Citing text messages she sent her boyfriend shortly before the incident, Montana prosecutors contend that Justine Winter’s crash at 85 mph into an oncoming vehicle was a deliberate suicide attempt. Winter, who faces trial on homicide charges in the deaths of Erin Thompson, the woman she ran into, and Thompson’s 13-year-old son, has now sued Thompson’s estate as well as the construction company that built the interstate overpass where the accident occurred. [Daily Inter Lake, Siouxsie Law]
A Montana jury decided that the aluminum baseball bat manufactured by “Louisville Slugger” maker Hillerich & Bradsby was not a defective product, but that the company should have warned of the dangers from its hitting balls at a higher speed, and awarded a family $850,000 for the 2003 death of their son at a baseball game. [Helena Independent Record, AP] Early commentary: Russell Jackson (doubting that a warning would actually have altered the behavior of those in the game) and Eugene Volokh (before verdict). Earlier here. More: Jim Copland discusses on CNN; Above the Law.
- U.K.: “Families told doormats are health and safety risk” [Telegraph]
- Montana judge holds onto case for 34 years before finally issuing ruling [Popehat]
- Free speech and the web: panel from American Constitution Society convention [Above the Law]
- “Driver with ‘0’ license plates wrongly issued dozens of tickets” [Chicago Tribune, Obscure Store]
- Florida judge who presided over Anna Nicole Smith custody case accused in civil suit of looting elderly widow’s assets; probe however led to no criminal charges [Miami Herald, Bob Norman/Broward Palm Beach New Times]
- Economist/YouGov poll finds public supportive of limiting medical malpractice payouts [Point of Law]
- Someone writing San Francisco docket reports may have pawkish sense of humor [Lowering the Bar; Arcata, Calif. Eye’s famously droll police blotter, mentioned in this space five years ago]
- Suing over co-worker’s perfume [two years ago on Overlawyered]
A high-profile federal environmental prosecution has struck out following charges of prosecutorial misconduct as well as disputes over the quality of the evidence [Montana’s News Station, Van Voris/Bloomberg] Carter Wood and others have been blogging the case at Point of Law, and a joint blog effort of the University of Montana’s law and journalism schools has given the case extensive coverage. See also Kirk Hartley.
For years controversy has raged over a Las Vegas businessman and resort owner’s efforts to trademark the phrase, widely used as a description of Montana. (Missoula writer William Kittredge says he remembers coming up with the phrase himself.) Now, per TTA Blog, Montana Sen. Max Baucus has again included language in an appropriation bill to direct that (for the time being) no funds be expended by the PTO to register such a trademark.
- “Texas Judge Orders 178 Anonymous ‘John Does’ Who Posted on Topix Be Revealed” [Citizen Media Law]
- $4 billion lawsuit over racially insensitive Miley Cyrus eye gestures [Michelle Malkin, TMZ.com]
- Update: “Tulsa World drops lawsuit after writer apologizes” [Romenesko/Tulsa World, earlier]
- Also update: “Seventh Circuit Affirms Dismissal of John Lott’s Libel Lawsuit Against Steven Levitt” [Volokh, earlier]
- “M-I-C — Cease and desist! K-E-Y — Why? Because we caught you! M-O-U-S-E” [Ron Coleman]
- California: “Another Step Toward Shielding Good Samaritans From Civil Damages” [Calif. Civil Justice Blog, more]
- Montana lawmakers consider bill saying hazardous recreation goes on at your own risk [PoL]
- Senior writer at Wired decides to go work for Wal-Mart, what he found departed from the Barbara Ehrenreich formula [BoingBoing]
Found here and there on the web, some matters on topic, some not:
- Will non-violent drug offenders be unlikely beneficiaries of the economic downturn?
- Speaking of offenders, have a look at Scott Greenfield’s thoughts on forty years of Miranda v. Arizona. (The “right to remain silent…” warning achieves neither what its authors hoped nor what its opponents feared);
- Every question some very strange people ever wanted to ask Slate’s Explainer, but were still unable to get a satisfactory answer on. (Via dispatches from TJICistan);
- Oregon district attorney who charged two 7th graders with assault for slapping girls on the rear, now facing assault charges herself, for slapping her husband in the face. (Via Radley Balko);
- The astounding “police blotter” of Flathead County, Montana (just keep reading, it will be Christmas before you know it);
- Blawg Review #191, on the miracle on Chanukah and the law, is up at Likelihood of Confusion. Well worth your time;
- Speaking of Blawg Reviews, last week’s at The Legal Satyricon covered the Bill of Rights in surprising detail. Who knew that the bar on quartering of troops has relevance to national security law?
This will have to be a short microblog, due to impending depositions, but it’s better than no microblog at all.
The Montana governor now claims he was just making up all those stories about using underhanded tactics to make sure his candidate won the U.S. Senate race, but his audience at the trial lawyers’ convention seemed to lap it up at the time. (Kirk Johnson, “Montana Officials Chastise Governor Over Boasts in Speech to Lawyers’ Group”, New York Times, Sept. 12; Rusty Shackleford, MT Pundit, Sept. 8; Robert Struckman, “Gov. Schweitzer’s Tampering Comments Spark Controversy”, New West Network, Sept. 10; Charles S. Johnson, “Schweitzer catches heat over July speech”, Helena Independent Record, Sept. 11; Jennifer McKee, “Bit of truth found in Gov. Schweitzer’s joke”, Missoulian, Sept. 12; speech).
It started as a joke, but Bozeman, Mont. attorney Christopher Gillette is going through with the ambitious aquarium installation, whose saltwater inhabitants will include venomous fish as well as sharks. [Bozeman Daily Chronicle; AP/El Paso Times] In the 1980s the now well-known law firm of Bickel & Brewer adopted the snake exhibit at the Dallas Zoo. (Mark Donald, “Rambo Justice”, Dallas Observer, Mar. 19, 1998).