Posts Tagged ‘politics’

$1.6 billion tax break for trial lawyers?

H.R. 6049, “The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act, among other things, reduces taxes on lawyers with an offsetting increase in taxes on investment managers and corporations.” To the tune of $1.6 billion, literally transferred from the productive sectors of the economy to the parasitic sector. Carter Wood and Marc Hodak comment; Bush threatens a veto. (Separately, don’t miss Marc Hodak’s comments on Ted Kennedy’s glioma.)

Sen. Cornyn introduces lessons-of-Lerach bill

The Texas Republican, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, is introducing legislation that

would make several key reforms to current securities class action law to increase the accountability of and transparency for attorneys filing these lawsuits and the institutional plaintiffs they often represent. Specifically, it would require:


Plaintiffs and attorneys would submit sworn certifications identifying any direct or indirect payments, promises of such payments, and other conflicts of interest between them, as well as all political contributions made to elected officials with authority or influence over the appointment of counsel in the case.


Courts would include a competitive bidding process as one of the factors for the selection and retention of lead counsel for a class of plaintiffs.


GAO would commission a study of the last 5 years of fee awards in securities class action cases to determine the average hourly rate for lead counsel.

(release, Congressional Record statement). (cross-posted from Point of Law). More: hailed by Lisa Rickard of U.S. Chamber.

“Why Doctors Are Heading for Texas”

Tort reform, of course, resulting in substantially lower medical malpractice premiums and expenses, and an influx of 7000 doctors, including into many underserved regions. One indirect benefit: with less money spent on medical malpractice lawyers, self-insuring hospitals can spend more on doctors and on medical practice:

Take Christus Health, a nonprofit Catholic health system across the state. Thanks to tort reform, over the past four years Christus saved $100 million that it otherwise would have spent fending off bogus lawsuits or paying higher insurance premiums. Every dollar saved was reinvested in helping poor patients.

Also of relevance: the amusing results when Texas added evidentiary standards of medical harm to their asbestos and silicosis docket. Suddenly, over 99% of the cases went away because so few suing plaintiffs had a doctor willing to certify harm. (Joseph Nixon, WSJ, May 17). Related: POL Nov. 6, 2006 and POL Nov. 7, 2006, where I debate Texas law professor Charles Silver on these issues. Suffice it to say that the last year and a half has provided more support for my position than his.

Update: more data at Texas Medical Association website.

McCain Justice advisory panel

The presumptive GOP nominee has announced a list of 45 or so names; the academic contingent encouragingly includes Profs. Volokh, Calabresi, Rotunda, McGinnis, and Kerr. (Hotline, May 6). More: the Obama campaign responds (via Kerr @ Volokh):

The Straight Talk Express took another sharp right turn today as John McCain promised his conservative base four more years of out-of-touch judges that would threaten a woman’s right to choose, gut the campaign finance reform that bears his own name, and trample the rights and interests of the American people. Barack Obama has always believed that our courts should stand up for social and economic justice, and what’s truly elitist is to appoint judges who will protect the powerful and leave ordinary Americans to fend for themselves.

Organize neighbors on a local political issue…

… and violate campaign-finance law:

Parker North is a cluster of about 300 houses close to the town of Parker. When two residents proposed a vote on annexation of their subdivision to Parker, six others began trying to persuade the rest to oppose annexation. They printed lawn signs and fliers, started an online discussion group and canvassed neighbors, little knowing that they were provoking Colorado’s speech police.

One proponent of annexation sued them. This tactic — wielding campaign finance regulations to suppress opponents’ speech — is common in the America of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law. The complaint did not just threaten the Parker Six for any “illegal activities.” It also said that anyone who had contacted them or received a lawn sign might be subjected to “investigation, scrutinization and sanctions for campaign finance violations.”

(George Will, “The Speech Police Tackle a Subdivision”, syndicated/Washington Post, Apr. 27).

Great moments in judicial campaigning

I’m all in favor of traffic court judges being fair to defendants, but was this one pledging to be more than fair?

Philadelphia Traffic Court Judge Willie F. Singletary was elected in November despite having had his driver’s license suspended until 2011 for accumulating $11,427.50 in fines for 55 traffic tickets.

Now Singletary is in danger of losing his three-month-old robe – and the $82,733-a-year paycheck that goes with it – for a campaign appearance videotaped and made public on the YouTube Internet site.

It was an appearance that raised $285 for his campaign.

The state Judicial Conduct Board filed five misconduct counts against him Tuesday for an April 22, 2007, campaign appearance in which he pressed a group of motorcyclists for campaign donations.

“You’re all going to need me in Traffic Court, am I right about that?” he asked the group.

(Joseph A. Slobodzian, “Traffic court judge may lose his seat”, Philadelphia Inquirer, Apr. 24)(via ABA Journal)