Shelby County (Memphis) has subpoenaed the identity of the authors of 10,000 anonymous comments at the city’s major newspaper, the Commercial Appeal. Some of the comments, on a school consolidation plan, exhibited racial animus, and the county may be planning to seek the striking down of a particular law on the grounds that the lawmakers who enacted it were influenced by citizens displaying improper animus. “It is hard to square this subpoena with long-established protections for the right to speak anonymously,” writes Paul Alan Levy [CL&P] After the subpoena, which the newspaper is resisting, touched off a controversy, two commissioners reportedly “placed partial blame on The Commercial Appeal for reporting the subpoena.” Eugene Volokh wonders why there would be anything wrong with the newspaper blowing the whistle: “I should think that anonymous commenters (past and future) deserve to know that their county government might try to do this to them.” [Volokh Conspiracy](& Alex Adrianson, Heritage Insider Online)
Last week two trolley cars collided in downtown Memphis, and according to Allison Burton, a spokeswoman for the transit authority, some bystanders attempted to board the cars and fake injuries. Burton “said witnesses saw at least eight people run at the trolleys following the wreck” and at least two appear to have gotten in. [Commercial Appeal] Earlier bus-jumping here, etc.
Things you’re missing if you’re not reading my other site:
- Federal judge tosses city of Baltimore’s case blaming its neighborhood blight on subprime lenders, but Memphis files a similar suit;
- “The catchall fraud law that catches too much”: Roger Parloff of Fortune on “honest services”;
- Moonlighting: New York state senate majority leader John Sampson joins large plaintiff’s firm in “of counsel” position, an arrangement long held by his counterpart at the New York capitol, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver;
- “Trial lawyers association outlines its 2010 legislative agenda,” Montana Gov. Schweitzer to address AAJ Maui convention, “Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, the legal angle” [all from Carter Wood]
- Biggest obstacle to juvenile corrections reform? Prison guards’ unions;
- “Investor Who Backed Unsuccessful Lawsuit is Liable for Defendants’ Legal Fees“;
- A Twombly/Iqbal debate — and the harms of liberal pleading;
- U.S. Chamber’s “Top Five Ridiculous Lawsuits of 2009″ (and many other tops-of-2009 lists).