“It was obvious from the facts that she did not intend to steal any items from Wal-Mart,” says Denise Macon’s St. Clair County Circuit Court lawsuit, which seeks $150,000 plus punitive damages. Macon left the store with two unpaid items underneath her purse in the shopping cart, and claims this was just forgetfulness, but Wal-Mart called police who charged her with misdemeanor shoplifting. Macon was acquitted after a two-day trial and says she never should have been charged. The Wal-Mart security officer is a co-defendant, presumably to keep the case in state court by defeating complete diversity. (Kelly Holleran, “Shopper who forgot to pay for pajamas sues Wal-Mart over her arrest”, Madison-St. Clair Record, Oct. 7).
A spokesman for the prosecutor’s office said the yawn, by a cousin of a drug defendant at his plea, was “a loud and boisterous attempt to disrupt the proceedings”. The Chicago Tribune says the judge in question, Circuit Judge Daniel Rozak of Will County, resorts to contempt findings unusually often. The judge later released Clifton Williams after he had served 21 days. [Chicago Tribune, ABA Journal, Solove/Concurring Opinions]
Influence-peddling at the University of Illinois with state politicians including now-disgraced Gov. Blagojevich, per a Chicago Tribune investigation:
What does it cost to get an unqualified student into the University of Illinois law school?
Five jobs for graduating law students, suggest internal e-mails released Thursday.
The only surprising thing about this stuff is that none of these bigwigs (including a law school dean — apparently she never learned to think like a lawyer) can ever seem to remember that government emails are subject to FOIA requests.
Also in Illinois, a furor has broken out over DePaul’s firing of its law dean, Glen Weissenberger (per Paul Caron) “for reporting truthful information to the ABA in connection with its reaccreditation site visit”. John Steele, Legal Ethics Forum:
For some time now, I’ve been arguing on this blog that the most powerful form of ethics teaching that occurs in law schools is the open and widespread gaming of numbers and statistics for rankings purposes. Students are taught that gaming the numbers and then concealing it, fibbing about it, or rationalizing it, is what grown-ups do for a living in the real world.
More: Above the Law (with emails from U. of I.); Prof. Bainbridge (recalling his days on U of I Law’s admissions committee); and see comments below on this post for views of the DePaul episode differing from those linked above.
Further: The U of I dean at the time says her email remarks were facetious and are being misinterpreted [David Hyman, Volokh]. And Brian Leiter (via Glenn Reynolds): “Attacking university officials over this scandal is like attacking the victim of a robbery for handing over his money…. And, by the way, the same story is waiting to be written about admissions at every state university in the country.”
- Wisconsin lawyer pressing bill to allow punitive damages against home resellers over claimed defects [Wisconsin State Journal] More: Dad29.
- Longer than her will? NY Times posts ten-page jury questionnaire in Brooke Astor inheritance case [“City Room”] “Supreme Court: No Constitutional Right to Peremptory Challenge” [Anne Reed]
- Georgia’s sex offender law, like Illinois’s, covers persons who never committed a sex crime [Balko]
- “The lawsuits over TVA’s coal ash spill have come from all over Roane County – except the spots closest to home.” [Knoxville News]
- Bootleg soap: residents smuggle detergents after enactment of Spokane phosphate ban [AP/Yahoo]
- UK: Elderly Hindu man in religious-accommodation bid for approval of open-air funeral pyre [Telegraph]
- No DUI, no one hurt, but harsh consequences anyway when Connecticut 18 year old is caught buying six-pack of beer [Fountain]
- Only one or two not covered previously at this site [“12 Most Ridiculous Lawsuits”, Oddee]
- “Illinois trial lawyers take a swing at youth baseball” [Curt Mercadente, Illinois Civil Justice League]
- Luzerne County, Pa. scandal: “Court Filing Says Former Judge Met With Felons Twice a Month” [Legal Intelligencer]
- You’d think Obama could find some person without major-league trial lawyer connections for the cabinet seat on health, but you’d be wrong [Wood, PoL, on Kathleen Sebelius, and earlier on Tom Daschle]
- Remember the many times when town officials do or say something arguably racist and the U.S. Department of Justice opens an investigation? Doesn’t seem to happen with the Detroit City Council [Nolan Finley, Detroit News]
- Copyright enforcement doesn’t scale and that’s another reason its future looks bleak [David Post @ Volokh]
- Thought it wasn’t going to happen? “Some Passengers Mull Lawsuits Over Life-Saving US Airways Crash-Landing” [ABA Journal, WSJ law blog, earlier here and here]
- Sex shop that suddenly appeared in genteel Old Town Alexandria, near D.C. is sort of the zoning equivalent of a spite fence [WaPo]
- Claim of British researchers: lawyers’ IQ-point edge over general public has declined over last decade [The Lawyer]
- Golfer’s ball bounces off yardage marker and hits him in eye, and he sues; not the Florida case we blogged last month, this one took place in New Hampshire [Manchester Union-Leader]
- Who needs democracy, much easier just to let the Litigation Lobby run things: elected Illinois lawmakers keep enacting limits on med-mal awards, but trial-lawyer-friendly Illinois Supreme Court keeps striking them down, third round pending at the moment [Peoria Journal-Star, Alton Telegraph, Illinois Times, Reality Medicine (ISMS)]
- “A sword-wielding, parent-killing psychopath can be such a help around the house.” [we have funny commenters]
- Brooklyn lawyer Steven Rondos, charged with particularly horrendous looting of incapacitated clients’ estates [earlier], said to have served the New York State Bar Association “as vice president of its guardianship committee” [NYPost]
- Updated annals of public employee tenure: Connecticut state lawyer who assumed bogus identity to write letter that got her boss fired drew a $1000 fine as well as a reprimand — and then got a raise [Jon Lender/Hartford Courant and more, earlier here and here]
- Judge Bobby DeLaughter indicted and arraigned as new chapter of Dickie Scruggs judicial-corruption story gets under way in Mississippi; Tim Balducci and Steve Patterson, central figures in Scruggs I, each draw 2-year sentences [NMC/Folo and more, more, YallPolitics, more, earlier on Balducci, DeLaughter]
- Disney “Tower of Terror” ride not therapeutic for all patrons: British woman sues saying she suffered heart attack and stroke after riding it several times [AP]
- Convicted of torching his farm, Manitoba man sues his insurance company for not making good on policy [five years ago on Overlawyered]
I’ve got a new piece just up at City Journal on last week’s occupation of the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago, led by a union on the left fringe of the American labor movement. The action ended after six days with the capitulation of Bank of America and Chase under intense political pressure. Earlier coverage here. A few points:
- You’d have had trouble guessing from a lot of the coverage, but it’s far from clear that the window factory owners owed any severance at all under the terms of the federal WARN (plant-closings) act. And it’s abundantly clear that the actual targets of the protest, the two banks, owed nothing.
- The whole point of this sort of illegal action is to resolve by force a dispute that would otherwise be consigned to the ordinary processes of law — put differently, to make sure the action’s targets never get their right to a day in court to put forth their (quite possibly meritorious) defense. When Chicago and Illinois officials jumped in to arm-twist the targets into settling, they endorsed this way of resolving disputes. That may come as little surprise given the reputation of Chicago governance. But why should anyone feel secure in locating a politically sensitive business in that city (or state) from now on?
- Among those who either cheered the illegality or viewed it with complacency are not only high public officials but law professors, commentators and leaders of the legal profession. Indeed, President-elect (and former law professor) Barack Obama vocally backed the union’s cause at a press conference while pointedly saying not a word about its unlawfulness of its actions. Should we ever again take seriously the rumblings of any of these parties about the all-importance of the rule of law?
- Some in the media, like Boston Globe columnist James Carroll, applauded the illegal action and left-leaning Washington Post columnist Harold Meyerson called for more of the same: “Barack Obama means to build a more equitable nation, but it would help him in that task if more workers sat down”. Does Obama agree?
(cross-posted from Point of Law).