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politics

Belated debate commentary

by Walter Olson on October 5, 2012

My Twitter comments as the Presidential debate was in progress can be read here.

The fine is well below the cost of mounting a legal defense in a case that had become a symbol of trigger-happy regulatory prosecution. [Nick Gillespie/Reason, Ann Althouse, AP] Besides, Ted Frank argues, “Gibson was planning on setting up camp at the RNC to promote the problem of overcriminalization,” so the Obama administration gets something of value too in an election season.

More: “The Lacey Act: Protectionism Through Criminalization” [K. William Watson, Cato at Liberty]

Rob McKenna, attorney general of the state of Washington, is among many state AGs who has joined in courtroom challenges to ObamaCare. Now a local “public interest” law firm, Smith & Lowney, has sued McKenna on behalf of a group of residents who disagree with that decision, saying he is breaching his duty to represent the state’s citizenry by taking a view contrary to theirs. [KOMO]

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April 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 20, 2012

  • Lawsuit claim: MERS mortgage system is just a racket to deprive court clerks of recording fees [Baton Rouge Advocate]
  • More reporting on hospital and community drug shortages [Washington Post; my post last summer]
  • Roger Pilon: How the “judicial activism” debate changed [Cato at Liberty]
  • Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, spoken of as a future national political figure, has rather a lot of ties to trial lawyers [Political Desk]
  • Problems with DOJ e-book antitrust suit targeting Apple [Declan McCullagh]
  • One bogus campaign feeds into another: “ALEC Unfairly Demonized Over ‘Stand Your Ground’ Laws” [Bader, CEI "Open Market"]
  • New Point of Law discussion on class actions with Ted Frank and Brian Fitzpatrick;
  • Today’s best spam comment? “With all the thistledown floating almost on the net, it is rare to look over a locate like yours instead.”

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February 24 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 24, 2012

  • Melissa Kite, columnist with Britain’s Spectator, writes about her low-speed car crash and its aftermath [first, second, third, fourth]
  • NYT’s Nocera lauds Keystone pipeline, gets called “global warming denier” [NYTimes] More about foundations’ campaign to throttle Alberta tar sands [Coyote] Regulations mandating insurance “disclosures” provide another way for climate change activists to stir the pot [Insurance and Technology]
  • “Cop spends weeks to trick an 18-year-old into possession and sale of a gram of pot” [Frauenfelder, BB]
  • Federal Circuit model order, pilot program could show way to rein in patent e-discovery [Inside Counsel, Corporate Counsel] December Congressional hearing on discovery costs [Lawyers for Civil Justice]
  • Trial lawyer group working with Senate campaigns in North Dakota, Nevada, Wisconsin, Hawaii [Rob Port via LNL] President of Houston Trial Lawyers Association makes U.S. Senate bid [Chron]
  • Panel selection: “Jury strikes matter” [Ron Miller, Maryland Injury]
  • Law-world summaries/Seventeen syllables long/@legal_haiku (& for a similar treatment of high court cases, check out @SupremeHaiku)

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“A Milwaukee lawyer who calls himself the ‘lemon law king’ is vowing to never take on a Republican client because of a new law limiting attorney fees in Wisconsin. … In a statement issued on Monday, [Vince] Megna compared Wisconsin to North Korea.” [ABA Journal]

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October 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 12, 2011

  • After President Obama’s Orlando photo-op with construction workers came the high-ticket fundraiser at the home of med-mal titan John Morgan [Orlando Sentinel]
  • “Lawyer Sues Facebook, Says Tracking Cookie Violates Wiretap Laws” [ABA Journal]
  • The bone-marrow bounty that could save a life — and the law that gets in the way [Virginia Postrel]
  • New coalition to repeal New York’s unfair Scaffold Law;
  • “How the FDA Could Cost You Your Life” [Scott Gottlieb on medical device lags, WSJ]
  • Mississippi: new release of sealed Scruggs-scandal documents [YallPolitics, Freeland]
  • What I learned (about false accusation) at Dartmouth [Gonzalo Lira]

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My newest Cato at Liberty post raises an eyebrow at some remarkably cynical calculations — who’s making them isn’t entirely clear — about a recent Obama administration backtrack on environmental initiatives (& welcome Neal Boortz readers). More: ShopFloor (Texas power plants).

Congress might provide a do-over for a drug firm that inadvertently missed filing for a patent extension by a day or two, and in so doing spare the prominent law firm WilmerHale a possible malpractice payout [Andrew Pollack, New York Times]

The disclosure of a Pennsylvania judge’s email to interested parties in a politically charged redistricting case may have stalled his hopes for advancement to the federal bench. [The Legal Intelligencer]

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June 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 20, 2011

Politics edition:

  • Mother ship? White House staffers depart for Harvard Law School [Politico]
  • New York: “Lawmakers consider lawyer-friendly med-mal bills,” even as many key legislators moonlight at personal injury firms [Reuters]
  • David Brooks on explosive political potential of Fannie Mae scandal [NYTimes] After Kentucky bar panel’s vote to disbar Chesley, Ohio AG pulls him off Fannie Mae suit [Adler, Frank, Beth Musgrave/Lexington Herald-Leader]
  • Alabama legislature removes Jim Crow language from state constitution — but black lawmakers oppose the idea [Constitutional Daily]
  • AAJ lobbyist Andy Cochran works GOP turf, has convinced trial lawyers to sponsor Christian radio program [Mokhiber, "Seventh Amendment Advocate"]
  • Centers for Disease Control funnels grants to allies for political advocacy on favored public-health causes [Jeff Stier, Daily Caller]
  • Must have mistaken her for a jury: “John Edwards Sought Millions From Heiress” [ABC News] “One thing [worse than Edwards's] conduct is the government’s effort to put him in jail for it.” [Steve Chapman]

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By a mostly partisan vote of 50 to 44, the U.S. Senate confirmed Rhode Island plaintiff’s lawyer and political kingmaker Jack McConnell to a federal district judgeship. McConnell made his Motley Rice law firm, based in South Carolina, into Rhode Island’s biggest political donor during the same period that state officials were hiring him to run, on contingency fee, what it was hoped would be a hugely lucrative suit against former makers of lead paint. The Motley firm, with associated law firms, is credited with having made billions from tobacco and asbestos litigation and has recycled large sums into the campaign coffers of state attorneys general and other friendly politicians. [Daily Caller, Plains Daily (North Dakota contributions), Politico, ShopFloor] Earlier here, here, here, etc.

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At Cato at Liberty, I recall a couple of the tycoon’s ventures into the use of defamation litigation to intimidate critics — Reason #1,001 for thoughtful voters to stay well away from him.

P.S. And here’s Radley Balko with Reason #1,002.

February 21 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 21, 2011

  • Estate of Anna Nicole Smith may sue over opera based on her life [Daily Mail via Surber, other Daily Mail]
  • Maryland Department of Environment: yep, we put tracking devices on Eastern Shore watermen’s boats [Red Maryland]
  • Trial lawyers’ federal contributions went 97% to Dems last cycle [Freddoso, Examiner]
  • $6.5 million for family abuse: unusual sovereign-exposure law costs Washington taxpayers again [PoL]
  • Canadian court: no, we can’t and won’t waive loser-pays for needy litigants who lose cases [Erik Magraken]
  • CPSC considers mandating “SawStop” technology [Crede, background]
  • Gun groups alarmed over ATF pick [Chicago Tribune]
  • Jury blames hit-run death on wheelchair curb cut [four years ago on Overlawyered]

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Election results

by Walter Olson on November 3, 2010

Feel free to discuss in comments. Some results (our preview post from Monday is here):

* In Iowa, Rep. Bruce Braley, a former plaintiff’s lawyer and leading spokesman for trial bar interests on Capitol Hill, appears to have squeaked through, but former ATLA/AAJ president Roxanne Conlin came nowhere close in her Senate bid against incumbent Chuck Grassley.

* Demagogic attacks on Michigan Supreme Court Justice Bob Young failed, as Michigan voters retained him. Illinois Supreme Court justice Thomas Kilbride, greatly aided by cash from unions, Democrats and you-know-who, won’t pay a retention price for a lawless decision striking down legislated limits on med-mal suits.

* The New York attorney general race wasn’t that tight after all, with Democrat Eric Schneiderman winning by 11 points, nor was the Connecticut senate race, where perennial Overlawyered bete noire Richard Blumenthal won by 10. Despite suggestions that attorney general candidate Kamala Harris was too far left even for California, she was running slightly ahead in late returns.

* Rhode Island voters turned down a proposal to change the official name of their state, “”State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations,” to appease the misplaced sensitivities of some who imagine that the word “plantations” implies a connection to slavery.

* Oklahomans ill-advisedly voted to forbid their courts from considering international law, even in the relatively narrow and well-defined circumstances where it has been traditional for them to do so. More: Roger Alford, OJ.

* Big news from Ohio, where voters turned out of office Democratic attorney general Richard Cordray, lately lionized by the New York Times as the next big activist A.G. The “next Eliot Spitzer” Times curse lives on!

* Via B.L.T., the House Judiciary Committee is set for a truly monumental ideological remake assuming that Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) is replaced by Lamar Smith (R-Tex.). Some changes will be coming along at Senate Judiciary as well.

* Republicans scored surprise inroads in Madison County, Illinois, the pro-plaintiff jurisdiction near St. Louis that has long generated vastly more than its share of high-ticket litigation. In particular, they managed to beat influential state representative/trial lawyer Jay Hoffman of Collinsville, a one-time floor leader for Gov. Rod Blagojevich, per reports by Ann Knef at the Chamber-backed Madison County Record and the Edwardsville Intelligencer.

* Mandatory employer recognition of unions on a “card check” basis without so much as a secret ballot? No thanks, say voters in four states [Wood; Hirsch/Workplace Prof].

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November 1 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 1, 2010

Election edition:

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Taxes and guns, eminent domain and public employee benefits: from Dan Mitchell at Cato-at-Liberty.

No, it’s not exactly going to shock anyone, it just confirms once again the ongoing role of the plaintiff’s bar as an “anchor tenant” in the organized party. [Ingram, NLJ]

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