discussions on food issues next week at the Heritage Foundation [Monday, Sept. 23] and at Vermont Law School [Friday, Sept. 27];
  • “A Ban on Some Italian Cured Meat Is Ending” [Glenn Collins, N.Y. Times] “Market Forces Lead to Better Treatment for Farm Animals” [Steve Chapman]
  • “Tempering temperance: Puritan attitudes on alcohol still linger decades after Prohibition” [National Post]
  • Dozens of class-action suits: “Bay Area courts center of legal battle against food industry” [Mercury-News]
  • “Plain and/or Terrifying Packaging Considered for Junk Food in New Zealand (and Australia)” [Katherine Mangu-Ward]
  • If the dangers of rice aren’t enough to alarm even today’s Margaret Hamburg-headed FDA, they’re probably not very serious [ACSH]
  • North Carolina: home visits to make sure Medicaid recipient kids are eating their veggies? [Rick Henderson video]

Mark Hansen in the ABA Journal with an overview of how crime labs have finally come under scrutiny following a “string of shoddy, suspect and fraudulent results” in Boston, New York, North Carolina, Nassau County, N.Y. and elsewhere.

In St. Paul, Minn., assistant public defender Lori Traub stumbled into her local lab’s problems and

says she was horrified by what she found: The lab, an old-fashioned “cop shop,” was run by a police sergeant with no scientific background, had no written operating procedures, didn’t clean instruments between testing, allowed technicians unlimited access to the drug vault, and didn’t have anyone checking anyone else’s work. Analysts didn’t know what a validity study was, used Wikipedia as a technical reference, and in their lab reports referred to “white junk” clogging an instrument.

It gets much worse. A West Virginia state serologist, following the DNA clearance of a man he had previously identified as a rapist, “was eventually found to have falsified test results in as many as 134 cases during a 10-year period.” Oklahoma City Police Department crime lab chemist Joyce Gilchrist

who testified as a prosecution expert in 23 death penalty cases, including those of 12 inmates who were later executed, was fired in 2001 for doing sloppy work and giving false or misleading testimony. Nicknamed “Black Magic” by detectives for her seeming ability to get lab results no other chemist could, Gilchrist was never prosecuted for her alleged misdeeds, though she reportedly was named a defendant in at least one lawsuit against the city by a convicted rapist who was later exonerated.

More: And according to a new paper, it turns out that many state police labs are actually paid per conviction, a practice that tends to incentive false-positive error.

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Public employment roundup

by Walter Olson on August 14, 2013

  • “Retirement benefits cost Connecticut more than half of payroll” [Raising Hale] Jagadeesh Gokhale, “State and Local Pension Plans” [Cato] “In the report Krugman cites, the researchers note (repeatedly) that the trillion-dollar figure is very likely a dramatic understatement of the size of the unmet liability.” [Caleb Brown]
  • California: “Bill would reinstate state workers who go AWOL” [Steven Greenhut]
  • Eyebrow-raising federal salaries at unaccountable-by-design CFPB [John Steele Gordon, Commentary]
  • “North Carolina Ends Teacher Tenure” [Pew StateLine]
  • Not all states would benefit from a dose of Scott Walkerism, but Massachusetts would [Charles Chieppo, Governing]
  • “Prison Ordered to Hire Back Guards Fired over an Officer’s Murder Because Everybody Else Was Awful, Too” [Scott Shackford]
  • “New York State Lags on Firing Workers Who Abuse Disabled Patients” [Danny Hakim, New York Times] NYC educators accused of sex misconduct can dig in for years [New York Daily News]
  • “Pennsylvania’s GOP: Rented by Unions” [Steve Malanga, Public Sector Inc.] NYC’s Working Families Party expands into Connecticut [Daniel DiSalvo, same]

Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on July 2, 2013

  • Paleo-diet blogger wins a round in battle with North Carolina occupational licensing [IJ via Alkon, earlier here, here, etc.]
  • If you live in Connecticut or Montana, you have a U.S. Senator who’d go this far to trample rights [Volokh on Tester-Murphy constitutional amendment, earlier] Related: “In Attack On Commercial Speech, Law Professor Sadly Supports Selective Rights” [Richard Samp, WLF, on Columbia's Tim Wu]
  • Lawyers sue publishers of medical literature for failing to warn about drug side effects [ABA Journal, Drug and Device Law]
  • “Anti-Bullying Bill Could Jail People Who Criticize Politicians” [Ted Balaker, Reason]
  • Regarding the L.A. Times: “So people are really suggesting a city council interfere to make sure a newspaper’s owners have the proper political views. Flabbergasting.” [@radleybalko]
  • “Judge: Rocker must pay Herald $132G in court costs for dismissed defamation suit” [Boston Herald] Second Circuit recognizes scientific-discussion defense to defamation claims [Science World Report]
  • “Does Freedom of Speech Conflict with Freedom of Religion?” [Jacob Mchangama video] “Turkish Blogger Sentenced to 13 Months in Prison for Criticizing Mohammed” [Volokh] So much repression: State Dept. International Religious Freedom Report for 2012 [executive summary]

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“Oh, come on, now, WRAL. No one’s really going to believe the claimant in the bogus workers’ comp case with the game show angle is named ‘Wrench Cashwell’. You’re going to have to come up with something better than that.” [Fayetteville, N.C.]

It’s alive

by Walter Olson on June 5, 2013

Report: John Edwards plans to launch new plaintiff’s firm in Raleigh. [CNN]

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May 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 10, 2013

  • Electric-car maker Tesla doesn’t get many kind words from free market types, but here’s one [Coyote] More: North Carolina auto dealer lobby strikes back [News & Observer]
  • One lawyer’s selection of the worst lawyer billboards, though they’re far from the worst we’ve seen [John M. Phillips]
  • House hearings on litigation abuse and on litigation and international competitiveness [Judiciary, more, Point of Law]
  • Ninth Circuit cites conflict of interest, throws out credit reporting class settlement [Trial Insider; Daniel Fisher]
  • Private pensions, market-based water rates and more: “Australian travel notes from a policy wonk” [Alex Tabarrok]
  • “Use elevators properly. Riding outside of cars can be dangerous and deadly” [Scouting NY, seen in Bronx apartment building]
  • “It’s long been my view that blawgs, law blogs, are the greatest peer reviewed content ever created.” [Greenfield]

North Carolinians should hold on to their long-established right to own whatever dog breed they prefer without having to petition the authorities for permission, argues Patrick at Popehat. The bill, filed by state Rep. Rodney Moore (D-Charlotte), would give police departments discretion to deny permits to would-be owners and would require that owners “submit to a criminal background check and enroll in a four hour course sponsored by the Humane Society on responsible ownership of pit bulls, rottweilers, mastiffs, chows, and similar ‘aggressive dog breeds.’” More: OhMiDog.

P.S. Flagged by GraniteGrok, a commenter at the News & Observer: “When are we going to close the dog show loophole?”

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Environment roundup

by Walter Olson on March 26, 2013

  • Doughnut oil and the environment: NYT misses a story of unintended consequences [Ira Stoll, SmarterTimes]
  • N.C.: “Guy Who Runs Wilderness Camp Told to Install Sprinklers, Use County Approved Lumber” [Katherine Mangu-Ward]
  • “With Proposed Policy Change, EPA Fully Embraces Role of ‘Environmental Justice’ Advocate” [Cory Andrews, WLF]
  • “While the taxes… are irritating, what has really killed my interest in expanding in California is the regulatory burden.” [Coyote on SLOLeaks blog; another California Coastal Commission horror story]
  • Natural crop breeding = safe, biotech-assisted breeding = unsafe? Tale of the toxic potato teaches otherwise [Maggie Koerth-Baker, BoingBoing] (broken link fixed now)
  • Peak Oil? Welcome instead to Trough Oil, as titanic new fossil fuel supplies begin coming online [Andrew Sullivan]
  • Deregulation of accessory dwellings is a reform both free-marketeers and New Urbanists in search of density can get behind [David Alpert, Greater Greater Washington]

At Duke on Friday

by Walter Olson on February 20, 2013

On Friday at Duke Law School, the Duke Forum for Law and Social Change is giving its annual symposium, this year’s subject being legal approaches to obesity prevention. The organizers have kindly invited me to participate in a late morning panel, where my views are likely to differ from those of the other participants; details here.

If you’d like to book me to speak at your own event or campus, contact me directly at editor – at – overlawyered – dot – com, through the Cato Institute’s Events staff, or, if you’re associated with a Federalist Society chapter, through the Society’s national office.