Posts Tagged ‘extraterritoriality’

Prison for unauthorized use of “Smokey Bear” image

Great WSJ article on the unending proliferation of federal crimes, with appearances by a family that ran into a law making it a felony to dig for arrowheads on federal land, Bobby Unser and his snowmobile-astray ordeal, and a man effectively ruined by the $860,000+ cost of successfully defending himself against a federal charge of violating Russian hunting regulations.

“Most people think criminal law is for bad people,” says Timothy Lynch of Cato Institute, a libertarian think tank. People don’t realize “they’re one misstep away from the nightmare of a federal indictment.”

More: from Tim Lynch, and (via PoL) Josh Blackman, William Anderson/Regulation mag.

High court, 8-0: no “foreign-cubed” securities fraud suits

“While there is no reason to believe that the United States has become the Barbary Coast for those perpetrating frauds on foreign securities markets,” wrote Justice Scalia for the Court, “some fear that it has become the Shangri-La of class-action litigators for lawyers representing those allegedly cheated in foreign securities markets.” [Mauro/NLJ] And hurray for the presumption against extraterritoriality [Ku/Opinio Juris]

Australian government to U.S.-based website: remove that hate speech or face prosecution

Not just anti-free-speech, but extraterritorial as well [Popehat]:

…Joseph Evers, one of the “owners” of Encyclopedia Dramatica, reveals that he got a threatening letter from the Australian Human Rights Commission, which based upon its logo may or may not be controlled by AT&T. The Human Rights Commission announces that it has gotten multiple complaints about Encyclopedia Dramatica’s Aborigine page, and that the page “constitutes racial hatred” and appears to Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 in that it constitutes an act “likely to offend, insult, intimidate or humiliate” another person based on their race. The Human Rights Commission also announces — rather triumphantly, I think — that it does not matter that Encyclopedia Dramatica is hosted and written in the United States, because Australian law, as reflected in Dow Jones v. Gutnik, treats web pages written and hosted elsewhere as if they were published in Australia, subjecting their authors and/or hosts to jurisdiction there.

Australian authorities have compiled a blacklist of sites that internet providers must filter from Australian users’ access, and many sites apparently make the list on the grounds of forbidden opinion content. More on “hate speech” here; also note our recent post on Canada and Ann Coulter, where an anonymous visitor is defending Canada’s speech-penalizing laws.

“The U.S. Can’t Be the World’s Court”

So argued former State Department legal adviser John Bellinger III in the WSJ last week, with special reference to the overreaching, extraterritorial Alien Tort Statute. But it’s not as if the efforts to turn the U.S. into the courtroom for the world are slackening at all:

  • As Curtis Bradley and Jack Goldsmith note in the Washington Post, a federal court recently allowed to proceed a lawsuit seeking to blame the evils of South African apartheid on Western multinationals, even despite strong opposition to the suit from both the U.S. government’s executive branch and today’s duly elected multiracial South African government. Unfortunately, the State Department’s up-to-now-staunch opposition to this and similar lawsuits is imperiled by the installment of Harold Koh as legal adviser at Foggy Bottom: “Koh is an intellectual architect and champion of the post-1980 human rights litigation explosion. He joined a brief in the South Africa litigation arguing for broad aiding-and-abetting liability.”
  • If asked what should happen to frozen Cuban-government assets under U.S. control, reasonable possibility #1 might be “hold them against the eventual day when a non-tyrannical regime emerges there, it will need help.” Reasonable possibility #2 might be “divide the assets among Castro’s many victims in some deliberate and step-by-step way, knowing that their injuries are so numerous and severe that even very deserving victims will get only small payments”. The answer you’d think makes no sense at all is “encourage first-come-first-served tort lawsuits, so that the first couple of cases to maneuver their way through the legal process get handsome compensation, while no money is left for either #1 or #2”. So naturally, the latter is what our legal system is doing, previously in $188 million and $253 million verdicts involving single incidents or families, and now in a new case in which the family of Gustavo Villoldo has been awarded $1.179 billion. One of the plaintiff’s lawyers in the case actually boasts that the new award may obstruct a warming of relations between the U.S. and a post-Castro successor regime: “with the opening of relations between the U.S. and Cuba to come, there are debts to society to be paid before that happens” (more on Che Guevara, via).
  • On the brighter side, the Obama administration has joined its Bush predecessors in correctly drawing a line against litigation by some September 11 victims and insurance companies: under the Foreign Sovereign Immunity Act, the courts are no place to pursue theories trying to link the rulers of Saudi Arabia to the terrorist attacks.

(cross-posted from Point of Law)

April 9 roundup

  • Teacher’s aide in Queens, N.Y., sues 11 year old, saying he was dashing for ice cream and ran into her (this happened when he was eight) [WPIX; Rosanna Tomack, Joseph Cicak]
  • Extraterritoriality, or exit fees? Stiff taxes these days on Americans who renounce their citizenship [Coyote Blog]
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell hires Bailey, Perrin & Bailey, big campaign-donor law firm for anti-drugmaker suit [WSJ, Point of Law, ShopFloor, Adler @ Volokh]
  • Injured in wrestling fall, will get $15 million from school district [Seattle Times]
  • Feds seized Petri dishes at Buffalo professor’s home and word spread of major bioterror bust. Oops [Andrew Grossman, Heritage]
  • Toward “public control over the media”: Creepy ideological origins of Nichols/McChesney scheme to subsidize newspapers [Adam Thierer, City Journal]
  • Thanks to expensive modern medicine Virginia Postrel has been doing well in her fight against breast cancer, story might not have been so happy in some countries [The Atlantic, second essay responding to letters]
  • Jury awards $22.5 million against vaccine maker to man who says he caught polio from daughter’s shot [Staten Island Advance]

Second British gambling CEO detained

“The chairman of British betting company Sportingbet, Peter Dicks, was detained by American authorities in the early hours of today in what is being seen as a further crackdown on online gambling. The detention of Mr Dicks, 64, comes just two months after David Carruthers, the chief executive of BetOnSports was arrested in Texas on alleged fraud and racketeering charges. Mr Carruthers, who has maintained his innocence, was on his way to the company’s offices in Costa Rica.” (Miles Costello, “Sportingbet boss detained in US”, Times Online (UK), Sept. 7). For our earlier coverage, see my Times Online column on Carruthers’ arrest as well as Jul. 20 and Jul. 27.