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Denis Dutton, 1944-2010

by Walter Olson on December 29, 2010

The creator of the wonderful Arts and Letters Daily (and a body of great work besides that on aesthetics and other subjects) will be sorely missed. Obits and appreciations: The Press (New Zealand), Nick Gillespie/Reason, Chronicle of Higher Education. For very many years, like Patrick at Popehat, until changing technology rendered the home page concept less relevant, I kept my home page set to the Daily, unrivaled as it was at its job of civilized web curation and casual tease-line artistry; now the L.A. Times speculates (via Virginia Postrel) on what will happen to it next.

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In which we are cited

by Walter Olson on November 25, 2010

By Pee-Wee Herman! (It’s the hot-beverage link.)


Eugene Volokh attempts to answer that question [Volokh Conspiracy]


August 28 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 28, 2010

  • EPA considers petition to ban lead sporting ammunition and fishing sinkers [National Shooting Sports Federation via Zincavage]
  • Claremont-McKenna economist Eric Helland, known for his work on litigation policy, joins the group blog Truth on the Market;
  • European Union expresses concern about provisions of Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act [Sidley Austin, PDF letter courtesy Learning Resources]
  • Michigan judge rules two waitresses can proceed with weight discrimination claim against Hooters [WSJ Law Blog, earlier]
  • San Francisco prosecutors charge former MoFo partner and wife with misappropriating nearly $400,000 from funds earmarked for autistic son’s services [The Recorder]
  • When litigants demand to depose the opponent’s CEO [Ted at PoL]
  • Wal-Mart seeks Supreme Court review of billion-dollar job-bias class action [Ohio Employer's Law]
  • If you want to hire a home attendant to keep grandma from needing a nursing home, better hope you’re not in California [five years ago on Overlawyered]


New sentencing blog

by Walter Olson on June 18, 2010

SentenceSpeak is hosted by Families Against Mandatory Minimums (via Douglas Berman and Scott Greenfield).

Blawg Review #262

by Walter Olson on May 5, 2010

This week the traveling roundup of law-related posts is hosted by a nonlawyer — one who got sued over his blogging — in celebration of World Press Freedom Day. [Public Intellectual via Popehat; earlier coverage of the case]

Reason TV interviews advice columnist-author (I See Rude People), blogger and frequent Overlawyered commenter Amy Alkon.

New at Point of Law

by Walter Olson on February 20, 2010

Things you’re missing if you aren’t checking out my other site:


Kevin Underhill rounds up four amusing miscellanies at his excellent site. From the fourth:

In June, a committee of the Oregon Legislature stuck some language into a bill that would (I think) have briefly redefined “no” as “yes.” Allegedly, Democrats were trying to head off an initiative they feared Republicans would later put on the ballot, asking voters to reject a spending measure. The bill provided that a vote to reject the measure would be counted as a vote to adopt it:

A measure referred to the people by referendum petition may not be adopted unless it receives an affirmative majority of the total votes cast on the measure rejecting the measure. For purposes of this subsection, a measure is considered adopted if it is rejected by the people.

The bill was amended again a few days later to remove the controversial language, after it became public.

P.S. And another installment missed above (“We are all tarnished by your stupidity.”)


One is co-written by Alan Lange of YallPolitics blogging fame. [Freeland] More: Joe Palazzolo, “Scruggs Prosecutor Writes Tell-All Book”, Main Justice.

October 28 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 28, 2009

  • Alleged wife murderer “sues J.P. Morgan for cutting off his home equity line of credit.” Reason cited: “imprisonment”. [Joe Weisenthal, Business Insider via Fountain]
  • Charles Krauthammer on the need to “reform our insane malpractice system. … I used to be a doctor, I know how much is wasted on defensive medicine.” [Der Spiegel interview]
  • Popehat looks back on turning two, in customarily entertaining fashion [unsigned collective post]
  • Sigh: “Chamber of Commerce Sues ‘Yes Men’ for Fake News Conference” [ABA Journal]
  • Coverage mandates explain a lot about why health insurance is so much costlier in some states than others [Coyote] More: Tyler Cowen (autism treatment)
  • Watch out for those default judgments: PepsiCo hit with $1.26 billion award in Wisconsin state court, says word of suit never got to responsible officials within the company [National Law Journal]
  • Ohio appeals court: characterizing incident as “Baby Mama Drama” is not prosecutorial misconduct [The Briefcase]
  • Ideological tests for educators? On efforts to screen out would-be teachers not seen as committed enough to “social justice” [K.C. Johnson, Minding the Campus]


Blawg Review #234

by Walter Olson on October 26, 2009

It’s hosted by Victoria Pynchon, who’s guestblogged in this space, at her site Settle It Now.

Blawg Review #233

by Walter Olson on October 13, 2009

It’s up at Popehat (cross-posted from Point of Law).

Missed this thread from a month ago on the subject. My explanation (summed up in a speech ten years ago) overlaps but does not exactly duplicate Orin Kerr’s; a wide variety of opinions get aired in the comments.


Eugene Volokh recalls (with a followup) a groundbreaking 1973 case in which the Tenth Circuit ruled that it could be found negligent for a supermarket to have installed a silent alarm that summoned the police when a holdup was in practice; a hostage was killed in the resulting shootout. The case is consistent with others in which lawyers have advanced theories summed up in the phrase “negligent provocation”.


Longtime reader P.W. writes:

I’ve been biting my fist while I read the recent series of guest posts on tort reform and medicine on, such as this one. Lots of readers breezily asserting that there’s no problem, pretty much a fact-free debate. I’ve emailed them myself, but no luck so far….

P.S. More or less relatedly, Democratic strategist Bob Beckel sees medical liability reform as the possible pivot of a health care deal [Real Clear Politics]

P.P.S. Sullivan’s guestblogger Patrick Appel has now posted good emails from one reader dismantling some of the trial bar talking points that had figured prominently in earlier posts:

Easily disprovable lie #1: Texas malpractice insurance rates have declined every year since tort reform was enacted. Here’s a link to TMLT, the largest insurer in Texas…

[#3:] …the inflation-adjusted decrease in overall indemnity payments is due precisely to tort reform, primarily in the country’s largest economy, California, where MICRA was established in 1974. In non-tort reform states, indemnity payments have steadily increased. In Illinois, which only adopted tort reform in 2007, the average (pdf, page 15) indemnity payment increased from $70,000 in 1980 to $630,000 in 2008. If you adjust for inflation, those 1980 dollars would only be $182,943.81 in 2009. Clearly, this is not a decrease. …


As readers may have noticed, I’m a big booster of Lenore Skenazy’s wonderful Free-Range Kids website (subtitle: “Giving our kids the freedom we had without going nuts with worry”), and yesterday she returned the favor with some more than kind words about this site (“great, nay mindblowing”) and a discussion of our recent post about a Staten Island mother’s suit against Little League and volunteer coaches. Interesting reader discussions ensue. (Also, more on her book here.)

While on the topic of that Little League suit, Rick Reilly of ESPN Magazine has a new column that a lot of people are talking about: “A tale of two Little Leaguers


…is guestblogging this week at