- “Never forget all the people who in the aftermath of Benghazi were writing things like ‘When Censorship Makes Sense'” [Matt Welch on Twitter, referring to lawprof Tim Wu’s New Republic piece; BuzzFeed (blasphemous video was “non-event” in Libya and never seriously mistaken for cause of attack); Nick Gillespie]
- Nevada: political contributions and federal judgeships [ATL]
- In Louisiana, Orleans Parish pays its lawyers about $1.7 million a year. Are they worth it? [Lee Zurik, WVUE]
- “I brought the big soda back to my desk, and then the terminal said ‘You really shouldn’t have so much sugar.'” [@ledbetreuters via @jackshafer] “I Know When You Logged In Last Summer: The Bloomberg Spying Scandal” [ChartGirl]
- “How did progressive journalists get the Pigford scandal so wrong?” [Conor Friedersdorf, The Atlantic; earlier here, here, etc.]
- Is the Roberts Court unusually “pro-business”? [Jonathan Adler, Michael Greve, Ted Frank, Jon Hyman (Court’s handling of substantive employment law doesn’t fit supposed pattern)]
- Mel Weiss beats the rap on supervised-release DUI [Amanda Bronstad, NLJ; earlier]
Better sort out the ethical issues first [Edward Siedle, Forbes]
Now released from prison, the former class-action baron “declined to say whether he regretted his actions.” Weiss — once acclaimed as the plaintiff’s bar’s top spotter of financial fraud — also turns out to have lost a ton of money to Bernard Madoff’s Ponzi scheme. The report is balanced, and cites Michael Perino’s work finding evidence that Weiss’s lies to judges worked to his own benefit as opposed to that of class members. It also recalls the heated claims by Democratic U.S. Reps. Charles Rangel, Gary Ackerman, Carolyn Maloney and Robert Wexler that Weiss was being railroaded on political charges — before he admitted the scheme and pleaded guilty, that is. [Jewish Week]
All four have completed their sentences and don’t seem to have it so bad, judging by a March 19 Bloomberg story. William Lerach is going to teach at a law school and work for a “progressive think-tank.” And for the Milberg law firm itself? “Over the past couple of years, while everybody has been laying off lawyers and cutting pay, we’ve been giving lawyers raises and extra bonuses.”
- Greenwich, Connecticut real estate board may discipline member whose blog (often linked in this space) regularly pokes fun at overpriced houses. Antitrust/First Amendment problem? [Chris Fountain, For What It’s Worth]
- “Religious group sued for allegedly inciting harm through prayers” [USA Today]
- Legally driven waste of water in parched California should reopen Endangered Species Act debate [Max Schulz, American Spectator] “More Unintended Consequences — Endangered Species Edition” [Ronald Bailey, Reason; related AEI panel]
- “Apple v Woolworth re Apple Logos In Australia” [Trademark Blog]
- Speaking of Australia, Consumers Union’s Consumerist site publishes fake “Aussie McDonald’s fraud plot” memo as real — revises post later, but without mentioning it was taken in by hoax [HardArticle]
- Pennsylvania couple learns about squatter’s-rights law the hard way [Hazleton Standard Speaker]
- Maybe Saratoga Springs, N.Y. will let middle schoolers bike — or even walk! — to school [Albany Times-Union, Lenore Skenazy/Free Range Kids, Patrick at Popehat, Doug Mataconis/Liberty Papers]
- Milberg, the disgraced class action firm of Mel Weiss and Bill Lerach fame, is hot again [NLJ]
Last year New York trial judge Herman Cahn ruled in favor of class-action giant Milberg in a high-profile dispute over whether it could share its winnings from past cases with disgraced felon and former name partner Melvyn Weiss, the firm’s former driving force. Judge Cahn stepped down from the New York bench in December, and now it develops has been hired by Milberg as its “distinguished” new attorney. And you — with the Wall Street Journal’s editorialists today — certainly have a suspicious mind. There probably won’t be any shortage of funds with which to pay the former jurist: an American Lawyer headline last month read “Milberg Among Plaintiffs Firms Awarded $120 Million in Xerox Class Action”.
American Lawyer has the story (more: AmLaw Daily, ABA Journal). Because, if you asked why the former dean of the shareholder class-action plaintiff’s bar deserved those hundreds of millions in court-ordered fees, you would have been told that society needed to reward his unsurpassed skills at sniffing out securities fraud. Can you imagine how Weiss as a lawyer would have shredded some hapless middleman financial defendant who thought it wasn’t necessary to do due diligence on an investment manager in placing funds because, well, he seemed like a nice guy at the time?
Weiss is in jail now on unrelated charges, of course, but he might make a fun person to name as lead plaintiff in a suit against Madoff.
- Newest “Trial Lawyers Inc.” report is on Louisiana [Manhattan Institute, Point of Law]
- Mel Weiss disbarred automatically w/strong language from judges [Matter of Weiss h/t @erwiest]
- Pro se claimant: I wrote down cure for cancer and then the darn hospital stole it! [Above the Law]
- “California Supreme Court Ruling May Deter Good Samaritans” [The Recorder; SF Chronicle with copious reader comments, GruntDoc, our coverage last year]
- Due diligence on dodgy funds? Sometimes it seems everyone’s relying on someone else to do that [Bronte Capital] Madoff fraud may date to 1970s, maybe “recent laxity” angle has been overdone [Securities Docket] “Ponzi crawl” = pub crawl whereby new person is added at each location and has to buy a round [Re Risk]
- Radley Balko on Julie Amero malware-prosecution story [Reason, earlier]
- Join Paul Ehrlich in some of the world’s most famously refuted predictions, and you too may get to be Obama’s science adviser [John Tierney/NYT, John Holdren]
WisconsinMinnesota pig-sitter trial set for March, claim is that defendant let star porker overfeed and gain a hundred pounds [LaCrosse Tribune h/t @kevinokeefe]
- More on the Patent and Trademark Office “acceptable error” employment case [Venture Chronicles, Jeff Nolan; earlier]
- Procter & Gamble “Satanism” case finally settles, soap giant got $19 million verdict against four Amway distributors who spread rumor [OnPoint News]
- Once filing of a suit severs the channels of communication, attorneys and clients alike begin to make up “what really happened” narratives [Settle It Now]
- Sometimes lawyers need to be formal. Don’t IM “Court denied your appeal u will b executed saturday thx” [Beck & Herrmann]
- Bangladesh hoping to build replica of Taj Mahal despite copyright claims [Times Online h/t @mglickman]
- Midnight regulations? “OMB Watch” vigilant (and with reason) during this R-2-D transition but sang different tune in 2000’s D-2-R [Gillespie, Reason]
“At its worst, the system is close to legalized extortion. … It would be nice if the class-action lawyers reformed themselves, but if not, someone should file a lawsuit.” But op-ed columnist David Ignatius regards Melvyn Weiss and Dickie Scruggs as “good guys” gone wrong and says what occasioned their downfall “was a system in which the money just got too big”. This suggests their practices were more honest and aboveboard at an earlier stage in their careers when the stakes were smaller, but Ignatius does not offer evidence for this view, and I wonder whether he has any (“Reining In the Kings of Tort”, Washington Post, Jun. 5).
Relatedly, the New Yorker published a big article last month on the Scruggs scandal by correspondent Peter Boyer. (“The Bribe”, May 19, abstract; PDF at WSJ law blog). David Rossmiller, unsurpassed chronicler of that scandal, does an excellent job explaining why the article is, not wrong, exactly, but disappointing (May 27).