Posts Tagged ‘Texas’

The Prosser jukebox

The late Prof. William Prosser, whose enormous influence on modern tort law has made him an occasional target of my windmill-jousting, wrote a parody song “The Common Law of Texas” in the early 1960s to the tune of “The Yellow Rose of Texas.” Kyle Graham found it and nominates North Carolina, Oregon, and Hawaii as states that currently follow their own path on common-law tort doctrine.

Too much occupational licensure

Hugh Morley, Bergen Record:

[New Jersey’s] licensed sector now covers about 20 percent of the workforce. Jobs as diverse — and sometimes as seemingly mundane — as barbers, movers and warehousemen, librarians, and career counselors can’t be done legally without getting state approval in New Jersey, usually by paying a fee, submitting personal information, and taking training or educational courses.

Nationwide, the share of jobs requiring licenses is even higher: 25 percent, up from around 5 percent in the 1950s. With economist Milton Friedman in the lead, libertarians have long criticized occupational licensure for restricting competition, limiting consumer choice, raising prices, and curtailing the opportunities of excluded workers, including many poorer persons and new workforce entrants. But more recently discontent with occupational licensure has spread broadly across the ideological spectrum, as with a Brookings study we linked in February. And now the Obama administration — citing Cato! — lends its weight with a new critique. [David Boaz/Cato, Tim Sandefur/Pacific Legal, Glenn Reynolds/USA Today, Stephen Slivinski/No Water Economists]

More: the city of Austin’s new ban on unlicensed household hauling will hurt informal laborers without helping homeowners [Chuck DeVore]

Police and prosecution roundup

  • NYC Legal Aid lawyer “represented four defendants in a row who had been arrested for having a foot up on a subway seat” [Gothamist, including report of arrests for “manspreading”]
  • Recommendations would expand federal role: “President Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” [Tim Lynch]
  • Profile of Pat Nolan and momentum of criminal justice reform on the right [Marshall Project] Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan shows how Republicans are experimenting with criminal justice reform [Ovetta Wiggins, Washington Post]
  • “Though we weren’t at any toll plazas, something was reading the E-ZPass tag in our car.” [Mariko Hirose, ACLU on New York monitoring of car transponders, presently for transport management purposes] DEA license plate tracking has been subject to mission creep [L.A. Times editorial via Amy Alkon, earlier]
  • “Texas’s governor signs a bill that will end the ‘key man’ grand jury system, also known as the ‘pick-a-pal’ system.” [Houston Chronicle via @radleybalko, earlier]
  • “There’s little dispute overincarceration is a problem demanding immediate redress. Except when it comes to sex.” [Scott Greenfield]
  • Massachusetts SWAT teams retreat from position that they’re private corporations and needn’t comply with public records laws [Radley Balko, earlier]

July 8 roundup

143 Texas bikers in jail

Some of the 143 jailed bikers no doubt played a guilty role in a spectacular motorcycle club shootout that left nine dead at the Twin Peaks restaurant in Waco. Some say they were just in the wrong place at the wrong time, including a 30 year old volunteer firefighter who says he has no criminal record and tried to hide during the violence. In either event, no one important seems to care, although some defense-lawyer and civil-liberties types grouse about an “unprecedented…wholesale roundup of people” for “being at the scene of a crime” under a principle of “Let’s arrest them all and sort it out later.” Bail for many has been set at a prohibitive $1 million apiece, and no formal charges have been brought. “Under Texas law, a grand jury has 90 days to indict those in custody before they are entitled to reduced bonds.” Police say they consider the matter to be one of organized crime and that an investigation is ongoing. [Molly Hennessy-Fiske, L.A. Times] More: Scott Greenfield. Update: Texas Tribune (bail process crawls forward, more commentators raising questions about process).

Jailed for missing school: the problem with truancy laws

My new piece at Reason begins:

We’ve seen it happen again and again: libertarians are derided over some supposedly crazy or esoteric position, years pass, and eventually others start to see why our position made sense. It’s happened with asset forfeiture, with occupational licensure, with the Drug War, and soon, perhaps, with libertarians’ once-lonely critique of school truancy laws.

In his 1980 book Free To Choose, economist Milton Friedman argued that compulsory school attendance laws do more harm than good, a prescient view considering what’s come since: both Democratic and Republican lawmakers around the country, prodded by the education lobby, have toughened truancy laws with serious civil and even criminal penalties for both students and parents. Now the horror stories pile up: the mom arrested and shackled because her honor-roll son had a few unexcused sick days too many, the teenagers managing chaotic home lives who are threatened with juvenile detention for their pains, the mother who died in jail after being imprisoned for truancy fines. It’s been called carceral liberalism: we’re jailing you, your child, or both, but don’t worry because it’s for your own good. Not getting enough classroom time could really ruin a kid’s life.

My article also mentions that a bill to reform Texas’s super-punitive truancy laws has reached Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk, following the reported success of an experiment in San Antonio and pressure from a Marshall Project report. Finally, truancy-law reform is looking to become an issue across the political spectrum — but libertarians were there first. (cross-posted from Cato at Liberty).

Police and community roundup

  • Not just motorists: revenue-hungry St. Louis County municipalities mulct residents and homeowners with tickets over toys in yard, missing shingles, overgrown trees [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]
  • So hard to convict: six officers from notorious Philadelphia narcotics squad acquitted in federal “dangled over balconies” case [Inquirer]
  • Strictly non-business: Mayor of Campo, Colo. “asserted the ticketing …is strictly about public safety and not to generate revenue.” [KUSA, autoplays]
  • Texas legislature: “Bill to limit filming of police activity is dropped” [Allison Wisk, Dallas Morning News]
  • “I remember getting mocked as a nutty libertarian when arguing that primary seat belt laws would be used to profile.” [@radleybalko on CBS Miami report]
  • “Breaking Down the Cost of Jaywalking: Where Does Money from a $190 Ticket Go?” [L.A., 2010, BlogDowntown via Amy Alkon discussion, earlier, Timothy Kincaid on Twitter] “A traffic fine should not devastate folks living paycheck to paycheck. [Cal.] Senate working to fix this” [Mariel Garza, L.A. Times]
  • On the need for independent prosecutors in police misconduct cases [Jacob Sullum]