After Louisiana made cops a protected group in hate-crime law

That was fast: it looks as if the first charge under Louisiana’s new “Blue Lives Matter” law was made to hang a felony rap on a man who shouted slurs at police as they escorted him to the station. Hours later, a spokesman for the New Orleans Police Department acknowledged that a sergeant at the scene had applied the hate crime law incorrectly and that the charge would be reviewed before proceeding with prosecution. [New Orleans Times-Picayune, and followup; Scott Shackford, Reason (“The release bond for Delatoba’s ‘hate crime’ charge of yelling bad words ($10,000) is actually higher than the amount for the vandalism ($5,000) that drew the police in the first place”); earlier and more]

Litigation roundup

  • Settlement insurance, a new litigation-finance mechanism, can have the unintended result of casting light on just how little benefit some class actions provide to consumers [Ted Frank, CEI] Yet another new litigation finance mechanism: trial-expense insurance purchased by lawyers [Bloomberg/Insurance Journal]
  • South Carolina law firm sues 185 different defendants in the average asbestos case it files, and it’s still far from tops in that department [Palmetto Business Daily]
  • “Those terms and conditions (that nobody reads) could cost New Jersey retailers” [Tim Darragh, NJ.com on class actions under pre-Internet-era state consumer protection law]
  • Some federal courts, while paying lip service to the important Rule 26 discovery reforms that took effect Dec. 1, continue in their old ways, “effectively applying the old standard” [James Beck]
  • “Can Pokémon Go and Product Liability Coexist?” [Julie Steinberg, BNA/Product Safety & Liability Reporter, earlier]
  • “How does privatization affect liability?” [Sasha Volokh]

Before phone banking for Trump…

“If you want to make phone calls on behalf of Donald Trump’s presidential bid, you will have to agree to the terms of this contract…It’s a very peculiar document.” [David Post, Volokh] “The forms are extraordinarily broad, virtually prohibiting any volunteers from criticizing Trump or his family for the rest of their lifetimes, according to Rachel Sklar, a lawyer and CNN contributor.” [Jeff Stein, Vox] It also includes an “obligation to prevent your employees from demeaning or disparaging a Trump asset… That is surely not only absurd and unenforceable, it may well constitute abetting a violation of US labor law.” [Post] More on Trump and over-lawyering from Lawrence Cunningham (more), and generally. More on the recent Texas case in which a judge tossed a suit based on a nondisparagement clause proffered by a pet-sitting company, which then invoked it after a customer left a one-star Yelp review, from David Kravets at ArsTechnica.

September 7 roundup

  • Bad Texas law requiring breweries to give away territorial rights for free violates state constitution, judge says [Eric Boehm]
  • California’s identity theft statute bans so many more things than just identity theft [Eugene Volokh]
  • Cato Unbound symposium on Indian Child Welfare Act/ICWA, to which I contributed, wraps up [Timothy Sandefur on sovereignty and fixes] Minnesota’s Indian foster care crisis [Brandon Stahl and MaryJo Webster, Minneapolis Star-Tribune]
  • If you want to hear me translated into Arabic on bathroom and gender issues, here you go [Al-Hurra back in May]
  • Asset forfeiture: “New Mexico Passed a Law Ending Civil Forfeiture. Albuquerque Ignored It, and Now It’s Getting Sued” [C.J. Ciaramella] “IRS Agrees to Withdraw Retaliatory Grand Jury Subpoena Against Connecticut Bakery” [Institute for Justice] “California Asset Forfeiture Reform Heading to Approval” [Scott Shackford]
  • Evergreen: “‘I never thought leopards would eat MY face,’ sobs woman who voted for the Leopards Eating People’s Faces Party.” [Adrian Bott]

White House panel questions validity of criminal forensics

“Much of the forensic analysis used in criminal trials isn’t scientifically valid, according to a draft report by the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology. The report… raises questions about the use of bite-mark, hair, footwear, firearm and tool-mark analysis routinely used as evidence in thousands of trials annually in state and federal courts.” [Gary Fields and Kate O’Keeffe, WSJ]

Medical roundup

  • FDA to dental consumers: you can’t handle the tooth [New York Times via Alex Tabarrok]
  • “How lawyers scare people out of taking their meds” [Lisa Rickard (U.S. Chamber), Washington Post]
  • Lawsuits fail to bring improvements to nursing homes [ABA Journal]
  • Everything,” new Institute for Justice short film about costs of regulating bone marrow donation, has upcoming screenings in D.C. area, Breckinridge, Colo. and elsewhere;
  • Aetna pulls out of most ObamaCare exchanges, and the acrimony flies [WSJ editorial] “Did the Medicaid expansion limit labor force participation?” [Tomas Wind via Tyler Cowen]
  • Posting will be slower in coming weeks as I conduct my own in-person investigation of the state of America’s medical system. Thanks for bearing with me!

“Lawyers recruited on Craigslist were unwitting ‘front men’ in phony law firms, Florida AG says”

Seems legit [ABA Journal]:

The lawyers recruited via Craigslist are told the law firm drafts all pleadings using form templates, does all the electronic filing, and has all the client contact, according to Bondi’s complaint. The lawyers’ names and bar numbers are used without their authorization on retainer agreements, letterhead, pleadings, corporate filings and boilerplate pleadings, the complaint says.

“When the contract attorney realizes something is amiss,” the complaint says, “the enterprise quickly moves on to the next unsuspecting and often brand-new lawyer.”

Labor Day and forced labor

The Venezuela regime of strongman Nicolas Maduro has issued a decree providing that, to quote CNBC, “workers can be forcefully moved from their jobs to work in farm fields or elsewhere in the agricultural sector for periods of 60 days.” It’s shocking, yet as I note in a new post at Cato, “in fact elements of forced labor have cropped up in socialist experiments even in nations with strong track records of constitutional government and civil liberties, such as postwar Britain.” Happy (free and unbound) Labor Day!

“Buy your design classic now – it’s about to rocket in price”

At least if you’re in Britain or Europe: “Mid-century design classics, such as Charles Eames chairs, Eileen Gray tables and Arco lamps are set to rocket in price [in Britain and Europe], following EU regulations which came into force this week that extend the copyright on furniture from 25 years to 70 years after the death of a designer.” Low-cost knockoffs of Mies van der Rohe’s Barcelona chair, for example, will be banned until 2039, 70 years after his 1969 death. [The Guardian] Alex Tabarrok has some thoughts on why consumers might rightly be seen as getting the short end, and notes this (via Daily Mail): “Companies which publish design books may have to get numerous licences to reproduce photos because designs have come under copyright.”