- House passes Stop Settlement Slush Funds Act of 2016 [James DeLong, Rep. Bob Goodlatte, Republican Policy Committee, earlier]
- “Enough is enough”: judge in surgical-mesh case decries tactical angling in multidistrict litigation (MDL) process, reminds lawyers of sanctions authority [Glenn Lammi, Washington Legal Foundation] Related: “Repeat Players in Multidistrict Litigation” [Elizabeth Chamblee Burch, Mass Tort Prof]
- E-mail scanning: “So-called ‘privacy lawsuits’ that essentially enrich a cottage industry of plaintiffs’ lawyers…” [David Kravets, ArsTechnica]
- GM, 3-for-3 at winning ignition-switch trials, settles a couple of bellwether cases [Margaret Cronin Fisk and Laurel Brubaker Calkins, AP/Walla Walla, Wash. Union-Bulletin, CarScoops]
- New Jersey judge disallows plaintiff’s experts’ “made for litigation” methods in talcum powder case [Michele Barnes and Clifton Hutchinson, K&L Gates]
- “Lawyers Suing Lawyers: Texas mass tort attorney sues other mass tort attorney over robocall recruitment tactic” [U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal Reform]
- Fourth Circuit will review forfeiture case of “pre-conviction, pre-trial restraint of untainted property” [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
- “Voodoo Science in the Courtroom: The U.S. has relied on flawed forensic-evidence techniques for decades, falsely convicting many” [Alex Kozinski, WSJ; ABA Journal] “Highest court in Massachusetts throws out another shaken-baby syndrome conviction” [Radley Balko on Boston Globe]
- Federal judge Andrew Hanen gets results! “Justice Department orders more ethics training for lawyers” [Politico, earlier]
- Like settlement slush funds, contingency-fee prosecutions divert money from the public fisc to influential private players [Margaret (“Peggy”) Little, CEI]
- California appeals court: Orange County district attorney’s office’s war on a judge was legal but represented “extraordinary abuse” [C.J. Ciaramella]
- “New Jersey Bill Would Punish Eating, Drinking While Driving” [Reason]
- “How to write an overlawyered email, in 4 easy steps!” [Inspired Law Blog]
- Fifth Circuit upholds conviction of Texas lawyer Marc Rosenthal over pattern of fraud including but not limited to suborning of false witness testimony;
- Emoticons/emojis begin arriving in court as evidence, a federal judge in Michigan having already been “asked to rule on the meaning of ‘:-P.'” [Amanda Hess, Slate]
- Disabled access regulations as hobble-thy-competitor method: “AT&T says T-Mobile and Sprint Wi-Fi calling violates disability rules” [ArsTechnica]
- From back in 2012, but missed: a law professor’s book assails fine print in contracts, and Scott Greenfield responds;
- So strange how many expert witnesses say they have no idea how much they make [Brendan Kenny, Lawyerist]
- Get those troops out of my house: “A symposium on the oft-neglected Third Amendment” [Ilya Somin]
- Police union files grievance to regain job for University of Cincinnati cop charged in Sam DuBose death [WXIX] Also Ohio: “Forget Criminal Charges. Disciplining Officers In Cleveland Is Hard Enough” [Carimah Townes, ThinkProgress] “How Police Unions Contribute to the Police Violence Problem” [Ed Krayewski]
- Profile of Fraternal Order of Police head [Politico via Radley Balko, who comments] When taking on public employee unions, GOP governors often sidestep police, firefighters [New York Times in March]
- FOP president says Law Enforcement Officers Bill of Rights (LEOBR/LEOBOR) laws don’t “afford police any greater rights than those possessed by other citizens” Reality check please [Scott Greenfield on NY Times “Room for Debate“, Marshall Project “Blue Shield” in-depth look, earlier on these laws]
- El Paso union contract “gives cops two days to get their stories straight after a shooting” [see “Responsive Documents,” p. 55, in public records request via @TimCushing] Frequent-flyer testifier in police shootings: “His conclusions are consistent: The officer acted appropriately.” [New York Times]
- Private sector unionism, public, what’s the difference? Now we’re finding out [Greenfield]
- Trying to picture a US politician talking back to organized constabulary the way the UK’s Theresa May did a few weeks back [BBC]
- “‘It seems like the citizens would appreciate a lack of police presence, and that’s exactly what they’re getting,’ he said.” [Washington Post (“vacate the streets and see how the community likes it”)] “Baltimore killings soar to a level unseen in 43 years” [Juliet Linderman/AP “Big Story”; WBAL; earlier on NYPD’s “strike while still getting paid” tactics]
An 85-year-old driver crashed into the back of a tractor-trailer, both vehicles traveling at relatively low speed, and was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead. A Michigan appeals court agreed that a jury could hear an expert witness’s theory, dismissed by a cardiologist as “silly,” that Abdulla Kassem had suffered a heart attack that “could have been caused by a ‘fear of impending doom,’ just before the 2008 crash in Dearborn. There was no autopsy.” An insurance company has now paid $300,000 to settle the case. [AP/WDIV]
- Alan Dershowitz, Harvard lawprof, suing TD Garden over slip and fall in bathroom three years back [Boston Globe]
- “Harsh Sanction Proposed For Attorney Who Blogged About Probate Case” [Mike Frisch, Legal Profession Blog]
- Maryland veto sets back reform: “Governor Hogan, Civil Asset Forfeiture Is Inherently Abusive” [Adam Bates, Cato]
- “‘Vape’ bans have little to do with public health” [Jacob Grier, Oregonian in February]
- Academics prosper through expert witness work, part one zillion [Ira Stoll]
- Sounds good: call for civil procedure reform includes fact-based pleading, strict discovery limits, case-specific rules, and more [Jordy Singer, Prawfs, on recommendations from American College of Trial Lawyers Task Force on Discovery and Civil Justice and Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System]
- Draft plan would arm FTC with vast power over data practices [James C. Cooper, Morning Consult, via @geoffmanne]
Kick out the pseudo-science and fix the broken incentives for witnesses and information gatherers, advises Radley Balko, which happens to be good advice on the civil forensics/expert witness side as well. More from Balko: “A brief history of forensics” and some thoughts on the lessons learned, or mostly not-learned, from the satanic sex abuse cases of the 1990s. And from Ed Pilkington at The Guardian: “Thirty years in jail for a single hair: the FBI’s ‘mass disaster’ of false conviction,” earlier on that here and here.
We posted earlier about a court’s dismissal after five years of the suit by Santa Fe, N.M. resident Arthur Firstenberg against neighbor Raphaela Monribot, over his claims that her electronic devices were exacerbating his condition of “electromagnetic hypersensitivity.” Don’t miss George Johnson’s excellent New York Times write-up, which fills in many more details:
…I assumed the case would be quickly dismissed. Instead, in 2010, it entered the maze of hamster tubes that make up the judicial system.
…About a week ago, after the Court of Appeals upheld the decision, I stopped by the office of Ms. Monribot’s lawyer, Christopher Graeser, with a tape measure. The files for the case sat in boxes on a table. Piled together, the pages would reach more than six feet high.
Court costs, not counting lawyers’ fees, had come to almost $85,000, or more than $1,000 an inch. Because of what the court described as Mr. Firstenberg’s “inability to pay,” the bill went instead to Ms. Monribot’s landlord’s insurance company — as if someone had slipped on an icy sidewalk, or pretended to.
Mr. Graeser and another lawyer, Joseph Romero, represented her pro bono, writing off an estimated $200,000 in legal fees.
Duel of the expert witnesses: “The ‘violent sleepwalking’ defense worked for a man who strangled his 4-year-old and tried to kill his other two children. A jury decided unanimously that Joseph Anthony Mitchell is not guilty of murder and attempted murder after an expert witness said he was effectively unconscious at the time of his attacks four years ago.” [AP/Fayetteville, N.C. Observer]
Following the unexplained death of a gardener at a millionaire’s estate in Hampshire, England, a coroner has been told that it is more likely than not that brushing against the poisonous common garden plant aconitum, known variously as wolfsbane or monkshood, must have caused the man’s decease. [Independent]
Maggie Bloom, who is representing the family, said in the pre-inquest hearing yesterday that the initial blood sample had been destroyed – despite being against hospital policy – and that later samples that were retained could be useless as the poison leaves the body within a day.