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Saudi Arabia

Sanctions have a role to play in managing litigation, and are probably under-used in the American courtroom, but this would seem to go too far. Saudi Arabia: “The Ministry of Justice plans to introduce tough new legislation to penalize malicious litigants, which would include fines, prison and lashes.” [Arab News via Crossroads Arabia]

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Its members will pursue women’s rights; big tasks ahead of them [Arab News, with striking picture]

Free speech roundup

by Walter Olson on August 21, 2013

  • Chicago-area bus company keeps menacing customer-critics with lawsuits [Coyote]
  • Some government officials want a say in who owns newspapers [Ira Stoll on Hartford Courant/Koch story] Using public apparatus to squelch political adversaries not exactly something new in America [David Beito on New Deal episodes]
  • Barbarity: “Saudi Court Condemns Editor to 600 Lashes With Breaks” [Bloomberg ("insulting Islam"), Volokh]
  • Scheme backed by many state AGs to roll back websites’ immunity for content posted by visitors “could singlehandedly cripple free speech online” [ACLU, earlier]
  • Attention enemies of Ken at Popehat: even if you can find your bus pass you’ll still need to withstand his cat squirt bottle [Popehat; another speech case there (censorious bell can't be unrung) and yet another (bogus DMCA notice)]
  • State law providing that persons with erased records are “deemed never to have been arrested” never meant to muzzle discussion of arrests [Eugene Volokh]
  • Nova Scotia: “cyberbullying legislation allows victims to sue” [CBC]

Islamists are demanding the execution of Saudi journalist Hamza Kashgari over tweets, since retracted, that they say are blasphemous toward their religion. Malaysia has detained Kashgari and may extradite him to face the charges; according to reports, the international police organization had put out an order for his arrest at the behest of the Saudi government [Guardian, Nina Shea/NRO, Daily Beast, Reason, Facebook support page, blog, #FreeHamza]

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That’s genie “jinn” not potable “gin,” though the latter would work as a headline for a different story. The spirit in question was said to have seized a Saudi judge arrested on corruption charges. [Emirates 24/7]

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December 31 roundup

by Walter Olson on December 31, 2010

  • “No refusal” DUI checkpoints spread and can result in mandatory blood tests for drivers; MADD cheers infringement of liberty [WTSP]
  • Teleworking regulations: a new way to sue your (federal) boss? [welcome Mickey Kaus/Newsweek readers]
  • “The federal government has been in the business of micro-managing our kids’ lunches for 30 years” [David Gratzer/Examiner] St. Paul, Minn. schools ban sweets, even when brought from home [Star-Tribune] Michelle Obama, Sarah Palin, and the Happy Meal lawsuit [John Steele Gordon, Commentary]
  • Top ten insurance law decisions of 2010 [Randy Maniloff, Insurance Journal; also congrats on his new book (with Jeffrey Stempel)]
  • “Mitch Daniels and Criminal Sentencing Reform in Indiana” [Orin Kerr] Daniels isn’t backing down from call for truce on social issues [GOP12]
  • Happy 100th birthday, Ronald Coase [Gillespie, Reason]
  • Damage to Gulf from spill now looks much less than feared [Robert Nelson, Weekly Standard]
  • Saudi court decides that text message is valid method of divorce [Emirates 24/7]

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mohammed_cartoon_bombNot for the first time, the lawyers are getting involved: “Faizal A.Z. Yamani of the Jeddah-based legal firm A.Z. Yamani sent a letter to about a dozen newspaper editors, insisting that they print apologies in Danish, English, Arabic and French, and to undertake never to print the cartoon again. He also ordered all the cartoons to be removed from the internet in perpetuity.” [MWW]

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CNN: “The lawsuit filed in Shariah court accuses the genie of leaving them threatening voicemails, stealing their cell phones and hurling rocks at them when they leave their house at night, said Al-Watan newspaper.” If they think the genie is harassing them now, wait till it gets a lawyer….

P.S. Above the Law: “The article doesn’t mention damages sought, but we hope it’s three wishes.” “Will the genie appear when summoned?” (@susanwake). “Good luck getting service. Is Robin Williams or Barbara Eden the registered agent?” (@JerseyTodd). And more details on the case from Lowering the Bar.

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So argued former State Department legal adviser John Bellinger III in the WSJ last week, with special reference to the overreaching, extraterritorial Alien Tort Statute. But it’s not as if the efforts to turn the U.S. into the courtroom for the world are slackening at all:

  • As Curtis Bradley and Jack Goldsmith note in the Washington Post, a federal court recently allowed to proceed a lawsuit seeking to blame the evils of South African apartheid on Western multinationals, even despite strong opposition to the suit from both the U.S. government’s executive branch and today’s duly elected multiracial South African government. Unfortunately, the State Department’s up-to-now-staunch opposition to this and similar lawsuits is imperiled by the installment of Harold Koh as legal adviser at Foggy Bottom: “Koh is an intellectual architect and champion of the post-1980 human rights litigation explosion. He joined a brief in the South Africa litigation arguing for broad aiding-and-abetting liability.”
  • If asked what should happen to frozen Cuban-government assets under U.S. control, reasonable possibility #1 might be “hold them against the eventual day when a non-tyrannical regime emerges there, it will need help.” Reasonable possibility #2 might be “divide the assets among Castro’s many victims in some deliberate and step-by-step way, knowing that their injuries are so numerous and severe that even very deserving victims will get only small payments”. The answer you’d think makes no sense at all is “encourage first-come-first-served tort lawsuits, so that the first couple of cases to maneuver their way through the legal process get handsome compensation, while no money is left for either #1 or #2″. So naturally, the latter is what our legal system is doing, previously in $188 million and $253 million verdicts involving single incidents or families, and now in a new case in which the family of Gustavo Villoldo has been awarded $1.179 billion. One of the plaintiff’s lawyers in the case actually boasts that the new award may obstruct a warming of relations between the U.S. and a post-Castro successor regime: “with the opening of relations between the U.S. and Cuba to come, there are debts to society to be paid before that happens” (more on Che Guevara, via).
  • On the brighter side, the Obama administration has joined its Bush predecessors in correctly drawing a line against litigation by some September 11 victims and insurance companies: under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, the courts are no place to pursue theories trying to link the rulers of Saudi Arabia to the terrorist attacks.

(cross-posted from Point of Law)

Microblog 2008-11-16

by Walter Olson on November 16, 2008

Enough to make our way of law look civilized: Raouf Amin el-Arabi, a longtime doctor to the royal family charged with prescribing narcotics to a Saudi princess, drew a sentence of 15 years in prison and 1,500 lashes. (AP/Texarkana, Tex. Gazette, Nov. 12 via KevinMD).

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September 3 roundup

by Walter Olson on September 3, 2008

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August 19 roundup

by Walter Olson on August 19, 2008

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Not what you think, this is in Saudi Arabia:

“Tribes like to say, ‘We got this amount of money for a member of our tribe,’ ” he said. “People start to think the more money you can get for a member of your family, the more valuable your tribe is.”

And the defendant who doesn’t settle the case is executed. (Faiza Saleh Ambah, “Saudis Face Soaring Blood-Money Sums: Tribes, Families Are Demanding Millions”, Washington Post, Jul. 27).

December 2 roundup

by Ted Frank on December 2, 2007

  • Remember that ludicrous case where the Florida driver fell asleep, crashed his Ford Explorer, his passenger was killed, and a jury blamed Ford to the tune of $61 million? (See also Sep. 10.) A Florida court got around to reversing it, though only to grant a new trial under a variety of erroneous evidentiary rulings that prejudiced Ford, rather than because the suit was too silly to ever conceivably win in a just society. The remand goes back to the same judge that let the suit go forward and committed multiple reversible errors in favor of the plaintiff. [Ford Motor v. Hall-Edwards (Fla. App. Nov. 7, 2007); Krauss @ Point of Law; Daily Business Review; Bloomberg/Boston Globe]
  • Not really a man-bites-dog story, but Geoffrey Fieger (Aug. 25 and rather often otherwise) speaks. [ABA Journal]
  • Uh-oh: Former litigator hired to invest $100m in court cases for UK hedge fund. [Times Online]
  • The real NatWest Three deal. [Kirkendall; July 2006 in Overlawyered]
  • Homeowners fined $347,000 for trimming trees without a permit—after the Glendale Fire Department sent them a notice telling them to trim their trees for being a fire hazard. (h/t Slim) [Consumerist]
  • Disclaimers at children’s birthday parties (h/t BC) [Publishers Weekly]
  • British Christmas parades handcuffed by litigation fears. (h/t F.R.) [Telegraph]
  • Underlawyered in Saudi Arabia: A “19-year-old Saudi gang-rape victim was recently sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail for being in a car with an unrelated male when the attack occurred. Last week, her lawyer was disbarred for objecting too vociferously.” [Weekly Standard]
  • Don’t forget to vote for us at the ABA Journal Blawg 100.

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“The Libel Tourist”

by Walter Olson on November 21, 2007

Eight-minute documentary short from Moving Picture Institute (“Indoctrinate U.”, etc.) examines a Saudi billionaire’s London defamation suit against American author Rachel Ehrenfeld, whose book Funding Evil (never published in the U.K.) had charged him with funding terrorism. (Sullum, Reason “Hit and Run”, Nov. 19). Earlier: Oct. 26, 2003, Jun. 11, 2007. Sheikh Khalid bin Mahfouz “has won so many defamation claims that he publishes an anthology of apologies on his website. … The sheikh denied being a libel tourist in England where he and his sons had for many years had substantial connections, including residences and a London-based oil company.” (Dominic Kennedy, “US writer fights gagging order on al-Qaeda claims”, Times Online (U.K.), Nov. 1).

Major tobacco companies have gotten one of those letters from the Federal Ministry of Finance in Lagos, Nigeria, proposing a gigantic and unlikely transfer of funds. Problem is, this time it’s authentic. Hans Bader has details (Nov. 7). Similar, earlier suits by foreign governments: Nov. 16, 2000 (Saudi Arabia); Feb. 1-3, 2002 (others).

Whether or not you reside in the U.K., the range of reading material available to you regarding the tangled banking relationships of the Middle East is being shaped and constrained by the London libel courts. (Gary Shapiro, “Libel Suit Leads to Destruction of Books”, New York Sun, Aug. 2; Mark Steyn, “The vanishing jihad exposés”, syndicated/Orange County Register, Aug. 5; earlier here and here).