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February 29 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 29, 2012

  • Jackpot justice and New Jersey pharmacies (with both a Whitney Houston and a Ted Frank angle) [Fox, PoL, our Jan. 3 post]
  • New Mexico: “Trial lawyers object to spaceport limits” [Las Cruces Bulletin]
  • Dodd-Frank: too big not to fail [The Economist] Robert Teitelman (The Deal) on new Stephen Bainbridge book Corporate Governance After the Financial Crisis [HuffPo] Securities suits: “trial lawyers probably won’t be able to defend a defective system forever” [WSJ Dealpolitik]
  • Uh-oh: U.K. Labour opposition looks at unleashing U.S.-style class actions [Guardian] “U.K. Moves ‘No Win, No Fee’ Litigation Reforms to 2013″ [Suzi Ring, Legal Week]
  • More on controls on cold medicines as anti-meth measure [Radley Balko, Megan McArdle, Xeni Jardin, earlier here, here, here]
  • Recognizable at a distance: “In Germany, a Limp Domestic Economy Stifled by Regulation” [NY Times]
  • Fewer lawyers in Congress these days [WSJ Law Blog]


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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DealBreaker and Prof. Bainbridge try to clarify what the proposed ban would do, and address fears that it would criminalize stock trading by persons not employed by Congress who learn of impending legislative developments. Related: Jim Copland.

They’re coming up within the next few days, but Prof. Bainbridge warns that the draft legislation circulating from the office of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) is “bizarre” and “toothless.” Earlier here, here, etc.

More: Gillibrand’s office says the weakness of the proposal was due to an inadvertent drafting error and that it will be given teeth. C-SPAN covers the hearing, the SEC and Sen. Scott Brown make their views known, Todd Henderson and Larry Ribstein take a contrarian position, and Prof. Bainbridge covers the scholarly testimony.

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November 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on November 22, 2011


Thanks to the sensational revelations from Hoover’s Peter Schweizer on 60 Minutes and elsewhere, the public is now aware of the uncanny investment success that members of the U.S. Congress enjoy when they personally bet on the stocks of companies with business in the capital. But is it lawful for them to be trading on inside information? I take up that question in my new Cato at Liberty post. More: Bainbridge, Stoll, @AndrewBreitbart.


Hans Von Spakovsky’s write-up (complete with Schools for Misrule mention, for which thanks) sums up the event: “Leahy stacks hearing, still loses.” More: Adler, Kendrick, Bader, Pincus, Richer/Kendrick, Stoll.

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February 13 roundup

by Walter Olson on February 13, 2011

Even using the powers it has on the books now, according to one expert, the Food and Drug Administration could largely shut down the making of artisanal farmhouse cheese if it chose. This week the Senate will consider the Food Safety Modernization Act, which will put much more power in the agency’s hands and greatly ramp up regulatory and paperwork requirements for producers, though (in a welcome improvement) the new Senate version of the legislation does at least nod more toward the principle of “tiering” burdens for smaller local producers. Meanwhile, some press outlets continue to pretend that the only real debate is between do-nothing lawmakers who don’t care whether Americans die of food poisoning, and more interventionist lawmakers who are trying to keep that from happening. I’ve got a fuller report on the politics of the food bill — and of the lame duck Congress more generally — at Cato at Liberty.

More: Bill advances toward expected Senate floor vote Tuesday [WaPo]. The Daily Caller reports on continuing small-farmer concerns, and recalls a raw-milk raid; David Frum wonders about elitism and its taint; Michelle Malkin questions the lame-duck railroad (& thanks to both of the last two for kind links).


October 12 roundup

by Walter Olson on October 12, 2010

  • Representing Prof. Michael Krauss, Ted Frank will file objection to class action settlement [CCAF]
  • Not without condescension, Harvard historian/New Yorker writer Jill Lepore asks why Woodrow Wilson’s so disliked these days; Radley Balko offers some help [The Agitator, NYT "Room for Debate"]
  • China needs true private property rights, according to Charter 08 document, which helped Liu Xiaobo win Nobel Peace Prize [Tyler Cowen]
  • Axelrod “foreign funders under every rug” demagogy might be turned against his own allies [Stoll; New York Times refutes earlier Obama talking point; Atlantic Wire; Sullum]
  • R.I.P. influential class actions and mass torts scholar Richard Nagareda [Vanderbilt Law School]
  • “Web Seminar Makes Case for Patent Troll Lawsuit Targets to Fight Back” [Washington Legal Foundation Legal Pulse]
  • Contrary to WSJ report, if Congressional staffers are profiting in stock trades by way of insider knowledge, they probably do face some risk of legal liability [Bainbridge; a not entirely unrelated inside-trading controversy]
  • Underpublicized: “California’s Proposed ‘Green Chemistry’ Regulations Move Forward” [Wajert]


Carter at Point of Law compiles a list of mostly-bad bills Congress left town without passing [parts one and two] One very worrisome law of this sort, the we-sue-the-world Foreign Manufacturers Legal Accountability Act (FMLAA), is the subject of a new policy analysis by my Cato Institute colleagues Daniel Griswold and Sallie James (it’s the sort of aggressive trade restriction that could touch off major retaliation, not to mention its possible CPSIA-like effects on vintage dirtbike collectors; more background here, here, and here).

Unfortunately, two troublesome enactments — the food safety bill and the misnamed Paycheck Fairness Act — were teed up by Majority Leader Harry Reid for possible expedited passage in the lame duck session.

In his wrapup post at Point of Law, Jim Copland summarizes pending legislation — much of it sponsored by Sen. Arlen Specter (D-Pa.) — aimed at “loosening pleading standards, expanding securities litigation, rolling back federal preemption, limiting private arbitration, and cutting taxes on plaintiffs’ litigation.”

My Manhattan Institute colleague Jim Copland has an op-ed today in the WSJ explaining how current campaign finance rules magnify the influence of trial lawyers, as through the favored status of “bundling”. Excerpt:

Over the current six-year senatorial election cycle, four of the top seven donors to the campaign committee and leadership PAC of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) were plaintiffs firms. Plaintiffs firms were the top two donors to Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D., Ill.).

The first piece of legislation signed by President Obama—the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 — gutted statutes of limitation in employment lawsuits. The first legislative triumph for new Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.), an amendment to the defense appropriations bill, foreclosed employment arbitration clauses for federal contractors.

More from Jim at Point of Law, including a mention of Trial Lawyers, Inc.: K Street–A Report on the Litigation Lobby 2010, the newest installment in the Trial Lawyers, Inc. series, which will be available later today here.


Dodd Senate vacancy

by Walter Olson on January 6, 2010

Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal, a perennial bete noire around here, is considered likely to announce for the seat.

P.S. More on Blumenthal’s record here, and welcome Professor Bainbridge readers.