Posts tagged as:

Rhode Island

Schools roundup

by Walter Olson on April 8, 2014

  • “Zero Tolerance Hurts Kids and Ruins Schools” [A. Barton Hinkle] “Teen’s military plans on hold after spending 13 days in jail” [WOIO, Ohio]
  • Who knew the visiting scholar of conservative thought would turn out to be conservative? [Boulder Daily Camera re: U. of Colorado attacks on Steven Hayward]
  • Case by case, courts take away right of taxpayers, lawmakers to regulate school spending [Steve Gunn, EAG News; earlier here, etc.]
  • Heather Mac Donald on gangs and the case for school discipline [NRO] More: Ruben Navarrette, CNN.
  • Editorial board endorses parent liability for school bullying [Newark Star-Ledger]
  • States to GAO: feds’ school lunch changes aren’t going well [Jason Bedrick, Cato; Washington Post]
  • Proposed Rhode Island law: “No Child Under 7th Grade Shall Get On or Off School Bus Without a Guardian” [Free-Range Kids] St. Louis: “Mom Arrested for Not Signing School Sign-In Book” [same]

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Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on February 25, 2014

  • Cato Institute reissues Jonathan Rauch’s classic Kindly Inquisitors: The New Attacks On Free Thought after 20 years, with new introduction by George F. Will and new afterword by the author [Jason Kuznicki; Reason Foundation] The free-speech Supreme Court decision without which there would have been no gay-rights movement [Rauch guestblogging at Volokh Conspiracy]
  • Important stuff: Ken White vs. Mark Steyn on how to respond to lawsuits against speech [Popehat]
  • “Blogger: Go Ahead and Sue; I’ve Got Nothing To Lose” [Greensboro, N.C., sued by developer; Romenesko] Is it possible to defame a business by putting up a Craigslist post linking to an online docket showing lawsuits against it? [Cook County Record]
  • U.K. aims to tweak existing X-rated internet filters to block “extremist” websites [TechDirt] Europe’s hate speech laws may actually prepare the ground for sowers of hate [Jamie Kirchick, Tablet]
  • Public Citizen’s Paul Alan Levy, ACLU of Maryland assist anonymous blogger targeted by Brett Kimberlin [Consumer Law & Policy]
  • “Rhode Island Cops Vigilant In Face of Scourge of People Making Fun of State Representative Scott Guthrie” [Popehat]
  • “If you are determined to sue 1,200 people for linking to a newsworthy article, you may begin with me.” [John Scalzi]

The Costa Mesa Syndrome

by Walter Olson on January 24, 2014

Reuters on the phenomenon of police harassment of local political opponents (earlier here, here, etc.) By no means are the reports limited to California:

There also have been allegations of intimidation by police in Cranston, Rhode Island.

On Jan. 9, Cranston Mayor Allan Fung announced that state police will take over an investigation into a flurry of parking tickets issued in the wards of two council members. The pair claim the tickets were issued as retribution after they voted against a new contract for police that would have given them a pay raise….

Major Robert Ryan, a spokesman for the Cranston Police Department, said: “The matter is under investigation, and pursuant to law enforcement’s bill of rights, no-one is going to comment on this.”

As readers may recall, those high-sounding “law enforcement bill of rights” gimmicks serve mostly to entrench law enforcement personnel against consequences or accountability for misbehavior, and thus have less than nothing to do with the Constitution’s actual Bill of Rights. More: Radley Balko.

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Under first-in-the-nation legislation enacted by the legislature of Rhode Island this summer, it becomes illegal for landlords or employers, as well as many providers of public services, to “discriminate” against anyone because of their status as homeless. “Among other steps, the Rhode Island law would guarantee homeless people the right to use public sidewalks, parks and transportation as well as public buildings, like anyone else ‘without discrimination on the basis of his or her housing status.’” [Reuters] Churches and Brown University students took part in the campaign for the law, opening a soup kitchen within the statehouse building: “‘The whole idea was to put it in their face: this is homelessness,’ says Karen Jeffreys, Associate Director of the Coalition.” [Mother Jones] Rhode Island is the smallest U.S. state: “‘Now we’re a leader in something,’ said state Sen. John Tassoni, D-Smithfield.” [AP] In a sense, Rhode Island is already a leader in something: for the second year in a row, it holds the distinction of having the worst business climate in the country in CNBC’s annual survey, and it has ranked poorly in other business surveys as well. [Scott Cohn, CNBC; NFIB/Forbes; Tax Foundation] Also: Aaron Renn on the R.I. business and cultural climate.

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“Cranston Mayor Allan Fung says he’s ‘utterly disappointed’ the school district ended the gender-based events after the state affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union sent a letter of complaint last spring.” [CBS Boston]

P.S. Or, to sum up in a different way: “It became necessary to destroy the village in order to make it more inclusive.” (& Alkon)

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August 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 3, 2011

  • Central Falls, R.I. lands in bankruptcy court [NYT; my Cato take]
  • Less efficient patdowns? Man with one arm files complaint after being turned down as TSA inspector [MSNBC via Hyman]
  • Don’t join the Mommy Mob [Ken at Popehat]
  • Montana high court upholds failure-to-warn verdict against maker of aluminum baseball bat [PoL link roundup, Russell Jackson; earlier here and here]
  • Finally some good news from Connecticut: state enacts law protecting municipalities from lawsuits over recreational land use [BikeRag; earlier here, etc.]
  • Claim: climate-change tort suits will require radical changes in tort law and that’s a good thing [Douglas Kysar (Yale), SSRN]
  • Attorney keen to go on TV, will take any case, either side [Balko]

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I’ve got a new blog post up at Cato on the article in yesterday’s New York Times tracing how unsustainable police and fire contracts — the product, more specifically, of a pro-union state law imposing binding arbitration on municipalities — have driven the city of Central Falls to the brink of bankruptcy. Read it here. Matt Welch discusses the same article at Reason “Hit and Run.”

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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April 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 11, 2011

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November 21 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 21, 2010

  • Federalist Society annual convention (which I attended) included panels on anonymity and the First Amendment, judicial recusals, many other topics;
  • Nomination of R.I.’s McConnell to federal bench could soon reach Senate floor [ProJo]
  • “Why U.S. Taxpayers Are Paying Brazilian Cotton Growers $147 Million” [NPR via Popehat]
  • “Litigation Governance: Taking Adequacy Seriously” [Trask, Class Action Countermeasures]
  • “Family” groups vs. a family, cont’d: Vermont Supreme Court upholds Miller-Jenkins custody ruling [Volokh, BTB]
  • OSHA allows more comment on what could be an extremely expensive mandate against noise in the workplace [ShopFloor]
  • Cops who inform on cops are often left to twist in wind [Balko]
  • Interview with Mark Zaid, collector of comic book art with law/legal themes [Abnormal Use]

July 15 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 15, 2010

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The tourist-friendly town may fence off a famed scenic path after an adverse lawsuit ruling. [NYT]

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June 21 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 21, 2010

  • After Mohawk Industries settlement, many employers could be sitting ducks for suits claiming that hiring illegal workers is RICO violation [Helman, Forbes, earlier]
  • Teen tries to help child lost in store, winds up facing felony rap of false imprisonment [Greenfield]
  • Federal magistrate in debt collection case: letter on law firm letterhead implies threat to sue [Legal Intelligencer]
  • On “professional” class action objectors [Ted at PoL]
  • Coal company claims ventilation system ordered by government regulators might have been a cause of deadly April mine explosion [WSJ]
  • Senate committee approves judicial nomination of John (“Jack”) McConnell, impresario of Rhode Island lead-paint litigation; William Jacobson explains critics’ charges regarding couching of legal fee as purported hospital donation [Legal Insurrection]
  • Hey, stop siphoning that oil slick, we haven’t checked your life jackets and extinguishers [GatewayPundit] Gulf oil rig registered for purposes of regulation in remote Pacific island chain [Legal Blog Watch] Richard Epstein on oil spill liability [WSJ] BP will never pay full price of accident [Popehat] Check back in 2031 to see how the litigation went [Alex Beam, Boston Globe]
  • American Constitution Society holds panel discussion on Iqbal and Twombly [BLT] “Is It Too Much to Ask That a Lawsuit Be ‘Plausible’?” [Richard Samp, WLF Legal Pulse]

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May 16 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 16, 2010

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March 16 roundup

by Ted Frank on March 16, 2010

  • Are you a member of Tyson chicken or H&R Block Express IRA class action settlements?
  • Jim Copland on Harry Reid and the trial bar. [NRO]
  • Jim Copland on the Ground Zero settlement, which may pay lawyers $200 million—but the judge plans fee scrutiny. [NY Post; NY Daily News]
  • Kevin LaCroix interviews the Circle of Greed authors. [D&O Diary]
  • Judgeships: Rhode Island lead paint trial lawyer in despite mediocre rating, but Sri Srinivasan out because of his clients—not Al Qaeda, but, heaven forfend, eeeevil corporations like Hertz.
  • There’s no evidence that workers on automotive brakes (which sometimes contain asbestos) get mesothelioma at a greater rate than the rest of the population, but auto companies still get sued over it. Ford fought one in Madison County, rather than settle, and won. [Madison County Record]
  • Overview of defensive medicine at work. [AP]
  • Pantsless Rielle Hunter on John Edwards: “He’s very honest and truthful.” [GQ]

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December 11 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 11, 2009

  • Key Obama regulatory appointees at NHTSA (auto safety) and FTC [commerce, antitrust] used to work for AAJ, the trial lawyers’ lobby [Wood, PoL]
  • “Adventures in Lawyer Advertising: Muscle, Talent, Results, and Terrible Acting” [Above the Law]
  • Why so many great folk musicians are barred from U.S. tours [Jesse Walker/Reason, WSJ Law Blog]
  • Folks behind venerable Martindale-Hubbell lawyer directory wouldn’t stoop to comment spam, or would they? [Turkewitz and more; related Popehat, Bennett]
  • Palestinian sues Baron Cohen, Letterman, others over “Bruno” portrayal [AP/Baltimore Sun]
  • A Rhode Island hospital settles a med mal case [White Coat]
  • For a “cockeyed caravan” of law stories, follow a certain site (thanks!) [Arthur Charity, NJEsq.net, alas it seems a short-lived venture]
  • Santa’s got a sleighful of health and safety problems [Bella English, Boston Globe]

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Sluggish wheels of justice

by Walter Olson on December 10, 2009

A case over Rhode Island sludge disposal is finally over after 27 years [Providence Journal]

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On July 17 the Consumer Product Safety Commission refused to exempt or stay the coverage of crystals, rhinestones and glass beads under the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008. Although lead has long been an ingredient in the manufacture of all true crystals, most rhinestones and many glass beads, there seems to be a dearth of actual real-life instances of children contracting lead poisoning from licking, chewing or swallowing these baubles, apparently because the lead in question, unlike lead in metallic form or in paint pigments, is bound to other substances and not “biologically available”. AliceAtMadTeaParty2“Even if you have it in stomach acids for weeks it does not come out,” said Michael Gale, director of the Fashion Jewelry Trade Association, in one recent story. Gale’s trade group had petitioned (PDF) for the regulatory relief. (Earlier background in our March 7 and Feb. 25 posts).

To a large extent the Commission’s hands were tied (PDF) by the absolutist, not to say fanatical, prescription of CPSIA itself, which directs that exemptions be turned down if they could lead to “any” — not “infinitesimal”, not “too small to worry about” — absorption of lead or public health risk. This point was recognized by both the commission’s career staff (PDF: “the staff would have recommended that the Commission not consider the product to be a hazardous substance to be regulated under the FHSA”) and by its three commissioners (Tenenbaum, Moore, Nord statements). CPSC Chairwoman Inez Tenenbaum, a Democrat, noted that the law “does not allow for the consideration of risk”. So it doesn’t matter that other jurisdictions, like Europe or California, may regulate this topic in a more realistic way, or that vast stocks of existing children’s clothing, from performance dance troupe outfits to 11-year-olds’ “blingwear”, will instantly be rendered worthless. It doesn’t even matter whether a kid’s health is at more risk (by way of traffic accidents) from being driven to the mall to buy a substitute garment than from going ahead and wearing the rhinestone-bedecked tiara or camisole in question (coverage: The Hill, ShopFloor, Manatt Phelps & Phillips, Rick Woldenberg, Way to Bow, Los Angeles Times).

As Commissioner Nancy Nord notes, the ban will inflict major economic losses, possibly extending to the disappearance of entire product lines, since consumers generally don’t like plastic substitutes for rhinestones as well as the real thing. AliceRabbitAnnounce2America’s costume jewelry industry is based in Rhode Island, and the Providence Journal has led with the most serious newspaper coverage (“Kids can’t wear rhinestones“) of last month’s decision, which as usual has been entirely ignored by the New York Times and various other large papers. More: Justin Katz at Rhode Island blog Anchor Rising (“So, the economy is struggling, right? Well, what better time to beginning banning products that are acknowledged to be safe and for which there’s an active market?”). For the effects of the ban on one well-known purveyor of kids’ clothes, Gymboree, see this March Washington Post report, as well as our March 23 account. Although the CPSC is making noises about concentrating its enforcement on products for kids 6 and under — a cutoff mentioned nowhere in the law — Rick Woldenberg thinks this is doomed to fail as a step toward reassuring businesses, however well-intentioned it may be, since the goods remain flatly illegal for kids 7-12.
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Hugh Hewitt (via Wood) draws a wider moral from politicians’ refusal to take responsibility for the series of disasters the law has brought about:

The refusal of Congress to move to clean up the mess it made with CPSIA also announces what will happen after Congress passes its magic wand over health care and blows up who knows what: nothing. Tough luck. Deal with it. They will all have campaigns to run which won’t want to focus on the new law’s failures and shortfalls.

At Forbes, meanwhile, Jeff Stier of the American Council on Science and Health points out that soil from the White House organic garden has higher concentrations of lead than many products banned under the new law.

PUBLIC DOMAIN IMAGES by illustrator Gordon Robinson from 1916 Samuel Gabriel & Sons reprint of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, courtesy ChildrensLibrary.org.

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