The Baton Rouge Advocate’s headline sums it up: “Gov. [John Bel] Edwards quietly picks top donors to handle coastal suit that could result in big payday.” The suit, against oil and gas companies over the impact of energy operations on coastal erosion, could result in gigantic contingency fees if successful. More: Chamber-backed Louisiana Record (“Lobbyists for attorneys picked by Edwards for coastal litigation team hold fundraiser for governor”), The Hayride (governor twists arms of local governments to join suit), Daily Iberian (no go, says editorial), New Orleans Times-Picayune, more Advocate, Insurance Journal background. More: WWL (representing parish governments could be the real jackpot).
That was fast: it looks as if the first charge under Louisiana’s new “Blue Lives Matter” law was made to hang a felony rap on a man who shouted slurs at police as they escorted him to the station. Hours later, a spokesman for the New Orleans Police Department acknowledged that a sergeant at the scene had applied the hate crime law incorrectly and that the charge would be reviewed before proceeding with prosecution. [New Orleans Times-Picayune, and followup; Scott Shackford, Reason (“The release bond for Delatoba’s ‘hate crime’ charge of yelling bad words ($10,000) is actually higher than the amount for the vandalism ($5,000) that drew the police in the first place”); earlier and more]
Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter had obtained a search warrant under Louisiana’s moribund-under-the-circumstances criminal libel law to search the home and computer of a man he suspected of being an anonymous critical blogger, but an appeals court wasn’t having it. Bonus: Larpenter lets loose with rant against Loyola law professor Dane Ciolino, whose work on issues of legal ethics we have had occasion to salute in the past, and who had questioned the legal adequacy of the warrant. [WWL, earlier]
Louisiana’s natural disaster has brought forward, among innumerable other acts of spontaneous social solidarity, the daring rescue exploits of the spontaneously self-organized “Cajun Navy.” [Kevin Boyd, The Hayride] Now, according to The Advocate of Baton Rouge, “Jonathan Perry, a Republican state senator is working on legislation that could require training, certificates and a permit fee for citizen-rescuers…”
Following a public outcry, Perry posted this Facebook video intended, he says, to correct misreporting: his proposals are meant to provide more freedom for volunteers rather than less.
I’m trying to give Perry’s explanation a charitable reading — I guess he hopes something like a TSA preclear process will give police or authorities more confidence than they now have in letting licensed/approved amateurs past barricades and perimeters. But it’s pretty easy for me to imagine that this will change the incentives in a future emergency so as to give the police/authorities reason to be more aggressive in creating and enforcing barriers/perimeters than they currently are. After all, they’ll have the new option of letting only approved permit holders through, which may well seem safer and more controlled to them than letting everyone through. So, to me, it just seems like a really bad idea even if we accept that as his premise. More: Rod Dreher.
For those who like judicial puns and wordplay, it’s on display in this Fifth Circuit decision on litigation between competitors in the southern Louisiana frozen confection business. [New Orleans Times-Picayune]
“One week after Terrebonne Parish Sheriff Jerry Larpenter seized the computers and phones of a suspected online critic, angry residents came to the parish council to defend free speech rights and to question Parish President Gordon Dove for hiring an insurance agent who is at the heart of the controversy.” [David Hammer, WWL] Louisiana has a criminal libel law on the books and although its continued constitutionality is doubtful given a state supreme court ruling, it served as the basis for a judge to approve a search warrant for the raid on the home and electronic equipment of Houma police officer Wayne Anderson, suspected of being the pseudonymous author of the gadfly Esposedat blog, which has criticized Larpenter and other officials. “When Larpenter was asked whether there is a conflict in him investigating an alleged crime involving himself, he replied, ‘If you’re gonna lie about me and make it under a fictitious name, I’m gonna come after you.'” [WWL, first, second, third, fourth posts]
Alden Abbott reports at Truth on the Market on legislative initiatives to curb occupational licensure, which often works to limit competition and consumer choice.
At the state level, the American Legislative Exchange Council has developed something called the Model Occupational Board Reform Act, with four components:
The State will use the least restrictive regulation necessary to protect consumers from present, significant and substantiated harms that threaten public health and safety.
An occupational regulation may be enforced against an individual only to the extent the individual sells goods and services that are included explicitly in the statute that defines the occupation’s scope of practice.
The attorney general will establish an office of supervision of occupational boards. The office is responsible for actively supervising state occupational boards.
The legislature will establish a position in its nonpartisan research staff to analyze occupational regulations. The position is responsible for reviewing legislation and laws related to occupational regulations.
While the federal government’s involvement in the subject is relatively limited, Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) have introduced a bill intended to liberalize licensure in the District of Columbia, military bases and in national parks.
More on licensure: Patricia Cohen, New York Times. Its relation to economic inequality [David Henderson] And why does the state of Louisiana require 750 hours of training before you can pluck eyebrows as a living? [Kevin Boyd, The Hayride]
- Free-riding in MDLs, steering committees as old boy networks, and other things observed when a defense lawyer attends a plaintiff’s-side conference [Stephen McConnell, Drug and Device Law] Not entirely unrelated: Monopolies and gatekeepers in multidistrict litigation [Elizabeth Chamblee Burch/Mass Tort Prof first, second]
- 9th Circuit: consumers weren’t deceived by a dispenser whose design left some lip balm in the tube [Paul Hastings, California Appellate blog]
- “Lawsuit Alleges Firm Used Smartphone App to Secretly Troll for TCPA Cases” [Chamber Institute for Legal Reform, Bob Dorigo Jones]
- Laffitte v. Robert Half International: “California Supreme Court to decide how class action lawyers should be paid” [Alison Frankel back in December, and recent coverage: Perry Cooper, BNA/Class Action Litigation Report, Lawrence Schonbrun/Investor’s Business Daily, David Levine and Scott Dodson/SCOCABlog]
- “New commercial highlights ‘rampant venue shopping’ in Louisiana” [Chamber-backed Louisiana Record]
- Because stepping up incentives for bounty-hunting litigation is a big priority for today’s Congress: “False Claims Act Penalties Poised to Double” [Darby Allen and B. Scott McBride, Baker Hostetler]
Under a bill that passed the state legislature with little opposition and now heads to the desk of Gov. John Bel Edwards (D), Louisiana “is poised to become the first [state] in the nation where public-safety personnel will be a protected class under hate-crime law.” That will bring us much closer to the end of all principled conservative opposition to hate-crime laws, so thanks for nothing, Louisiana. [New Orleans Times-Picayune, Washington Post] My case against the idea, which has been pushed by the Fraternal Order of Police union, is here.