According to the U.S. Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine, the litigation lobby is quietly preparing to push through a $1.6 billion (with a “b”) tax break that would let contingent-fee lawyers deduct expenses as made, rather than in the year of settling a suit. American Association for Justice lobbyist Linda Lipsen says Sens. Harry Reid and Max Baucus and Reps. Nancy Pelosi and Charles Rangel are among those on board, as well as “some Republicans”, but “the problem is there is not a tax vehicle yet,” — “You cannot have a stand alone bill to help lawyers … so we have to tuck it into something.” [cross-posted, and slightly adapted, from Point of Law; updates and additional links there]
Robert Ambrogi at Legal Blog Watch criticizes the trial lawyers’ association for excluding the press from its annual convention, but the tactic seems to have worked pretty well in lowering the group’s lobbying profile and deflecting serious coverage of the parade of politicians, from Nancy Pelosi to Henry Waxman to DNC chair and Virginia governor Tim Kaine, who have made the pilgrimage as speakers to pay their respects. More: AAJ’s response.
She’ll be opening the AAJ annual convention tonight in San Francisco. Charles Krauthammer thinks the coziness between Big Law and certain parts of the political establishment may explain a lot about the faltering status of health care reform.
More: “Media Barred from Speaker Pelosi’s Speech to Trial Lawyers“. And John Steele Gordon at Commentary “Contentions” offers some ideas for health care reform that were probably not included in Pelosi’s speech.
You’d think if President Obama, the New York Times and the American Association of Justice were all circulating the same number yesterday, it would be more reliable.
- Historic preservation and habitat preservation laws can backfire in similar ways [Dubner, Freakonomics]
- Serious points about wacky warnings [Bob Dorigo Jones, Detroit News]
- Texas solons consider lengthening statute of limitations to save Yearning for Zion prosecutions [The Common Room]
- A call for law bloggers to unite against content-swiping site [Scott Greenfield]
- Drawbacks of CFC-free pulmonary inhalers leave asthma sufferers gasping [McArdle, Atlantic]
- Try, try again: yet another academic proposal for charging gunmakers with costs of crime [Eggen/Culhane, SSRN, via Robinette/TortsProf] More/correction: not a new paper, just new to SSRN; see comments.
- California businesses paid $17 million last year in bounty-hunting suits under Prop 65 [Cal Biz Lit]
- Trial lawyer lobby AAJ puts out all-points bulletin to members: send us your horror stories so we can parade ’em in the media! [ShopFloor]
The Montana governor now claims he was just making up all those stories about using underhanded tactics to make sure his candidate won the U.S. Senate race, but his audience at the trial lawyers’ convention seemed to lap it up at the time. (Kirk Johnson, “Montana Officials Chastise Governor Over Boasts in Speech to Lawyers’ Group”, New York Times, Sept. 12; Rusty Shackleford, MT Pundit, Sept. 8; Robert Struckman, “Gov. Schweitzer’s Tampering Comments Spark Controversy”, New West Network, Sept. 10; Charles S. Johnson, “Schweitzer catches heat over July speech”, Helena Independent Record, Sept. 11; Jennifer McKee, “Bit of truth found in Gov. Schweitzer’s joke”, Missoulian, Sept. 12; speech).
Aficionados of the John Edwards-Rielle Hunter scandal may have noticed a new attorney’s name cropping up in news reports: Lee Rohn of the U.S. Virgin Islands. From the New York Daily News:
One day before Edwards went public with the affair, Hunter and 6-month-old daughter Frances were flown to the Virgin Islands on a chartered jet, the Enquirer reported.
The $50,000 trip was paid for by friends of Edwards. The newspaper also said she stayed at the oceanfront home of another Edwards’ pal, lawyer Lee Rohn.
(Larry McShane, “John Edwards promised Rielle Hunter they’d be together – report”, Aug. 20)(via ABA Journal)(Update: Rohn vehemently denies the Enquirer story as false, saying she neither hosted Hunter nor is close to Edwards; see below). Readers may be wondering: is Rohn yet another attorney whose doings are going to make irresistible copy for a site like this, much as with Edwards chum/Democratic moneyman/perennial Overlawyered mentionee Fred Baron? To which the answer would appear to be, “you bet”:
St. Croix attorney Lee Rohn has stirred up a chorus of criticism and complaints about her professional practices both inside and outside the courtroom.
Her most vocal critics have been opposing parties or counsel in lawsuits she has filed. They have alleged a wide spectrum of professional conduct violations.
Among Rohn’s frequent targets is Innovative Communication Corp., which runs the Virgin Islands’ local telephone provider and the islands’ newspaper, and whose lawyers say they’ve lost count of how many times she’s sued them. The company’s chairman, Jeffrey Prosser, has called in vain for Rohn’s disbarment, complaining of “intolerable” and “abusive” instances of “ethical misconduct” as well as “vitriolic” public attacks: “In some cases with us, she coerced her clients to sign documents that were knowingly false [and] ignored judge’s orders on limits of discovery inquiry during depositions,” he wrote.
In 2002, Rohn publicly blasted one of the islands’ two federal district judges, Thomas Moore, accusing him of inappropriate behavior, and Moore recused himself from some of her cases citing the antipathy. Subsequently, after she moved to demand Moore’s recusal from yet another of her cases, he refused, stating in his written ruling, “I believe attorney Rohn’s personal attack on one of the two sitting judges in this jurisdiction was nothing more than a calculated litigation tactic that would be labeled ‘judge shopping’ in most places.” Moore, who has sanctioned Rohn for insulting and profane language toward witnesses and court personnel, wrote in another case, in which the Caribbean Geoffrey Fieger “sought to compel testimony from all the federal judges in the territory”:
“Nothing Lee Rohn does surprises me anymore, although subpoenaing all the federal judges in the jurisdiction is a high point of ingenuity and creativity in attempting to manipulate the system,” Moore wrote.
“I do not believe, however, that an attorney should be allowed to use her calculated personal attack on a sitting judge as a technique to prevent that judge from presiding over any of her cases, especially in a small district with only two judges.”
A few weeks ago, it may be recalled, we looked at the question of lawyers’ public denunciations of judges and whether they do or should result in recusal by those judges. (Jason Robbins and Lee Williams, “From judges to opponents, Rohn has no shortage of harsh critics”, Virgin Islands Daily News, Mar. 29, 2004 — the newspaper, it bears repeating, and its parent company have been frequent targets of Rohn’s litigation, as in this libel case arising from her airport pot bust). Death by a Thousand Paper Cuts has more, including a picture of the Rohn villa.
The National Enquirer, which keeps breaking new developments in the story, is now reporting that “a team of six more lawyers have been involved in the coverup”. They can’t all be as interesting as Baron and Rohn, can they?
Update Fri. 8:20 p.m.: the Daily News reports Rohn categorically denies the story’s truth:
The Enquirer quoted Virgin Island pol Anne Golden as saying Hunter stayed for 10 days in an oceanfront home owned by prominent St. Croix lawyer Lee Rohn.
Rohn hotly denied that to the Daily News and vowed to sue.
“It is absolutely false,” she told The News. “The Enquirer knows the story is not true as they sat on a hill above my house for a week with telephoto lenses and video cameras and had no sighting of her. The guest cottage she was supposedly staying in is under construction and has no floor.”
Rohn said that while she donated money to Edwards, she is not friends with him. Records show she gave $2,300 to Edwards a year ago and another $2,300 to Barack Obama early this year.
(Helen Kennedy, “John’s island girl Rielle fled to St. Croix on eve of cheating flap”, Aug. 21). And — hat tip to commenter Ken Floyd — the opinions of heated Rohn critic Jeffrey Prosser, the newspaper/telephone magnate, should be evaluated in the perspective of his own controversial and colorful business record, which recently culminated in high-profile bankruptcy proceedings involving his Innovative Communication empire. Some sources on that here, here, here, and here. For more background on the recusal disputes involving Rohn and Judge Thomas K. Moore, see this Moore opinion (U.S. v. Roebuck, PDF) and this Third Circuit opinion (Selkridge v. Mutual of Omaha, 360 F. 3d 155). DBKP wishes it had been a fly on the wall during an AAJ award ceremony honoring Rohn. And see commenter #7 below who seems to have been doing considerable digging.
- If you’re claiming benefits for “total and permanent” disability it’s probably best not to enter bodybuilding competitions [Boston Globe and more, firefighter Albert Arroyo] More: GruntDoc;
- From 1884 Montreal: actionable to snub a parishioner while taking collection in church? [Volokh]
- Follow the bouncing venue in lawsuits against Rick Frenkel and Cisco over Patent Troll Tracker blog [Texas Lawyer “Tex Parte” blog]
- Individual liberty was one reason Bill Gates was free to earn his billions, too bad he’s not doing more to advance it with his philanthropy [NYTimes, Bloomberg and “tobacco control”]
- Andrew Giuliani, son of the mayor, is suing Duke University for kicking him off its golf team [Newsday, Henican] More: complaint at Popehat;
- New at Point of Law: AAJ, formerly ATLA, has its convention in Philadelphia (more); bogeyman of supposedly ultraconservative Roberts Court; why must “trophy” federal courthouses have such soulless and uncomfortable design?; Congress gunning for arbitration; too bad NYT’s enthusiasm for transparent public contracting on corporate monitors doesn’t carry over to other lawyer-hiring; the Delaware advantage in court organization; as we keep asking, what happened to Ron Motley’s yacht? and much more;
- Dr. Anna Pou, New Orleans cancer surgeon whose prosecution after Katrina roused intense controversy, recounts her experience [AP via Folo]
- “Unreal world of greed”: California appeals court throws out $88 million fee-arbitration award to Milberg Weiss and other firms following challenge to “smog impact fees” [six years ago on Overlawyered]
- More on that New Mexico claim of “electro-sensitive” Wi-Fi allergy: quoted complainant is a longtime activist who’s written an anti-microwave book [VNUNet, USA Today “On Deadline” via ABA Journal]
- Your wisecracks belong to us: “Giant Wall of Legal Disclaimers” at Monsters Inc. Laugh Floor at Disneyland [Lileks; h/t Carter Wood]
- New at Point of Law: AAJ commissions a poll on arbitration and gets the results it wants; carbon nanotubes, tomorrow’s asbestos? California will require lawyers operating without professional liability insurance to inform clients of that fact (earlier here and here); and much more.
- Actuaries being sued for underestimating funding woes of public pension plans [NY Times via ABA Journal]
- City of Santa Monica and other defendants will pay $21 million to wrap up lawsuits from elderly driver’s 2003 rampage through downtown farmers’ market [L.A. Times; earlier]
- Sequel to Giants Stadium/Aramark dramshop case, which won a gigantic award later set aside, is fee claim by fired lawyer for plaintiff [NJLJ; Rosemarie Arnold site]
- Privacy law with an asterisk: federal law curbing access to drivers license databases has exemption that lets lawyers purchase personal data to help in litigation [Daily Business Review]
- Terror of FEMA: formaldehyde in Katrina trailers looks to emerge as mass toxic injury claim, and maybe we’ll find out fifteen years hence whether there was anything to it [AP/NOCB]
- Suit by “ABC” firm alleges that Yellow Book let other advertisers improperly sneak in with earlier alphabetical entries [Madison County Record]
- Gun law compliance, something for the little people? A tale from Chicago’s Board of Aldermen [Sun-Times, Ald. Richard Mell]
- Think twice about commissioning a mural for your building since federal law may restrain you from reclaiming the wall at a later date [four years ago on Overlawyered]