- From the Manhattan Institute “Trial Lawyers Inc.” project, “Wheels of Fortune” (PDF), twin report on lawyers’ exploitation of SSDI (Social Security Disability) and ADA cases;
- Theodore Dalrymple on the flaws of the US litigation system [Liberty and Law]
- Testimony: “after he inquired about the 40 percent fee charged by [co-counsel] Chestnut, [Willie] Gary threatened to ‘tie up [client] Baker’s money in the courts for years so he would never live to see it.'” [Gainesville Sun]
- ATRA takes aim at rise of asbestos litigation in NYC [“Judicial Hellholes” series, Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine, New York Daily News (“national scandal”)]
- Another reminder that while plaintiff’s lawyers conventionally assail pre-dispute employment arbitration agreements, they routinely use them themselves [LNL]
- New U.S. Chamber papers on litigation trends: “Lawsuit Ecosystem II“; state supreme courts review;
- Changes ahead for class action rules? [Andrew Trask]
Eric Garner, asphyxiated during his arrest on Staten Island, had been repeatedly picked up by the NYPD for the crime of selling loose cigarettes. Washington Examiner:
The crime of selling “loosies” was not considered a serious one in the past. Many corner stores in New York City once sold them quietly upon request. But former Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s cartoonish anti-tobacco crusade changed that and everything else. Smoking in public places was banned. Punitive taxes and a legal minimum price of $10.50 were imposed in an effort to push prices ever-upward, so that a brand-name pack of 20 cigarettes now costs as much as $14 in New York City.
As a result, the illicit sale of loose and untaxed cigarettes became more commonplace.
I noted at yesterday’s Repeal Day panel at Cato that according to figures last year, New York’s unusually high cigarette taxes had brought it an unusual distinction: an estimated 60 percent of consumption there is of smuggled or illegal cigarettes, much higher than any other state. Another way to think of it is that New York has moved closer to prohibition than to a legal market in tobacco. [earlier 2003 Cato study]
In his history of Prohibition, Last Call, Daniel Okrent cites (among many other law enforcement misadventures) the fatal shooting of Jacob Hanson, secretary of an Elks lodge in Niagara Falls, New York, in a confrontation with alcohol agents — though Hanson had a clean record and was not carrying alcohol. At the time, many saw Hanson’s death as reflecting poorly on the Prohibition regime generally. For some reason, though, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has drawn fire from some quarters for making a parallel observation about Garner’s death. [BBC; note however that while Garner’s frictions with the local NYPD seem to owe much to his repeated cigarette arrests, the proximate event leading to his arrest seems to have been his attempt to break up a fight]
Even when it’s all caught on video, in daylight, with witnesses. Even when the cop blatantly broke the NYPD’s very clear ban on chokeholds. Even when the victim was heard “gurgl[ing] that he could not breathe” and the cop was heard bantering afterward with colleagues.
The confrontation between officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. had several elements that worked to bolster Wilson’s defense, including evidence that Brown had assaulted Wilson in his car and contradictions in the testimony of eyewitnesses. By contrast, the case for a Staten Island grand jury to return at least some charge in the choking death of Eric Garner at the hands of officer Daniel Pantaleo would seem considerably stronger. (Garner had tried to break up a sidewalk fight before police intervened, then argued with police and was uncompliant when they intervened; in accounts after the death, police said he had frequently tangled with law enforcement because of his habit of hanging out on the sidewalk selling “loosies” — single cigarettes out of their packages, a tax violation.)
Some of yesterday’s Twitter discussion:
Is there anyone defending the Garner homicide non indictment? I don't see how it's not at least negligent homicide.
— tedfrank (@tedfrank) December 3, 2014
(This morning, New York Post columnist Bob McManus does defend it.)
“I cant breathe.” pic.twitter.com/eJvmhnSsSv
— Andrew Kirell (@AndrewKirell) December 3, 2014
Typically, the Twitter law degree crowd gets angry a lot – but my timeline is filled with apoplectic ACTUAL lawyers #EricGarner
— Keith K (@kkaplan) December 3, 2014
1928, NY Judge tells jury police can't just "shoot and kill any offender who may not yield to his command…" pic.twitter.com/Ic3hRHnbT2
— profloumoore (@loumoore12) December 3, 2014
— Ali Gharib (@Ali_Gharib) December 3, 2014
Seeing lots of "Garner story shows cop cameras don't work" tweets. But transparency isn't meant to be a solution. Just exposes the problem.
— Radley Balko (@radleybalko) December 3, 2014
Be skeptical of "untaxed cigarettes" myth. Didn't appear until day after death, when it suddenly b/c part of narrative. Unmentioned at 1st.
— Scott Greenfield (@ScottGreenfield) December 3, 2014
Pass a law against something very petty – realize that it will be enforced with LETHAL FORCE against someone who persistently violates it.
— Arthur Kimes (@ComradeArthur) December 3, 2014
— Walter Olson (@walterolson) December 3, 2014
By the way: the guy who recorded the video of Eric Garner being murdered? HE was indicted. Of course. http://t.co/fpLIc1se7q
— Christopher Bowen (@superbus) December 3, 2014
— Walter Olson (@walterolson) December 3, 2014
modest proposal: when there is a civilian death at the hands of law enforcement, a public defender is named to be the special prosecutor
— Chris Tolles (@tolles) December 3, 2014
— Walter Olson (@walterolson) December 3, 2014
Frustrated by Grand Juries? Read this 2003 Cato paper by W. Thomas Dillard, Stephen Ross Johnson, and Timothy Lynch: http://t.co/zFOGr8J9Ke
— Matt Welch (@MattWelch) December 4, 2014
Aware of New York City’s penchant for prosecuting persons found in possession of knives commonly used in construction and design work, sculptor Jonathan W. “therefore chose the Spyderco UK Penknife… a non locking, slip joint folder, which should have been in the clear. But that wasn’t good enough for the NYPD (who arrested him), the DA (who charged him), or even his public defender (who recommended he plead guilty).” [The Truth About Knives] Earlier on NYC’s crazy “gravity-knife” law here and here.
New York law “mandates that the city pay for storing furniture and personal belongings for homeless people.” The city has paid more than $200,000 so far for Andrea Logan’s, part of a program whose costs to the city now exceed $14 million a year. [New York Post]
Horror story in Queens points up flaws of the city’s deed-transfer system, and also of its pro-tenant housing court regime: “After Darrell Beatty failed to appear in August, a judge approved an eviction, but it was stayed last week when Beatty claimed he had health problems.” [New York Post]
- NYC pols, hotel interests unite in the cause of suppressing AirBnB [CNBC, Matthew Feeney/Cato, more, NY mag]
- David Bernstein on Justice Sotomayor’s dissent in Schuette, the Michigan affirmative action case [Cato Supreme Court Review via Volokh Conspiracy, and thanks for quoting my views]
- Restaurant’s amusing response to “do you know I’m a lawyer?” [Above the Law]
- Cronyism in city governance: its enablers, consequences and possible cures [Aaron Renn, Urbanophile, first, second, third, fourth posts; Lincoln Steffens, 1905, on the evils of Rhode Island]
- N.J. toll-taker’s suit: it’s my right to tell motorists “God bless you” whether turnpike authority likes it or not [AP/CBS New York]
- “Q: What has worse terms than gym memberships and class action settlements? A: This class action over gym memberships.” [Center for Class Action Fairness on Twitter]
- US border security great at keeping out bagpipes and Kinder Eggs, not so great at keeping out Ebola [Mark Steyn, more Steyn on bagpipes and earlier on musical instrument confiscations here, here, etc.]
- Was California workers’ comp claim against NFL by former Tampa Bay Buccaneer-turned-P.I.-lawyer inconsistent with his mixed martial arts prowess? [Tampa Bay Times, Lakeland Ledger, earlier and more on California workers’ comp and professional football]
- Salt Lake City’s $6,500 stings: “Secret Shopper Hired to Punish Lyft & Uber Actually Prefers Them” [Connor Boyack, Libertas Institute]
- Are libertarians undermining public accommodations law? (If only.) [Stanford Law Review, Samuel Bagenstos and Richard Epstein via Paul Horwitz]
- Why NYC is losing its last bed and breakfasts [Crain’s New York via @vpostrel]
- U.S. continues foolish policy of restricting crude oil and gas exports, time for that to change [David Henderson first and second posts]
- So it seems the New York Times is now committed to the theory that Toyotas show mechanical unintended acceleration;
- OK, the future Kansas politician was at the strip club strictly on attorney business when the police arrived. Was he billing? [Politico]
- Willingness of Connecticut courts to order accommodation of mental disorders is not limitless, as in case of “dazed and confused” teacher who “frequently reported to the wrong school or for the wrong class” [Chris Engler at Dan Schwartz’s Connecticut Employment Law Blog; Langello v. West Haven Board of Education]
- “‘Seinfeld’ diner sued for not being handicap-friendly” [NY Post] Florida lawyers descend on New Jersey to file ADA suits [N.J. Civil Justice Institute]
- “Plaintiffs want to expand lawsuit against Disney for how it treats guests with autism” [Orlando Sentinel]
- It’s “sad that we need a federal appellate court to remind us” that ADA’s protection of alcoholism does not actually immunize worker fired after repeatedly driving municipal employer’s vehicles drunk [Jon Hyman, Ohio Employer Law Blog]
- “Employers beware: EEOC appears to be stepping up disability discrimination enforcement” [Hyman] EEOC sues Wal-Mart over firing of intellectually disabled employee [Rockford Register-Star, EEOC]
- Nice crowd your ADA racket attracts, California [Modesto Bee]
- Argument: Employers that use “emotional intelligence” measurement in evaluating job applicants may be violating ADA rights of those with autism [Michael John Carley, HuffPo]