The San Antonio Four, women released after more than a decade of imprisonment over child-abuse crimes they say they never committed, talk to NBC News. “Plea deals were offered, but they refused to accept them on the grounds that they were innocent.” One of the two accusers (pre-teens at the time) has recanted, the other sticks by her story.
“State Seizes Two-Year-Old Child From Parents Because They Smoked Pot, Child Dies in Foster Care” [Rockdale, Texas; Ed Krajewski, Reason] On the propensity of some local authorities to seize kids in marijuana cases, see this report last year on one California county.
“…can be stripped of their cash, cars, and even homes.” Sarah Stillman’s new article in the New Yorker is making a stir, and I write up some of its highlights at Cato at Liberty, including the traffic-stop scandal in Tenaha, Texas, a curious raid on a Detroit art museum, and the plight of a Philadelphia couple whose son sold $20 of pot from their front porch (& Don Boudreaux, Cafe Hayek).
Bonus: “The Civil Forfeiture Implications of the DEA-NSA Spy Program” [Eapen Thampy, Americans for Forfeiture Reform]
A “staff attorney at the Deepwater Horizon Court Supervised Settlement Program… was suspended after being accused of accepting fees from law firms while processing their clients’ claims from the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill.” [Bloomberg] And that’s just the start of what may be much wider problems, according to a cover story by Paul Barrett at Bloomberg Business Week. “The craziest thing about the settlement,” one lawyer wrote in a client-solicitation letter, “is that you can be compensated for losses that are UNRELATED to the spill.” [Bloomberg Business Week] Barrett’s account tells, in his own words, “how the private-claims process following BP’s (BP) 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill devolved into a plaintiffs’-lawyer feeding frenzy.” [BBW]
And more litigation besides: “[Steven] Phillips sued a lawyer who billed him more than $1 million for lobbying lawmakers to increase the compensation for exonerees. And another ex-wife is seeking to recover child support that went unpaid during his years in prison. He said that he has spent at least $300,000 on lawyers since he was freed and that despite the compensation [package valued at $6 million], he has struggled to keep his business afloat.” [Texas Tribune] The “last thing a guy freed from 24 years of wrongful imprisonment needs is more time in court.” [Scott Greenfield]
George Will’s syndicated column today salutes the Texas high court for preserving the traditional common-law rule against damages for animal companionship and sentimental value, thus declining to jump off an emotionally alluring cliff:
Texas’ Supreme Court decided to distinguish between dogs and heirlooms “such as a wedding veil, pistol” — this is Texas — “jewelry, handmade bedspreads and other items going back several generations.”
Noting that the Medlens “find it odd that Texas law would permit sentimental damages for loss of an heirloom but not an Airedale,” [Justice Don] Willett rejoined that it would be even odder if Texans could recover wrongful-death damages for the loss of a Saint Bernard but not for a brother Bernard.
Laconically noting that “the law is no stranger to incongruity,” Willett explained that “permitting sentiment-based damages for destroyed heirloom property portends nothing resembling the vast public-policy impact of allowing such damages in animal-tort cases.”
Ira Stoll catches the New York Times being tendentious again [SmarterTimes]:
…one reason that Texas is at or near the top of the nation in terms of workplace fatalities is that it is at or near the top of the nation in terms of the number of workers and how many hours they work. If you adjust for that, and take the rate of workplace fatalities — that is, the number of fatalities from workplace injuries per 100,000 full-time workers, Texas isn’t worst in the nation, but somewhere in the middle…
Related: Josh Barro, Steven Greenhut (California as comparison).
And now William Lawler is suing the Amarillo, Tex. sports bar that served both of them earlier in the evening, saying it should have cut them off. The suit, which seeks $1 million or more,
also claims the two had an “amiable relationship, and would have never fought were it not for their extreme level of inebriation.”
Lawler’s lawyer Ryan Turman said he thinks they have a solid case.
“We feel like we’ve got solid facts. We feel like Pink is responsible,” he said. “You just trust a jury to do what is right on these.”
He said the lawsuit was filed in accordance with the Dram Shop Act.
[Amarillo Globe-News, more, Jon Mark Beilue column; & welcome Above the Law readers]
Please don’t do these [in some cases alleged] things:
- Calif.: “Judge accused of stealing elderly neighbor’s $1.6M life savings resigns from bench” [ABA Journal]
- Stan Chesley joins a rogue’s gallery of disgraced litigators [Paul Barrett/Business Week, earlier here, etc.]
- San Francisco’s Alioto firm: “Attorney and law firm must pay $67K …for ‘vexatious’ suit challenging airline merger” [ABA Journal, Andrew Longstreth/Reuters (Joseph Alioto: "badge of honor"), Ted Frank/PoL (sanctions are small change compared with enormous fees obtainable through merger challenges]
- N.J.: “Lawyer takes state plea, will pay $1M to widow’s estate” [ABA Journal]
- Texas: “State Rep. Reynolds charged with 7 others in barratry scheme” [SETR]
- “Paul Bergrin, ‘The Baddest Lawyer in the History of Jersey,’ Convicted at Last” [David Lat/Above the Law, earlier]
- “Attorney’s mug shot winds up next to his law firm’s ad, in marketing effort gone awry” [Martha Neil, ABA Journal]
- Once the American legal profession reformed itself, but that was long ago [John Steele Gordon]
Not only can she, but it seems she does. [Austin American-Statesman]
“Texas has a unique solution to the problem of coupon settlements: if the lawyers settle for coupons or non-cash relief, they have to be paid in coupons or non-cash relief.” Some scoffed at this as a gimmick, but it seems to have had an effect for the better, most notably in a recent case where the court “prohibited a $1.1 million fee in a $0 settlement over immaterial merger disclosures.” [Ted Frank, Point of Law]
Four Texas women have been serving long prison terms since a 7-year-old and 9-year-old girl, nieces of one of them, accused them in a lurid tale of assault. Now, the younger accuser has grown up and recanted [Michelle Mondo, My San Antonio]:
“I want my aunt and her friends out of prison,” Stephanie, 25, said by phone last week. “Whatever it takes to get them out I’m going to do. I can’t live my life knowing that four women are sleeping in a cage because of me.”…
On and off the witness stand, the sisters changed their accounts of the timing, the use of weapons, the perpetrators and other basic details of the assault every time they told it to authorities, records show.
P.S. And another Texas recantation, of charges lodged during a bitter custody fight, the defendant has served more than 12 years of a 20-year sentence.
A Texas appeals court has affirmed the dismissal of a lawsuit seeking to hold Anheuser-Busch liable for an assault suffered by a bar patron. The suit alleged that the long-neck design of the bottle made it too attractive for assailants seeking a weapon; the court agreed with the brewer that the plaintiff had failed to make out a sufficient case to avoid summary judgment. [Wajert, Mass Tort Defense]