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Ohio

July 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 29, 2014

  • Say nay, laddie: Unsettling new Scotland law will assign each child state interest guardian (“named person”) [BBC, Scottish government, Josie Appleton/Spiked Online, opposition group and another]
  • Why Judge Alex Kozinski doesn’t like jury nullification [Reason interview last year]
  • “Asbestos Ruling Boosts Transparency —- and Threatens Plaintiffs’ Attorneys” [Paul Barrett, Business Week, on Garlock ruling]
  • Winona, Minn. town cap on rental conversions violates property owners’ rights [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
  • Challenger claims Ohio attorney general’s hiring of debt collection firms amounts to pay to play [Columbus Dispatch]
  • Mixed verdict in Philadelphia traffic court prosecutions [Inquirer, ABA Journal, earlier]
  • Save the date! Cato’s annual Constitution Day returns Wed., Sept. 17, with panelists and speakers like P.J. O’Rourke, Nadine Strossen, Tom Goldstein, Judge Diane Sykes, Roger Pilon, and a host of others [details]

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Less than a mile before a police DUI checkpoint in Parma, Ohio, resident Doug Odolecki held a sign reading “Check point ahead turn now.” Police gave him a ticket and confiscated the sign: “Odolecki was issued a ticket and forced to hand over his sign. “Parma Police tell us they can’t get into the details of the pending case but a Sergeant told me that Odolecki was obstructing officers ability to do their job. They also said that the issue was with the part of the sign that said ‘turn now.’” [WOIO via AOL]

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  • What is pay? What is wealth? And who (if anyone) should be envying whom? [David Henderson]
  • LIRR disability scammer gets probation, will repay lost $294K at rate of $25/month [Lane Filler, Newsday]
  • Costly license plate frame can help buy your way into California speeders’ nomenklatura [Priceonomics]
  • Ohio school superintendent who illegally used public moneys to promote school tax hike won’t face discipline [Ohio Watchdog]
  • Last-in, first-out teacher dismissal sacrosanct in California [Larry Sand]
  • “Los Angeles Inspector Convicted of Bribery Keeps $72,000 Pension” [Scott Shackford]
  • Heart and lung presumption is an artificial construct that drives municipal budgets for uniformed services [Tampa Bay Times]

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Ohio man sues forty townspeople for alleged frequent honking while driving by his house [Newser]

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News item: Ohio school suspends 10-year-old for displaying a “level 2 look alike firearm.” Y’know, the kind you might use to pick your nose [CNN, ABA Journal]

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Trevor Burrus on the serious side of the case that elicited Cato’s humorous amicus brief the other day [Forbes]:

Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus… will be argued [before the Supreme Court] in April. The case is a challenge to Ohio’s bizarre statute prohibiting knowingly or recklessly making “false” statements about a political candidate or ballot initiative. In other words, the Ohio Election Commission (OEC) essentially runs a ministry of truth to which any citizen can submit a complaint. Amazingly, twenty other states have such laws.

Laws against lying in political speech are not administered by disinterested truth seekers, but by people with their own political convictions. They chill large amounts of truthful speech and deprive the public of hearing a robust debate on the issues. And, as we will see, they are used by political opponents to turn campaigning into litigation.

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It’s actually on a serious subject: can a state (Ohio) purport to ban false, exaggerated or “truthy” speech about candidates, or does that impermissibly chill speech protected by the Constitution’s First Amendment? My colleagues Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus and Gabriel Latner co-authored it on behalf of political humorist/Cato fellow P.J. O’Rourke in the pending SCOTUS case of Susan B. Anthony List v. Driehaus. Read it here, alongside Ilya Shapiro’s summary, and here’s David Lat of Above the Law calling it the “Best Amicus Brief Ever.

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Schools roundup

by Walter Olson on December 27, 2013

  • Following outcry, Ohio lawmaker drops proposal to license homeschool parents [Jason Bedrick/Cato, sequel]
  • In Colorado U. crackdown on professor’s deviance course, university retracts claim that professor needed to clear controversial teaching with institutional review board [Inside Higher Ed, Zachary Schrag and sequel, background on IRBs]
  • The purely fictional, entirely bloodless “assassin” game — which I remember was played in my own high school years ago without anyone worrying — now seems to be controversial in suburban D.C. because School Violence and Think of the Children. [Washington Post; Bedrick, Cato on pretend "arrow" zero-tolerance case]
  • After son’s death, Ontario mom urges schools to let asthmatic kids carry inhalers [CBC, Bedrick]
  • Cathy Young on how the forces of unanimity police discussions of “rape culture” [Minding the Campus]
  • Kansas regents forbid faculty/staff to post social media content contrary to best interest of university [WaPo]
  • Don’t forget to stop home some time: more public schools serving dinner as well as breakfast and lunch [Future of Capitalism]

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In the 1948 case of Shelley v. Kraemer, the U.S. Supreme Court held that racially restrictive real estate covenants, once a common practice, were not enforceable in court. Since then old covenants of that sort in title deeds have been a dead letter, but court clerks continue to copy them over as part of the historical transcription of title language that occurs in many real estate transactions. Now a couple described anonymously as John and Jane Doe, represented by attorney Zachary Gottesman of Cincinnati, have been suing county recorders around the state of Ohio asking for “an injunction requiring recorders to ‘sequester’ the offensive documents or, for those documents that have to be published, to redact the racially-offensive portions. They also ask for their attorney fees to be paid, punitive damages and any other relief the court deems just.” A lawyer representing the county clerks says they are legally obligated to copy, transcribe or otherwise make available the deeds as they find them, and that the anonymous filing of the lawsuit is improper. “Defendants,” argues the brief on their behalf, “cannot be held liable … in the same way a library or museum cannot be held liable for hate speech for maintaining a display of offensive historical documents,” he wrote. Please, don’t give the plaintiffs ideas for more suits. [Zanesville Times Recorder]

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Someone needs to organize one pronto, to judge by stories like this one from Ohio, where parents say they need pro bono help against a Child Protective Services attempt to seize custody of their six year old daughter for “neglect” that appears to include letting her walk around the neighborhood [Free-Range Kids, Shackford]

P.S.: Another story from Australia last year; and a happier one from Canada.

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Among the departing lawyers are those representing the state of Ohio in a public employee retirement fund-led class action; the state may not appreciate the fallout from Chesley’s efforts to fight disbarment in Kentucky over the fen-phen scandal. [Cincinnati Enquirer] Many of the one-time “Master of Disaster’s” bipartisan political ties, however, remain cozy:

Chesley noted that Hamilton County [= Cincinnati] Prosecutor Joe Deters, who has worked for Chesley as a private attorney for four years, continues to work at the firm.

Deters also works as a private attorney for the new firm created by Chesley’s former lawyers. Deters, a leader in Hamilton County’s Republican Party, praises Chesley, who has helped raise millions for Democrats…

Torts roundup

by Walter Olson on December 14, 2012

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Environment roundup

by Walter Olson on November 30, 2012

  • As wildlife policy goes wrong, it’s guano on the rocks for La Jolla [Matt Welch, language]
  • Georgia-Pacific West vs. NEDC: “Millions of jobs at stake in logging case” [David Hampton, Wash. Times; Henry Miller, Forbes]
  • Ontario environment ministry won’t investigate complaint of noise from neighbor’s basketball play [National Post, earlier]
  • Maryland: Following state mandate, Howard County prepares to stifle farmland development without compensation [HoCoRising]
  • Role of local government structure: “New England vs. Midwest Culture” [George Mattei, Urbanophile]
  • More re: suits vs. utilities over Sandy outages [Bloomberg (Long Island), NJ.com] Pre-Sandy, NY pols kicked around Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) for decades [Nicole Gelinas/ NYP]
  • “Reckless Endangerment: Global Warming in the Courts” [Michael Greve, Liberty and Law] Various interest groups have already locked themselves into EPA’s jury-rigged scheme to limit carbon emissions [Greve]

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At least the lawyers are getting some exercise [Cleveland Plain Dealer via Adler]:

Thursday was one of the strangest days in Ohio high school football history. Not a single down was played and it ended in total confusion…. The Ohio Supreme Court might have the final word….

Edgewood Superintendent Joe Spiccia said the plan Thursday night was to create a conflicting court order, which it did. … [OHSAA spokesman Tim Stried] said neither game will be played until the case is resolved by another court because if either game took place, it would be violating one of the two court orders.

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Will the Obama administration’s much-publicized restrictions on new coal burning electric plants really crimp the economy of the Midwest? Or, given that the market for new plants appears to have tipped decisively toward natural gas for the foreseeable future, do they amount to a “regulatory nothing-burger?” [Jerry Rogers and Peter Van Doren (Cato), Forbes, via David Henderson]

Asset forfeiture roundup

by Walter Olson on September 5, 2012

  • Press accounts have exposed a pattern of police stops of out of state motorists in rural Tennessee, in which police search motorists’ cars and then confiscate large sums of money they find on the presumption that it is criminal-related. Now, in Henry, Tennessee — named after Patrick Henry, of “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” fame — the police chief has told the town he needs a police dog because “the city is missing out on possible revenues” [dog testimonials; more Tennessee, via Eapen Thampy of Americans for Forfeiture Reform, guestblogging last month at Radley Balko's Agitator site]
  • Also via Thampy, economically hard-hit Butte County, California, north of Sacramento, has been filling its budget hole through pot-grower busts accompanied by aggressive forfeitures; in a perhaps not unrelated phenomenon, the county snatches kids from parents at an exceedingly high rate. More on child protective services in Butte County at the Chico News & Review (& more: Angela Bacca, SKUNK).
  • Via Ilya Somin, this from a Steven Greenhut column:

    Few groups of “sinners” were singled out in biblical accounts more than “tax collectors,” who were not merely state agents collecting revenues that taxpayers rightfully owed to the government. They were the source of particular loathing because they were extortionists, who profited personally by shaking down as much money from citizens as possible…

    The Gospel accounts provide an early lesson in the danger of marrying the profit motive with governmental power. The possibility for abuse is great. Yet throughout the United States, government agencies increasingly rely on “civil forfeiture” to bolster their strained budgets. The more assets these modern-day tax collectors seize, the more money they have for new equipment and other things….

  • From reader John Brewer, on an Ohio gardening-equipment seizure: “Structurally, it seems even worse to have the judge who originally signed the search warrant have a say in what gets done with the confiscated stuff than it does for the cops/DA to get it, despite the cute-and-cuddly outcome here.”
  • Tomorrow’s abuses today: the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms [BATF] has just been given a major enhancement to its forfeiture powers. [David Kopel/Volokh]
  • For more information on this subject, check out the many online resources offered by the Cato Institute; Cato scholars took an early interest in exposing the problems of civil and criminal asset forfeiture, and our focus on the issue continues to this day. More: Scott Greenfield. (& Tim Lynch, PoliceMisconduct.net)

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The landmark in the Ohio town near Akron is one of only two survivors from a fashion for giant municipal flagpoles in the late nineteenth century; the other one is in Palmyra, N.Y. “The township trustees say they don’t want to own it anymore because of liability concerns.” [Recordpub.com via Robert Breugmann, Urbanophile]

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Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on April 24, 2012

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