Overlawyered » WO writings http://overlawyered.com Chronicling the high cost of our legal system Thu, 24 Apr 2014 04:38:16 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 Welcome Wall Street Journal readers http://overlawyered.com/2014/03/department-justice-extracts-1-2-billion-toyota/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=department-justice-extracts-1-2-billion-toyota http://overlawyered.com/2014/03/department-justice-extracts-1-2-billion-toyota/#comments Mon, 24 Mar 2014 04:15:12 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=44695 Last week the Department of Justice announced a deal with Toyota in which the Japanese automaker would fork over $1.2 billion and place itself under supervision for allegedly not being forthcoming enough with information at the height of the 2009-2010 panic over claims of unintended acceleration in its cars. The acceleration claims themselves had turned […]

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Last week the Department of Justice announced a deal with Toyota in which the Japanese automaker would fork over $1.2 billion and place itself under supervision for allegedly not being forthcoming enough with information at the height of the 2009-2010 panic over claims of unintended acceleration in its cars. The acceleration claims themselves had turned out to be almost entirely bogus, and were refuted in a report from the federal government’s own expert agency, NHTSA. Instead, the prosecution relied on a single count of wire fraud: Toyota had supposedly given regulators, Congress and the public an erroneously positive view of its safety efforts. It should therefore have to “forfeit” a huge sum supposedly related to the volume of business it did over a relevant period.

I’ve got an opinion piece in Monday’s Wall Street Journal (unpaywalled Cato version here, related Cato post here) about this whole appalling affair, which should frighten other businesses that might face draconian charges in future not just for compliance infractions, but more broadly for defending their products in the court of public opinion. Meanwhile, the Justice Department’s grandstanding and demagogic press release goes to some lengths to leave the impression “that unintended acceleration is some mysterious phenomenon of auto design unrelated to flooring the accelerator.” Someone here is irresponsibly misleading the motoring public and withholding vital safety information, but it’s not Toyota.

A few related links: NHTSA unintended acceleration report, Car & Driver’s coverage, and my 2010 opinion piece. And Holman Jenkins at the WSJ (paywalled) compares the still-unfolding story of ignition problems at GM, also discussed by Paul Barrett at Business Week.

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NY lawmakers: your parenting skills could use enhancement http://overlawyered.com/2014/02/ny-lawmakers-parenting-skills-use-enhancement/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=ny-lawmakers-parenting-skills-use-enhancement http://overlawyered.com/2014/02/ny-lawmakers-parenting-skills-use-enhancement/#comments Sat, 15 Feb 2014 04:20:20 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=44034 A bill introduced by three members of the New York Senate would require parents of schoolchildren to attend four workshops aimed at sharpening their “parenting skills,” as a condition for their kids’ advancing to the seventh grade. I’ve got details in a new post at Cato at Liberty (& Patheos’s Terry Firma). Tweet Tags: New […]

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A bill introduced by three members of the New York Senate would require parents of schoolchildren to attend four workshops aimed at sharpening their “parenting skills,” as a condition for their kids’ advancing to the seventh grade. I’ve got details in a new post at Cato at Liberty (& Patheos’s Terry Firma).

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Super Bowl ads in review http://overlawyered.com/2014/02/super-bowl-ads-review/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=super-bowl-ads-review http://overlawyered.com/2014/02/super-bowl-ads-review/#comments Tue, 04 Feb 2014 03:58:59 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=43834 A Georgia lawyer aired an ad bizarre enough that it’s made the rounds of the legal sites: More from Lowering the Bar (“As Rolling Stone suggests, it is a little problematic that the ad depicts him desecrating a grave and smashing a grave marker, even if he does it with a flaming sledgehammer named after […]

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A Georgia lawyer aired an ad bizarre enough that it’s made the rounds of the legal sites:

More from Lowering the Bar (“As Rolling Stone suggests, it is a little problematic that the ad depicts him desecrating a grave and smashing a grave marker, even if he does it with a flaming sledgehammer named after his dead brother and to a badass metal soundtrack.”)

Meanwhile, over at Cato at Liberty, I’ve got a commentary on the Coca-Cola ad with at least a tangential relation to language law, the legacy of Teddy Roosevelt’s Progressives, and the gracefulness of being good winners regarding the success of English assimilation.

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Suing over a study http://overlawyered.com/2014/01/suing-study/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=suing-study http://overlawyered.com/2014/01/suing-study/#comments Wed, 08 Jan 2014 02:17:57 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=43342 I’ve got a short piece in the January Reason on the story (covered earlier here and here) of the lawyer who decided to sue a scientific journal publisher and the authors of a clinical report because the findings in the article made it harder for him to win personal injury lawsuits. Tweet Tags: WO writings

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I’ve got a short piece in the January Reason on the story (covered earlier here and here) of the lawyer who decided to sue a scientific journal publisher and the authors of a clinical report because the findings in the article made it harder for him to win personal injury lawsuits.

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President Obama and the pardon power http://overlawyered.com/2013/12/president-obama-pardon-power/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=president-obama-pardon-power http://overlawyered.com/2013/12/president-obama-pardon-power/#comments Mon, 23 Dec 2013 05:49:45 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=43155 I’ve got a new op-ed for Bloomberg View (first time I’ve appeared there) calling last week’s venture in presidential clemency “mingy and belated” and, if aimed at prison overcrowding, “like trying to bail out Lake Michigan with a paint can.” On Thursday President Obama commuted the sentences of eight inmates caught up in the crack […]

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I’ve got a new op-ed for Bloomberg View (first time I’ve appeared there) calling last week’s venture in presidential clemency “mingy and belated” and, if aimed at prison overcrowding, “like trying to bail out Lake Michigan with a paint can.” On Thursday President Obama commuted the sentences of eight inmates caught up in the crack cocaine sentencing fury, all of whom had already served at least 15 years for what were often relatively peripheral involvement in the drug trade. Clarence Aaron, for example, was serving three life sentences without possibility of parole for a first-time nonviolent offense. Many advocates from all political viewpoints pushed for Aaron’s release, among them Debra Saunders who wrote dozens of columns on his case in the San Francisco Chronicle over the past 12 years (Also in Minneapolis Star-Tribune and other papers, and AP roundup of opinion columns; & Scott Greenfield, Pardon Power).

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New guest column: “SEC Unveils Expensive Rule on CEO Pay Ratio” http://overlawyered.com/2013/10/sec-tackles-ceo-pay-ratio-disclosure/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=sec-tackles-ceo-pay-ratio-disclosure http://overlawyered.com/2013/10/sec-tackles-ceo-pay-ratio-disclosure/#comments Mon, 21 Oct 2013 19:21:06 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=42055 I’ve now got a guest column at PointOfLaw.com on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed rule (earlier) requiring public companies to calculate and make public the ratio between chief executive officer (CEO) pay and the pay of a median worker. For companies with international operations in particular, the calculation may be quite difficult (it might […]

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I’ve now got a guest column at PointOfLaw.com on the Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed rule (earlier) requiring public companies to calculate and make public the ratio between chief executive officer (CEO) pay and the pay of a median worker. For companies with international operations in particular, the calculation may be quite difficult (it might depend on assumed exchange rates, for example, to say nothing of noncash benefits) and it might also depend on the ability to gather in one place certain types of data whose export is forbidden by some privacy-sensitive foreign laws. And all for what, aside from stoking demagogy? Or was that the point of the Dodd-Frank mandate that the SEC is now implementing?

I have fond memories of launching Point of Law during my years at the Manhattan Institute, and I was its primary writer for many years, so it is especially rewarding to contribute a guest column there. Under the leadership of MI’s Jim Copland, the site (and MI in general) has become especially active in corporate governance, shareholder and SEC controversies.

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New at Reason: “A step toward Facebook.gov?” http://overlawyered.com/2013/10/facebook-maryland-contd/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=facebook-maryland-contd http://overlawyered.com/2013/10/facebook-maryland-contd/#comments Sun, 13 Oct 2013 10:55:44 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=41801 I’ve got a new piece at Reason.com expanding on my earlier reports on the new pilot program by which Facebook will give Maryland school officials a dedicated channel with which to seek takedown of posts and other material that in their view contributes to the problem of “cyber-bullying.” I think the program represents a disturbing […]

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I’ve got a new piece at Reason.com expanding on my earlier reports on the new pilot program by which Facebook will give Maryland school officials a dedicated channel with which to seek takedown of posts and other material that in their view contributes to the problem of “cyber-bullying.” I think the program represents a disturbing step toward a wider government role as arbiter of what is allowed to be said in social media, the more so as it will be difficult or impossible to know whether takedown decisions at Facebook’s discretion are an entirely neutral application of the service’s “Community Standards” or are swayed in part by the wish to keep government bodies happy. I quote various press accounts, some affording additional insight into the existing and proposed takedown process, as well as commentary by Scott Greenfield, TechDirt, and the Daily Caller in which I’m quoted. Some additional commentary: Joy Pullmann/Heartland, Josh Blackman. More: Instalanched, thanks Glenn Reynolds.

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“Can restaurants take your keys if you are intoxicated?” http://overlawyered.com/2013/08/can-restaurants-take-keys-intoxicated/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=can-restaurants-take-keys-intoxicated http://overlawyered.com/2013/08/can-restaurants-take-keys-intoxicated/#comments Tue, 06 Aug 2013 04:05:53 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=40438 The Maryland high court recently declined an invitation to discard the common-law rule against server liability in a case where a patron of a Gaithersburg craft brewery got on the road and caused a fatal accident. Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney wrote in favor of the wider liability rule, and I responded in a letter […]

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The Maryland high court recently declined an invitation to discard the common-law rule against server liability in a case where a patron of a Gaithersburg craft brewery got on the road and caused a fatal accident. Washington Post columnist Robert McCartney wrote in favor of the wider liability rule, and I responded in a letter to the editor just posted at the newspaper.

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Detroit’s decline, and Krugman’s explanation http://overlawyered.com/2013/07/detroits-decline-krugmans-explanation/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=detroits-decline-krugmans-explanation http://overlawyered.com/2013/07/detroits-decline-krugmans-explanation/#comments Tue, 23 Jul 2013 12:17:13 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=40134 Having to watch what bad government has done to my home city of Detroit is a bit like Princess Leia having to watch her home planet destroyed. The fate of the Motor City, writes John Steele Gordon, is America’s “greatest urban disaster that didn’t involve nature or war.” But wait: here’s distinguished New York Times […]

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Having to watch what bad government has done to my home city of Detroit is a bit like Princess Leia having to watch her home planet destroyed. The fate of the Motor City, writes John Steele Gordon, is America’s “greatest urban disaster that didn’t involve nature or war.” But wait: here’s distinguished New York Times columnist Paul Krugman to inform us that it’s not “fundamentally a tale of fiscal irresponsibility … For the most part, it’s just one of those things that happens now and then in an ever-changing economy.” Just one of those things! I reply — with a hat tip to Cole Porter — at Cato at Liberty. (& George Leef (“A tornado is ‘just one of those things’ because is has no human cause. When a city goes bankrupt, it has many human causes”), Ed Driscoll)

P.S. On the role of long-serving mayor Coleman Young, see pp. 12-13 of this Ed Glaeser/Andrei Shleifer paper (PDF). And here’s a HuffPo tag on Detroit corruption.

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Protecting minorities by empowering prosecutors? http://overlawyered.com/2013/07/protecting-minorities-empowering-prosecutors/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=protecting-minorities-empowering-prosecutors http://overlawyered.com/2013/07/protecting-minorities-empowering-prosecutors/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2013 04:14:27 +0000 http://overlawyered.com/?p=40029 In my new CNN.com piece I argue that we shouldn’t let anger over the Zimmerman acquittal shred the rights of criminal defendants: “awarding new powers to prosecutors will likely mean that more black people will end up behind bars.” [CNN](& Steele; thanks for Instalanche to Glenn Reynolds) P.S. Some may wonder whether a toughening of […]

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In my new CNN.com piece I argue that we shouldn’t let anger over the Zimmerman acquittal shred the rights of criminal defendants: “awarding new powers to prosecutors will likely mean that more black people will end up behind bars.” [CNN](& Steele; thanks for Instalanche to Glenn Reynolds)

P.S. Some may wonder whether a toughening of hate crime laws might be an exception to the general rule that minorities have much to fear from a broadening of grounds for prosecution. Leaving aside whether the hate crime issue has any relation to the Martin/Zimmerman case (few lawyers believe Zimmerman could be found guilty of a hate crime, and when the FBI investigated him last summer it found no evidence of racial motivation; more on this from Michelle Meyer), per FBI statistics for 2011, blacks are actually overrepresented among persons charged with hate crimes, at 21 percent compared with 14 percent of general U.S. population.

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