Correction/P.S.: According to Eugene Volokh, the underlying source (Raw Story) erred in thinking that there’s anything new about this South Carolina law, which has been on the books since 1951, a period when many anti-Communist laws were being enacted. I’ve amended the headline accordingly. Commenters at Volokh.com say a pending bill in the state legislature would repeal the provision, whose enforceability is in any case doubtful under established constitutional law.
Williamsburg County, South Carolina: “$150,000 Settlement for Black Public School Students Harassed by Other Black Students for ‘Acting White'” [Volokh]
- Annals of discrimination lawsuits: a Tennessee cop contests his firing [Chattanooga Pulse]
- New book on lawsuits against universities: Amy Gajda, “The Trials of Academe: The New Era of Campus Litigation” [Harvard University Press via Stanley Fish, NYT]
- Bernard Kerik’s bail revoked because he used Twitter to promote a website put up by his friends flaying the prosecution? [Scott Greenfield] Plus: More complicated than that, says Bill Poser in comments;
- Another big setback for birther litigation [Wasserman/ Prawfsblawg, Little Green Footballs, earlier]
- “I won’t be able to function,” says Missouri woman after judge rules her monkey is not a service animal [On Point News, Molly DiBianca] More: service ferret gets owner kicked out of North Carolina mall [DigTriad]
- Eleventh Circuit agrees that U.S. cannot prosecute criminal defense lawyer Ben Kuehne for money laundering charges for having written opinion letter saying untainted money was available for legal fees [WSJ Law Blog, coverage (and update) at Scott Greenfield’s site, Miami Herald]
- One for the Coase Theorem literature? Cranky neighbor forces closure of famed South Carolina recording venue [Ribstein]
- Hallowe’en is safe [BoingBoing, earlier on Pennsylvania town’s trick-or-treating ban] “Toronto schools: Hallowe’en insensitive to witches” [four years ago on Overlawyered]
A South Carolina lawyer with expertise in “asset protection” and his associate have pleaded not guilty to federal charges over their alleged roles in an arrangement to do that; an Aiken, S.C. lawyer “pled guilty on September 18 to conspiracy to commit mail fraud and money laundering for his role in the scheme.” [WISTV.com, Columbia State]
Not even on foot, announced Wellford, S.C. mayor Sallie Peake: “As of this date, there are to be no more foot chases when a suspect runs. I do not want anyone chasing after any suspects whatsoever.” She was tired of all the insurance premiums and workers’ comp claims: “The officers are costing us more money on insurance than most citizens here in the city of Wellford are even earning.“ [Lowering the Bar, WSPA] She’s now revoked the policy. [AP/Charleston Post and Courier] Commentary: Officer.com.
Ad agency head Scott Brandon sued Donald Wizeman “claiming that Wizeman was the author of Myrtle Beach Insider and that Wizeman had defamed him by publishing a June 2007 post calling him a ‘failed lawyer’ and criticizing one of his ad agency’s campaigns. Wizeman denied that he was the author of Myrtle Beach Insider, but admitted agreeing with its content.” Note, however, some oddities that make the case far from typical: Wizeman did not hire a lawyer at first and claims to have been unaware of some key proceedings that were decided against him, and the judge awarded summary judgment to the plaintiff, which is extremely unusual in defamation cases. [Sam Bayard, Citizen Media Law; Mike Cherney, Myrtle Beach Sun-News]
P.S. Some commenters are reading the case as one of “defendant doesn’t show up to contest complaint, gets hit with default judgment”; I wasn’t sure from the story (and am still not sure) that the sequence of events was that cut and dried. Obviously, it doesn’t count as especially odd if an absent litigant gets hit with a big judgment.
Update Aug. 2009: Case settled [Citizen Media Law]
- There’s new blogging on the fate of pre-1985 children’s books from book restorer and conservator Javamom, Jane Badger (iBookNet, U.K.), Dillon Hillas, Wellspring Creations, and Small-Leaved Shamrock. Deputy Headmistress continues to blog the book angle intensively, as does Valerie Jacobsen (read this post in particular). Note also the comment from Nancy Welliver on her February 11 post: “We are a used curriculum and book seller. We have removed 3,500 books from our website. … until recently publishers did not put printing dates in books, only copyright dates. So a book that is copyrighted 1976 may have been printed in 1988 and therefore legal to sell, So how do we know which are printed before and which after 1985? So we have removed all books for children with copyright date 1985 and before.” There’s also a page at cpsia-central (the Ning group) on books and libraries.
- The law is also having a major impact on sellers of new children’s books, given that the only newer books presumed safe for legal purposes without testing are completely plain books with no embellishments or non-paper features. Don’t miss the letter at Wellspring Creations from “Jackie”, who identifies herself as the manager of the children’s book section at a Half Price Books store, part of a large chain that sells publisher’s remainders and overstocks as well as used books:
I have experienced the severity of this issue first-hand. … Initially, it didn’t seem like this would have much of an impact on the kids section, but as I went through my section pulling everything that was potentially harmful, I soon realized that this was going to decimate my section. My display tables were over halfway empty, and there were half-empty or completely empty shelves all throughout the section. … The kids cooking shelf went from being packed full to only having half a dozen books left, all because most of the cookbooks were spiral-bound with metal. …
The day that I had to get rid of all those books was one of the roughest days I’ve ever had at work. The kids section is my pride and joy, my baby, and I had to not only watch it get torn apart- I had to do it myself. It was heartbreaking.
The happy ending, if you want to call it that, is that eventually many or most of the new books are likely to return to the shelves after the chain puts them through testing — though it’s more likely to take such a step for a mass-selling branded item piled high on display tables than for a specialty cookbook expected to sell only in the dozens of copies. Go read the whole thing.
- Community Homestead is a center for developmentally disabled adults in rural Wisconsin that has sold residents’ handcraft toys. Its CPSIA story is here.
- Dust-ups in comments sections are not my thing, but some people enjoy them, and they keep breaking out on the occasions when someone still attempts an aggressive defense of this bad law. Thus when the Chicago Daily Herald printed a letter from Alexandra Lozanoff of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) yesterday rhapsodizing about the law, numerous commenters jumped in to express rather sharp disagreement. A state legislator in Orangeburg, South Carolina put her name to a piece in the local paper attacking Sen. Jim DeMint for sponsoring CPSIA reform, provoking dozens of comments, most taking issue. The Natural Resources Defense Council, which is invested in defending CPSIA in part because of the law’s phthalates ban, ran an ill-informed piece pretentiously titled “The Artisan Toymaker’s CPSIA Exemption Guide” and was promptly spanked by knowledgeable commenters, a fate that also befell the left-leaning crew at Moms Rising. The lengthy comments section on John Holbo’s thoughtful followup post at Crooked Timber presented the spectacle of one agitated and flailing defender of the law pretty much surrounded by people trying to talk sense into him. Someone adopting the monicker “Civil Justice” wandered into the Etsy forums to push Lawsuit Lobby views and was not met with pleasure by the assembled crafters, an episode which may be related to the one already told about how the misnamed Center for Justice and Democracy, a group with views antipodal to our own, suggested that we all were insensitive to children’s health and then refused to let any letters from critics through moderation, claiming to feel threatened by the letters’ tone (examples of the sorts of letter CJD found too intimidating in tone to run: Mark Riffey, Olivia @ BabyCandyStore). Some other previously linked comments discussions: The Pump Handle (profoundly misguided contributor corrected by Deputy Headmistress, Kathleen Fasanella, etc.), Consumer Reports, Greco Woodcrafting (Public Citizen’s David Arkush vs. the world), and, of course, Justinian Lane.
- Even a casual acquaintance with CPSIA blogging is enough to show that homeschooling parents have taken an extraordinary role in leading the resistance to the law. Bloggers like CalifMom have predicted that the law will have numerous harmful impacts on homeschoolers, and homeschool curriculum suppliers such as Hands and Hearts History Discovery Kits and Hope Chest Legacy have already closed down because of the impracticability of compliance. So it’s unfortunate that the Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) seems to have so little clue what’s going on.