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An “international legal fantasy,” as one observer puts it. [New York Times; earlier on Haiti and France; more on reparations]


Megan McArdle says the judge seems to have dreaded only Type A and not Type B error when it comes to compensating discriminated-against farmers, and quotes more from the great Times piece:

“It was the craziest thing I have ever seen,” one former high-ranking department official said. “We had applications for kids who were 4 or 5 years old. We had cases where every single member of the family applied.” The official added, “You couldn’t have designed it worse if you had tried.” …

Accusations of unfair treatment could be checked against department files if claimants had previously received loans. But four-fifths of successful claimants had never done so. For them, “there was no way to refute what they said,” said Sandy Grammer, a former program analyst from Indiana who reviewed claims for three years. “Basically, it was a rip-off of the American taxpayers.” …

In 16 ZIP codes in Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi and North Carolina, the number of successful claimants exceeded the total number of farms operated by people of any race in 1997, the year the lawsuit was filed. Those applicants received nearly $100 million.

At Prawfsblawg, Paul Horwitz notes that legal scholars active in areas like reparations and discrimination law have up to now said little or nothing about the high quantum of fraud in the much-publicized Pigford settlements and asks (perhaps a bit rhetorically?) whether they will soon be taking note of the “public interest graft” revealed in the Times piece. And Hans Bader wonders whether the Obama administration might have avoided going down the embarrassing settlement route had it taken more seriously the Supreme Court’s 2001 decision in Alexander v. Sandoval. More: Ted Frank, Point of Law; Daniel Foster, NRO. Joel Pollak: “Even the Kinko’s guy knows about Pigford.” Earlier here, etc.


Law schools roundup

by Walter Olson on April 14, 2013

  • “If a law school held a conference on intellectual diversity and the panels really were intellectually diverse …You can bet your last nickel it was sponsored by the Federalist Society.” [Bainbridge, Nick Rosenkranz and more, Harvard Gazette; my 2011 book Schools for Misrule]
  • Washington Law Review takes one step to counter another problem addressed in Schools for Misrule, lawprofs’ conflicts of interest [Bainbridge]
  • BC dean: law schools should adopt residency model from medical education [Vincent Rougeau, ABA Legal Rebels via Paul Caron/TaxProf]
  • Missouri police union head, under fire for Facebook comments, is also constitutional law prof [Mike Riggs]
  • Some say drive for slave reparations is defunct, but U.Va. conference confirms many legal academics still haven’t given up on it [Alfred Brophy via Bainbridge]
  • “Academy’s Heavyweights Opine on Law Schools’ Problems” [WSJ via Legal Ethics Forum]
  • “Board of Regents to Investigate $5.5 Million in Forgivable Loans to University of Texas Law Profs” [Caron]

February 27 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 27, 2012

  • Department of Transportation cracks down on distraction from cars’ onboard information and entertainment systems; Mike Masnick suspects the measure won’t work as intended, as appears to have been the case with early texting bans [Techdirt; earlier here, etc.] “Feds Push New York Toward Full Ban On Electronic Devices In Cars” [Glenn Reynolds, Instapundit; Truth About Cars]
  • Oh no: Scott Greenfield says he’s ceasing to post at his exemplary criminal defense blog after five years [Simple Justice, Dave Hoffman]
  • California not entitled to pursue its own foreign policy, at least when in conflict with rest of nation’s: unanimous “blockbuster” decision by en banc 9th Circuit strikes down law enabling insurance suits by Armenian victims [AP, Alford/OJ, Recorder, related, Frank/PoL]
  • Playboy model’s $1.2M award against Gotham cops is a great day for the tabloids [NYDN]
  • To hear a pitch for fracking-royalty suits, visit the American Association for Justice convention, or just read the New York Times [Wood, PoL]
  • What the mortgage settlement did [John Cochrane, earlier]
  • Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) of 1978 blows up an adoption: “She’s a 2-year-old girl who got shoved in a truck and driven to Oklahoma with strangers.” [Reuters,]

Big Government has been blowing the whistle on the Pigford settlement, which arose from allegations of racial discrimination in U.S. Department of Agriculture programs and has resulted in the allotment of billions in federal taxpayer money as compensation. The series of posts is here and here.

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A California lawmaker targets a French railroad. [Coyote]

Another reparations case filed in the California courts over 100-year-old events, courtesy high-profile lawyers Brian Kabateck and Mark Geragos [AP, Reuters, complaint (PDF) courtesy WSJ Law Blog] Earlier here, here, here, etc.


Ugandans sue Britain over crimes during a 1893-1899 war [Telegraph]

If you’re not following my other site, here’s some of what you’re missing:

Why not add Point of Law to your Google Reader or other RSS reader today, along of course with Overlawyered, if you haven’t yet?

Missed from earlier this year: in the fall of 2007, following extensive litigation, the government of Canada began issuing payments to persons of Indian ancestry who had attended an officially promoted network of residential schools where abuse was common and whose aim of assimilating students into broader Canadian life was later assailed as calculated to suppress native culture. While the payments brought benefit to many recipients, among others they seem to have led to new cycles of dysfunction, family strife and substance abuse. [Jack Branswell and Ken Meaney, "Native suicides linked to compensation", Canwest/National Post, Jan. 26 via Western Standard]

“The Senate unanimously passed a resolution [Thursday] apologizing for slavery, making way for a joint congressional resolution and the latest attempt by the federal government to take responsibility for 2 1/2 centuries of slavery.” [WaPo] Not altogether surprisingly, if you ask leading reparations advocates Randall Robinson and Charles Ogletree, Jr., whether this should reignite talk of reparations, they say yes. My City Journal article of last year explains why I think the latter very bad idea never picked up the political momentum its advocates expected.

Stephen Bainbridge has this response to the resolution’s sponsor:

“You wonder why we didn’t do it 100 years ago,” Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), lead sponsor of the resolution, said after the vote. “It is important to have a collective response to a collective injustice.”

Memo to Senator Harkin: We had a collective response. It was called the Army of the Potomac.


April 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 3, 2009

  • Those enviro-hazard warnings plastered all over because of Prop 65? They may be not merely pointless but untrue [California Civil Justice; a still-timely 2000 piece]
  • Is it somehow wrong for a public medical examiner to testify against cops — even when it’s in another county? [Radley Balko, Reason]
  • UCLA research scientists fight back against animal rights fanatics’ violence and intimidation [Orac/Respectful Insolence, "Pro-Test"]
  • Ezra Levant, himself a target of Canada’s official speech tribunals, has written a new book denouncing them, buy before they ban it [Amazon; Andrew Coyne, Maclean's] Has odious censorship-complaint-filer Richard Warman finally gotten his comeuppance? [Ken @ Popehat] More: another Warman case [Cit Media Law]
  • Roundup of recent sports/assumption of risk cases [John Hochfelder]
  • Already in trouble on charges of faking a will, Allentown, Pa. police-brutality attorney John Karoly now faces tax charges including alleged failure to report $5 million in income for 2002, 2004 and 2005 [TaxGirl]
  • Lawprof’s “Reparations, Reconciliation and Restorative Justice” seminar led to introduction of Maryland bill requiring insurers to disclose antebellum slaveholder policies [DelmarvaNow]
  • Judge tosses suit by Clarksville, Tennessee officials against activists who called them cozy with developers [Sullum, Reason "Hit and Run"]


Edward Fagan disbarred

by Walter Olson on December 12, 2008

A flamboyant lawyer we’ve been writing about for a long time, best known for international reparations suits, seems to have reached the end of his professional road. (Noeleen G. Walder, “Lawyer Disbarred for Failing to Pay Sanctions, Fees in Holocaust Case”, New York Law Journal, Dec. 12). Earlier coverage: Feb. 1, 2008, Nov. 26, 2005, etc., etc.

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“Reparations, R.I.P.”

by Walter Olson on December 8, 2008

City Journal has now put online the article-length version of my essay on why the movement for slavery reparations has faded back into obscurity after its peak in 2001. I posted a few weeks ago on the shorter newspaper version and a lively discussion ensued.

November 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 10, 2008

  • Time for another aspirin: Harvard Law’s Charles Ogletree, key backer of lawsuits for slave reparations, mentioned as possible Attorney General [CBS News, BostonChannel WCVB, Newsweek; earlier speculation about post as civil rights chief]
  • Calif. law requires supervisors to attend sexual harassment prevention training, a/k/a sensitivity training, but UC Irvine biologist Alexander McPherson says he’ll face suspension rather than submit [AP/, On the Record (UCI), Morrissey, Inside Higher Ed, OC Register; ScienceBlogs' Thus Spake Zuska flays him]
  • Fan “not entitled to a permanent injunction requiring American Idol singer Clay Aiken to endorse her unauthorized biography” [Feral Child]
  • Local authority in U.K. orders employees not to use Latin phrases such as bona fide, e.g., ad lib, et cetera, i.e., inter alia, per se, quid pro quo, vice versa “and even via” [via -- uh-oh -- Zincavage and Feral Child]
  • Participants in 10th annual Boulder, Colo. Naked Pumpkin Run may have to register as sex offenders [Daily Camera, Obscure Store]
  • Joins drunk in car as his passenger, then after crash collects $5 million from restaurant where he drank [AP/WBZ Boston, 99 Restaurant chain]
  • Election may be over, but candidates’ defamation lawsuits against each other over linger on [Above the Law, NLJ]
  • School nutrition regs endanger bake sales, but they’ll let you have “Healthy Hallowe’en Vegetable Platter” instead [NY Times]


The government of Mexico has agreed to pay about $14.5 million to settle claims on behalf of its citizens who came north as guest workers between 1942 and 1946. Ten percent of the workers’ pay was deducted and sent back to the Mexican government, which was supposed to apply much of it to their benefit, but (according to advocates) substantial sums were never claimed or paid out. Many years later the Mexican government opened a compensation program for the elderly braceros and their survivors, but some of those resident in the U.S. found it too hard to use and a Chicago class-action lawyer sued.

The lawsuit was dismissed twice, as courts considered whether too much time had passed and whether a lawsuit against the Mexican government could have standing in the United States. The American government and Wells Fargo Bank, initially named as defendants, were dismissed from the case.

(Pam Belluck, “Settlement Will Allow Thousands of Mexican Laborers in U.S. to Collect Back Pay”, New York Times, Oct. 15; “Mexican ministry OK with braceros deal”, AP/BakersfieldNow, Oct. 17).


I’ve got an op-ed in today’s L.A. Times (Walter Olson, “Slavery reparations: what happened?”, Oct. 31) based on a longer article forthcoming in City Journal. (The short answer to what happened: 9/11, public opinion, and the courts.)

The City Journal article is in turn a much condensed version of a draft chapter in my book-in-progress about the influence of the law schools. As I show in that chapter, there were few places where reparations enthusiasm burned hotter than in legal academia, with conferences and law review articles galore devoted to advancing the cause. The most prominent law school advocate of the reparations cause back then, Harvard’s Charles Ogletree, is back in the news these days because of his role as mentor (and, reportedly, chief advisor on racial issues) to Democratic candidate Barack Obama; he’s being mentioned as a possible civil rights chief in the next administration. Not surprisingly, Ogletree has had much less to say about the reparations cause this year than he did eight or nine years ago; I have a feeling that in an Obama administration he’d be under strict orders not to get near the issue, but of course I could be wrong.

We’ve covered reparations litigation extensively at Overlawyered.


Ogletree to Washington?

by Walter Olson on October 30, 2008

Stories it’s kind of amazing don’t get more attention: “The ABA Journal predicts that [Harvard lawprof, borrowing buff and Al Sharpton associate Charles] Ogletree, who has long advocated race-based reparations, will be the Assistant Attorney General in charge of the Civil Rights Division during the Obama administration.” (cross-posted from Point of Law).