- Sad and bad: “House Republicans vote to block Obama’s new pardon attorneys” [MSNBC, Jacob Sullum, my Cato take]
- Ready for sorghum-patch unrest? More than 100 U.S. Department of Agriculture agents are armed with submachine guns [Matt Welch]
- “Cop who punched Occupy Wall Street protester gets tax-free disability pension” [New York Daily News, video of punch]
- “Officials could identify just one [Bronx] prosecutor since 1975 … disciplined in any respect for misbehavior while prosecuting a criminal case.” [City Limits via Radley Balko]
- Georgia drug raid: flash-bang grenade thrown into crib badly burning toddler [Tim Lynch, PoliceMisconduct.net “Worst of the Month”]
- New book by Sidney Powell critical of USDOJ explores Ted Stevens, Enron prosecutions, has foreword by Judge Alex Kozinski [“Licensed to Lie”: Craig Malisow/Houston Press, Legal Ethics Forum, Amazon]
- Two times over the legal limit, hmm. Would it help to flash my badge? [Prosecutorial Accountability on state bar discipline against San Francisco deputy d.a.]
A review copy arrived recently and I’ve much enjoyed reading the first chapters. It’s discussed by Larry Ribstein, by Glenn Reynolds, and by Cato’s Dan Mitchell (with special reference to the problem of tax complexity). The publisher’s description:
Virtually all American judges are former lawyers. This book argues that these lawyer-judges instinctively favor the legal profession in their decisions and that this bias has far-reaching and deleterious effects on American law. There are many reasons for this bias, some obvious and some subtle. Fundamentally, it occurs because – regardless of political affiliation, race, or gender – every American judge shares a single characteristic: a career as a lawyer. This shared background results in the lawyer-judge bias. The book begins with a theoretical explanation of why judges naturally favor the interests of the legal profession and follows with case law examples from diverse areas, including legal ethics, criminal procedure, constitutional law, torts, evidence, and the business of law. The book closes with a case study of the Enron fiasco, an argument that the lawyer-judge bias has contributed to the overweening complexity of American law, and suggests some possible solutions.
- “Sexting” Wisconsin prosecutor to resign [AP, AtL] Was bar discipline too lax? A contrarian view [Esenberg]
- Update: jury finds “caffeine killer” guilty in wife’s death [CBS, earlier]
- Not an Onion story: “New Orwellian Tax Scheme in England Would Require All Paychecks Go Directly to the Tax Authority” [Dan Mitchell, Cato]
- “The Fight Over Fire Sprinklers in New Homes” [Popular Mechanics via Fountain, earlier]
- Pre-Miranda interrogation of (no relation) Jimmy Olsen [another legally-themed comic book cover from the series at Abnormal Use]
- Slow customer service at pizza restaurant deemed “sabotage” in employment suit [Fox, Jottings]
- Website offers defendants’ perspective on some of the Enron prosecutions [Ungagged.net via Kirkendall]
- Pedestrian killed by out-of-control driver, and jury awards $37 million against California municipality for not having built sidewalks [six years ago on Overlawyered]
And Larry Ribstein reasonably asks: What about Jeff Skilling?
Coughlin Stoia Geller Rudman & Robbins, formerly of Bill Lerach fame, and other law firms sued to pin the blame on banks, auditors, and other outside deep-pocket third parties, as well as on directors; defendants collectively paid $7.2 billion. Giving the plaintiff’s lawyers $688 million of that is very “fair and reasonable” and involves no “windfall”, per U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon. (Bloomberg, Sept. 8).
More: OK, so maybe Brian Baxter of AmLaw Daily is just pursuing a reasonable news angle when he quotes the Coughlin Stoia lawyers doing a little victory lap and waving to the crowd. But if he’s going to quote Prof. John Coffee at such length as his big authority in support of the fee’s fairness, shouldn’t he go beyond identifying Coffee as “a professor at Columbia Law School and frequent class action critic” to spell out a little more explicitly that, you know, Coffee was hired by the plaintiff’s lawyers in this case to defend their fee request? Doesn’t that make it less surprising that Patrick Coughlin “welcomes the positive feedback” from these supposedly “unlikely legal circles” to support his case? (more background, yet more).
Update Thurs. a.m.: by yesterday evening American Lawyer had substantially “updated [the post] with new information” to reflect the Coffee relationship, and Prof. Obbie is kind enough to give me some credit for that happening.
- As I type this post, I’m listening to Andrew Frey argue Conrad Black’s appeal before Judge Posner and the Seventh Circuit. Posner seems to be confused over whether incorrect jury instructions can be prejudicial in a general verdict. [Bashman roundup; earlier]
- “For years families bogged down in Harris County [Texas] probate courts have accused judges of bleeding estates of tens of thousands of dollars to pay high-priced lawyers for unnecessary work.” [Houston Chronicle; Alpert v. Riley (Tex. App. Jun. 5, 2008) (via)]
- Company sets policy. Employee violates policy. Is corporation criminally responsible for employee’s act? [POL; FCPA blog; Podgor]
- Merrill Lynch banker asks for investigation of Enron Task Force withholding of exculpatory evidence [Bloomberg]
- When calculating the costs of medical malpractice suits, let’s not forget the noneconomic costs. “In the [John] Ritter case, the jury agreed with the defendant physicians and exonerated them of any liability. They were lucky. How lucky? They were able to spend four years with attorneys worrying about their future, including the potential that they would be ordered to pay tens of millions of dollars and be left penniless. So, they didn’t really win. They just lost less.” [EM News via Kevin MD via Dr. RW]
- Nor should we forget the defensive medicine costs. [Kevin MD]
- Legal reform = job creation. [American Courthouse]
- According to Justinian Lane, if you’re reading this post, you’re a “spineless sycophant.” [Bizarro-Overlawyered]
John Stossel has a WSJ op-ed and tv special tonight on the problem of extortionate attorneys. Overlawyered previously discussed the Selbin case and I’ve written about Bill Lerach’s extortion of banks in the Enron case.
- Remember those class actions against tech manufacturers for allegedly misstating the capacity of hard drives? Another one just settled, with buyers in for coupons and discounts, lawyers for $1.78 million [The Register, Cho v. Seagate Technologies settlement website]
- Watch what you say about lawyers, cont’d: Erie, Pa. paper thus far has fended off libel suit by Pittsburgh attorney over coverage of his run-ins with authorities over client treatment [Post-Gazette via Ambrogi]
- New at Point of Law: suicide risk of anticonvulsants?; Ohio AG Dann rebuked on foreclosure activism; simultaneous asbestosis and silicosis happens all the time at some law firms; Bush nominates an ATLA/AAJ member to a federal judgeship; and much more.
- Has a prominent investor with close ties to President Bush set up shop as an East Texas patent troll? [Troll Tracker, The Recorder]
- Embattled Tom Lakin and Lakin Law Firm, once high on the Madison County heap, fight to overturn $3.7 million legal-malpractice judgment [MC Record]
- Brent Coon suing former colleagues at Beaumont’s Provost Umphrey over division of billions in tobacco-fee booty [Texas Lawyer]
- UK judge criticizes “barking mad” human rights rules after prisoner refuses to leave his “comfy” jail cell to attend hearing [Times Online, Telegraph]
- “Six years after Enron, executives face greater risks—but investors are no safer.” [Gelinas/City Journal]
- United Farm Workers union threatens to sue over unflattering coverage [two years ago on Overlawyered]
My op-ed on the Supreme Court’s denial of cert in the Enron class action is in today’s New York Sun.
- Remember that ludicrous case where the Florida driver fell asleep, crashed his Ford Explorer, his passenger was killed, and a jury blamed Ford to the tune of $61 million? (See also Sep. 10.) A Florida court got around to reversing it, though only to grant a new trial under a variety of erroneous evidentiary rulings that prejudiced Ford, rather than because the suit was too silly to ever conceivably win in a just society. The remand goes back to the same judge that let the suit go forward and committed multiple reversible errors in favor of the plaintiff. [Ford Motor v. Hall-Edwards (Fla. App. Nov. 7, 2007); Krauss @ Point of Law; Daily Business Review; Bloomberg/Boston Globe]
- Not really a man-bites-dog story, but Geoffrey Fieger (Aug. 25 and rather often otherwise) speaks. [ABA Journal]
- Uh-oh: Former litigator hired to invest $100m in court cases for UK hedge fund. [Times Online]
- The real NatWest Three deal. [Kirkendall; July 2006 in Overlawyered]
- Homeowners fined $347,000 for trimming trees without a permit—after the Glendale Fire Department sent them a notice telling them to trim their trees for being a fire hazard. (h/t Slim) [Consumerist]
- Disclaimers at children’s birthday parties (h/t BC) [Publishers Weekly]
- British Christmas parades handcuffed by litigation fears. (h/t F.R.) [Telegraph]
- Underlawyered in Saudi Arabia: A “19-year-old Saudi gang-rape victim was recently sentenced to 200 lashes and six months in jail for being in a car with an unrelated male when the attack occurred. Last week, her lawyer was disbarred for objecting too vociferously.” [Weekly Standard]
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