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Police highway stop forfeiture shenanigans continue in the Volunteer State, assisted by dog alerts. [Nashville News Channel 5]

P.S. Comment from @Popehat: “Proposed abbreviation: In future, will refer to ‘Highway Patrolmen’ as ‘Highwaymen.'” (& welcome Tim Cushing, TechDirt readers)


Labor notes from Tennessee

by Walter Olson on February 17, 2014

VWChattanoogaHilarious: Steven Pearlstein column gloats re: unstoppable UAW-at-Volkswagen tide of history, reaches print after vote [WaPo; "claque," "rabid," "Babbitts," etc.] “We also looked at the track record of the UAW. Why buy a ticket on the Titanic?” [Reuters] “No wonder they wanted card check.” [Mickey Kaus; more, Kevin Williamson]

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A Tennessee defense counsel’s funny response to an opposing prosecutor’s ill-considered in limine motion asking not to be referred to as “The Government.” [Lowering the Bar]

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Police and prosecution roundup

by Walter Olson on September 30, 2013

  • Stop and bleed: Tennessee rolls out “no refusal” blood-draw DUI driver checkpoints, which already go on in Texas [WTVF, Reddit, Tom Hunter/Liberal America, Charles "Brad" Frye (Texas practice)]
  • Issues raised by growing practice of placing government “monitors” inside businesses to police compliance [Veronica Root, Prawfs]
  • “Faulty Justice: Italian Earthquake Scientist Speaks Out against His Conviction” [Scientific American]
  • California: suit could probe patterns of harassment against Orange County officials who’ve resisted police union demands [Krayewski, earlier]
  • Illinois “[makes] it a felony to flick cigarette butts onto streets for the third time” [Gideon's Trumpet]
  • Before making laws intended to benefit sex workers, take time to listen to them [Popehat via Maggie McNeill]
  • Report: state of Florida investigating Zimmerman prosecutor Angela Corey over sacking of alleged whistleblower [Washington Times, earlier] “A Visitor’s Guide to Florida’s Most Notorious Law Enforcement Agencies” [Mike Riggs, Atlantic Cities]


Half a century ago, selling the Tennessee Valley Authority was regarded as a free-marketeers’ politically impossible dream. Now guess who’s for it — and who’s against. (Hint on the latter: R-Tenn.) [Knoxville News via Future of Capitalism]

P.S. More on this welcome Obama initiative from Chris Edwards: “former Cato chairman Bill Niskanen was barred by Congress for even looking into TVA reform when he was on President Reagan’s CEA.” So progress marches on. And: Fortune 1933 article on TVA.


Autos roundup

by Walter Olson on April 3, 2013

  • Abuse of out-of-state motorists an issue: “The Perils of Policing for Profit: Why Tennessee should reform its civil asset forfeiture laws” [Beacon Center, earlier]
  • Manhattan: “Lawyer takes plea in $279M no-fault auto insurance fraud case” [ABA Journal]
  • “AAA Warns of ‘Dangerous’ Free Market in Parking Spaces” [Matt Yglesias, Slate via Tim Carney]
  • Negotiated rates on auto loans at dealerships might violate Obama administration’s disparate-impact guidelines [Roger Clegg]
  • Not great for Law dot com’s credibility: Corp Counsel mag throws in with “sudden acceleration” goofery; and here’s an effort to gear up acceleration claims against Ford too.
  • Ethanol group menaces Phillips with antitrust charge unless it alters franchiser rule [Alexander Cohen, Atlas]
  • “Two researchers call for installing technology to disable cellphones in moving cars” [L.A.Times via Fair Warning]

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Asset forfeiture roundup

by Walter Olson on September 5, 2012

  • Press accounts have exposed a pattern of police stops of out of state motorists in rural Tennessee, in which police search motorists’ cars and then confiscate large sums of money they find on the presumption that it is criminal-related. Now, in Henry, Tennessee — named after Patrick Henry, of “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death” fame — the police chief has told the town he needs a police dog because “the city is missing out on possible revenues” [dog testimonials; more Tennessee, via Eapen Thampy of Americans for Forfeiture Reform, guestblogging last month at Radley Balko's Agitator site]
  • Also via Thampy, economically hard-hit Butte County, California, north of Sacramento, has been filling its budget hole through pot-grower busts accompanied by aggressive forfeitures; in a perhaps not unrelated phenomenon, the county snatches kids from parents at an exceedingly high rate. More on child protective services in Butte County at the Chico News & Review (& more: Angela Bacca, SKUNK).
  • Via Ilya Somin, this from a Steven Greenhut column:

    Few groups of “sinners” were singled out in biblical accounts more than “tax collectors,” who were not merely state agents collecting revenues that taxpayers rightfully owed to the government. They were the source of particular loathing because they were extortionists, who profited personally by shaking down as much money from citizens as possible…

    The Gospel accounts provide an early lesson in the danger of marrying the profit motive with governmental power. The possibility for abuse is great. Yet throughout the United States, government agencies increasingly rely on “civil forfeiture” to bolster their strained budgets. The more assets these modern-day tax collectors seize, the more money they have for new equipment and other things….

  • From reader John Brewer, on an Ohio gardening-equipment seizure: “Structurally, it seems even worse to have the judge who originally signed the search warrant have a say in what gets done with the confiscated stuff than it does for the cops/DA to get it, despite the cute-and-cuddly outcome here.”
  • Tomorrow’s abuses today: the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms [BATF] has just been given a major enhancement to its forfeiture powers. [David Kopel/Volokh]
  • For more information on this subject, check out the many online resources offered by the Cato Institute; Cato scholars took an early interest in exposing the problems of civil and criminal asset forfeiture, and our focus on the issue continues to this day. More: Scott Greenfield. (& Tim Lynch,


July 20 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 20, 2012

  • Congress, HUD face off on “disparate impact” in housing and housing finance [WSJ edit, Clegg/NRO] Wells Fargo says it didn’t base loans on race but will pay $175 million to end federal probe [Reuters]
  • Maryland vs. Virginia: if only there were a government that was consistent about favoring liberty [John Walters, Maryland Public Policy Institute]
  • British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal levies $3000 against husband-and-wife owners of bed-and-breakfast who canceled reservation of gay couple based on religious objections [Religion Clause, The Province] UK: “‘Gay flatmate wanted’ ads break equality laws” [Telegraph] See our earlier coverage of the Ninth Circuit case here and here.
  • “Lifeguard fired for saving drowning person — outside his designated zone.” [NBC Miami via @commongood]
  • “Do you want to be informed about the constant, infuriating corporate welfare for professional sports owners? Follow” [Matt Welch]
  • Negligent entrustment lawsuit against parents who let 33 year old daughter drive car yields $1.2 million in Tennessee [Knoxville News]
  • Pretrial and discovery: “New York state bar recommends federal litigation reforms” [Reuters]



Nice $22,000 you’re carrying, Mister Motorist, but I think it would look nicer in the police department’s bank account [News Channel 5 Nashville via Radley Balko]. Driver George Reby, a professional insurance adjuster from New Jersey, was then permitted to go on his way since he “hadn’t committed a criminal law [violation],” as the police officer later explained to a reporter. It happened in Monterey, Tenn., not Monterrey, Mexico.


At Vanderbilt tomorrow

by Walter Olson on April 10, 2012

Tomorrow, Wednesday, I’ll be giving a lunchtime talk on Schools for Misrule in Nashville at Vanderbilt Law School, hosted by the student Federalist Society chapter there. It’s open to the public, so drop by and say hello.

April 9 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 9, 2012

Murfreesboro: “A former MTSU student accused of stabbing a Lady Raider basketball player to death at Raiders Crossing Apartments in 2011 is suing the complex and its management company for failing to separate the two despite knowing they had problems with one another. … The attorney [Joe Brandon Jr.] included Twitter postings by Stewart as supporting evidence of a negative and deteriorating relationship between the two women.” [The Tennessean]


Sinking deeper into substance abuse, a prominent Tennessee judge spins ever further out of control. How long does it take before he’s removed and the public alerted to his problem? Way too long for comfort [Knoxville News Sentinel]

If you run a home office in Nashville, you mustn’t let clients visit, while in Montgomery County, Maryland, employees may not pick up paychecks at a home-based business [Radley Balko; Harvey Jacobs, WaPo]

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June 14 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 14, 2011

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April 10 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 10, 2011

  • Civil libertarian Wendy Kaminer on feminism and the Yale speech complaint [Atlantic, earlier]
  • Baylen Linnekin’s Keep Food Legal organization is having a membership drive;
  • Bounty-hunting West Coast lawyers can now sue employers for large sums over temperature and worker-seating violations of the California Labor Code [Cal Labor Law]
  • Current set of urban, suburban parking policies amount to “another great planning disaster.” [Donald Shoup, Cato Unbound]
  • $7500? Tennessee lawyer charged with rape of client released on $7500 bond [WMC via White Coat]
  • Stella Liebeck hot coffee case: Abnormal Use suspects that Cracked never read its FAQ on the subject (or for that matter many of our own postings);
  • Baltimore public housing refuses to pay lead poisoning awards; “too strapped” [Baltimore Sun]
  • “Mr. Potato Head” contest cited in discrimination lawsuit charging anti-Irish bias [Lowering the Bar]


Recent clips on a subject treated in much more detail in Schools for Misrule:

  • Claim: Wisconsin Gov. Walker’s reforms to public sector labor law violate international human rights [HRW, Mirer/Cohn, FoxBusiness (views of Marquette lawprof Paul Secunda)] Related: UAW threatens charges against automakers [ShopFloor]
  • Per some advocates, “right to health” has emerged as an “established international legal precept” even if it is “still to be fully embraced in the United States” [Friedman/Adashi, JAMA]
  • GWB at risk of arrest if he visits Europe? Or are some of his enemies just posturing? “Bush trip to Switzerland called off amid threats of protests, legal action” [Atlantic Wire, WaPo, Daily Dish and more, Frum Forum, more and yet more]
  • Oh, good grief: Tennessee solon “proposes law to make following Shariah law a felony” [Tennesseean] More states prepare to join unsound “ban all recogition of international law” movement [Ku, OJ] Background: Volokh.
  • For those interested in the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples recently given a favorable nod by the Obama administration, a copy of the text is available here [CWB]
  • “Conceptualizing Accountability in International Law and Institutions” [Anderson, OJ]
  • Human rights initiative in UK: “Rapists and killers demand right to benefits” [Telegraph] European Court of Human Rights, Human Rights Acts “merely pretexts for judicial activism, argues Alasdair Palmer” [Telegraph]
  • Claim: U.S. is odd-country-out in international law. Reality check please [Bradford, Posner et al, OJ]
  • Opponents charge trying Pennsylvania 13 year old for murder as adult could violate international law [AI]