“Sheldon Silver, the disgraced ex-speaker of the New York state Assembly, was sentenced to seven years in prison — less than the 12 years he was sentenced to previously” before an appeals court ordered retrial [Kaja Whitehouse, New York Post, more (wanted to keep some of the money); Adam Klasfeld/Courthouse News; our coverage over the years]
- NFL alleges its billion-dollar concussion settlement fund has drawn hundreds of millions in fraudulent claims [Nicholas Malfitano, Penn Record; Andrew Beaton, WSJ]
- After the mass shootings: “We’ve all gotten a thousand phone calls from lawyers.” [Jack Healy, New York Times]
- Retrial in Sheldon Silver corruption case [Bill Sanderson/New York Daily News, more, yet more (guilty on all counts)] “Silver’s disgrace has had no discernible effect on the way Albany conducts the public’s business. And no one should have expected it to, given the record.” [Bob McManus, City Journal] City’s asbestos docket, on which Silver thrived, is still a plaintiff’s playground [Daniel Fisher, more]
- One reason for Illinois’s reputation as a lawsuit hot spot is its willingness to hear disputes from elsewhere [Dan McCaleb, Illinois News Network]
- “Split Pennsylvania court refuses to void $500K award to man burned during ride in crowded limo” [Matt Miller, PennLive]
- Judge tosses lawsuit over McDonald’s Extra Value Meals [Patricia Manson, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, earlier] “NYC Man Sues Halo Top For Not Being Regular Ice Cream” [Jen Carlson, Gothamist]
Because jury instructions did not correctly reflect the narrower definition of honest-services law adopted by the Supreme Court in the case of Virginia Gov. Robert McDonnell, the Second Circuit has overturned the conviction of former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver; retrial is considered likely. [Kenneth Lovett/New York Daily News, New York Sun]
- Investigation of asbestos claiming in Hampton Roads, Virginia, a major center of such litigation, finds plenty of double-dipping and related problems [Chamber Institute for Legal Reform; Richard Berman, Washington Times]
- “The Year Ahead: Will Trump Tackle Asbestos Litigation Scandals?” [Sara Warner, Huffington Post]
- “Asbestos loss projection now $100 billion for US carriers: Best” [Insurance Insider]
- “Sheldon Silver left legacy of high awards in asbestos suits against city” [New York Post]
- 10+ year smoker who contracted lung cancer sues 199 defendants citing asbestos exposure [West Virginia Record]
- Coming, new documentary: “UnSettled: Inside the Strange World of Asbestos Lawsuits, a film by award winning director Paul Johnson.” [site, Madison County Record]
The former New York Assembly Speaker and linchpin of trial lawyer influence in the Empire State is a licensed lawyer no longer. [New York Daily News]
P.S. Commenter VMS says this step is a formality, Silver lost his right to practice as an attorney on conviction in November.
- “In fact, none of the mass shootings that have grabbed headlines in the last few years would have been prevented by the gun controls proposed in response to them, and Obama’s new list of warmed-over ideas does not break any new ground in that respect.” [Jacob Sullum] More: Dave Kopel; Ken White at Popehat on the President’s rhetoric of rights; Jonathan Adler notes that ATF’s new guidance on who’s a gun dealer either restates existing law (yawn) or violates the Administrative Procedure Act (whee!); Eugene Kontorovich wonders whether that guidance is vague on purpose; and Josh Blackman writes that while most of the President’s orders don’t go much beyond “hortatory fluff” (no more letting attorneys set up gun trusts for MS-13 gang members!) they help lay the groundwork for more intrusive measures to come;
- “Judge tosses consumer suit claiming SeaWorld falsely asserts its whales are well-treated” [ABA Journal]
- In a single press release on Missouri mosque vandalism case, the U.S. Department of Justice misleads readers in two important ways [Eugene Volokh on legal significance of burned Koran, omission of ideological content in sprayed graffiti slogans]
- New Greg Ip book “Foolproof: Why Safety Can Be Dangerous and How Danger Makes Us Safe” [Tyler Cowen and more, Arnold Kling]
- Plaintiff’s lawyers “salivating at the prospects for big paydays” from self-driving car accidents [Bloomberg]
- Do “arms trafficking” rules extend even to domestic sharing of data files containing information on three-dimensional printing of guns? [Ilya Shapiro and Randal John Meyer, Cato]
- So the Graubard Miller/Alice Lawrence mega-fee saga, often covered in this space, turns out to have a Sheldon Silver connection [Wayne Barrett]
So does this mean better days ahead for New York, a terribly misgoverned state? As one who has been writing about New York politics since way back, I can’t bring myself to be too optimistic.
I got interested in Silver originally because of his distinctive role as protector of New York’s trial lawyers… But legal policy was only one of the many pots in which Silver kept his fingers, as Steven Malanga and Seth Barron detail in separate articles at City Journal. New York sluices huge amounts of money in its gigantic social services apparatus through non-profits, and friends of Sheldon were there to profit. Real estate development in New York is subject to famously convoluted restrictions, and huge sums are at stake in its rent control and rent stabilization system. Again and again, Silver was there to broker deals for his friends behind the scenes….
So long as New York pursues failed policies like rent control, it will open huge leeway for hidden favoritism. And then, sure as day, in will move the Sheldon Silver types.
Former state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver was convicted on all seven criminal counts Monday in a corruption scheme that traded taxpayer cash and political favors for nearly $4 million in payoffs….The conviction of Silver — for decades one of the three most powerful politicians in the state — was a huge victory for anti-corruption crusading Manhattan US Attorney Preet Bharara.
Appeal is expected. The scheme was one in which Silver helped direct state research funds to a Columbia University physician specializing in asbestos-related disease in exchange for the doctor’s referral of patients to the Silver law firm, which resulted in large legal fees to Silver for cases in which he did no work. Earlier on the charges against Silver here, here, here (and related).
While machine politicians are common enough in New York, Silver (in Wayne Barrett’s words) “for two decades presented himself as the personally devout, politically principled leader of the most progressive slice of New York political life.” Whatever his relations with other Democratic interest groups, Silver always put trial lawyers first.
- “Executive Power in the Age of Obama,” podcast interview with Prof. David Bernstein about his new book Lawless, from Encounter Books [Liberty and Law] And so many choices: Bernstein picks his top five acts of Obama administration lawlessness;
- Donations-wise, law firms love Hillary Clinton [Above the Law] as do teachers’ unions [RiShawn Biddle]
- “The Criminalization Of Politics: Is It Happening, And Is It A Problem?” David Lat covers the Federalist Society convention panel [Above the Law]
- Donald Trump’s fondness for legal threats can be traced back to his early association with infamous attorney Roy Cohn [Business Insider video with Michael D’Antonio; June 1989 Spy magazine “Those Who Can, Sue” noting the Trump/Cohn connection; a Steven Brill anecdote about Cohn and Ford Motor that I quoted in my first book] More: @andrewmgrossman on “Ex. 1 to defendant’s anti-SLAPP motion,” Trump on Kasich;
- “Sheldon Silver lied to us” [New York Daily News editorial] More: Lawyers for Silver “don’t plan to call any witnesses. They will instead enter some documents as evidence in their defense, offering a case so minimal that U.S. District Judge Valerie Caproni used air quotes when referring to it.” [WSJ]
- Raunchy emails in Kathleen Kane saga: “Pennsylvania’s attorney general seems to have decided that if she has to go, she’s going to take others down with her.” [AP/Yahoo]
- Eternal return? Ex-con reinstalled as mayor of Bridgeport, Ct. played key role in cities-sue-gun-business episode [U.S. News, back then]
Dr. Robert Taub, a mesothelioma specialist at Columbia University, got sucked into the Albany ethical abyss and in particular the moneymaking schemes of former New York Assembly Speaker and longtime Overlawyered favorite Sheldon Silver [Bill Hammond, Politico/Capital New York, quotes me] The defense proffered by Silver’s lawyers draws heavily on the idea that look, this is the way New York works [New York Post]:
“It’s impossible, absolutely impossible,” argued defense lawyer Steven Molo, “for a member of the Assembly to … do the job that a person in the Assembly does and not have some sort of conflict of interest.
“That may make you uncomfortable,” he added, “but that is the system New York has chosen, and it is not a crime.”