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Posted May 18: 

I would like to get a "loser pays" voter initiative onto the ballot in Washington state.  I am searching for an attorney who would be qualified and interested in assisting me to draft such an initiative.  Do you know of any attorney contacts in Washington that may be sympathetic?  -- Dan Shapiro

[If any of our attorney readers out there would be interested in helping draft such an initiative, presumably on a pro bono basis, they should contact our editor so that we can pass their names and contact information on to Mr. Shapiro.]

I have experienced allergic reactions to the NCR (No Carbon Required) forms discussed in your April 25 item.  I found out about the allergy quite by accident, since I had occasion to work with such items.  The symptoms that Brenda Smith describes are all symptoms that I get when I have direct exposure to these chemically treated papers (with the exception of bronchitis).

Once I discovered my sensitivity to these NCR forms, I did the prudent thing -- I limited my exposure to the forms, never rubbed my eyes unless I washed the chemicals off my hands, and made sure I was in a well-ventilated room if I had to handle them. 

Do I smoke?  No, I'm highly allergic to it.  Thank goodness...

Am I going to sue the manufacturers?  No way.  With a little thought there's always a workaround.   Lawsuits aren't workarounds, they're a sledgehammer approach to life's little indignities and should only be used in extreme cases. -- Steve Egan, Spokane, Wash. 

About your May 16 "No baloney" story: How can anyone bite into something the size of a 9mm bullet and continue to chew and then swallow it?  What's more, if something the size of a bullet does find its way into the stomach, don't normal bodily functions take over to ensure that it does not remain there to require removal by surgery? 

I find your page informative and, fortunately or unfortunately, very entertaining. -- Ken Platt, San Diego

[We wondered the same things.]

I sat in on the Granicy trial in Lancaster, California.  [Three sisters in their 60s who work at Granicy's Feed Store in Lancaster were charged with repeatedly selling iodine crystals to undercover agents without proper documentation; the crystals are used to treat hoof ailments in livestock and to purify water supplies but are also an ingredient in illegal methamphetamine production.  See April 28-30, 2000].  The verdict was reached yesterday and was a travesty of justice.  The judge rejected all nine of the defense lawyer's recommendations for jury instructions. When the jury requested clarification on the wording of the law as introduced into evidence by the prosecutor they were told to disregard it and to decide their verdict based on jury instructions.  Four days into deliberations the jurors were given no choice but to convict! When Alison Bloom, the defense attorney from Los Angeles, spoke with jurors after the trial they told her they thought the law was very badly worded and vague and that based on the judge's instructions they had no options. They were very unhappy to have to give a verdict of guilty but said that the judge's instructions combined with the juror's oath made it impossible to allow justice to be done. This case was the perfect example of why jury nullification is important to our legal system and why it is so wrong for states like California to tell jurors it is not legal. I would appreciate any attention you could call to this case. The "Granicy Grannies" are wonderful God fearing people and are the latest victims of "The War on Drugs". -- Tina Eldredge

[More resources on the case: "Granny discusses trial for not keeping records of crystal iodine sales", CNN Law Chat, Sept. 19, 2000; Karen Maeshiro, "Store owner testifies on drug-related charges", Los Angeles Daily News, April 6; other trial coverage, March 29, April 4. We can't find any online references to the verdict or to sentencing.]

I feel a need to release my frustration regarding a 
local law firm and its methods of attracting clients.  I live in a very small town in West Virginia (population less than 500 residents), and I work for a Fortune 500 retailing company well known to all, one that I am sure is attractive to those looking for a lucrative lawsuit.  This evening I was reading the weekly publication of the local newspaper and found on the back page an article by the law firm titled "Falling Merchandise -- A Safety Issue You Should Know About".  What amazed me about the article was the way it seemed to go out of its way to mention the company I work for again and again.  It told the story of a grandmother who received over $581,000 for a neck injury she got when a box fell and hit her as she shopped at one of my company's stores in Texas.  It also told about a customer who was killed by falling merchandise at a different company, Home Depot, but that case got only two sentences in an article of fifteen paragraphs, even though you would think death is a more alarming matter than neck injury.  Could this be because there are no Home Depots within two hours of our town?  I can't understand the reasoning other than to put ideas in the minds of those who need a lucrative, easy solution to their financial problems. -- Tim Stienstraw, West Union, W. Va.

[If it's any comfort, the law firm probably didn't tailor this article to your local community's retailing profile.  The Association of Trial Lawyers of America sends out a weekly column ("Consumer News for Families" -- recent archive) for law firms to distribute to local newspapers, "co-authored" (at least notionally) by ATLA's president and by the state chapter president in each state.  The column you describe sounds like the one ATLA sent out for use on April 23.  Perhaps inevitably, there's also a website called fallingmerchandise.com, published by a plaintiff's law firm in search of business and publicity (oops -- looks like we've just given them some).

People who have one bad idea tend to have others dept.: your readers might be interested to learn that the same Dr. Jeremiah Baronless of New York who chaired the panel laying the groundwork for the federal ergonomics regulations you criticize (March 9) now has a new crusade: organizing the medical profession to start inquiring into whether patients own guns and discourage them from continuing to do so.  Details can be found online at: Josh Benson, "Medical Machers Ask: Should Guns Be Part of Patient Profile?", New York Observer, March 19, and a critique at: Jacob Sullum, "Disarming Questions", Reason Online, March 27. -- Robert Racansky, Denver

Not for nothing, but I believe the police officer was doing the correct thing in the April 26 article about the child who was given a jaywalking ticket after being hit by a truck.  One of the great themes of your website is personal responsibility and that is what the officer was enforcing in this case.  This was not something frivolous like "pretending your hand is a gun" or "kissing a girl". 

Also, this ticket may help the truck's driver if the family of the child tries to sue.  -- Chris Smith, Worcester, Mass.

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