Posts Tagged ‘Massachusetts’

A “web of concealment and highly questionable ethical practices”

A “web of concealment and highly questionable ethical practices by experienced attorneys who should have known better”: a court has unsealed a scathing report on the conduct in the State Street case of a leading class action firm, Labaton Sucharow, and Garrett Bradley of the Thornton Law Firm in Boston. The court took particular notice of Labaton’s connections through a Houston middleman (to whom it had agreed to pay an undisclosed $4.1 million fee) to the Arkansas Teacher Retirement System, which served as institutional plaintiff [Daniel Fisher/Forbes, Amanda Bronstad/NLJ] Earlier here and here.

Banking and finance roundup

  • High cross-border remittance costs for globally mobile workers slow ascent from poverty, and know-your-customer and money-laundering regulations have made things worse [Money and Banking]
  • “The Supreme Court should find ALJs to be ‘officers of the United States’ and thus make them subject to presidential appointment and removal.” [Ilya Shapiro on Cato merits amicus filing in Lucia v. Securities and Exchange Commission]
  • “Settlement of Lawyer-Driven ‘Merger Tax’ Litigation Stumbles in New York” [Greg Herbers, WLF]
  • “Financial Regulation: The Apotheosis of the Administrative State?” 2017 National Lawyers Convention Federalist Society panel with Richard Epstein, Hal Scott, Peter Wallison, and Arthur Wilmarth, moderated by Judge Carlos Bea;
  • With advances in Oregon and even California, deregulation of commercial insurance lines is having a moment [Ray Lehmann, Insurance Journal; Lehmann’s 2017 Insurance Regulation Report Card for R Street Institute] Perennially troubled Massachusetts, on the other hand, continues slide in same survey [Agency Checklists]
  • Tech companies have been experimenting with old and lawful device of dual class stock and SEC shouldn’t be allowed to use raised eyebrow power to stop that [Bainbridge, WLF]

Police roundup

  • Attitudes on law enforcement now function as culture war rallying point and vehicle of identity politics on both sides [Dara Lind] Good news on officer safety: “Line of duty deaths this year approached a 50-year low” [Ed Krayewski]
  • SWAT deployment and police militarization — in rural Western Massachusetts [Seth Kershner, Valley Advocate] Trump still wrong on this issue [Eric Boehm]
  • Would it be easier to address America’s high rate of fatal shootings by police if the focus were allowed to slip off race for a moment? [Conor Friedersdorf]
  • Neighborhood police checkpoints employed in West Baltimore for several days in November, yet in 2009 DC Circuit, via conservative Judge Sentelle, found them unconstitutional [Colin Campbell and Talia Richman, Baltimore Sun; Elizabeth Janney, Patch]
  • What should be done to address rising crime rates? Federalist Society convention panel video with Dr. John S. Baker, Jr., Heather Childs, Adam Gelb, Hon. Michael Mukasey, George J. Terwilliger III, moderated by Hon. David Stras;
  • In Collins v. Virginia, Supreme Court has opportunity to reaffirm that home is truly castle against police search [Cato Daily Podcast with Jay Schweikert and Caleb Brown]

A Canadian hair-analysis lab and its fateful findings

“Motherisk, a once-respected lab inside [Canada’s premier] Hospital for Sick Children, performed tests for more than 100 child welfare providers in five provinces, an investigation reveals.” The lab performed hair-strand drug and alcohol tests “on at least 25,000 people across Canada. The tests were discredited, but not before they were used in at least eight criminal cases and thousands of child protection cases. Now, many of those cases are under review.” While many of the cases drew on evidence other than the hair tests, false positives for drug or alcohol abuse could be a factor in temporary or permanent removal of children from parents [Toronto Star]

In British Columbia, a mother is desperate to convince the children she lost years ago that she didn’t choose drugs over them.

In Nova Scotia, a 7-year-old girl prays for her brother, who was adopted into another family.

And in Ontario, a mother whose daughters were taken shortly after they were born is waiting for a reunion that may never come.

More on questionable crime labs: Radley Balko on a new Massachusetts scandal (not the big previous one); John Oliver.

What happens to misbehaving prosecutors?

In more than 100 cases since 1980, Massachusetts courts of appeal have thrown out criminal convictions based on prosecutorial improprieties, and in 20 of those cases they have used the words “egregious” or “misconduct” or both to describe impropriety. Both numbers are likely to be lower bounds for impropriety that reaches judicial notice, given the number of cases in which prosecutorial missteps are addressed by trial judges, or take place in cases that result in acquittals or are not appealed. Because prosecutors are virtually immune to suit, professional discipline and public exposure are left as among the few ways to deter misconduct or bad practice.

But the Massachusetts study found that since 1980, just two prosecutors have been publicly disciplined by that state’s bar. Nine others were disciplined, but the public was prevented from knowing their names. And it isn’t as if the bar is averse to disciplining attorneys. Since 2005, it is has imposed sanctions on more than 1,400 non-prosecutors.

The study points out that many of the prosecutors found by appeals courts to have committed misconduct went on to higher office: “Three went on to become judges, one became Massachusetts attorney general, and others rose to top positions in district attorneys’ offices and state legal-ethics bodies.” We’ve recently seen efforts in some parts of the country to hold bad prosecutors accountable at the polls. But it’s hard to do that if we don’t even know who the bad prosecutors are. The study found that of the numerous times state courts have found misconduct, the courts mentioned the offending prosecutor’s name just four times.

[Radley Balko citing New England Center for Investigative Reporting study]

P.S.: From Texas, prosecutor John Jackson faces possible sanctions in the case of Cameron Todd Willingham, executed after his conviction for murder by arson in 2004 [Balko]

May 3 roundup

December 14 roundup

Environment roundup

  • Didn’t realize former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld had written a novel sympathetic to the persons displaced by one of the great eminent domain binges, the 1930s creation of Quabbin Reservoir (“Stillwater,” background) And down in Virginia: “Sixty years ago they were evicted from the Blue Ridge to make way for Shenandoah National Park. But the refugees haven’t forgotten their lost mountain homes.” [Eddie Dean, Washington City Paper]
  • Tokyo’s wide-open policy on development is one reason its house prices have not skyrocketed despite rising population [Alex Tabarrok, more, contrast with cities like Delhi and Mumbai]
  • “Chevron Paves The Way For Corporations To Fight ‘Shakedown Lawsuits'” [John Shu, Investors Business Daily, related editorial drawing FedEx and SEIU parallels] More: Roger Parloff and Michael Krauss on Canadian enforcement action in ongoing Ecuador dispute;
  • “The Environmental Lightning Rod Known as Fracking” [Ned Mamula, Cato]
  • Massachusetts voters in November will face ballot measure sharply restricting methods of handling a host of livestock animals [Baylen Linnekin]
  • Do woodpiles attract termites? Chamber backs Flower Mound, Tex. man facing billions in fines for storing wood [Dallas News, earlier]

Labor and employment roundup

  • “Clusters” of nursing employees “standing around and ‘chitchatting’ about their concern that their cars would be damaged if they voted against union representation.” D.C. Circuit rejects NLRB position that talk of tire-slashing by union backer known to have “been in violent altercations in the past, and [sporting current] hand injury from a knife fight” was harmless joking [John Ross, Short Circuit on Manorcare of Kingston v. NLRB]
  • Karma stalks #FightFor15, SEIU: “Union protested by its own minimum wage organizers” [Sean G. Higgins]
  • Feds raid powerful Philadelphia construction union boss, allies [Jillian Kay Melchior, Heat Street, Philadelphia Daily News, NBC Philadelphia, earlier Melchior on role of John (“Johnny Doc”) Dougherty in enactment of city’s soda tax]
  • “A New Illegal Interview Question: How Much Did You Earn In Your Last Job?” [Evil HR Lady on just-passed Massachusetts law]
  • “You have the right to replace striking workers, right?” [Jon Hyman]
  • Hillary Clinton now hinting at increased federal control over labor markets as a centerpiece of economic policy if elected [John Cochrane]