- “Illinois trial lawyers take a swing at youth baseball” [Curt Mercadente, Illinois Civil Justice League]
- Luzerne County, Pa. scandal: “Court Filing Says Former Judge Met With Felons Twice a Month” [Legal Intelligencer]
- You’d think Obama could find some person without major-league trial lawyer connections for the cabinet seat on health, but you’d be wrong [Wood, PoL, on Kathleen Sebelius, and earlier on Tom Daschle]
- Remember the many times when town officials do or say something arguably racist and the U.S. Department of Justice opens an investigation? Doesn’t seem to happen with the Detroit City Council [Nolan Finley, Detroit News]
- Copyright enforcement doesn’t scale and that’s another reason its future looks bleak [David Post @ Volokh]
- Thought it wasn’t going to happen? “Some Passengers Mull Lawsuits Over Life-Saving US Airways Crash-Landing” [ABA Journal, WSJ law blog, earlier here and here]
- Sex shop that suddenly appeared in genteel Old Town Alexandria, near D.C. is sort of the zoning equivalent of a spite fence [WaPo]
- Claim of British researchers: lawyers’ IQ-point edge over general public has declined over last decade [The Lawyer]
P.S. Or, as Ray Lehmann suggests, this could be a brilliant Obama scheme to balance the federal budget by exposing major tax scofflaws through the nomination process.
Sorry, docs: former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle, reported as Obama’s HHS pick and indeed a “health czar” charged with pushing comprehensive health care reform through Congress, was known as a particularly close ally of the trial lawyers as Majority Leader, and drew on them as his most important donors in his final (2004) race. In 2004 he won an award from the New York Trial Lawyers Association for his work in blocking liability reform at the national level. (CNN, Patterico, American Prospect).
More from Carter Wood who notes the NAM vote tabulation: “On the identified 10 votes [between 1999 and 2004], Sen. Daschle voted against the tort-reform position 10 times. (Included were four health-care, medical liability-related votes.)” (& Dr. Wes).
As a number of commentators have noted (e.g. Brett Kittredge @ Majority in Mississippi, Alan Lange @ YallPolitics), Booneville attorney Joey Langston, who just entered a guilty plea on charges of judicial corruption, is someone accustomed to throwing the weight of his pocketbook around in Mississippi politics. In particular, he has been among the biggest donors to incumbent Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood, even as Hood employed Langston and partner Tim Balducci on contract to handle the controversial MCI tax bill negotiations, with their resulting $14 million legal fees payable to Langston et al, and the potentially very lucrative Zyprexa litigation.
Equally interesting in some ways, however, are Langston’s activities on the national political scene. To take just one example: this CampaignMoney.com listing tabulates the top “527” contributions to a group called the Democratic Attorneys General Association, whose political and electoral mission is implied by its name. In the listing, two donors are tied for first place, with contributions of $100,000 apiece. One is the large Cincinnati law firm of Waite Schneider Bayless Chesley, associated with one of the country’s best-known plaintiff’s lawyers, Stanley Chesley. The other $100,000 contribution is from Joey Langston.
In presidential politics, Langston has recently been a repeat donor to the quixotic (and, since Iowa, defunct) campaign of Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.), a lawmaker whose high degree of seniority on the Senate Judiciary Committee makes him important to ambitious lawyers whether or not he ever attains the White House. When the Scruggs scandal was still in its early stages, the WSJ law blog (Dec. 10) noted that two key figures in the affair, Tim Balducci and Steve Patterson, were strong backers of the Biden campaign: “Their bet on Biden was that he wouldn’t win the presidency but would become Secretary of State under a Hillary Clinton administration, according to two people familiar with their thinking.” The Journal reprinted (PDF) an invitation to an Aug. 10, 2007 fundraising reception for Biden at the Oxford (Miss.) University Club, sent out above the names of six hosts, three of whom (Scruggs, Balducci and Patterson) were soon indicted. Scruggs, of course, is better known for his support of Mrs. Clinton, a fundraiser for whom he had to cancel after the scandal broke.
Campaign-contributions databases such as OpenSecrets.org and NewsMeat indicate that Langston has been a prolific and generous donor to incumbent and aspiring Senators across the country, mostly Democrats (Murray, Cantwell, Daschle, Nelson, etc.) but also including a number of Republicans who might be perceived as swing votes or reachable, such as Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), Susan Collins (Me.), and Arlen Specter (Penn.)
Incidentally, some critics have intimated that Langston’s generous support to DAGA, the Democratic Attorneys General Association, should actually be interpreted as a roundabout gift to Hood, who was the beneficiary of interestingly timed largesse from DAGA. It does not appear, however, that any of the parties involved — Langston, Hood or DAGA — have acknowledged any connection between the timing of the donations (& welcome Michelle Malkin, David Rossmiller, YallPolitics readers).
[Second of a two-part post. The first part is here.]