- “Bloggers = Media for First Amendment Libel Law Purposes” [Obsidian Finance Corp. v. Cox; Volokh]
- Co-workers’ taking of Lord’s name in vain is element in discrimination claim of religious harassment [Oregon; Ruder Ware]
- “Michigan Court of Appeals Again Protects Anonymous Criticism” [Paul Alan Levy] Virginia by contrast adopts standard less protective of speech [same] Is D.C. lawyer attempting to unmask Wikipedia editor in defamation suit a “public figure?” [NLJ]
- Judge Posner blasts class-action firm for supposed misconduct, law firm offers evidence to rebut that and proceeds to sue law firm McGuire Woods for allegedly misrepresenting facts of case at its prominent Class Action Countermeasures blog [Alison Frankel, Reuters]
- “Lawyer says he will drop suit alleging website unfairly cast him as a ‘tree mutilator'” [ABA Journal (compares townspeople who criticized tree removal to “bullies,”) Greenfield, Columbia (Mo.) Tribune]
- “The victims are ‘too Christian’ to excite the Left, and ‘too foreign’ to excite the Right.” [Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week, on Mideast persecution] “God may not have felt threatened, but his supporters did” [Nick Cohen on UK’s Maajid Nawaz t-shirt controversy via @secularright, Ken at Popehat] Prison for “blasphemous” Facebook posting, in Greece, not Pakistan or Sudan [Guardian]
- Defendants in Michael Mann’s lawsuit against critics seem to be getting standard “don’t write about getting sued” instructions from their lawyers, but that’s not easy advice to give Mark Steyn [SteynOnline, Jonathan Adler (Mann wins a round opening way to discovery]
Following up on the mention of the issue earlier this month, “Virginia is on the verge of substantially increasing child-support obligations for the first time since 1988. But the proposed increase, which recently passed a legislative committee as a bill called HB 933, would result in excessive obligations for many parents, more unpaid child support and more jailings for nonpayment at taxpayer expense. Some noncustodial parents already pay more than 50 percent of their income in child support.” [Hans Bader, Richmond Times-Dispatch]
In an email, Bader adds:
Often, laws contain provisions that seem to be for the benefit of lawyers rather than the people.
Such is the case for one provision in the child-support bill HB 933, which will result in divorced parents fighting each other over pennies.
Right now, the custodial parent pays the first $250 annually in unreimbursed medical and dental expenses, rather than each co-payment and out of-pocket expense being divided up based on the parents’ share of combined income. But this $250 ceiling will be reduced to zero under the bill HB 933, which may result in angry parents fighting each other over as little as $10 (in some cases, with the assistance of a lawyer, in many other cases, without any lawyer at all), in order to try to get their ex jailed for contempt for not paying their share of the $10.
Certified mediator Diane Poljacik writes in an email (excerpted):
One of the reasons the $250.00 ceiling on health, dental and vision costs was put in place is said to be due in part to a number of frivolous show cause failure to comply motions being filed by the custodial parent against the noncustodial parent for not immediately reimbursing the other parent a $10.00 (or some other ridiculously low figure) co-pay (so called “nickel and diming” the other parent). This happens more often in cases where parents are constantly at war with each other. Removal of this provision could end up playing right into this by enabling warring parents to use this as just another way of trying to get the other parent jailed for contempt. …
If this provision is removed and show cause motions increase, it could potentially create a further burden for court dockets that are already overburdened. … No data has been presented thus far that states the judges are asking for this to be removed.
The measure, introduced by Del. Mark Keam (D-Vienna), would criminalize online “bullying,” defined among other things to include behavior (or speech) intended to “harass” or “humiliate” when it “is repeated over time or causes severe emotional trauma,” but purportedly excluding “ordinary teasing, horseplay, argument, or peer conflict.” Unlike Maryland’s enactment of “Grace’s Law,” which I criticized last year, this one would not be limited to speech directed at minors. Another prerequisite for liability is that the online verbal aggression “involves a real or perceived power imbalance between” the parties, which can be expected to involve courts in some delicate inquiries. Eugene Volokh criticizes (“dangerous and deeply unsound”).
- Faking a Sept. 11 injury would seem basically as disgraceful as faking a war injury, no? [NY Post, Legal Ethics Forum; earlier on Ground Zero compensation here, here, here, here, here (2008 fraud), here, etc. ]
- “Illegal Aliens May Get License to Practice Law in California” [Volokh, earlier] A curious companion headline from only three and a half years ago, and also from California: “Government seeks forfeiture, managers’ prison time for hiring illegal aliens”
- A look back at the Keller Satanic-ritual-abuse case from Texas [Slate]
- Piacentile v. Amgen case “offers a little window into the ugly side of the qui tam business” [Steve McConnell, Drug and Device Law; related from same blog on case of U.S. ex rel. Watson v. King-Vassel, here and here]
- “Father and Daughter Sentenced in $1.5 Million Insurance Fraud Case” [San Diego D.A.]
- Michael McConnell in the Yale Law Journal on religious freedom;
- Child support law madness, Virginia division [Hans Bader]
It’s precisely the outstanding candidates that opponents gun for, writes Conn Carroll, recalling the case of U. Va.’s Lillian BeVier. [Washington Examiner]
In Hopewell, Va., Mr. Montgomery spent four years behind bars after Ms. Coast falsely accused him of a rape eight years earlier, when he was 14. Eventually she admitted she’d made it up. “Coast however was sentenced by Hampton Circuit Court Judge Bonnie L. Jones to just two months in jail and ordered to make $90,000 in restitution for perjury. Jones suspended the rest of the five-year sentence and even allowed Coast to serve the remainder on weekends so not to disrupt her life.” [Jonathan Turley via Amy Alkon, Richmond Times-Dispatch]
A natural experiment: Virginia law allows foreclosures to happen rapidly, Maryland law delays them. Which state has bounced back more smartly from the housing crash? [Michael Schearer, earlier, related (couple spends five years in million-dollar Maryland home without making mortgage payment), update (more links in roundup: Maryland “hobbled by nation’s slowest foreclosure process”]
- More on court’s enjoining Alabama House from sending schools bill to governor [Joshua Dunn, earlier]
- Connecticut mom’s fibbing to get kid into better school district, interpreted as theft of services, contributes to 12-year sentence (also predicated on four unrelated charges of drug sale and possession) [WFSB]
- Student speech hit by one-two punch: post-Newtown hysteria, campaign against bullying [Hans Bader, more]
- Turn Pell Grants into entitlements? Has the Gates Foundation taken leave of its senses? [Neal McCluskey, Cato]
- “The Dubious Case for Regulating Day Care” [John Ross, Reason, responding to Washington Post coverage of Virginia push]
- Kansas lawmakers push back against court’s power grab on edubucks mandate [K. C. Star, earlier]
- “Call to Ditch Red Tape on Playtime Safety” [U.K. TESConnect via Free-Range Kids]
- Setting up as a freelance investigative writer? Getting insurance even for your office rental can be tricky [Romenesko]
- Among many curious Virginia blue laws: “‘any citizen … may institute’ judicial review of any book.” [Barton Hinkle]
- Whether Rupert Murdoch can buy the L.A. Times shouldn’t depend on which party holds power in Washington [Stoll, Future of Capitalism]
- “Publisher launches $3,000,000 suit against academic librarian who criticized its books” [BoingBoing, Edwin Mellen Press] “Alternative” cancer treatment entrepreneur threatens to sue dissatisfied patient [Jardin, BB]
- EU: Let’s regulate journalists [Morrissey] Russia law against pro-gay “propaganda” is part of wider speech crackdown [AP]
- Twitter’s relatively laissez-faire speech policy has advanced its success [Greg Beato]
- “Free Speech on Campus Today” [Cato podcast with FIRE’s Greg Lukianoff]
- Forbids writing about him ever again: “Judge says US-based reporter defamed Haiti’s PM” [AP/Gainesville Sun]
$30,000 in community fund-raising later, kids have a reason to be glum [Washington Post]:
Although parents worked with the Fairfax County Public Schools facilities department, purchased the equipment, hired a contractor and had the playground ready for recess, the school system suddenly deemed the play equipment too dangerous. Since Nov. 30 it has been off-limits, parents say.
Never mind that the same equipment is installed at more than 1,200 parks and schools across the country, including a public park in the county.
Update: District changes mind.