Posts tagged as:

Oklahoma

Environmental roundup

by Walter Olson on March 26, 2014

  • Oklahoma attorney general goes to court claiming private litigant manipulation of endangered/threatened species petition process [Lowell Rothschild & Kevin Ewing; NPR "State Impact"; Oklahoman, auto-plays ad video; press release, Oklahoma AG E. Scott Pruitt; ESA Watch site from oil riggers; more on the topic]
  • New Yorker mag backs tale of frogs/atrazine researcher who claims conspiracy. Someone’s gonna wind up embarrassed [Jon Entine]
  • Does gas company lease of subsurface rights entitle it to seek injunction excluding protesters from ground level? [Paul Alan Levy]
  • California: “Abusive Coastal Agency Demands Even More Power” [Steven Greenhut]
  • Mr. Harris, you embarrass: “recreational burning of wood is unethical and should be illegal” [Sam Harris from 2012]
  • Harrisburg Patriot-News series on flood insurance [TortsProf, R Street Institute on recent bill]
  • Kansas, Louisiana, and Indiana named top states on property rights freedoms [Mercatus]

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“An Oklahoma state senator has filed a bill to allow law enforcement officers to issue electronic citations for traffic, misdemeanor and municipal ordinance violations.” Sen. Al McAffrey, himself a former police officer, says approaching motorists’ cars is one of the more dangerous parts of patrol officers’ job. So why not let them just skip it, even if that also means skipping the opportunity for motorists to be notified of their legal jeopardy at once, see their accusers, have a chance to explain themselves, and so forth? “If they don’t have to approach vehicles during traffic stops to give people tickets but can simply email traffic violation citations directly to the district court clerk then they’re less likely to get into a dangerous altercation, the lawmaker said.” McAffrey’s S.B. 1872 would also attach a new $5 processing fee to the tickets, of which a portion would be shared with the ticketing officer’s department. [Insurance Journal, KOCO](& welcome Above the Law, Scott Greenfield readers)

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Lawyers have taken unintended-acceleration cases to trial on a variety of theories, including pedal placement and lack of brake override, but have not had much success in arguing that electronic gremlins inhabit the vehicle and that the driver was correctly pressing the brake. Has their luck changed with an Oklahoma jury’s new verdict? The Japanese automaker doesn’t seem to want to take chances, and promptly settled the case, represented on the plaintiff’s side by Montgomery, Ala.’s Beasley Allen. [National Law Journal, The Truth About Cars; Peter Huber on the Audi scare a quarter-century ago] Commenter at TTAC: “I’d like to see this happen with a jury of engineers.” More: Mass Tort Prof.

They’ve reconvened, trying to enact a set of litigation reforms the state’s high court won’t just strike down [The Oklahoman, Tulsa World, earlier]

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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Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on August 22, 2013

  • No, ma’am, I’m not going to diagnose your kids with PTSD after your low-speed auto accident, but I’m sure some other doc will [White Coat]
  • In time to avert catastrophe? “FDA reboot of antibiotic development” [David Shlaes] Role of price controls in shortages of sterile injectables [ACSH]
  • Trial lawyers launch campaign to roll back MICRA, law that has limited California med-mal payouts [KPBS, L.A. Times]
  • DNA panopticon beckons: “Mississippi law requires cord blood from some teen moms” [Emily Wagster Pettus, AP, earlier]
  • Dear N.Y. Times: please make up your mind whether it’s OK to break health privacy laws [SmarterTimes]
  • Committee of AMA decides on schedules by which doctors are paid. And you were expecting it to be done how? [Arnold Kling]
  • “The more your doctor worries about getting sued, the more you’ll end up spending on medical tests” [MarketWatch on Michelle Mello study in Health Affairs] Oklahoma high court used strained rationale to strike down certificate of merit law [Bill of Health]

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Despite the Supreme Court ruling, birthdad Dusten Brown says he “will not voluntarily” return Baby Veronica to adoptive couple Matt and Melanie Capobianco, and the Cherokee tribe has unfortunately given encouragement to his stance [Tulsa World, Michael Schearer, SCOTUSBlog (high court refuses to block adoption)] “Before the hearing [in Tahlequah, Okla.], Cherokee County sheriff’s officials ordered a Tulsa World reporter to leave the third floor of the courthouse, where the hearing was to be held. The Sheriff’s Office then closed the entire courthouse to reporters, yet members of the public were allowed access to the building.” [Tulsa World] Following threats of arrest and pressure from the governor of Oklahoma, Brown has now entered mediation with the Capobiancos [Tulsa World, more coverage]

Meanwhile, although defenders of the Indian Child Welfare Act have tended to applaud its elevation of tribal interests over the best interests of actual children, the Native American Rights Fund, revealing a newfound enthusiasm for the latter, has filed a suit purportedly on Veronica’s behalf arguing that her best interests are not being taken into account in the adoption. And the girl’s biological mother, Christy Maldonado, has announced plans to file a suit asking for parts of the Indian Child Welfare Act to be struck down as unconstitutional. [Associated Press/WCIV, Indian Country Today]

P.S. I do not rush to blame Mr. Brown, who, even if erring, is erring as many of the rest of us would. I do blame the Cherokee authorities, Native American Rights Fund, and others for irresponsibly egging him on as they stake out a maximalist position on behalf of a bad law.

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Asset forfeiture operations with private helpers working on contingency fee:

After seizing more than $1 million in cash in drug stops this year, a district attorney has suspended further roadside busts by his task force because of growing criticism over a private company’s participation.

District Attorney Jason Hicks, whose territory includes four Oklahoma counties, hired Guthrie-based Desert Snow LLC with a deal to pay it between 10 and 25 percent of seizure proceeds, depending on whether its “trainers” were present or only department officers. “Sometimes, no drugs were found and no one was arrested, but task force officers took money found in the vehicles anyway after a drug-sniffing dog got excited.” Now criminal charges arising from the stops are being ended, an investigation has been launched into allegedly missing funds, and “some” money is being returned to motorists. A judge said he was “shocked”

after learning the private company’s owner pulled over a pregnant driver along Interstate 40 and questioned her even though he is not a state-certified law enforcement officer….

Forfeited funds are split among the law enforcement agencies of the task force after Desert Snow is paid.

It bears repeating again and again: contingency fees and law enforcement authority don’t mix. Not ethically, anyway. (via Ed Brayton; more from Eapen Thampy, Americans for Forfeiture Reform).

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June 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 15, 2013

  • “The NYT revisits the Tawana Brawley rape hoax scandal — and Al Sharpton’s role.” [Ann Althouse]
  • Is there any hope of reforming or repealing FATCA, the crazy overseas banking regulation? [Frederic Alain Behrens, SSRN via TaxProf, earlier here, etc.]
  • Urbanophile is no fan of Toronto mayor Rob Ford, but also no fan of the campaign to drive him from office [Aaron Renn]
  • Landlords face legal risk taking on ex-offenders — so where are they supposed to live? [Volokh]
  • When does a strong central state advance individual liberty? Arnold Kling reviews Mark Weiner’s The Rule of the Clan [EconLib]
  • Unenforceability of contract holds back Indian tribes’ prosperity [Terry Anderson]
  • “Oklahoma High Court Nullifies State Tort Reform Law” [WLF, TortsProf, Tulsa World, Reuters, NewsOK, Beck ("the Oklahoma Supreme Court was plainly out of control in Ysbrand, and unfortunately it remains out of control to this day"), Douglas v. Cox]

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Product liability roundup

by Walter Olson on October 1, 2012

  • “Oklahoma Court Tosses Jury Verdict Over ‘Defective’ Louisville Slugger” [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, Abnormal Use] “In contrast, a New Jersey case against the same defendant resulted in a multi-million-dollar settlement divorced from any showing of culpability.” [PoL]
  • An expert witness wore two hats [Chamber-backed Madison County Record]
  • 5-4 Washington Supreme Court decision in asbestos case bodes ill for makers of safety devices [Pacific Legal Foundation]
  • “Defective design and the Costa Concordia” [Rob Green, Abnormal Use; Rick Spilman, The Old Salt]
  • Calif. appeals court says man shot by 3 year old son can sue Glock [SFGate]
  • “Evidence of Drug Use May Be Relevant in Product Liability Litigation” [Farr, Abnormal Use]
  • “What used to be in chemistry sets that are not in there anymore are actual chemicals” [BBC, earlier here, here]

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An American producer is bankrupt because it couldn’t idiot-proof its product sufficiently to ward off the attentions of our product liability system. The next gas can you buy will probably come from somewhere like China, whose manufacturers are apt to be less reachable by American plaintiffs. [Point of Law]

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June 28 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 28, 2012

  • Cato Institute settles lawsuit over its governance [Adler]
  • As regulators crack down on payday lending, Indian tribes fill the gap [Business Week] Tribal leaders say they are at war with the CFPB, and no, there is no Elizabeth Warren angle [Kevin Funnell]
  • “SEA LAWYER. A shark.” [1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue via Nancy Friedman]
  • Trial lawyers in Oklahoma, as in Texas and Florida, endow slate of favored GOP candidates [Tulsa World]
  • Simple reforms could ease path to more interstate adoptions of foster kids [Jeff Katz, Washington Post]
  • “Can you say ‘overzealous service mark claimant’?” [@internetcases]
  • “Today, anyone can sue anyone else, regardless of how ridiculous the claim may be. But it wasn’t always like this.” [Don Elliott, The Atlantic]

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December 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 12, 2011

  • Liability suits bankrupt manufacturer of gasoline cans [Tulsa World]
  • Faces life imprisonment: “Greece’s statistics chief faces criminal probe” for “not cooking the books” [FT via @OlafStorbeck]
  • Man injured by runaway car can sue county on grounds bus shelter was built too close to street [Seattle Times]
  • Title IX trips up track teams [Saving Sports: Delaware, West Virginia, Maryland]
  • “‘Not gay enough’ softball players settle suit” [SF Chron]
  • Now it’s the Obama administration that’s upset with ABA over ratings of judicial nominees [Whelan]
  • Lawyer kiosks in UK newsstands [Knake, LEF] Lawyers open kiosk at Florida mall [ABA Journal]

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A novel lawsuit theory that obtained more-than-respectful coverage in the New York Times did not succeed in convincing the Oklahoma courts, notes Russell Jackson. “The Court of Civil Appeals’ decision in Doyle is a strong demonstration that trying to use civil legal duties to make the US a Nanny State is simply wrongheaded.”

November 1 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 1, 2010

Election edition:

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Mauch Chunk once more?

by Walter Olson on August 4, 2010

The historic town of Mauch Chunk, Pa. changed its name to Jim Thorpe, Pa. as part of a deal to honor the Native American-descended athlete. Now a lawsuit is invoking the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA) to demand removal of Thorpe’s remains to Oklahoma [Never Yet Melted]

Meanwhile, scientists, universities and museums are considering their legal options in the face of new Interior Department interpretations of NAGPRA mandating “that after appropriate tribal consultation, transfer of culturally unidentifiable remains is to be made to a tribe from whose tribal or aboriginal lands the remains were excavated or removed.” [Indian Country Today, April; earlier posts on Kennewick Man controversy]

Keith Harper, now with Kilpatrick Stockton, is a longtime Native American Rights Fund attorney and class counsel in the gigantic Indian trust fund litigation, Cobell. Some critics focus on his prospective appointment for an “Oklahoma seat” on the court, others are not happy with developments in Cobell. [Tulsa World, Kimberly Craven/Billings Gazette]