April 14 roundup

  • Please, someone: you can’t just donate money to the Tulsa police and get full deputy powers, can you? [Tulsa World via @RayDowns]
  • Illinois bench-‘n’-bar buzz angrily at Gov. Rauner who broke rule re: not mentioning lawyers’ campaign cash to judges [Chicago Daily Law Bulletin]
  • “New York’s Asbestos Court Mulls Changes After Sheldon Silver Scandal” [Daniel Fisher] “‘Judicial malpractice’ not to probe court tied to Silver: Judge” [New York Post]
  • Let’s all panic about arsenic in wine, or maybe let’s all not [Nick Farr, Abnormal Use (“The highest arsenic levels cited in the lawsuit are less than half of the limits set by other countries such as Canada”), and more on class action lawsuit]
  • “Tennessee Sacrifices Property Rights On The Altar Of ‘Gun Rights'” [Doug Mataconis, Outside the Beltway; earlier here, here, and here]
  • Odd that while we make wedding cake bakers and florists common carriers, the old “cab-rank” (any paying client) rule for lawyers has come to seem almost unthinkable [Adam Liptak, NYT on big law firms’ avoidance of representing clients on the unpopular side of major gay rights cases] Similarly: Paul Karl Lukacs, L.A. Daily Journal. Related: “maelstrom of criticism” directed at Harvard lawprof Laurence Tribe over his Supreme Court representation of coal company against EPA [Orin Kerr]
  • Just for fun: the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, in license plates [my post at Cato at Liberty]


  • Gov. Rauner,

    What about free speech? Are we supposed to believe that money corrupts judges, but does not corrupt politicians? Moreover, do donations by trial lawyers have any more corrupting influence over judges than donations made by corporate litigants?

    I believe that you are as corrupt as the judges that you attack. If you would forgo massive amounts of money from PACs and ignore the lobbyists who the PACs’ contributors’ support, perhaps I would feel different.

    All this money in politics, from the left and the right, is corrosive. Free speech be damed.

  • @Allan–
    Judges are assumed by the public and the press to have higher standards than elected politicians. If there is reason to question that assumption, it is a public service to make that clear.

    Competitive election of judges is an invitation to corruption. California’s compromise is better: *infrequent* up-or-down retention elections, but if a judge is voted out, his replacement is named by the chief executive and confirmed by the State senate. Governors can, and often do, appoint honest judges without political debts.

  • Re: top law firms won’t oppose gay marriage:

    This is a good example of 1) how elite opinion drives American policy from the top down (for better or for worse) and 2) how the lawyer class is full of crap when it talks about how brave it is.

  • Hugo,

    Yoiur first argument seems to support my position. I agree that we have higher standards for judges. I would presume them to be less corrupt than your every day run of the mill politician. Therefore, judges as a class are less succeptable to corruption?

    I note, without comment, that the conservative diatribe against judges usually starts “they are unelected.”

    That said, I believe that competitive elections based on the size of a compaign chests are invitations to corruption, period. How else can we explain that people will contribute a billion dollars to elect someone to a job that pays much less than a million dollars per year?Claiming that it is because of politcal beliefs would be naive.

    Quid pro quo is alive and well in our country. Pay to play. Call it what you want.

    • ” How else can we explain that people will contribute a billion dollars to elect someone to a job that pays much less than a million dollars per year?Claiming that it is because of politcal beliefs would be naive.”

      The is a perfectly rational reason that does not necessarily involve corruption.

      Yes, those putting the money up are looking for particular results.

      However, perhaps they are backing candidates that already agree with them, rather than getting candidates to change their opinions because of the money.

      There are actually good reasons for the money people to act the way I describe.

      If you are paying someone to hold to a specific position, you always run the risk of someone else coming along and out bidding you. The corrupt are not known for being loyal.

      Only the other hand, if you find a true believer and put your money into getting the true believer elected, there is very little chance of a double cross.

  • The cab rank rule is an English rule. Has it ever been the rule in the United States?

  • Bill Poser — I haven’t been able to find a good answer on that. By an early point it seems clear that American lawyers were not subject to the rule, but whether the break with British practice occurred near the time of the Revolution, or at some later or earlier point, and whether any of this is related to our lack of a British-style separation of barristers from solicitors, I don’t know.