Public university professor: First Amendment should bar required union representation

In the 2018 Janus decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the First Amendment protects individual public employees from having to financially support unions to which they do not wish to belong. But labor law continues to require “exclusive representation”; individual public employees may not bargain on their own behalf in place of the designated union, nor may they enlist a different union to represent their interests. (Meanwhile, and also problematically, incumbent unions are tasked with a legal duty to represent individual employees even if they reject membership and decline to pay dues.) Jonathan Reisman is an economics professor at the University of Maine-Machias who does not wish to be represented by the recognized faculty union, which he does not believe represents his own priorities either on work-specific issues such as wages and schedules or on public policy more broadly. Reisman is now seeking Supreme Court review of his action seeking relief from exclusive representation on First Amendment grounds [Trevor Burrus and Michael Collins on Cato certiorari amicus brief in Reisman v. Associated Faculties of the University of Maine]

Jury finds Avenatti guilty in $20 million Nike extortion attempt

A jury has found celebrity lawyer Michael Avenatti guilty of two counts of extortion and one of honest services fraud related to his hold-up of apparel company Nike [earlier here, see also]

“And it’s worth more in exposure to me to just blow the lid on this thing. A few million dollars doesn’t move the needle for me. I’m just being really frank with you … I’ll go take $10 billion off your client’s market cap. But I’m not f—ing around.”

Avenatti demanded more than $20 million from Nike while keeping his client in the dark, testimony revealed. He said the company should hire him and another prominent attorney representing Franklin, Mark Geragos, to conduct an internal investigation.

A lawyer trying to extort a fortune from a deep pocket target. The things that go on in this world. [Stephen Rex Brown, New York Daily News;

Wage and hour roundup

Hearing might be required before city can close business under nuisance-abatement law

Earlier this month we linked the story of a Dallas car wash owner whose business was shut down by the city under a nuisance abatement law because it was deemed to attract crime, even though the owner was not alleged to have done anything to further the crime and in fact had called police many times to complain about it.

Last month a Sixth Circuit panel, over a dissent, ruled that the city of Saginaw, Mich. may have violated Rita Johnson’s rights when it shut down her Rita’s Southern Soul Café without first according her a hearing. Johnson had rented out her restaurant one evening to a private party; “For unknown reasons, individuals unaffiliated with her or the party emerged from a vehicle that night and began shooting at the restaurant.” Police surmise that rivalry between gangs might have prompted the attack, but neither perpetrators nor motive were established. The case now goes back for further litigation in which Johnson will be allowed to argue that a hearing before shutting down her café would have been warranted. [Johnson v. Morales via Institute for Justice “Short Circuit”]

Lawyer billed over 6,600 hours in year

Plausibility matters: “to hit $600,000 in two years Lester [a court-appointed defense lawyer in Charleston, W.V.] would have had to bill 13,333.3 hours during that time. This of course would be an average of 6,666.6 hours per year. Is that a lot? No. It’s an awful lot.” And when discovered, it got him in trouble, especially after an investigation found at least 17 days for which he had billed more than 24 hours. [Kevin Underhill, Lowering the Bar]

February 12 roundup

Louisiana: a remedy for fake subpoenas?

The district attorney in Orleans Parish, Louisiana, which includes the city of New Orleans, pressured witnesses and crime victims into cooperating through the use of fake “subpoenas” warning them of fines or jail time for nonappearance. “The documents were neither authorized by a judge nor issued by a county clerk…. Cannizzaro’s office was producing them itself. Worse yet: Even though the subpoenas were unlawful, he really did jail people who didn’t obey them.” Can they sue him? [Zuri Davis, Reason]