- “This is just stunning. DOJ is soliciting tips from the public in order to build a case against a single citizen.” [@radleybalko, William Jacobson, @andrewmgrossman] Apparently, Florida Gov. Rick Scott has the power to remove prosecutor Angela Corey from office, and her post-verdict description of Zimmerman as “murderer” is the sort of unprofessionalism that might advance that day [Ian Tuttle with much more about her career, earlier] Ken doesn’t hold back from telling us what he thinks of Nancy Grace [Popehat, earlier]
- Washington Post covers USDA mandate of disaster plan for magicians’ rabbits [Lowering the Bar, David Fahrenthold/WaPo, earlier]
- “Joel Tenenbaum’s $675,000 Music Downloading Fine Upheld” [AP]
- “Hey look, an actual Third Amendment case” may be premature regarding this Nevada dispute, especially if we’re not sure cops = soldiery [Ilya Somin]
- “Why The State Attorneys General’s Assault On Internet Immunity Is A Terrible Idea” [Eric Goldman, Forbes]
- Connecticut: “Supreme Court Upholds $2.9 Million Award For Injured Bicyclist” [Courant]
- The ABA’s annual Blawg 100 nominations are now open, in case, you know, (nudge)
- Dreadful “Caylee’s Law” proposals continue unabated [Balko and more, Lowering the Bar, Skenazy, Frank, Somin] Confirmed non-members of Nancy Grace fan club include Stephen Bainbridge and Scott Greenfield;
- Swedish heavy metal fan has musical preferences officially classed as disability [Cowen]
- In welcome Goodyear and Nicastro rulings, SCOTUS reins in “stream of commerce” jurisdiction [Yeary, Beck, Wasserman and more, Lahav, Fisher]
- Federal lawsuit alleges polka song infringement [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
- EPA winning showdown with Texas, power plants may shutter at cost to Lone Star economy [Chron] Don’t dismiss the Texas job creation story — or the role of lawsuit reform [Rick Wartzman, L.A. Times]
- Breyer backs Thomas on recusal ethics [Adler]
- “Clashing Visions of a ‘Living’ Constitution” [William Van Alstyne on SSRN, his Cato lecture last fall]
Welcome to Blawg Review #220, rounding up some highlights of the past week from around the legal blogosphere. It’s my second time hosting it here at Overlawyered, a blog that as its name implies maintains a certain critical distance from many of the doings of the legal profession. Despite (or because of?) that, lawyers make up a large share of our most loyal and valued readers. Overlawyered just celebrated its tenth anniversary, which so far as I know (though someone may come along to prove me wrong) makes it the oldest blog about law.
In addition to being a blogger, I’m an author of books (The Litigation Explosion, The Excuse Factory, The Rule of Lawyers) as well as many articles and shorter pieces, and a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, the think tank in New York City. Joining me in occasional posts is American Enterprise Institute resident fellow Ted Frank (who’s just launched a promising new venture called the Center for Class Action Fairness; his objection in a Bluetooth class action settlement won coverage in the NLJ on Friday) and even more occasionally by David Nieporent. Ted contributes a portion of this Blawg Review which is indented below.
Torts, Liability and Trial Practice
The week’s most widely blogged story, well documented by Above the Law, is a South Florida lawyer’s “Motion to Compel Defense Counsel To Wear Appropriate Shoes” at a personal injury trial, from fear that his opponent would employ a certain pair of hole-worn loafers to practice the arts of aw-shucksery on the jury. A mistrial resulted after press coverage of the motion came to the attention of jurors.
In other news, the Wall Street Journal law blog reported on the New York Yankees’ settlement with a fan who sued over not being allowed to get up and move about during the performance of “God Bless America”. Kevin Underhill at Lowering the Bar has the story of a Pomona juror who was really eager for deliberations to finish up so he could attend the Michael Jackson memorial, and wonders if the case was resolved unusually speedily that day.
On the plaintiff’s side, Steve Gursten of Michigan Auto Lawyers charges that the city of Detroit discourages the issuance of traffic tickets to its bus drivers as one way of dodging liability in subsequent accident cases where the driver’s record of violations could be used against the city. John Hochfelder at New York Injury Cases Blog says a lawsuit against the city subway system on behalf of a grossly drunk patron who tried to board between train cars is the sort of action that brings litigation into public disapprobation and might even fuel interest in relatively far-reaching reforms, like loser-pays. And Tennessee’s John Day catches a noteworthy automotive preemption case: “The Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia has ruled that a products liability claim was preempted by FMVSS 205, a safety standard that it says permits vehicle manufacturers to make a choice between tempered glass and laminated glass in side windows. … The United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reached the opposite result in O’Hara v. General Motors Corp., 508 F.3d 753 (5th Cir. 2007).”
At Citizen Media Law, Andrew Moshirnia reports on a defamation lawsuit filed by a northern Illinois newspaper against a blogger: “That’s right, a newspaper (the Jeffersonian protectors of democracy) and a blogger (saving the world one lolcat at a time) are duking it out, each trying to out chill the other’s speech.”
The defense-side post of the week comes from the Beck & Herrmann team at Drug & Device Law. Mark Herrmann takes a big-picture look at how pharmaceutical product liability law has evolved over the past quarter century, and in particular how well it has done in pursuing the goal of appropriately screening out meritless cases. He gives the law a grade of “A” or thereabouts in tackling dubious expert testimony (with the Daubert revolution), in preventing the unwarranted extension of class action concepts from financial-injury cases to the realm of personal injury, and — a much newer development — in introducing serious scrutiny of claims at the pleading stage through the Supreme Court’s recent Twombly and Iqbal decisions. He is also relatively pleased with trends on preemption (despite the widespread view that defendants have suffered a decisive rebuke on that front) and on resistance to novel theories of action. On the other hand, he gives the courts a “D” on their handling of discovery and its burdens, and a grade of “F” when it comes to their overall inability to reduce the amount of litigation.
Emergency room doc/blogger White Coat has been serializing a first-person account of his malpractice trial; you can read parts eleven and twelve, bearing in mind that you’re coming in partway through the story. (The trial has concluded, but he’s not yet revealing how it ended.)
Stephanie West Allen at Idealawg, picking up on a discussion in Plaintiff magazine, says to watch out for how the other side is likely to retell your story: that way you won’t be surprised when the other side’s lawyer gets up at trial to claim the wolf was framed while portraying the scarlet-clad Miss Hood as the most heartless femme fatale since Barbara Stanwyck in Double Indemnity. And if you’re headed for alternative dispute resolution, Nancy Hudgins can tell you “A secret about mediators“.
In the News
Alas, in today’s wounded economy bankruptcy law is a standout practice area. In the case of General Motors, however, the process has gone far more quickly than most expected. John Wallbillich at Wired GC reflects on the giant automaker’s egg-timer reorganization: “The joke around Detroit is that GM went through bankruptcy in less time than it took outsiders pre-filing to get a response to voicemails and schedule a meeting.” On the consumer side, BankruptcyProf Blog (via Carolyn Elefant, Legal Blog Watch) reports that bankruptcy filings in the Central District of California have risen sharply over the year, up more than fifty percent from 5,999 in January to 9,578 in June. The year-over-year increase since the first half of 2008 is 45 percent.
Disgraced lawyer Marc Dreier is due to be sentenced this week for some of the worst defalcations laid to the account of an American lawyer in many a year; Peter Henning has commentary at the WSJ Law Blog. At a newly launched blog called Unsilent Partners, two well-known figures in the blogosphere, Colin Samuels of Infamy and Praise and Mike Semple Pigott of Charon QC, discuss recent white-collar criminal sentencing, the point of departure being federal judge Denny Chin’s sentencing of Bernard Madoff to a 150-year term.
The week’s biggest upcoming legal story is likely to be the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor, and I’ll turn the floor over to colleague Ted Frank for some remarks on that:
The Sotomayor nomination continued to be a notable topic in the legal blogosphere this week. Jennifer Rubin noted that former Secretary of State Colin Powell, sharing Judge Sotomayor’s position favoring race-based preferences, had thrown his support behind her nomination. Meanwhile, Eric Turkewitz’s previous investigation of the judge’s “Sotomayor and Associates” law practice and the ethical implications of her choice of firm name was picked up by the New York Times, albeit (as he and Scott Greenfield both noted) without any recognition of Turkewitz’ key role in bringing this issue to light. Greenfield criticized the Times: “make no mistake about it. [Turkewitz] is the source of the New York Times story, and the absence of his name, and his blawg, in the piece is a shoddy reflection of its journalistic integrity. Don’t ask the blawgosphere to love you when you won’t love us back, boys.” But Windy Pundit defended the Times. Turkewitz found the Administration’s explanations and justifications of Sotomayor’s choice to be unpersuasive; some members of the Senate Judiciary Committee may as well, and they’ve been in contact with Turkewitz. Beldar’s reaction to the Associates flap: Meh. The WSJ Law Blog looks at the “meticulousness” characterization of Sotomayor. Stuart Taylor has a must-read blog post on how the Sotomayor panel almost succeeded in burying the Ricci case through its summary order; having failed to bury the case, Sotomayor’s supporters are making personal attacks on Ricci, who will be testifying at Sotomayor’s hearing, himself. Heather Mac Donald calls for tough questioning of Sotomayor about Ricci. If you plan on attending the hearing, watch what you wear. The Federalist Society is sponsoring an on-line debate on the nomination that includes lawyer-bloggers Tom Goldstein and Ed Whelan. And Jonathan Adler asks questions about that 1100-professor-petition in favor of Sotomayor’s nomination.
Allegations of egregious racial discrimination at the swimming pool of a northeast Philadelphia club are making news and seem likely to break out before long as a national story. Max Kennerly of The Beasley Firm tells the story and analyzes its legal implications here and here, while Jon Hyman recalls memories of growing up near the club.
Finally, the Scruggs judicial scandals may have faded from the national headlines in the past year but in Mississippi they’re still very much an unfolding story. Tom Freeland at North Mississippi Commentor continues to track developments.
Advice for clients
Week in and week out, one of the functions legal blogs fulfill is to advise clients and prospective clients on when to use lawyers and what to expect when using them. Thus Hingham-based Danielle Van Ess explains what estate planning does and who needs it at her blog on Massachusetts wills, trusts and estates law. At South Carolina Family Law, Ben Stevens offers a list of Facebook “don’ts” for divorcing couples, which might usefully be read in conjunction with Lawyerist’s advice on how to subpoena Facebook pages. Of course cutting through the hype is important, which is why potential clients susceptible to being impressed by “Super-Duper-Lawyer” awards and commendations might want to check out Brian Tannebaum’s amusing discovery that “in Gainesville, Florida, apparently two Super criminal defense lawyers are prosecutors”. Whoops!
Perhaps the week’s most buzzed-about employment law case came from Hartford where veteran political reporter Shelly Sindland filed a sex and age bias complaint against Tribune Co.’s Fox 61, charging that execs at the TV station rewarded female on-air talent on the basis of bodily attractiveness rather than conventional journalistic criteria. Daniel Schwartz at his Connecticut employment law blog took a relatively sober look (and followup), but given its mature content this was a story destined to wind up at Above the Law, which gave it the full treatment.
Employees’ sometimes-imprudent talk both on the job and off continues to provide steady fodder for employment law decisions and controversies. Doug Cornelius discussed a New Jersey decision on whether and when an employer can read an employee’s email to her lawyer sent from a company-owned laptop. At Employee Rights Post, Ellen Simon discussed a recent Ninth Circuit case in which a school employee got in trouble for inflammatory online remarks. And Jon Hyman at Ohio Employer’s Law wonders how employers are supposed to avoid what has been called a “sexualized work environment” offensive to some employees when the popular culture seeping in to the workplace from all sides is often itself highly sexualized, a topic that has come up in these columns as well.
Commercial, business and tax law
Unincorporated Business Law Blog brings word of a bill being introduced by Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) to crack down on state-incorporated “shell” corporations. Corporate law specialist Larry Ribstein of the University of Illinois writes, “The motivation for this piece of legislative detritus seems to be that since a tiny percentage of LLCs are being used for criminal activity let’s wreck LLCs for all firms. Hey, sounds sensible to me.”
In other news, Peter Pappas awarded his “Rick Moranis Awards” for the best tax nerd blogs. Kevin LaCroix at D & O Diary has an update on the rising tide of Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) enforcement activity. Charon QC conveys a bit of gossip about the questionable contract terms prescribed by a well-known U.K.-based real estate firm. And Ken Adams at Adams Drafting advises that if contract-drafting seems like a boring and unrewarding part of your work day, you’re probably not doing it right.
Finally, this unsettling observation from Dan Harris at China Law Blog: “If you owe money to a Chinese company for product and you cannot pay all of your creditors, skip out on the Chinese company. Near as I can tell, there is nearly a 100% chance they will never sue you to recover.”
Intellectual property law
The Pope issued an encyclical earlier this month which, notes Cal Law Legal Pad, included the following statement: “On the part of rich countries there is excessive zeal for protecting knowledge through an unduly rigid assertion of the right to intellectual property, especially in the field of health care.” If the pontiff wasn’t upset by the story of the Mexican yellow bean patent recounted by Patently-O, it’s probably because he hadn’t heard of it. Speaking of moral authority, The Prior Art takes GOOD magazine to task for according a glowing profile to a systematic asserter of patent license rights whom some might belittle as Totally Reliant On Litigation Leverage, and suggests the magazine missed a chance to evaluate the gap between what might be remunerative legal-business strategy and what is beneficial to society. For a more upbeat view of the value of patents in spurring innovation since colonial days, Gary Odom at Patent Hawk offers a short history of patents in America.
Finally, I blogged last week about the lawsuit filed by Pez against a Pez museum that some fans had set up in California’s San Mateo County, but Ron Coleman at Likelihood of Confusion was funnier about it.
Legal issues of new media
Remember the unsuccessful suits by companies upset to discover that when Google users searched on their firm’s name, AdWords would serve them an ad for some competitor? Ryan Gile at Vegas Trademark Attorney thinks Mary Kay Cosmetics faces an “uphill battle” in a new suit against Yahoo (over mouseover search popups in email) that raises some similar issues. And Venkat Balasubramani raises the question whether Twitter has been lax, or clever, or both, in letting various other entities use Twitter-related words and phrases in their own names and promotions.
At gamelaw blog Law of the Level, Shawn Foust discussed how online games can protect the integrity of their online currencies from thefts, at least until a corps of “Space Prosecutors” can be formed. And Eugene Volokh brings news from Michigan of one of the first, if not the first, libel lawsuits arising from Wikipedia edits. It seems to raise garden-variety rather than novel issues, though, and is not filed against Wikipedia itself.
In the U.K., Justice Minister Jack Straw has announced a second round of family-court reforms. Lucy Reed at Pink Tape is anything but enthusiastic about some of the “de-lawyerizing” aspects of the proposals. John Bolch at Family Lore comments as well, and separately notes “that Conservative think tank the Centre for Social Justice will recommend that there be a compulsory three-month ‘cooling off’ period before divorce proceedings can be commenced, one of a number of proposals contained in a report Every Family Matters, to be published [July 13].” Presumably coincidentally, here in the U.S., Solangel Maldonado at Concurring Opinions considers whether current divorce laws unduly steer couples toward ending marriages rather than working through difficulties: “Given society’s interest in marriage and all of the negative consequences of divorce, should law incentivize couples to repair the marriage after infidelity? … many couples do reconcile after separation. Maybe they would not have done so had they been able to seek a divorce immediately.”
“Father Shall Not Use Profanity or Racial Epithets in the Boys’ Presence or Within Their Earshot”. Eugene Volokh wonders about the free speech implications.
It being July, law schools are relatively quiet on the student front, but certainly not on the faculty front. Hackles have been rising over the NYU law school’s selection of Li-Ann Thio for a visiting spot in human rights law, given that in her native Singapore Thio crusaded against rights for gays. [Above the Law]. Jane Genova at Law and More covers a judge’s threatened sanctions against Harvard lawprof Charles Nesson for posting deposition excerpts online from a case in progress in which he is helping defend music downloaders. And although Ave Maria Law School is not a part of the Roman Catholic Church, it is asserting church autonomy as a defense to a suit filed by several former faculty members; Howard Wasserman at Prawfsblawg and Rick Garnett at Mirror of Justice discuss.
Many would have nominated law schools as a nearly recession-proof sector of the economy, but that’s turned out to be wrong, what with bleak prospects for many new graduates and sometimes plunging endowments at parent institutions. Famed UCLA lawprof Stephen Bainbridge asks “Is Law a Mature Industry?” and examines the implications for legal education (do we really need at least ten new law schools, as are on the drawing board now?), while the Canadian site Law21.ca wonders whether the demographics of an aging world mean that we can “say goodbye to a lot of law schools“.
State of the blawgosphere
There’s nothing like a discussion of the state of blogs to get people going. At Crime and Federalism, Mike Cernovich thinks legal blogs have gone downhill since he got online: things have grown cliquish, and the “biggest – and worst – change to the legal blogosphere has been the Rise of the Marketers,” the ones who are intent on promoting their firms and practices but don’t have anything in particular to say. If bloggers get cliquish, notes Robert Ambrogi, it’s only human nature: “With too many blogs to choose from, we tend to stick with those we know and find comfort with.”
Have you ever considered turning the best bits of your blog into a book? Join the club. Evan Schaeffer at Legal Underground shows how to make a convincing case for that kind of transformation.
Finally, if you’re looking for an old-fashioned blogger dustup complete with asperity and risk of hurt feelings, Scott Greenfield is feeling snappish toward Adrian Dayton and several others on a variety of topics that include Generation Y, social media and work/life balance (Greenfield’s basically against the latter: “When the going gets tough, no one needs a lawyer who leaves the office whenever they have something more fun to do.”) Diane Levin suggests room for accommodation, which however is not forthcoming.
Need a break from contentiousness? Check out Scott Kreppein’s pictures of the Bronx County courthouse, a building that boasts marmoreal, heroic bas-relief sculptures in what I believe is the early-FDR-period style referred to as “Greco-Deco“.
For a view of American law from Central and Eastern Europe, Bruce MacEwen at Adam Smith Esq. interviews Tomasz Wardynski of a large Warsaw law firm. At Arbitration Forum, Kenneth Cloke tells “Why We Need to Mediate [International] Environmental Conflicts“. Cynthia Alkon at ADR Prof brings word that the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in the African nation of Liberia released its report this week. Chris Borgen at Opinio Juris reports on the possible disintegration of Belgium (Flanders is thinking of pulling out). Is the EU actually going to hasten the breakup of some of its ethnically diverse member states? Charon QC decides to find out how easy it is to pry information out of private British law schools. And proving that the U.S. is not always in the forefront of colorful litigation, a Polish mother has sued saying that her 13-year-old daughter came back pregnant from an Egyptian resort because of, er, male-related contamination of the hotel’s swimming pool. Michael Krauss has the story at the Manhattan Institute law blog Point of Law (disclosure: I’m its editor and also blog there).
Many thanks to Colin Samuels and Victoria Pynchon for their helpful suggestions on links to use. H. Scott Leviant will be hosting Blawg Review #221 at The Complex Litigator next week. Blawg Review has information about that, and instructions how to get your blawg posts reviewed in upcoming issues. [Edited 1 pm Monday to remove one link at the request of its site]
Desiderata from the web, mostly off-topic:
- How the mighty have fallen: A German solar power company offered to buy out GM’s Opel subsidiary, which survived the worst of the Great Depression, two World Wars, Nazi expropriation, allied bombing, and Soviet takeover, for a billion Euros, but GM had to front the Euros on credit. Fortunately the American government intervened, offering billions of Euros with no preconditions. The linked article, translated from French, is recommended to those who find “Engrish” funny, as well as those who want to know what Europeans think of stupid Americans, safe in the knowledge that their articles won’t be translated into Engrish;
- That was pretty long for a microblog, wasn’t it? This is shorter: The Mos Eisley Spaceport of the Blogosphere;
- A very funny web comic (a la xkcd) explaining the mortgage crisis – strong language (Via Nancy Friedman);
- Out of the mouths of babes, a Christmas parable, complete with dinosaurs;
- Disgraced former New York governor Eliot Spitzer observes that “sunlight is the best disinfectant” (Via Above the Law);
- Money for nothing. Focus groups where participants get cash for attendance may come with a catch;
- Buy a lemon of a used car, go directly to jail, and get a tax lien from the IRS – an automotive horror story from TaxProf Blog;
- What Barack Obama isn’t telling about contacts with Rod Blagojevich.
We’ll have something of substance up later today.
An article in the new American Journalism Review (Rachel Smolkin, “Justice Delayed”, Aug./Sept.) lays out at length the sins of the media in covering the allegations of prosecutor Mike Nifong in the Duke lacrosse case. Leading offenders such as the Durham Herald-Sun, New York Times and TV’s Nancy Grace all come in for their share of reproach, but of note also is this on Wendy Murphy, feminist lawprof and frequent broadcast commentator on the case:
One prominent guest on Grace’s show and others was Wendy Murphy, an adjunct professor at the New England School of Law and a former assistant district attorney in Middlesex County, Massachusetts. On April 10, 2006, after defense attorneys announced that DNA results found no links to the athletes, Murphy told Grace, “Look, I think the real key here is that these guys, like so many rapists–and I’m going to say it because, at this point, she’s entitled to the respect that she is a crime victim.”
Emerging questions about the investigation did not prompt Murphy to reassess. Appearing on “CNN Live Today” on May 3, 2006, she posited, “I’d even go so far as to say I bet one or more of the players was, you know, molested or something as a child.” On June 5, 2006, MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson asserted, relying on a Duke committee report, that the lacrosse team was generally well-behaved. Rejoined Murphy: “Hitler never beat his wife either. So what?” She later added: “I never, ever met a false rape claim, by the way. My own statistics speak to the truth.”
Asked to evaluate her commentary, Murphy said in an interview: “Lots of folks who voiced the prosecution position in the beginning gave up because they faced a lot of criticism, and that’s never my style.” She notes that she’s invited on cable shows to argue for a particular side. “You have to appreciate my role as a pundit is to draw inferences and make arguments on behalf of the side which I’m assigned,” she says. “So of course it’s going to sound like I’m arguing in favor of ‘guilty.’ That’s the opposite of what the defense pundit is doing, which is arguing that they’re innocent.”
The last passage prompts Mark Obbie at LawBeat (Jul. 18) to reflect: “Has there ever been a clearer argument for the utter show-biz meaninglessness of such ‘debate’ shows?”
On a different note, the much-anticipated book on the controversy by Stuart Taylor, Jr. and K.C. Johnson, “Until Proven Innocent: Political Correctness and the Shameful Injustices of the Duke Lacrosse Rape Case”, is due out a month from now and is already selling well on Amazon. More: John Steele Gordon, “Racial Role Reversal”, WSJ/OpinionJournal.com, Jun. 20.
- Grand jury declines to indict Dr. Anna Pou in Katrina hospital deaths, despite heavy breathing from Louisiana AG Charles Foti and TV’s Nancy Grace [Times-Picayune, more; 2005 CNN transcript; Health Care Blog, GruntDoc, Vatul.net]
- Protection from lawsuits for “John Doe” security informants is back in anti-terror legislation moving through Congress, despite back-door effort to eliminate it earlier [Fox News, Malkin; earlier] Addendum: but it’s in altered, much-weakened form, says commenter Bob Smith;
- U.K.: Top law firm Freshfields earns millions advising clients on employment compliance, yet “omitted to check that changes to its own pension scheme were legal” [Times Online]
- Thinking of doing some guestblogging, for us or another site? Some good advice here [Darren Rowse via Kevin O’Keefe]
- Even Conrad Black can have trouble affording lawyers, at least with feds freezing his accounts [PoL on Steyn]
- Shouldn’t have let us become parents again: Florida jury awards $21 million in “wrongful birth” case [Fox News]
- Possibility of gigantic reparations claims adds intensity to big lobbying fight in Washington over whether Turkey’s slaughter of Armenians in 1915 amounted to genocide [Crowley, New Republic]
- Updating colorful coverage case (Jun. 22, 2005): dentist wins $750K verdict on insurer’s duty to defend him for taking gag photos of sedated employee with boar tusks in mouth [Seattle Times, more; dissent in PDF; Althouse]
- Giuliani might use federalism to defuse culture wars [Brownstein, L.A. Times; disclaimer]
- Virginia’s enactment of harsh traffic fines (Jul. 6) follows tryouts of the idea in Michigan and New Jersey, where effects included rise in unlicensed driving [Washington Post]
K.C. Johnson has assembled the details (Feb. 19) on the CNN/Court TV commentator’s scurrilous handling of the lacrosse rape allegations. For more on Grace, see Mar. 1, 2006, as well as Legal Blog Watch, May 4, 2005, and Suz at Large, Mar. 2, 2006 (quoting Prof. Bainbridge’s pungent assessment).
The legal professoriate does not escape unscathed from Johnson’s attention, either. He is a particular critic (e.g., Jan. 21) of the televised pronouncements on the case of New England School of Law professor Wendy Murphy. And recent assertions by South Texas College of Law professor Kathleen A. Bergin on the Feminist Law Professors blog (Jan. 29, declaring the players “far from ‘innocent'” whether or not a rape is proven in court) fail to stand up to critical scrutiny, Johnson says (Feb. 18). (More: Cernovich).
I’m not a big Nancy Grace fan, but this lawsuit by the parents of Melinda Duckett seeking to hold Grace liable for Duckett’s decision to commit suicide is ludicrous. One hopes that Deratany is not unethically raising the hopes of his clients in bringing a lawsuit with no hopes of success for his own publicity-seeking benefit, under which circumstances mentioning the lawsuit here only furthers that problem. The parents’ lawyer, Jay Paul Deratany, was previously in the news for threatening a parasitic lawsuit seeking $1 million from Knicks player Antonio Davis because Davis went into the stands to protect his wife from being attacked by an aggressive Chicago fan, even though Davis made no physical contact with anyone; the dispute settled within a week without actual litigation after bad publicity for Deratany’s client (the son of a prominent political operative) caused the attorney to backtrack from the million-dollar damage claim. (A Jay Paul Deratany is also the author of the poorly-reviewed Chicago theater production “Two Grooms and a Mohel.” Perhaps a coincidence.)
The CNN legal commentator, famous for her throw-away-the-key opinions on criminal justice matters, is perhaps equally famous for her own backstory as a crime victim. But how well does her version of that story stand up to scrutiny? (Rebecca Dana, “Did Nancy Grace, TV Crimebuster, Muddy Her Myth?” New York Observer, Mar. 6). Take it away, Prof. Bainbridge…