Posts Tagged ‘Philadelphia’

Forfeiture roundup

  • How does your state rank on asset forfeiture laws? [Michael Greibok, FreedomWorks via Scott Shackford] Maryland delegate alleges that vetoed bill “would have made it easier for criminals to get their forfeited property back,” seemingly unaware that it focused on rights of owners *not* found guilty of anything [Haven Shoemaker, Carroll County Times] Arizona counties said to have nearly free rein in spending money [Arizona Republic via Coyote]
  • I took part last week in a panel discussion in Washington, D.C. on civil asset forfeiture, sponsored by Right on Crime, and it went very well I thought [Sarah Gompper, FreedomWorks]
  • “Nail Salon Owner Sues For Return Of Life Savings Seized By DEA Agents At Airport” [Tim Cushing, TechDirt] And: “A federal judge has just ordered the government to return $167,000 it took from a man passing through Nevada on his way to visit his girlfriend in California.” [Cushing]
  • “How Philadelphia seizes millions in ‘pocket change’ from some of the city’s poorest residents” [Christopher Ingraham, Washington Post “Wonkblog”]
  • IRS drops structuring forfeiture case against N.C. convenience store owner Lyndon McLellan, will return more than $107,000 it seized [Institute for Justice]
  • Canada, too, has civil forfeiture when there has been no criminal conviction [British Columbia Civil Liberties Association]
  • Michigan testimony: “After they breached the door at gunpoint with masks, they proceeded to take every belonging in my house” [Jacob Sullum]
  • Town of Richland, Mississippi, population 7,000, builds $4.1 million police headquarters with forfeiture money. Thanks, passing motorists! [Steve Wilson, Mississippi Watchdog via Radley Balko]

Medical roundup

  • Med mal something of a regional problem: nearly half of payouts are in Northeast, with New York alone paying out more than the entire Midwest [New Jersey Civil Justice Institute on Diederich Healthcare analysis] “Neurosurgeons were 50% more likely to practice defensive medicine in high-risk states compared with low-risk states” [Smith et al., Neurosurgery via NJCJI]
  • New Paul Nolette book on state attorneys general Federalism On Trial includes history of suits led by New York’s Eliot Spitzer to redefine as “fraud” widely known drug-pricing practices that Congress had declined to ban or otherwise address. The resulting lucrative settlements also earmarked money to fund private critics of the pharmaceutical industry;
  • City of Chicago signs on to one of the trial bar’s big current recruitment campaigns, suits seeking recoupment of costs of dealing with prescription opioid abuse [Drug & Device Law; earlier here, here, here]
  • We here in Washington, D.C. take very seriously any violations of HIPAA, the health privacy law. Just kidding! If a union supporter pulls information from an employee medical database to help in an organizing drive, that might be overlooked [Jon Hyman on National Labor Relations Board administrative law judge decision in Rocky Mountain Eye Center]
  • “Preferred Care defendants respond to New Mexico Attorney General’s lawsuit, argue it was filed at urging of Cohen Milstein law firm” [Legal NewsLine]
  • Philadelphia police run warrant checks of hospital visitor lists, and as a result many persons with outstanding warrants avoid going to hospitals. So asserts sociologist Alice Goffman in her book On the Run, but the evidence is disputed [Sara Mayeux last August, Steven Lubet in review challenging the book more broadly on ethical and factual grounds, Goffman’s response]
  • Making contraceptive pill available over the counter without prescription should please supporters of birth control access, right? Funny you should ask [Elizabeth Nolan Brown, Reason, earlier]

Police and community roundup

  • Not just motorists: revenue-hungry St. Louis County municipalities mulct residents and homeowners with tickets over toys in yard, missing shingles, overgrown trees [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
  • So hard to convict: six officers from notorious Philadelphia narcotics squad acquitted in federal “dangled over balconies” case [Inquirer]
  • Strictly non-business: Mayor of Campo, Colo. “asserted the ticketing …is strictly about public safety and not to generate revenue.” [KUSA, autoplays]
  • Texas legislature: “Bill to limit filming of police activity is dropped” [Allison Wisk, Dallas Morning News]
  • “I remember getting mocked as a nutty libertarian when arguing that primary seat belt laws would be used to profile.” [@radleybalko on CBS Miami report]
  • “Breaking Down the Cost of Jaywalking: Where Does Money from a $190 Ticket Go?” [L.A., 2010, BlogDowntown via Amy Alkon discussion, earlier, Timothy Kincaid on Twitter] “A traffic fine should not devastate folks living paycheck to paycheck. [Cal.] Senate working to fix this” [Mariel Garza, L.A. Times]
  • On the need for independent prosecutors in police misconduct cases [Jacob Sullum]

Federal judge: families can sue Philadelphia over its forfeiture practices

“A lawsuit challenging the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office’s use of state civil-forfeiture laws will proceed in federal court after a judge rejected calls from city lawyers to throw it out….Of the four plaintiffs seeking class-action status, three had their houses threatened after relatives were accused of dealing drugs on their properties. None of them have been accused of involvement in a crime.” Under a procedure called “seize and seal,” the city grabs real estate before owners have had a hearing in court. [Philadelphia Inquirer] “The fourth plaintiff’s car was seized after his arrest for possession of drug paraphernalia.”

The trials of Nancy Raynor, cont’d

Following up on our earlier reports here and here: a Pennsylvania appellate court “has temporarily halted the imposition of a $1 million fine against Philadelphia attorney Nancy Raynor, who received the sanction after one of her witnesses during a medical malpractice trial disclosed information that had been ruled inadmissible by Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Judge Paul Panepinto.” [Penn Record] The judge “has defended his action in an opinion in which he accused Raynor of violating a court order as part of a trial strategy.” [Chris Mondics, Philadelphia Inquirer] Three witnesses — the most recent a trial technician who testified at a March 4 hearing — have now backed up Raynor’s account of not having sought to elicit the reference to a plaintiff’s smoking habit, which the judge had barred. “In addition to [Joseph] Chapman, two other witnesses, an emergency room doctor who is a client of Raynor’s and an insurance adjuster, have testified that they heard Raynor advising [Dr. John] Kelly that smoking testimony was precluded.” [Mondics/Inquirer, March 6, follow-up]

Police unions roundup

  • Quite a story: “Las Vegas cop behind controversial killing now influential union leader” [Las Vegas Review-Journal]
  • Strife betwen NYPD union and City Hall long predates current NYC mayor [David Firestone, Quartz; Guardian]
  • “Report: Massachusetts police grant ‘professional courtesy’ to other officers caught driving drunk” [Radley Balko; earlier on cops’ refusal to ticket cops]
  • “Cleveland police union defends fired cop, saying others did far worse” [Cleveland Plain Dealer, earlier]
  • After cartoon ire, did union chief tell police departments not to give information to Bucks County, Penn. paper? [Jim Romenesko via Balko]
  • Oldie but goodie: “hit it with a flashlight until we gain compliance” [Officer.com]
  • Miami FOP: chief’s view of the Eric Garner case isn’t ours [Washington Post via Amy Alkon]
  • And for a contrasting view, check out the generally pro-police-organization site of Ron DeLord;

Labor and employment roundup

  • Jury convicts Ironworkers Local 401 boss in union violence case [Philadelphia Inquirer, CBS Philly, earlier here, etc. on Quaker meetinghouse arson and other crimes] Pennsylvania lawmaker proposes to end unions’ exemption from laws defining crimes of harassment, stalking, threatening [York Dispatch; more on exemption of unions from these laws]
  • Emergent regime under federal law: if you’ve ever offered light duty to a disabled worker or returning injured worker, you’d better offer it to pregnant worker too [Jon Hyman]
  • Everything you know about company towns is wrong [Alex Tabarrok]
  • “The EEOC issues you’ll want to keep an eye on in 2015″ [Littler Mendelson via Tim Gould, HR Morning]
  • Sued if you do: employers struggle to navigate between government rules encouraging, penalizing hiring of applicants with criminal records [WSJ, paywall] “Watch Your Back: The Growing Threat of FCRA Background Check Class Actions” [Gregory Snell, Foley & Lardner]
  • “Nearly 30 Percent of Workers in the U.S. Need a License to Perform Their Job: It Is Time to Examine Occupational Licensing Practices” [Melissa S. Kearney, Brad Hershbein and David Boddy, Brookings via John Cochrane]
  • “The Effect of Mandatory Sick Leave Policies: Reviewing the Evidence” [Max Nelsen] “Popularity of Obama’s paid sick leave proposal depends on workers not realizing it ultimately comes out of their paychecks.” [James Sherk]

Minimum wage closes much-loved S.F. bookstore

Don’t believe minimum wage hikes hurt real people? After March 31, a famed sci-fi bookstore on Valencia St. in San Francisco’s Mission District will no longer be able to cater to your taste in fantasy:

The change in minimum wage will mean our payroll will increase roughly 39%. That increase will in turn bring up our total operating expenses by 18%. To make up for that expense, we would need to increase our sales by a minimum of 20%. We do not believe that is a realistic possibility for a bookstore in San Francisco at this time.

And this, which speaks for itself:

In November, San Francisco voters overwhelmingly passed a measure that will increase the minimum wage within the city to $15 per hour by 2018. Although all of us at Borderlands support the concept of a living wage in [principle] and we believe that it’s possible that the new law will be good for San Francisco — Borderlands Books as it exists is not a financially viable business if subject to that minimum wage. Consequently we will be closing our doors no later than March 31st. The cafe will continue to operate until at least the end of this year.

Early reactions from customers online run heavily to two themes: 1) anguish that a beloved cultural institution is passing from the scene and 2) reflections that they, the fans and customers, had supported the minimum wage hike too when it was on the ballot. (It might restrict businesses’ rights, but who cares about that?) But in this world — as in so many of the well-crafted alternative worlds of science fiction — the link between actions and their logical consequences, foreseen and intended or otherwise, is not to be broken. [Reprinted from my post at Cato at Liberty]

Coyote read the letter in recognition:

I found the language here familiar because I spent most of last year writing such letters to angry customer bases. In our case, fortunately, we had the ability to raise prices so the letters were to defuse customer irritation rather than to announce a closure.

And Mark Perry at AEI identifies why a bookstore in particular cannot adjust the way a restaurant or a dry cleaner might:

There’s a limit to how much a bookstore can increase book prices to offset higher labor costs because the publisher sets the list price of the book and it’s printed on the book cover.

Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, a new minimum wage law hits nonprofits, which ask for more taxpayer money so they can comply [Inquirer]

“Lawyer’s personal assets, bank accounts at risk as opponents seek to collect $1M sanction”

Debra Cassens Weiss at the ABA Journal has more on that curious sanctions order out of the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court in which attorney Nancy Raynor of Malvern, Pennsylvania, could lose everything because a judge found that she “allowed an expert witness to refer to a lung cancer patient’s history of smoking during a May 2012 medical malpractice trial.” Earlier here. More: Philadelphia Inquirer coverage here and here.