Posts Tagged ‘prosecutorial abuse’

Orange County lowers the boom on Axe

“Recently, the consumer protection unit of the Orange County (CA) District Attorney’s Office filed suit against Unilever, parent company of AXE, accusing the company of fudging the packaging of its male grooming products.” The charges, which were filed concomitantly with a proposed settlement the same day, do not claim that Axe misstated the quantity of product contained by weight, but say its packaging employed “false bottoms, false sidewalls, false lids or false coverings” which “serve no legitimate purpose and mislead consumers as to the amount of product contained in the containers. …Apparently, the DA has never purchased a bag of potato chips.” It is unclear from the coverage whether Orange County consumers were constrained from ascertaining how much product was in one of the packages by, say, lifting it to see how heavy it was, or looking at the number of ounces on the label. In settlement (the same day) of the charges, the company agreed to pay $750,000 to Orange County and $24,000 to its D.A.’s office, and to take out ads in various California newspapers with $3 coupons good off a consumer purchase of Axe. [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use; Orange County Register]

The Orange County district attorney’s office under Tony Rackauckas is emerging as an Overlawyered favorite, having knocked an impressive $16 million out of Toyota in the sudden-acceleration affair even though the cars in question do not suddenly accelerate, of which $4 million went to a locally influential tort attorney; the office has also kept mum about arrangements it has with tort attorneys. And of course Rackauckas’s office has lately been embroiled in one of the nation’s most prominent scandals of prosecutorial abuse (with retaliation angle).

P.S. Oh, and here is coverage of “slack fill” class action suits organized by private lawyers against both Unilever/Axe and competitor Procter & Gamble, confirming that this wasn’t exactly a solitary frolic on the county’s part. More: Amy Alkon.

Orange County prosecutorial misconduct scandal

Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas may pull out the old playbook, but it hasn’t kept the latest scandal from getting national play [OC Weekly, Dahlia Lithwick/Slate, Kevin Williamson/NRO (entire office disqualified from representation in case “following revelations that the office colluded with the Orange County sheriff’s department to systematically suppress potentially exculpatory evidence in at least three dozen cases, committing what legal scholars have characterized as perjury and obstruction of justice in the process.”]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • Judge chides Montgomery County, Md. police for “unlawful invasion” of family’s home [my new Free State Notes post]
  • As more offenses get redefined as “trafficking,” state extends its powers of surveillance and punishment [Alison Somin on pioneering Gail Heriot dissent in U.S. Commission for Civil Rights report; Elizabeth Nolan Brown/Reason on legislative proposals from Sens. Portman and Feinstein] Proposal in Washington legislature would empower police to seize/forfeit cars of those arrested for soliciting prostitutes, whether or not ever convicted [Seattle Times]
  • Progressives and the prison state: “most of the intellectual and legal scaffolding of the contemporary American carceral system was erected by Democrats.” [Thaddeus Russell reviewing new Naomi Murakawa book The First Civil Right: How Liberals Built Prison America]
  • Here comes the next verbal conflation with negative implications for defendants’ rights, “traffic violence” [Scott Greenfield]
  • Please don’t pay attention to what goes on inside Florida prisons, it would only spoil your day [Fred Grimm, Miami Herald via Radley Balko]
  • Trouble in California: “U.S. judges see ‘epidemic’ of prosecutorial misconduct in state” [L.A. Times, Ronald Collins/Concurring Opinions, video from Baca v. Adams with Judges Kozinski, Wardlaw, W. Fletcher, earlier on California Attorney General Kamala Harris and Moonlight Fire case] But will Ninth Circuit’s strong words change anything? [Scott Greenfield including updates]
  • “Plea Bargaining and the Innocent: It’s up to judges to restore balance” [U.S. District Judge John Kane]

Law enforcement for profit roundup

The “equitable sharing” civil forfeiture program (see weekend post) being just one of the more visible corners of a whole scaffolding of bad incentives in law enforcement:

Prosecution roundup

  • “Judges seemed to be troubled that prosecutors in Manhattan had secretly searched the entire Facebook accounts of about 300 people who were not charged with a crime” [New York Times]
  • Goshen, N.Y.: “Dozens of speakers thundered against the proposed asset forfeiture law at two public hearings held Monday by Orange County Executive Steve Neuhaus.” [Goshen Chronicle; Neuhaus vetoes measure] Related, forfeiture at work in Pennsylvania [AP/same]
  • Buried lede in breathless story about federal bank fines: “The agency receives a cut of up to 3 percent of its share of the total settlements for its Working Capital Fund, a slush fund common across major government agencies.” [Newsweek]
  • From amid the wreckage: Dan and Fran Keller abuse case [Austin American Statesman]
  • “Missouri’s attorney general announced lawsuits against 13 [St. Louis] suburbs on Thursday, accusing them of ignoring a law that sets limits on revenue derived from traffic fines.” [NY Times via Tabarrok]
  • “It is remarkable enough that an African-American man can be convicted by a jury for breaking into a store that video shows was burglarized by a white female.” [The Open File on Indiana prosecutorial misconduct case via Radley Balko]
  • “Lawyers for California Attorney General Kamala Harris argued releasing non-violent inmates early would harm efforts to fight California wildfires. Harris told BuzzFeed News she first heard about this when she read it in the paper.” [BuzzFeed]

Prosecution roundup

  • If you like civil forfeiture, you’ll love AG nominee Loretta Lynch [Rare Liberty]
  • NYT “Room for Debate” tackles deferred prosecution agreements with contributions by James Copland, Lawrence Cunningham, others;
  • Book by Ross Cheit seeks to rehabilitate mass-child-abuse prosecutions of 1990s, Cathy Young not convinced [Reason] “When miscarriages of justice occur, prosecutors must answer for actions” [Boston Globe on Bernard Baran case, earlier here and here]
  • As Sierra Pacific case implodes, federal judge raises prospect that U.S. DoJ may have defrauded judges [Paul Mirengoff, earlier]
  • Video of panel on shaken baby syndrome doubts, relating to new film “The Syndrome” [Univ. of Missouri, K.C. School of Law, related earlier]
  • Ambiguous statutes in a regulated environment: time for a limit on the criminalization of business? [Matt Kaiser, Above the Law]
  • Las Vegas: federal judge calls “super seal” clandestine-forfeiture effort by U.S. prosecutors “constitutionally abhorrent” [Balko]

Stuart Taylor, Jr. on the Wisconsin John Doe probe

For those of you following the politicized Wisconsin John Doe prosecution — which basically is premised on the idea that even issue advocacy is criminal if coordinated among the wrong people — this report from veteran legal analyst Stuart Taylor, Jr. is pretty amazing. [Legal NewsLine, my two cents from May, more]

More: Ann Althouse parses the response of John Chisholm’s lawyer.