Posts Tagged ‘Pittsburgh’

August 21 roundup

  • NYC criminal defense lawyer and TV commentator Robert Simels convicted of witness tampering in closely watched case [NY Daily News and more, NYLJ, Greenfield, Simon/Legal Ethics Forum]
  • Title IX suit says harassment by other students pushed school girl into anorexia, school should pay [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]
  • Federal judge upholds some Louisiana restrictions on lawyer advertising, but says rules on Internet communication unconstitutionally restrict speech [WAFB, Ron Coleman]
  • “Woman Claims Display Was So Distracting, She Fell Over It” [Lowering the Bar; Santa Clara County, Calif. Dollar Tree]
  • Associated Press now putting out softer line on blogger use of its copy, but is it a trap? [Felix Salmon, earlier]
  • Update: Google ordered to identify person who set up nasty “skank” blog to attack NYC model [Fashionista, earlier here and here]
  • Some speak as if lawsuits over “alienation of affections” a thing of the past, alas not so [Eugene Volokh, more, yet more; earlier]
  • Connecticut: “State Holds Hearing On Whether Group Can Hand Out Food To The Poor” [Hartford Courant; “Food Not Bombs” group at Wesleyan]

Note: post was mistakenly titled as “August 22 roundup” at first, now fixed; thanks to reader Jonathan B. for catching.

Judge/insurance fraudster sentenced in Pa.

Former state Superior Court judge Michael Joyce, of Erie, “was sentenced this afternoon to nearly four years in prison.” Joyce’s bogus claims of neck and back pain after a rear-ending had netted him $440,000 in settlements; “the judge filed his claims on judicial letterhead, [Assistant U.S. Attorney Christian] Trabold said, and referred to himself as a judge 115 times in the letters.”

CPSIA chronicles, March 2

Reading from the weekend:

  • At the American Spectator, Quin Hillyer says his co-thinkers “need to really get up newcriterionin arms about” changing the law, and has kind words for a certain website that is “the single best place to track all its devastation”. At The New Criterion, Roger Kimball finds that the threat to vintage children’s books provides a good instance of the dangers of “safety”. And commentator Hugh Hewitt is back with another column, “The Congress Should Fix CPSIA Now“.
  • Numerous disparaging things have been said of the “mommy bloggers” who’ve done so much to raise alarms about this law. Because, as one of Deputy Headmistress’s commenters points out, it’s already been decided that this law is needed to “protect the children”, and it’s not as if mere mothers might have anything special to contribute about that.
  • Plenty of continuing coverage out there on the minibike/ATV debacle, including Brian O’Neill, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (office of local Congressman Mike Doyle, D-Pa., says most members think, dubiously, that ban “can be fixed without new legislation”); Lebanon, Pa. (“Ridiculous… It’s closed an entire market for us”), Waterbury, Ct. (“The velocipedesadgovernment does stupid things sometimes without thinking”), and, slightly less recent, Atlantic City, N.J. (“I would’ve had three sales this weekend, so they stomped us”). Some background: Off-Road (agency guidance in mid-February told dealers to get youth models “off their showfloors and back into holding areas”); Motorcycle USA (“With right-size models being unavailable to families, we may see more kids out on adult ATVs and we know that this leads to crashes”). To which illustrator Meredith Dillman on Twitter adds: “Just wait until someone gets hurt riding a broken bike they couldn’t get replacement parts for.”
  • One result of CPSIA is that a much wider range of goods are apt to be subject to recalls, but not to worry, because the CPSC recall process is so easy and straightforward.

Judge Joyce’s insurance-fraud trial begins

A year ago we reported on the indictment of Erie, Pa.-based state appellate judge Michael T. Joyce, whose $440,000 settlement after a rear-ending of his Mercedes-Benz was premised on his having suffered physically disabling injuries, but who in fact was found to have engaged in scuba diving and golf, among other pastimes, during the period in question. According to the indictment, the judge used the proceeds to buy a Harley-Davidson and a share in a Cessna, as well as for other purposes. Today his trial is set to begin. (Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Tribune-Review, Erie Times-News via Bashman).

Update: Cohen & Grigsby immigration video

Last year (Jun. 25, 2007) a furor broke out when a YouTube video revealed lawyers from the firm speaking frankly about skirting provisions of immigration law that require that a qualified domestic applicant be sought before hiring certain foreign workers. Now the U.S. Department of Labor has “announced that it has begun placing pending permanent labor certification applications filed by [the Pittsburgh-based law firm] into department-supervised recruitment. Supervised recruitment requires the employer to receive advance approval from the labor department for all recruitment efforts to ensure that U.S. workers are fully considered for available positions.” The move will undoubtedly make it harder for the law firm to compete for employer business in the immigration field. (“Recruitment filings by Pittsburgh law firm under U.S. Labor scrutiny”, Pittsburgh Business Times, Jul. 8; ABA Journal links to DoL press release).

April 5 roundup

  • Ninth Circuit, Kozinski, J., rules 8-3 that can be found to have violated fair housing law by asking users to sort themselves according to their wish to room with males or other protected groups; the court distinguished the Craigslist cases [L.A. Times, Volokh, Drum]
  • Class-action claim: Apple says its 20-inch iMac displays millions of colors but the true number is a mere 262,144, the others being simulated [WaPo]
  • U.K.: compulsive gambler loses $2 million suit against his bookmakers, who are awarded hefty costs under loser-pays rule [BBC first, second, third, fourth stories]
  • Pittsburgh couple sue Google saying its Street Views invades their privacy by including pics of their house [The Smoking Gun via WSJ law blog]
  • U.S. labor unions keep going to International Labour Organization trying to get current federal ground rules on union organizing declared in violation of international law [PoL]
  • Illinois Supreme Court reverses $2 million jury award to woman who sued her fiance’s parents for not warning her he had AIDS [Chicago Tribune]
  • Italian family “preparing to sue the previous owners of their house for not telling them it was haunted”; perhaps most famous such case was in Nyack, N.Y. [Ananova, Cleverly]
  • Per their hired expert, Kentucky lawyers charged with fen-phen settlement fraud “relied heavily on the advice of famed trial lawyer Stan Chesley in the handling of” the $200 million deal [Lexington Herald-Leader]
  • Actor Hal Holbrook of Mark Twain fame doesn’t think much of those local anti-tobacco ordinances that ban smoking on stage even when needed for dramatic effect [Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times]
  • Six U.S. cities so far have been caught “shortening the amber cycles below what is allowed by law on intersections equipped with cameras meant to catch red-light runners.” [Left Lane via Virtuous Republic and Asymmetrical Information]

Lerach sentenced to two years

Over decades, the class-action titan paid secret kickbacks to pliant “representative” plaintiffs, then systematically falsified the nature of his relations to those plaintiffs the better to deceive judges, opponents, competing class action lawyers, and class members. He and his defenders are now portraying his offenses — even the systematic lying to courts — as minor and victimless. For some indications of why our legal system takes a very different view, see my WSJ op-ed of a year and a half back. Per Peter Lattman’s story/interview in today’s WSJ, “Mr. Lerach has requested, and the judge will recommend, that he be sent to Lompoc, a low-security federal penitentiary in Southern California often called a ‘country-club prison’ or ‘Club Fed.'”

Yesterday’s L.A. Times piece by Molly Selvin takes note of Lerach’s “trademark vitriol — he famously threatened to “destroy” companies that balked at settling”. Selvin also quotes NYU legal ethicist Stephen Gillers expressing concern that the spate of Milberg Weiss prosecutions “has to worry [lawyers] even if they’re doing nothing wrong because the Justice Department has shown its willingness to look into how they do business”. Gillers offers no examples of any Milberg lawyers who have been prosecuted despite “doing nothing wrong”, nor does he explore the question of how lawyers might exploit the impunity they would enjoy if the Justice Department permanently refused to “look into how they do business”. Indeed, if Lerach is right when he says kickbacks to named plaintiffs were industry practice in the class-action biz, it would seem that DoJ should have started “looking into how they do business” long before it did.

With fine understatement, Andrew Perlman at Legal Ethics Forum observes that it would “send the wrong message to students” for Lerach to be permitted to set up teaching legal ethics to law students at the University of Pittsburgh as part of his sentence. And taking a contrarian view, Larry Ribstein (via Bainbridge) says an appropriate comparison for Lerach would be to Michael Milken (Drexel Burnham) or Jeff Skilling (Enron) — but in the good sense.

More: This morning’s New York Times, a paper in whose columns Milberg Weiss long enjoyed cordial if not deferent coverage, buries the Lerach sentencing on an inside page of the business section. The paper’s “Dealbook” blog covers the story here. And The Economist recalls a “shouting match” in 2006 between Lerach and a leading British corporate governance advocate over whether litigation was the best way to address shareholder/manager conflicts. Plus: Charles Cooper, CNet.

February 11 roundup

December 10 roundup

Pa. judge indicted for insurance fraud won’t run again

According to an indictment handed down by a federal grand jury, Erie, Pa.-based state appellate judge Michael T. Joyce, a ten-year Republican veteran of the bench,

received $440,000 in settlements for injuries he claimed “affected his professional and personal life in a very significant way” after an SUV rear-ended his state-leased Mercedes Benz at a traffic light in Erie.

Joyce claimed the accident made him unable to play golf, scuba dive or exercise. He also claimed the injuries prevented him from pursuing higher judicial office, according to the indictment.

The judge complained of constant neck and back pain, headaches, difficulty sleeping, anxiety and short-term memory loss, according to the indictment. He claimed he was in such pain from May to July 2002 that he could not play a round of golf or hold a cup of coffee in his right hand, the indictment said.

During the same period Joyce made these claims, he played several rounds of golf in Jamaica, Florida, New York and Pennsylvania, went scuba diving in Jamaica and renewed his diving instructor’s certificate, prosecutors said.

The indictment also alleges Joyce used some of the settlement money to buy a Harley-Davidson motorcycle, a share in a single-engine Cessna airplane, property in Millcreek Township, Pa., and to pay down a personal line of credit.

(Peter Hall and Asher Hawkins, “Federal Indictment Looms Over Pa. Superior Court Judge’s Retention Race”, Legal Intelligencer, Aug. 17).

At first Joyce vowed to hold onto his seat, but after a public outcry, and a quick move by the state supreme court to suspend him from his duties pending resolution of the charges, he agreed not to stand for re-election in November. (“Indicted Superior Court Judge” (editorial), Philadelphia Inquirer, Aug. 22; Paula Reed Ward, “Indicted judge won’t seek retention”, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Aug. 21; “The Joyce indictment: A matter of integrity”, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Aug. 21).