- Sorry, Denver cops, but you can’t keep a journalist from photographing an arrest on the street by telling her she’s violating the health-privacy law HIPAA [Alex Burness, Colorado Independent on handcuffing of editor Susan Greene]
- Conor Friedersdorf interviews Scott Greenfield, criminal defense blogger and longtime friend of this blog, at the Atlantic;
- Claim in new article: “extremely broad criminal statutes, no less than vague and ambiguous criminal statutes, are constitutionally problematic for depriving ordinary people of ‘fair notice’ about how the legal system actually works” [Kiel Brennan-Marquez guest series at Volokh Conspiracy: first, second, third]
- “We Cannot Avoid the Ugly Tradeoffs of Bail Reform” [Alex Tabarrok; Scott Greenfield] New York should learn from Maryland on risks of unintended consequences [New York Post, and thanks for mention] And a Cato Daily Podcast on bail reform with Daniel Dew of the Buckeye Institute and Caleb Brown;
- In Little Rock and elsewhere, police use of criminal informants creates disturbing incentives that can challenge both probity and accountability [Jonathan Blanks, Cato on Radley Balko account of Roderick Talley raid episode]
- Call to scrap juries in UK rape trials (because they acquit too often) is met with criticism [Matthew Scott, Spectator]
- “For instance, linalool, which is cited as a cockroach insecticide by the law firm, is found in plants like mints and scented herbs. While it’s also used in insecticides, it’s not poisonous for humans…” [Aimee Picchi, CBS News on suit claiming that LaCroix flavored water wrongly claims “all natural” status]
- “Appeals Court Strikes $8.7M in Legal Fees Based on Coupons in Class Action Settlement” [Ted Frank objection in ProFlowers and RedEnvelope class action; Amanda Bronstad, The Recorder] “Judge: Lawyers must justify fee requests for investor suits withdrawn vs Akorn over proxy disclosures” [Ted Frank objection in investor class action against Akorn Inc.; Jonathan Bilyk, Cook County Record]
- Study: class action lawsuits hit innovative companies the hardest [Alex Verkhivker, Chicago Booth on study by Elisabeth Kempf of Chicago Booth and Oliver Spalt of Tilburg University]
- “It’s Possible Woman Suing Over Sugar In ONE Protein Bars Never Actually Ate One” [Mary Ann Magnell, Legal NewsLine] And it is surprising how many reports continue to indulge the notion that typical consumer class actions spring from consumer grievance as opposed to lawyers’ entrepreneurial spotting of chances [ABA Journal on slack-fill suits]
- “DOJ Tells Court: Class Lawyers Already Got $60M in Fees. Now They Want More? [Marcia Coyle, National Law Journal on Native American farmer case] “noting that it was difficult for him to believe the few boilerplate documents entered into the record took hundreds of hours to create. ” [D.M. Herra, Cook County Record; Western Union text messages]
- “State Street settlement fiasco has Arkansas lawmakers questioning state’s role in class actions” [John O’Brien, Legal NewsLine, earlier here, etc.]
A “web of concealment and highly questionable ethical practices by experienced attorneys who should have known better”: a court has unsealed a scathing report on the conduct in the State Street case of a leading class action firm, Labaton Sucharow, and Garrett Bradley of the Thornton Law Firm in Boston. The court took particular notice of Labaton’s connections through a Houston middleman (to whom it had agreed to pay an undisclosed $4.1 million fee) to the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, which served as institutional plaintiff [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, Amanda Bronstad/NLJ] Earlier here and here.
- In Mississippi, a “mother has been forbidden from any contact with her newborn for 14 of the 18 months the child has been alive” because of unpaid misdemeanor fines [Radley Balko, WLBT/MSNewsNow; judge has now resigned, but similar practices reported to be common] Is Biloxi going to do better? [ABA Journal]
- “They … didn’t give it back”: outrageous tales of asset forfeiture from Alabama [Connor Sheets, AL.com]
- Efforts afoot in Lansing to write down nearly $595 million in unpaid Michigan drivers’ fees [Chad Livengood, Crain’s Detroit Business] Warren, Mich., residents invited to turn in neighbors on suspicion, win bounties from forfeiture funds [Scott Shackford]
- Ethical red flags: maker of heroin-cessation compound “marketing directly to drug court judges and other officials.” [Jake Harper, NPR]
- In Craighead County, Arkansas, private probation firms sue judges who cut them out of the process [Andrew Cohen, The Marshall Project]
- From Ohio “mayor’s courts” to asset forfeiture, prosecution for profit imperils due process [Jacob Sullum]
By agreeing to hear the case of Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission, the Supreme Court has set up a potentially major decision on “whether applying Colorado’s public accommodations law to compel the petitioner to create expression that violates his sincerely held religious beliefs about marriage violates the free speech or free exercise clauses of the First Amendment. My link-rich Cato post also goes on to discuss the sleeper case of Pavan v. Smith, which offers a glimpse of how a post-Scalia conservative wing may address issues following in the wake of Obergefell.
P.S. More from Erica Goldberg on the hubbub over Gorsuch’s dissent in Pavan.
- Jury tells Marriott to pay $55 million after stalker takes nude video of TV personality from adjoining hotel room [Business Insider]
- R.I.P. John Sullivan, long-time advocate for lawsuit reform in California [Sacramento Bee]
- Colleges, speed cameras, and surveillance on buses in my latest Maryland policy roundup; paid leave, publicly financed conference centers and criminalizing drinking hosts in the one before that;
- AAJ, the trial lawyers lobby, “panned companies’ method of fighting class actions as unfair after member accused it of using the same strategy” [John O’Brien, Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine]
- In the 1920s, battling chain stores was part of the mission of the Ku Klux Klan [Atlas Obscura]
- Class-action lawyer Goodson, “husband of Supreme Court justice, recommended 2 firms that got state auditor contract” [Arkansas Democrat-Gazette]
- “Indian court issues summons to Hindu monkey god Hanuman” Again? [Lowering the Bar]
- Justice Scalia’s death will make big difference in class action cases [Samantha Thompson, McGuireWoods via Andrew Trask]
- Manhattan Institute publishes new report in its Trial Lawyers, Inc. series, this one focusing on class actions and mass torts [James Copland and colleagues]
- Prof. Jason Johnston says House-passed class action reform would have modest effect [Chamber-backed Legal NewsLine] More on H.R. 1927, which also includes asbestos-litigation provisions and passed the House 211-188 with no Democratic votes [Mark Hofmann, Business Insurance; Republican Policy Committee]
- “The Supreme Court’s next big class action controversy: ascertainability” [Alison Frankel, Reuters on Tyson Foods v. Bouaphakeo]
- Texarkana forum-shopping: “Attorney files motion to dismiss class action settlement between USAA and Goodson law firm” [Benjamin Hardy, Arkansas Times, Adams v. USAA h/t Arkansas Business]
- TCPA, law that launched a thousand telemarketing class actions, might stand for “Total Cash for Plaintiffs’ Attorneys” [Adonis Hoffman, The Hill]
- Arkansas passes first-in-nation law to protect photographers’ rights, including right to film public employees/officials [Dan Greenberg, The Arkansas Project] “Colorado, Texas and California Lawmakers Introduce Bills to Protect Rights of Citizens to Record Cops” [Carlos Miller, Photography Is Not A Crime] On the other hand: “Texas Bill Would Make It Illegal For You To Film A Cop Beating You” [Lowering the Bar, more (“if you tell me I can’t film you in public, no matter what, filming you in public is going to move way up my priority list”)]
- “‘Deactivated’ Facebook Account Is Discoverable In Litigation” [Eric Goldman]
- Public records request for Oakland dataset makes good introduction to privacy issues in automatic license plate recognition [Cyrus Farivar, ArsTechnica] “Los Angeles Cops Argue All Cars in LA Are Under Investigation” [Jennifer Lynch, EFF]
- “Texas says it will stop collecting fingerprints of driver’s license applicants” [Dave Lieber, Dallas Morning News, earlier]
- “An elite that has lost the impulse to police itself” [Conor Friedersdorf; a contrary view, Stewart Baker podcast with Rebecca Richards, NSA director of privacy and civil liberties]
- “Stingrays and Police Secrecy” [Adam Bates, earlier]
- Taxopticon: “Newport News to begin scanning license plates to find delinquent taxpayers” [Theresa Clift, Daily Press (Virginia) via Amy Alkon]
Following the furor over RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) legislation in Indiana and Arkansas this week, I’ve got a new piece in today’s New York Daily News on the emergence of American business as the most influential ally of gay rights. Links to follow up some of the quoted sources: Reuters on Walmart, Tony Perkins/FRC on pieces of silver, Dave Weigel on how public opinion in polls tends to side with the small business owners. I wrote last year on the Arizona mini-RFRA bill vetoed by Gov. Jan Brewer.
On the social media pile-on against a small-town Indiana pizzeria, see also the thought-provoking column by Conor Friedersdorf (more, Matt Welch). Also recommended on the general controversy: Roger Pilon, Mike Munger/Bleeding Heart Libertarians, and David Henderson on freedom of association, David Brooks on getting along, and Peter Steinfels on liberal pluralism and religious freedom.
Relatedly, Cato has now posted a podcast with my critical views (earlier) of the “Utah compromise” adding sexual orientation as a protected class while also giving employees new rights to sue employers over curbs on discussion of religion and morality in the workplace (h/t: interviewer Caleb Brown). For a view of that compromise more favorable than mine, see this Brookings panel.