October 10-11 — “U.S. to Fully Compensate Victims’ Kin”. In a step virtually unprecedented in a government-run program, the new Sept. 11 fund will assign a dollar value to, and compensate at taxpayer expense, the emotional pain and suffering experienced by survivors (David G. Savage, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 5). Wealthier victims’ families could be the ones who mostly opt out of the federal plan and into private litigation, because of the proviso by which payments from the federal fund will be reduced to reflect amounts families can recover from insurance and other contractual sources, which will often amount to a large offset in the case of high-paid execs (Harriet Ryan, “Victims’ families face choices in collecting compensation”, CourtTV.com, Sept. 28). With damages for airlines limited to their insurance, “the hunt is on for additional defendants with deep pockets. Lawyers say these could include wealthy supporters of terrorism; private baggage-screening firms hired by airlines; contractors that may have improperly screened service personnel allowed on planes; and the operators of the airports where the hijackers boarded.” (Martin Kasindorf, “Families seeking compensation face a choice”, USA Today, Oct. 2) And see if you can spot the implicit assumption in this headline: Seth Stern, “Who pays the damages for Sept. 11?”, Christian Science Monitor, Sept. 27.
October 10-11 — “Never far from school halls: the lawsuit”. “Schools have always been fertile ground for lawsuits over religious observance and free speech. But educators say the volume of suits is on the rise, forcing them to siphon time and money away from learning.” (Seth Stern, Christian Science Monitor, Oct. 9).
October 10-11 — “Man Thought He Was Dead, Sues Airline”. Scott Bender of Philadelphia was snoozing when the U.S. Airways flight from North Carolina landed at the Birmingham, Alabama airport and the crew left him there in the little plane until he woke up. It was really dark, says his lawyer, and Bender “didn’t know if he was alive or dead” — it turned out the former. Now he wants money for the fright and other harms. (Chanda Temple, Birmingham News, Oct. 4).
October 9 — Employee’s right to jubilate over Sept. 11 attack. Kenneth Bredemeier, “On the Job” columnist for the Washington Post, yesterday ran the following remarkable communication from one of his readers, which we take the liberty of quoting at length since it deserves to be read word for word:
“On the day of the World Trade Center and Pentagon disasters, a Muslim woman at work jumped for joy in the cafeteria saying, ‘Yes, yes, yes,’ upon hearing the news.“Apparently nothing was said to her at the time of her ‘celebration.’ Her supervisor consulted the HR manager for advice. He suggested a group meeting to explain that this is a very sensitive time for everyone and that it is probably best to not discuss the disasters at all. He also said to not single out anyone or specifically mention her actions.
“When I heard about it, I wanted to know why she is still at work. I was told to not say anything. Is that right? I have no intention of starting a riot, but I feel this incident should not be ignored. What, if anything, can I do?”
Don’t say anything to her; hold a group meeting; tell other workers to stop talking about the attacks. Could this be just one supremely craven HR manager, at one sensitivity-addled company? No, it gets worse. Bredemeier then consults an expert named Laurie Anderson, a “Chicago clinical psychologist and organizational consultant”. Her advice? As “uncalled for [!] as the impromptu celebration might have been, corporations ‘can’t fire someone for violating something that was never spelled out.’ She said the employee who was upset by her co-worker’s joy at the attacks ought to go to management and say that she wants ‘to be a part of the ongoing conversation about our policies.'” And Anderson adds: “It’s horrifying, but there’s no law against being insensitive.”
But of course Anderson gets it exactly, 180-degrees wrong on that last point. There is a federal law against being insensitive in ways that make co-workers feel disliked or disparaged because of their ethnic or national affiliation — it’s called the “hostile environment” branch of harassment law, and lawyers have deployed it repeatedly to win big bucks for workers who have testified that they were upset by hearing slighting comments aimed at their ethnic or national group. If an employer in this country learns that one of its workers has burst into applause in the cafeteria at learning of, say, a massacre or assassination aimed at a protected ethnic minority, then its failure to discipline that worker would create something approximating a dream case if and when a member of that minority chooses to sue the company charging hostile environment. (Nor will it get the company off the hook, in explaining its failure to discipline, to plead that it had not previously warned its workers specifically not to jubilate in such circumstances.)
The difference between the two fact patterns? So far as we can tell, it’s mostly that “American” doesn’t operationally count as a protected ethnicity under federal law. And so we arrive at a supposed right to jubilate, among Americans, over the deaths of Americans without having to worry about the risk of dismissal or even harsh words or shunning. Could anything be crazier? (Kenneth Bredemeier, “At Some Companies, An All-Too-Rapid Response to Attacks”, Washington Post, Oct. 8).
Addendum: no more than urban legend? Reader John Kingston of Carle Place, N.Y., in a letter to Washington Post columnist Bredemeier which he cc’s to us, writes:
Your column on workplace reaction to September 11 may have come closest to actually identifying the jubilant Muslims, a story sweeping the country that has all the earmarks of an urban myth. It appears the person who wrote you the note at least claims to have actually seen the jubilant worker. Every other reference to the jubilant workers has several key omissions: the name of the workplace where it happened (as in your case); the name of the jubilant person (OK, understandable); or an actual first-person account (which you sort of have, but do not actually identify the first-person). Yet these stories of the celebrating Muslims have come from all over the country, and none of them have been proven.Please do your readers a service in a future column. Put the name of this correspondent in print. And if the correspondent does not want to be put in print, please call him up and grill him on the facts of the case. Because quite frankly, this story sounds like a pile of baloney, and I was shocked to see it repeated and given credence, without what I would consider significant attribution, in a fine paper like yours.
Adds reader Kingston: “And to make it worse, Overlawyered.com repeats it as well. OK, its point was regarding what a workplace could do if it actually had a publicly jubilant Muslim. But my guess is that nobody actually did. This story, Mr. Olson, sounds like a close cousin of junk science.” (DURABLE LINK) [And see Letters, Oct. 22]
October 9 — “Plaintiff’s lawyers going on defense”. In at least two major areas of mass tort litigation now under way, plaintiff’s lawyers well known from asbestos and tobacco work have crossed the aisle to work for defendant businesses: Sulzer Orthopedics Inc. has hired Mississippi’s Richard Scruggs to represent it in hip joint cases, and Bridgestone Firestone has hired Texas’s Wayne Reaud to settle tire cases. “Already this year, Reaud has negotiated 117 settlements for Firestone in Texas, including 22 cases involving deaths.” (Mark Curriden, Dallas Morning News/Austin American-Statesman, Sept. 4, Googlecached) On Reaud and Firestone, see also Michael Freedman, “The Informer: It Takes One to Know One”, Forbes, Sept. 17. (DURABLE LINK)
October 8 — Why we fight, #2. Reason #1 is of course what happened on Sept. 11; but how strangely constricted would be our war aims if they did not also by this point include the final overthrow of the Taliban. (Sam Handlin, “Justice takes on a different meaning in Afghanistan”, CourtTV.com, Sept. 28; Jan Goodwin, “The first victims: the Taliban have been terrorizing women for years”, New York Daily News, Oct. 4; Vincent Laforet, “At Kabul’s door, an army of addicts”, New York Times, Oct. 7 (reg) (arms chopped off by the Taliban for smoking opium in an Afghan school, Mooruddin Aki now begs on a street in Quetta, Pakistan, where passersby stuff bills into his mouth)).
Among pieces we’ve liked recently: Peter Ferrara, “What is an American?” (National Review Online, Sept. 25). And what’s the opposite of Osama bin Laden? Here’s one answer: “The men and women of the space program, and their legions of scientific antecedents, spent countless hours acquiring the knowledge and developing the moral values that led to the moon landing. Not many years later, Osama bin Laden and his fellow terrorists also spent many hours of planning, sitting not in laboratories and libraries, but in tents and caves, with one goal: not to create, but to annihilate human creations. The scientists measured their success by how much they could produce. The terrorists measure their success by how much they can destroy.” (Michael Berliner, “Terrorists vs. America”, Ayn Rand Institute, Oct. 5) (via InstaPundit).
October 8 — “Hama to sue bridge owners over her daughter’s fall”. When Kaya, a 17-month-old with Down’s syndrome, fell from her mother’s arms and off the Capilano Suspension Bridge in Vancouver, she miraculously escaped with only scratches, tree boughs breaking her fall. But her mother, Nadia Hama, is suing the bridge operator anyway; her lawyer says she was traumatized by the aftermath of the incident which included a police investigation and press coverage that “was largely very negative”. (Andy Ivens, “Hama to sue bridge owners over her daughter’s fall”, The Province (Vancouver), Sept. 25).
October 5-7 — Feds’ Lanning v. SEPTA turnabout. The U.S. Justice Department has unexpectedly dropped its support of a long-running lawsuit which sought, in the name of female applicants, to weaken the physical fitness standards used in hiring by the Philadelphia transit police. The Department did not cite the Sept. 11 attacks in explaining its abrupt shift, but its spokesman Don Nelson explained the new stand as follows: “Our position is that we believe it is critical to public safety for police and firefighters to have the ability to run and climb up and down stairs under the most extraordinary circumstances”. In earlier rounds of litigation the feds had sided with plaintiffs lawyers from the Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia, whose chief counsel calls the new turnabout “a slap in the face of women” and a breach of what he said was a promise made by Attorney General John Ashcroft not to retreat on any civil rights issue. (Joseph A. Slobodzian, “U.S. backs away from suit against SEPTA test”, Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 2) (see Sept. 15, 1999). Maybe someone at the Department has been listening to our commentaries of Sept. 13 and other dates. Update Oct. 25-27, 2002: Third Circuit panel rules for SEPTA.
October 5-7 — Civil liberties roundup. What Alexander Hamilton (who used to hang out a lot in New York’s financial district) would want us to remember (Andrew Ferguson, “Strange Bedfellows in This War”, Bloomberg.com, Oct. 2). The left-right civil liberties coalition that has urged scrutiny of the counter-terrorism bill doesn’t agree within itself on much more than platitudes, argues James DeLong of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (“Liberty and Order”, National Review Online, Oct. 2). And London’s invaluable Spectator points out some of the very real costs of national identity cards, whose use would probably not have done much to hinder last month’s suicide attacks, the ringleaders of which were mostly traveling under their own names with valid ID (“Fighting for Freedom” (editorial), Sept. 29).
October 5-7 — “Attorney Ordered to Pay Fees for ‘Rambo’ Tactics”. “Clifford Van Syoc, a solo practitioner in Cherry Hill, N.J., is known for his zealotry in pursuing plaintiffs’ employment-discrimination claims. But now a federal judge, comparing Van Syoc to Rambo, says he’s gone over the line. The judge excoriated him for unreasonably pushing a meritless reverse-bias claim and assessed Van Syoc personally for $59,216 in fees and expenses.” (Tim O’Brien, New Jersey Law Journal, Sept. 6).
October 5-7 — Utah lawmakers: don’t smoke in your car. Legislators in that state have “approved in concept” the idea of legally banning parents from smoking in cars in the presence of their kids, but some among them are reluctant to put their names on such a measure as sponsors given its appearance of extreme meddlesomeness in what was once considered private life (James Thalman, “Lawmakers may up ante for smoking around kids”, Deseret News, Sept. 15).
October 3-4 — Anti-bias law not a suicide pact. “Earlier this summer, U.S. officials told airlines that conducting extra checks on passengers of Arab origin was a violation of the passengers’ civil rights. Also, Transportation Secretary Norman Mineta ordered a federal investigation into complaints by Arab-Americans that they were being unfairly targeted by security screenings.” (Catherine Donaldson Evans, “Terror Probe Changes Face of Racial Profiling Debate”, FoxNews.com, Oct. 1; Stuart Taylor Jr., “The Case for Using Racial Profiling at Airports”, National Journal/The Atlantic, Sept. 25). But of Arab Americans in metropolitan Detroit, “61 percent said such extra questioning or inspections are justified, according to a poll conducted last week by the Detroit Free Press and EPIC/MRA. Twenty-eight percent disagreed; 11 percent were undecided.” (Dennis Niemiec and Shawn Windsor, “Arab Americans expect scrutiny, feel sting of bias”, Detroit Free Press, Oct. 1). “Federal regulations give commercial captains the right to remove anyone from a flight without reason.” (Jonathan Osborne, “Passenger ejections seen as profiling”, Austin American-Statesman, Sept. 29).
In reaction to the horrors of World War II, the federal constitution of Germany curbs what might be termed religious profiling in law enforcement, and authorities in Hamburg, where preparations for last month’s attack were apparently made, acknowledge that their monitoring of extremist Islamic activity has been sharply limited as a result: “police are severely restricted in probing groups defined by faith”. (Carol J. Williams, “German Hunt for Terrorists Haunted by Past”, Los Angeles Times, Oct. 1). Detailed passenger profiling is essential to the much-admired security record of the Israeli airline El Al (Vivienne Walt, “Unfriendly skies are no match for El Al”, USA Today, Oct. 2). Updates: see Nov. 2-4, Nov. 9-11.
October 3-4 — “Follow the money … but don’t hold your breath”. Shutting down sham ‘charities’ and terrorist-owned businesses can’t hurt the war effort,” and it’s also worth investigating the possibility that persons with foreknowledge of the attack might have engaged in options speculation before and since Sept. 11, which would leave a relatively robust paper trail. Don’t expect much, however, from more generalized efforts to prevent terrorist supporters from moving less-than-enormous sums around the globe; there are too many ways around such rules, which are also highly onerous to the non-terrorist economy (James Higgins, Weekly Standard, Oct. 8; Michael Lynch, “Following the Money”, Reason.com, Oct. 4).
October 3-4 — Fear of losing welfare benefits deemed coercive. “A Nova Scotia woman who confessed to cheating the welfare system out of more than $70,000, can’t have her admission used against her in court because she gave it only out of fear that her benefits would be cut off.” Judge Peter Ross of Nova Scotia Provincial Court conceded that Brenda Young’s case was a “particularly glaring instance of welfare fraud”, but “said her fear of impoverishment meant her confession was effectively coerced by the state, an action which violated her constitutional right not to incriminate herself.” Young is no longer on the welfare rolls, however. (Richard Foot, “Judge: confession by welfare cheat cannot be used”, National Post, Sept. 29).
October 3-4 — Victory (again) in Connecticut. “A unanimous state Supreme Court Monday threw out Bridgeport’s lawsuit against dozens of gun manufacturers and retailers, saying the city’s claims of injury to its citizenry, budget and reputation are too specious and indirect to litigate.” (Lynne Tuohy, “Court Disarms Gun Lawsuit, Hartford Courant, Oct. 2) (see Dec. 11-12, 1999)
October 3-4 — “Proposed Law Would Consider Alcohol As Date-Rape Drug”. Liquor may be something that prospective sexual assault victims consume voluntarily and knowingly, while substances such as Rohypnol get sprung on them unawares; but backers of the bill introduced into the Wisconsin legislature by Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison) say that shouldn’t make a difference in regarding both substances alike as date-rape drugs. (WISC-TV/Channel 3000/Yahoo, Sept. 27).
October 1-2 — “Litigation threatens to snarl recovery”. “[S]ome lawyers are already gearing up for what could be the most complicated web of litigation in American history. Lawyers across the country are looking for ways around the victims’ fund established as part of a $15 billion government bailout of the airline industry in the wake of the attacks.” During the (still-continuing) litigation over the previous bombing of the World Trade Center in 1993, plaintiff’s lawyers suing the Port Authority insisted that it turn over as part of “discovery” its internal reports on terrorist threats and security, even though “Port Authority lawyers at the time argued that providing the reports would leave security information open to terrorists for another attack.” (Kate Shatzkin, Baltimore Sun, Sept. 30).
MORE: Signe Wilkinson cartoon, “Unleashing Our Most Feared Weapon Against Afghanistan” (guess who), Philadelphia Daily News/Slate (“Get Image” for Sept. 27); Alan Fisk, “Calculation of Losses, Liability to Be Major Insurance Issues in Wake of Terrorism”, National Law Journal, Sept. 28; Michael Freedman and Robert Lenzner, “Lawyers Won’t Sue, But For How Long?” Forbes.com, Sept. 19.
October 1-2 — Ralph Nader is heard from. Addressing students at the University of Minnesota, the prominent litigation advocate — always willing to impute the most evil of motives to his adversaries at home — “asked audience members to consider why U.S. foreign policy is creating enemies. ‘We have to begin putting ourselves in the shoes of the innocent, brutalized people in the Third World and ask ourselves, why do they dislike our foreign policy?'” Maybe if we referred to the Trade Center murderers as “Terrorism Inc.” he’d mistake them for a legitimate business and start turning up the rhetorical heat (Jessica Thompson, “Nader calls for ‘permanent patriotism’ in Northrop speech”, Minnesota Daily, Sept. 26). (DURABLE LINK)
October 1-2 — Chemical-plant vulnerabilities: read all about them. A “provision of the 1990 amendments to the Clean Air Act requir[ed] that thousands of industrial facilities develop risk management plans (RMPs) and submit them to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).” One part of the required analysis “documents the potential impacts of a catastrophic accidental chemical release assuming the ‘worst case scenario.” The [analysis] includes the number of potential fatalities that an accidental release could cause to the surrounding community. The law then demands that EPA make this information available to the public.” When an initial plan was floated to publish such reports on the Internet, “security experts — the FBI, CIA, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and various other groups — raised alarm.” The plan was soon shelved, but “public interest groups” vowed to make the information broadly anyway in defiance of the warnings, and a current public availability scheme involving drop-in “reading rooms” appears highly vulnerable to exploitation by advance scouts for terrorist operations, who need only present an identification card, something the Sept. 11 terrorists had little trouble obtaining (Angela Logomasini, “Innocent no more”, Competitive Enterprise Institute/Washington Times, Sept. 27). (DURABLE LINK)
October 1-2 — “Polls say blacks tend to favor checks”. “African-Americans, whose treatment by the criminal justice system gave rise to the phrase ‘racial profiling,’ are more likely than other racial groups to favor profiling and stringent airport security checks for Arabs and Arab-Americans in the wake of this month’s terrorist attacks, two separate polls indicate.
“The findings by the Gallup Organization and Zogby International were met with varying degrees of disappointment and disbelief by black activists and intellectuals, who struggled with explanations.” (Ann Scales, Boston Globe, Sept. 30) (see Sept. 19-20).
October 1-2 — Propulsid verdict: “Robbery on Highway 61”. A jury in Claiborne County, Mississippi deliberated just over two hours before voting $100 million in compensatory damages to 10 plaintiffs in the first suit to reach trial against a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary over alleged side effects of the anti-heartburn medication Propulsid. “Defense attorney Robert Johnson III of Natchez said in closing arguments Friday that no evidence was presented in the four-week trial that showed Propulsid caused any of the plaintiffs’ health problems. He said the plaintiffs’ own doctors said there was no evidence the drug was to blame. … Stop Lawsuit Abuse in Mississippi executive director Chip Reno called the decision ‘unbelievable.’ ‘This was highway robbery on Highway 61,” Reno said. ‘Our system is broke.'” (Jimmie E. Gates, “$100M verdict: Propulsid at fault”, Jackson Clarion-Ledger, Sept. 29). Judge Lamar Pickard later ruled out punitive damages. (Deborah Bulkeley, “Judge Bars Drug Trial Punitive Damages”, AP/Yahoo, Sept. 29). Update May 15, 2004: Miss. Supreme Court vacates verdict and orders individual trials, after earlier reduction of award by trial judge.
October 19-21 — Lawyer-vetted war? According to Sy Hersh, American gunners had Taliban chief Mullah Omar in their sights, but declined to finish him off per the advice of an army lawyer that there was too much risk of collateral damage to civilians: “‘My JAG’ — Judge Advocate General, a legal officer –‘doesn’t like this, so we’re not going to fire,'” said the commandant. Defense Secretary Rumsfeld is said to have been “kicking a lot of glass and breaking doors” in fury over the decision, and the editorialists at the New York Post aren’t happy about it either (Seymour Hersh, The New Yorker, Oct. 22; “Lawyers for Bin Laden” (editorial), New York Post, Oct. 17). But Inigo Thomas of Slate thinks the system of civilian control of the military probably worked as intended: “Spinning Seymour Hersh”, Oct. 17; also see Clarence Page, “The U.S. frowns on assassinations, except …”, Chicago Tribune, Oct. 17. [See letter to the editor, Oct. 22]
October 19-21 — U.K. may ban anti-religious speech. A bill proposed by the Home Secretary would outlaw “incitement to religious hatred”. Comedian Rowan Atkinson (Mr. Bean) warns that literary and satirical writing is likely to be chilled as a result — watch out, Monty Python’s Life of Brian, criticized as anti-Christian. Also in potential danger: a sketch on Not The Nine O’Clock News depicting Muslim worshippers simultaneously bowing to the ground with the voiceover: “And the search goes on for the Ayatollah Khomeini’s contact lens.” (The Times, Oct. 17) (& see Bjoern Staerk, Oct. 17). Update Dec. 21-23: provision dropped before passage of bill.
October 19-21 — It’s the clients’ money. A panel of the Fifth Circuit strikes down one of those schemes so popular among organized lawyerdom which grabs the interest earned on clients’ trust accounts to subsidize poverty law. (Janet Elliott, “Panel strikes down legal services fund “, Houston Chronicle, Oct. 17; “U.S. Court Voids Texas Approach to Legal Aid”, AP/New York Times, Oct. 18 (reg)).
October 19-21 — Our own terrorist-funding problem. P.J. O’Rourke, in an interview with Clive James excerpted in the Daily Telegraph:
“There is a person in America who is known as a three-drink Republican — I don’t mean my Republican party: the Irish Republican Army — and the Noraid can comes along and in goes a fiver and ‘that’s for the boys back in wherever’. Yes, America has a lot to answer for.
“We turned a blind eye to the funding coming out of the USA. We did it because the Boston Catholics were a very important part of the Democratic coalition and they were also a very important part of the Reagan Republicans and neither wished to offend them. They had a lot of clout in Congress and we let them go and it was shameful, absolutely shameful.” (“‘I believe the terrorists wanted a nuclear attack on Baghdad'”, Oct. 7).
MORE: Jonathan Duffy, “Rich friends in New York”, BBC, Sept. 26; “America pressed over UK terrorism”, BBC, Oct. 10; “‘Sinn Fein support wanes in US'”, BBC, Aug. 17; “How the Real IRA was born”, Guardian, March 5; “Omagh relatives consider picket”, BBC, Aug. 8, 2000; “‘Split’ on thwarting Real IRA”, BBC, Oct. 20, 2000 (Americans helped fund 1998 Omagh bombing which killed 29); Sean Boyne, “The Real IRA: after Omagh, what now?”, Jane’s, Aug. 24, 1998).
October 17-18 — NYC trial lawyers’ post-9/11 complaints. It seems Gotham’s personal injury practitioners have all sorts of gripes concerning their conditions of practice these days. To begin with, juries don’t sympathize as much with their clients’ woes with the image of much vaster hardships still fresh in their minds. Courts are handing out lots of delays and adjournments to defendants, especially to those whose legal offices were destroyed (like the Port Authority’s) or evacuated (like the city’s). Some weaker insurance companies may be going broke. “Another plaintiffs’ lawyer suggested that given the current ‘high public esteem’ for police officers and firefighters, ‘cases against them are going to be particularly difficult.” Attorney Martin Edelman of Edelman & Edelman exhorts his colleagues, however, to “be brave”. (Daniel Wise and Tom Perrotta, “Plaintiffs’ Lawyers Feel Post-Attack Pinch”, New York Law Journal, Oct. 16).
Edelman is especially dismissive of opponents’ excuses for delay: “Defense lawyers are milking this to a fare-thee-well — one attorney said that his staff could not work because the air smells bad.” As it happens, this week’s New York Observer quotes well-known downtown plaintiff’s attorney Harvey Weitz as describing conditions in his Woolworth Building office as “intolerable”, explaining that the place “just plain stinks”, even with the windows closed. (Petra Bartosiewicz and James Verini, with Blair Golson, “Reeling and Dealing”, New York Observer, Oct. 15). The New York Law Journal authors, who quote Weitz on a different point, perhaps should introduce him to Edelman so they can compare notes on whether the acrid smells that waft from the attack site do or do not render nearby offices intolerable. (DURABLE LINK)
MORE: Also quoted in the NYLJ piece is extremely successful NYC plaintiff’s lawyer Robert Conason of Gair, Gair, Conason, Steigman & Mackauf. Could anyone clear up for us once and for all whether he’s related to left-wing columnist Joe Conason?
October 17-18 — “Hate speech” law invoked against anti-American diatribe. Hey, it wasn’t supposed to work this way! Section 319(1) of Canada’s Criminal Code makes it unlawful to incite public hatred of an “identifiable group”, such as a nationality, in a way that “is likely to lead to a breach of the peace.” Now University of British Columbia prof Sunera Thobani is facing possible investigation under the law over a vicious tirade she delivered against the United States at a conference which (ironically or not) was subsidized by the Canadian government and presided over by Hedy Fry, a well-known Ottawa official. Columnist Wendy McElroy of FoxNews.com sorts it all out (“Free Speech Protects All Speech”, Oct. 16).
October 17-18 — Court’s chutzpah-award nominee. Not only did San Francisco attorney Sherman Kassof not succeed in defending the $215,000 in fees he thought he had coming from the settlement of a class action against Wells Fargo, but a California appeals court, in a 32-page opinion, said his fee request might deserve a “chutzpah award.” “‘To award an attorney a premium for duplicative work that was neither difficult nor particularly productive, involved little or no risk, may well have delayed settlement, and seems to have been primarily designed to line counsel’s pockets would reward behavior which it is in the public interest (and as well the special interest of the legal profession) to strongly discourage,’ Presiding Justice J. Anthony Kline wrote.” (Mike McKee, “Fee Appeal Backfires on Class Lawyer”, The Recorder, Oct. 5).
October 16 — Counterterrorism bill footnote. During consideration of the bill, reports Declan McCullagh at Wired News, civil libertarians raised concerns about possible leeway for forum selection by prosecutors seeking wiretap orders. “Since the Patriot Act gives courts the power to order wiretapping anywhere in the U.S., Rep. Maxine Waters (D-California) said she was worried that ‘it would encourage the government to engage in forum searching. If the court that issues the warrant is far from the defendant, it becomes difficult for the person to contest it.'” Plausible enough, right? And by the same logic, civil defendants deserve protection against the filing of, say, class actions in forums selected by lawyers for their inconvenience to the defense — right again? That thud you hear is Rep. Waters keeling over rather than admit any such thing. Just as Trix are for kids, everyone knows due process protections are for criminal, not civil defendants (“Patriot Bill Moves Along”, Oct. 4).
October 16 — Status of judicial nominations. The Office of Legal Policy of the U.S. Department of Justice has put up an informative page on the status of judicial nominations. As Glenn Reynolds points out at his fledgling but already indispensable InstaPundit weblog, “The ready availability of this information on the Web represents a net loss of power for the Senate.”
October 16 — Latest lose-on-substance, win-on-retaliation case. A federal court in San Antonio threw out Raymond Morantes’s original claim of discrimination against his employer, the Federal Aviation Administration, but a jury decided that agency managers had wrongly passed over Morantes for promotion because they were annoyed at his having sued them, so he’s getting half a mil. (“Man Gets $500,000 for Retaliation by FAA”, AP/FoxNews.com, Oct. 6).
October 15 — “Company Tried to Capitalize on Sept. 11”. A Cincinnati company named Providence Inc. has been sending out portfolios to Sept. 11 victim families with “$50 to $200 in cash, prepaid calling cards and the names of four law firms with ‘extensive experience in major airline and other similar mass disasters.'” The company advances money to plaintiffs in anticipation of lawsuit settlements; because it employs no lawyers, it can skirt a 1996 federal law “that forbids lawyers from approaching the families of air crash victims for 45 days after an accident.” The outfit, which routinely drops mail to victims after other disasters as well, “says none of the law firms named on its list knew that their names were being distributed … three law firms threatened to sue to block Providence from using their names”. (Jonathan D. Glater and Diana B. Henriques, New York Times, Oct. 13 (reg)). And despite the go-slow approach to litigation proposed by the leadership of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, some plaintiff’s lawyers are raring to go with Sept. 11 suits, among them New York City’s Aaron Broder, who has bought the fine-print ad space at the bottom of the New York Times‘s front page to solicit clients. “‘They’re all going to be socked real hard,'” [Broder] said yesterday of the airlines and other American businesses and government agencies, adding that he disapproved of other lawyers discouraging suits. ‘Right now, everybody’s so patriotic they’ve forgotten about the fact that there are defendants and wrongdoers here,'” he said.” None of that excessive patriotism for him! (William Glaberson, “Legal Community Is Divided by the Prospect of Lawsuits for Attack Victims”, New York Times, Oct. 10 (reg)).
October 15 — “Mother of all copyright battles”. Now they’re really in trouble: Osama bin Laden’s Mideast followers have gotten American intellectual property lawyers steamed at them following their unwitting use of an image of “Bert” from PBS’s Sesame Street: “you don’t get much more ‘interconnected’ with Western culture than getting your a– sued off.” (Mark Steyn, “Culture Shock”, Daily Telegraph, Oct. 13; Don Kaplan, “Osama’s ‘Muppet’ State”, New York Post, Oct. 11). On the other hand, maybe Binny could beat a criminal rap before a court here given the sort of American legal talent his ample fortune could buy (James S. Robbins, “Bring on the Dream Team!”, National Review Online, Oct. 9).
October 15 — Disclaimer rage? “Lawyers are destroying the usability of American products. … Work comes to a standstill while we look for the button to vanish the tiny box with the even tinier type.” It was bad enough in PC software, but now automotive and aeronautic GPS (global positioning satellite) map programs require operators of moving vehicles to click past screens of fine print before they can read maps, adding crucial seconds of distraction: “in their fanatic pursuit of zero liability, they’ve set up the ideal conditions to actually kill people.” However, not all disclaimers have to be a drag, as one maker of household products has shown: “The Good Grips people obviously put a lot of work, not only into constructing a fun-to-read page, but in talking conservative corporate attorneys into allowing such a page.” (Nielsen Norman Group, “Good Lawyers, Bad Products”, Asktog, August).
October 12-14 — “Suits Still Pending from 1993 Trade Center Blast”. So sad: eight years after the incident, “[t]he legal fallout from the 1993 truck bomb that rocked the World Trade Center hasn’t even gone to trial. Plaintiffs’ lawyers claim that the Port Authority knew the towers were an attractive terrorist target and that a truck bomb was the most likely weapon.” Included in the claims against the Port Authority: a business-interruption claim from Cantor Fitzgerald over having to shut down its WTC offices back then. (Bob Van Voris, National Law Journal, Oct. 3).
October 12-14 — “Philadelphia judicial elections still linked to cash”. “Despite a scathing state grand jury report this spring on Philadelphia’s system of electing judges, little has changed, a review of campaign reports for the 2001 primary suggests.
“Candidates for the legal system’s most sensitive offices still shelled out millions of dollars in ‘street money’ to ward leaders, consultants, and freelance vote-producers for primary-day help in hopes of landing a seat on the bench.
“About $500,000 was spent in ways that required no accounting to the public.” (Clea Benson, Philadelphia Inquirer, Oct. 7).
October 31 — Quote of the day. Or maybe the year: “If we sue each other, the terrorists win. We need to be united.” — Personal injury and class action lawyer Elizabeth Cabraser, regarding potential Sept. 11 lawsuits. (Quoted in Gail Diane Cox, “Voir Dire”, National Law Journal, Oct. 8, not online)
October 31 — The deportation sieve. “For starters, there is the case of Gazi Ibrahim Abu Mezer and Lafi Khalil, the two Palestinians who were arrested in July 1997 in a Brooklyn, N.Y., apartment right before they planned to blow up a subway station. Because both men were in this country illegally, the inspector general at the Justice Department issued a report relating solely to their immigration status. I won’t bore you with the whole thing, but it contains such sentences as: ‘After Mezer’s third detention in January 1997, the INS had begun formal deportation proceedings against him, but Mezer had been freed on bond, while the deportation proceedings were pending…’ Yes, ladies and gentlemen, that is how deportation works: If you are due for a hearing that may kick you out of this country, you very often are on your honor to show up for the hearing that makes it official. Shockingly, many do not. (And they sometimes just out and out lie: Mezer got out of his hearing by phoning his attorney and telling her that he was in Canada.” (Tish Durkin, “Let’s Not Bypass the Obvious in Our Quest for the Profound”, National Journal, Sept. 29). The magazine National Journal, a treasure trove of policy journalism and the home base of such columnists as Stuart Taylor, Jr. and Jonathan Rauch, is normally available to online subscribers only, but has temporarily lifted password procedures during the partial Capitol Hill shutdown to offer full web access to the public.
October 31 — Santa Claus sexist? “Shops are stocking ‘Mother Christmas’ outfits to avoid being taken to court over sex discrimination. Woolworths says it’s stocking the outfits in 800 stores to avoid problems with European gender legislation.” A spokeswoman for the European Union, however, describes as “total bunkum” the idea that selling “Father Christmas” (St. Nicholas) costumes alone might subject retailers to complaint under regulations against products reinforcing gender stereotypes. (“Shops stock Mother Christmas outfits to avoid accusations of sexism”, Ananova, Oct. 26).
October 30 — Bioterrorism preparedness. A bioterrorist incident could flood hospitals in one locality with thousands of persons in need of medical care, but an official with the American Hospital Association says that the group’s member hospitals “could be hindered in their response by federal laws, says Tom Nickels, the association’s senior vice president for federal relations. Antidumping statutes, which prohibit hospitals from transferring patients to other facilities unless the patients have been evaluated and stabilized, could undermine plans to direct patients with specific exposures to specified treatment centers. Patient-privacy regulations that will go into effect soon could complicate surveillance programs to detect an outbreak early and to notify relatives of the status of victims of an attack, he says.” (Ron Winslow, “U.S. Hospitals May Need $10 Billion to Be Prepared for Bioterror Attack,” Wall Street Journal, Oct. 29) (online subscribers only) (via NCPA Policy Digest).
October 30 — University official vs. web anonymity. “A lawyer for the authors of an anonymous Web site criticizing the University of Louisiana-Monroe is seeking to block a federal magistrate’s order to reveal his clients’ identities. … Richard Baxter, the university’s vice president for external affairs, wants the names of those behind the site Truth at ULM so he can file a defamation lawsuit. U.S. Magistrate James Kirk also ordered Homestead Technologies Inc. to provide computer logs of all people who have posted, published or provided any content to the site. The Internet site has called the university administration incompetent and accused top officials of lying.” (“Lawyer fights order to reveal identities of university critics”, AP/Freedom Forum, Oct. 24).
October 30 — “Crying wolf”. “In the approximately four and a half years since [Ontario] made record-keeping of violent crime mandatory,” writes the National Post‘s Christie Blatchford, 2,233 of 39,223 complaints of sexual assault have been shown to have been knowingly false. That amounts to more than one false accusation per day in Canada’s largest province; British Columbia reports similar rates as a share of population. The number is a “bare minimum”, since authorities have “adopted strict definitions of what comprises a false allegation.” “Unfounded complaints, where police determine there was no crime but also that the victim did not intend to mislead investigators, are not tracked at all.”
Why would someone lodge a false allegation? Reasons vary from the wish to avoid admitting to consensual sex to a craving for attention to post-breakup revenge to mental illness. Some charges begin on impulse, then spiral out of control since authorities are obliged to set an investigative process in motion. One serial “allegator” filed charges against numerous men, including a dark-skinned stranger who luckily was able to prove he was out of the country at the time; another of her targets, a veteran Ontario police officer, though eventually winning vindication, “was left in ruins, with legal bills, his long and respected career in tatters, and deserted by even life-long colleagues. … ‘There are two principles at work in the system right now,’ [his lawyer, Bill] Bain told the Post. ‘That children don’t lie, and that women are victims.'” Following pressure on the legal system by feminist and rape-crisis activists, Bain says, “police became afraid of not laying charges even in dubious cases, demurring that ‘the courts will decide,’ while Crown attorneys [prosecutors] grew ‘loathe to exercise their discretion and to live in fear of screwing up a sexual assault trial.'” And, importantly, complainants seldom face criminal penalties themselves even for knowingly filing false charges. (Christie Blatchford, “Crying wolf”, National Post, Sept. 8).
October 29 — U.S. Muslims told: don’t talk to law enforcement. Three of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Nawaf Alhazmi, Khalid Al-Midhar and Hani Hanjoor, lived in San Diego and had many contacts among persons active in a mosque in suburban La Mesa; others mingled with Muslim communities in Arizona and elsewhere in the U.S. However, if one American attorney has his way, law enforcement may not get the kind of free and spontaneous cooperation they might like from U.S. Muslims who may have information relating to the three’s activities in this country. Attorney Randall Hamud has left slips of paper for La Mesa mosque-goers which “instruct the reader, in both English and Arabic, that ‘in case of law enforcement questioning you,’ respond as follows: ‘I exercise my right to remain silent according to the 5th Amendment. I exercise my right to have my attorney, Randy Hamud, present.” (Maureen Tkacik and Rick Wartzman, “Muslim Lawyer Terms FBI Probe Discriminatory”, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15 (online subscribers only); Ben Fox, “Three held in California as material witnesses to terror attack”, AP/Nando, Sept. 25; Kelly Thornton, “3 local men to be kept in jail indefinitely”, San Diego Union-Tribune, Sept. 26). Press coverage has depicted some other Muslim activists as discouraging their co-believers from cooperating with inquiries from the FBI and other agencies.
Persons charged with crimes in this country, of course, are entitled to have a lawyer and to not be convicted on the basis of self-incrimination, but it is a rather big jump from there to the premise that free and spontaneous cooperation by the residents of this country with police inquiries is in itself something to be discouraged. And it would seem odd to tell innocent people to invoke the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, since they wouldn’t seem to come under that privilege — or are we missing something?
MORE: Four terror suspects apprehended under highly suspicious circumstances after the attacks have stonewalled police inquiries since then, to the deep frustration of investigators (Walter Pincus, “Silence of 4 Terror Probe Suspects Poses Dilemma”, Washington Post, Oct. 21; John Leo, “Muslims must shoulder responsibilities as citizens”, TownHall/syndicated, Sept. 25). (DURABLE LINK)
October 29 — A belt too far. The survivors of Lori Mason-Larez, who plunged more than 100 feet to her death from a ride at Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County, Calif., are suing the amusement park and the ride’s manufacturer, Intamin Ltd., but Sandor Kernacs, president of Intamin, said the 292-pound woman was “too large to be belted in properly around her waist”. “If the company did try to limit riders according to weight or waist size, Kernacs said, advocates for the obese would be quick to challenge the restrictions. ‘Basically we cannot discriminate against anybody,’ he said.” (Michelle Dearmond, “Manufacturer says woman was too big for Knott’s ride safety restraint”, San Diego Union-Tribune, Oct. 23) (see also Aug. 31, 1999). (DURABLE LINK)
October 29 — Australian roundup. On Australian TV this summer, viewers heard about the “dentist and bartender” theories of how lawyers behave, which will be familiar to longtime followers of this site (“Law Matters with Susanna Lobez”, ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)-TV, July 30; Walter Olson, “Lawyers, Gums, and Rummies”, Reason, July 1999). And we never got around to thanking Richard Ackland of the Sydney Morning Herald for this very kind reference a while back: “You only have to read of developments abroad in this area, which are religiously tracked by the marvellous online journal overlawyered.com, to see all the interesting new twists and plays that are possible in a properly evolved legal system.” (“Lawyers now free to sue the pants off everyone”, Feb. 16).
MORE: Justice Thomas of the high court of Queensland recently wrote: “The generous application of [negligence] rules is producing a litigious society and has already spawned an aggressive legal industry. I am concerned that the common law is being developed to a stage that already inflicts too great a cost upon the community both economic and social. In a compensation-conscious community citizens look for others to blame. The incentive to recover from injury is reduced. Self-reliance becomes a scarce commodity. These are destructive social forces. Also much community energy is wasted in divisive and non-productive work. A further consequence is the raising of costs of compulsory third party, employer’s liability, public risk and professional indemnity insurance premiums. These costs are foisted upon sectors of the public and in the end upon the public at large. I would prefer that these problems be rectified by the development of a more affordable common law system, but in recent times its development has been all in one direction - more liability and more damages.” (Thomas, J., in Lisle v Brice & Anor, QCA 271 Queensland Court of Appeal, July 20 — opinion in PDF format). (DURABLE LINK)
October 26-28 — “Lawyers see trouble over victims’ fund”. After last month’s attacks, Congress rushed to enact the Victim Compensation Fund. But many trial lawyers are now advising victim families to avoid the fund and prepare for all-out litigation of the sort the legislation was supposed to forestall. Meanwhile, some expect claims to roll in from such potentially large and open-ended categories of victim as “people who say they suffered respiratory distress from the dust cloud kicked up by the collapse of the World Trade Center” and “workers in nearby buildings so emotionally debilitated that they can no longer work in a high-rise”. The Association of Trial Lawyers of America “helped shape the law” and its president Leo Boyle now says that aggregate cost to the taxpayers is not a legitimate factor to take into account in deciding how much the fund should pay claimants (”That is not a relevant consideration”); individual families may ask for tens of millions because they lost high-earning executives. (Ralph Ranalli, Boston Globe, Oct. 22). If cases proceed to litigation, many lawyers concede that it will be difficult to prove the “foreseeability” of the outrages, as needed to prove negligence (Tom McGhee, “Lawyers: Federal plan may not stem WTC suits”, Denver Post, Oct. 16). Some observers also believe it will be difficult to prove that it was negligent not to order the immediate evacuation of the second tower after the first was attacked, not only because of a lack of foreseeability of the second attack, but because authorities could reasonably believe that a mass exodus from building two would interfere with the obviously critical evacuation of building one and expose evacuees to danger from falling debris if they emerged on the street. (Phil Hirschkorn, “Lawsuits likely after WTC attacks”, CNN, Oct. 10).
October 26-28 — Abusive workplace language: banned, or federally protected? A question we’ve raised before: why is it that the National Labor Relations Board extends the formal protection of federal law to “abusive language, vulgar expletives, and racial epithets”, requiring employers to refrain from treating them as grounds for discipline, on the claim that they are “part and parcel of the vigorous exchange that often accompanies labor relations'”, while at the same time federal harassment law exposes employers to stiff financial penalties for allowing those same things? An NLRB decision last year in a case called Adtranz raises the question anew. Writing for a federal appeals court, Judge David Sentelle called the discrepancy “preposterous”. (Michael Barone, “The Evolution of Labor Law”, Oct. 11).
October 26-28 — Cartoonist’s suit over practical joke. We have never derived much pleasure or instruction from the work of the cartoonist Ted Rall, and now we also know that we never, ever, want to play a stupid practical joke on him like the one that has enmeshed a man named Danny Hellman in a long-running suit at his hands. “I don’t know if any of you have ever been on the receiving end of a lawsuit; those of you who have understand what an emotionally devastating situation it is,” writes Mr. Hellman. “We have gone through months of anxiety riding this out-of-control roller coaster; only the vengeful individual at the controls knows when it will end.” DannyHellman.com (via InstaPundit: Oct. 21, Oct. 20, Oct. 15) (see letter to the editor, Nov. 29).
October 24-25 — Suit blames drugmaker for Columbine. “Families of five Columbine High School shooting victims are suing the maker of an anti-depressant that one of the student gunmen was taking when he opened fire. A therapeutic amount of the drug Luvox was found in Eric Harris’ system after he died, the Jefferson County coroner’s office has said. Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc. makes the drug to treat obsessive-compulsive disorder and depression.” (“Columbine victims’ families sue maker of anti-depressant”, AP/CNN, Oct. 21; Allison Sherry, “Drug firm sued over Columbine”, Denver Post, Oct. 21).
October 24-25 — Don’t try rating our judges, or else. Even by Philadelphia standards, it’s an unusually bare-knuckled tactic: three Democratic politicos, U.S. Reps. Robert Brady and Chaka Fattah and Pennsylvania State Sen. Christine Tartaglione, have sued a business-oriented advocacy group named Pennsylvania Law Watch, whom the plaintiffs claim are unlawfully trying to influence next month’s statewide judicial elections by distributing ratings of judges as pro- or anti-business. “Imagine,” writes one of our readers. “Someone other than lawyers rating judges. This must be stopped immediately!” Brady et al want a freeze on Law Watch’s assets, the right to go through its books, an injunction against its activities, and more. (Jeff Blumenthal, “Philly Politicians File Suit to Stop Pa. Law Watch From ‘Influencing Election'”, Legal Intelligencer, Oct. 22).
According to the Philadelphia Daily News, “State Sen. Vincent Fumo prompted some controversy last month when he told the Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce that anyone who helped [Republican judge/candidate Michael] Eakin by donating to Pennsylvania Law Watch ‘should expect to be arrested,’ according to a witness at the chamber meeting, who also said Fumo mentioned Richard Sprague as a member of a team of attorneys ready for action.” (Chris Brennan, “Dems sue non-profit group, calling it a PAC”, Philadelphia Daily News, Oct. 23). For more on what is considered perfectly acceptable campaigning when done on behalf of the city’s Democratic machine, see our Oct. 12 entry (millions of dollars in “street money” handed out to elect judges, including at least $500,000 not subject to any public accounting). Update: case already settled, with Law Watch agreeing with Pennsylvania Democrats that it would not “it would not attempt to influence the statewide judicial elections through advertising, ‘push polling’ or any other kind of communication with the public” (Jeff Blumenthal, “TV Ads Against Ford Elliott Barred”, Legal Intelligencer, Oct. 23 — with discussion of related case against a second group).
October 24-25 — Guarding the spires. “I feel that if a war came to threaten this, I would like to throw myself into space, over the city, and protect these buildings with my body.” — said of the Manhattan skyline by a character in Ayn Rand’s novel of New York architecture, The Fountainhead, 1943 (via David Kelley, “The Assault on Civilization”, Objectivist Center, Sept. 13).
October 23 — Guest commentary #1. Jay Nordlinger, National Review Online, on the idea of “trying” Al Qaeda: “The American love of the courts — bordering on religious worship — is pretty much comical in this instance, which is an instance of obvious and necessary war. Clarence Darrow, Atticus Finch, and Perry Mason simply have nothing to do with it, fellas. The attacks on our embassies, the attacks on the U.S.S. Cole, the attacks of 9/11? War, war, war, and to be treated as such, properly. That’s why the phrase ‘bring them to justice’ is an alarming one. No, bring them to defeat.” (“Impromptus”, Oct. 19). A contrary view: Molly Ivins, “There has to be a better way”, syndicated/Sacramento Bee, Oct. 11 (bring World Court case against bin Laden).
October 23 — Guest commentary #2. Andrew Sullivan, Sunday Times (London): “So far, this hasn’t happened in America. But the country is on a knife-edge. Americans aren’t like Brits. They have a long history of requiring almost risk-free living, which is why this is the land of the trial lawyer and the damages suit. A country that came up with a tort for the accidental spilling of hot coffee will no doubt have some difficulty acclimatizing to a world where the deliberate spilling of anthrax spores is a real and present danger.” (“Fear in the air as concern rises over biochemical attacks”, Oct. 14). Actually, we wouldn’t say it was “Americans” generally who demand that life be almost risk-free, so much as one sector of our opinion — but point taken.
October 23 — Hit after laying on RR tracks; sues railroad. “A homeless woman is suing Santa Fe Southern Railway over a 1998 accident in which a train in Santa Fe severed her feet as she was lying on the tracks at a crossing.” Dionne Fresch says the railway and its conductor and brakeman should have seen her and slowed or stopped in time; a police report found that the train was going at about 8 mph and that the engineer had honked before the crossing, as required. Railway general manager Bob Sarr called the lawsuit “disgusting” and said the “accident was not the railroad’s fault. He said Fresch was lying under a brown blanket and was indistinguishable from debris when the train hit her.” (“In brief: Woman sues over railroad accident”, Santa Fe New Mexican, Oct. 18) (& see Jun. 26-27, 2002). (DURABLE LINK)
October 22 — Lawsuit fears slow bioterror vaccines. “[T]he biotechnology industry plans to tell Congress that financial incentives and liability protection for companies would go a long way toward meeting increased demands for vaccines and medicines to treat bioterrorism agents” such as smallpox and anthrax. Many companies are eager to participate in emergency production plans, says Stephan Lawson of the Biotechnology Industry Organization, but are awaiting legislative assurances that it will not be self-defeating as a business decision to do so. “The issue of liability is particularly big since vaccine makers have a long history of being sued by patients.” (Marilyn Chase and Jill Carroll, “Trial Planned to Stretch Smallpox-Vaccine Supply”, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15 (online subscribers only); Julie Appleby, “U.S. requesting 300M smallpox vaccines”, USA Today, Oct. 18). See also Scott Gottlieb, “Ammo for the War on Germs”, WSJ/ OpinionJournal.com, Oct. 19 (FDA obstacles); Michelle Malkin, “Who hates the drug industry now?”, syndicated/Jewish World Review, Oct. 17).
October 22 — Channeling Chomsky. Ralph Nader, the world’s most prominent litigation advocate, has long kept many of his views about foreign policy under discreet wraps but now hops from campus to campus to denounce U.S. policy ascribing our current woes to our government’s not siding with the “workers and peasants” around the globe. Matt Welch, who puts out a fine “warblog” (recent coinage: war + weblog), covered Nader’s campaign and even voted for him for president but now writes of his disillusionment: “I have discovered, in reading way too much Noam Chomsky lately, that whole phrases of Nader’s admittedly limited foreign policy utterings on the stump were cut and pasted directly from Chomsky”. (MattWelch.com, Oct. 7; Oct. 11; Sept. 20). More: Ronald Radosh, “Nader and the New ‘Peace’ Movement”, FrontPage, Oct. 18.
October 22 — Batch of reader letters. Latest batch (we still haven’t fully caught up with our backlog) deals with how employers react to workers who jubilate at terrorist acts, legal vetting of anti-Taliban strikes, disabled rights and the bar exam, a proposal for a class action over law firms’ incremental billing, and whether doctors should avoid taking on attorneys as patients.