Fame or shame?
By Dan Brillman
Are you part of the judicial branch in California, West
Virginia or Philadelphia? Then you work in a hellhole, according
to the American Tort Reform Foundation, a pro-business nonprofit
that lobbies to curb the amount plaintiffs can recover in
liability and negligence suits.
The ATRF's latest "Judicial Hellholes" list, which it has
issued annually since 2002, identifies the places where it says
"judges in civil cases systematically apply laws and court
procedures in an unfair and unbalanced manner."
Topping this year's list: California. The state is rife with
frivolous tort and class action problems, in large part because
the Americans with Disabilities Act standards claims have
reached an all-time high, and the Golden State is a "magnet" for
asbestos-related suits, says the foundation.
California knocked off the two-time champion, Philadelphia,
a city which slipped (or rose) to #5 after a series of reforms.
As the ATRF report noted, "Climbing out of a judicial hellhole
isn't easy. But it has been done by other, ultimately
reform-minded jurisdictions, and Philadelphia has now joined
Update: Consumer Attorneys of California spokesman J.G.
Preston sent in a "response to being lowered to the inner ring
of hell" by way of a press release. Brian Kabateck, president of
the pro-consumer group, said the ATRF report "oversimplifies the
nature of class action cases." The tort reform group is
"distributing what amounts to a junk report... a canny
fiction-and another sad reminder that big corporations
don't ever like the idea of being held accountable in court when
they rip off consumers."
Mr. and Ms. Deeds
By Erin Geiger Smith
Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom's Skadden Foundation
has announced its 2013 class of fellows, 29 graduating law
students and judicial clerks who will devote the next two years
of their professional careers to public interest work, all paid
for by the firm.
The group of fellows includes an impressive array of
students taking on a variety of good works. New York University
School of Law's Semuteh Freeman, for instance, will work with
homeless youth to help ensure their college readiness. Hunder
Landerholm of Harvard Law School will be a legal and policy
advocate for pregnant women and new mothers in female-dominated
low-wage jobs. Samuel Petsonk of Washington and Lee University
School of Law will represent West Virginia coal miners who have
been retaliated against for reporting unsafe work conditions.
David Lat at Above the Law has a comprehensive list of which
schools have had the most Skadden fellows over the past five
years. Harvard takes the top spot, with 24.
Ex-Penn State lawyer targeted
By Erin Geiger Smith
In the independent report detailing how Penn State handled
the investigation into allegations against the now convicted
child abuser Jerry Sandusky, the university's former general
counsel, Cynthia Baldwin, was heavily criticized.
And she may face a lawsuit by one of her old university
clients, former Penn State administrator Gary Schultz. Schultz,
who is facing criminal charges for perjury and failure to report
child abuse, has filed papers in Pennsylvania state court
indicating he intends to sue Baldwin, The Legal Intelligencer reports. Baldwin allowed Schultz to "believe she was his
unencumbered, conflict-free lawyer," the papers said.
Baldwin has said that she was not representing Schultz when
he appeared in front of the grand jury but the interests of the
Giving the go-ahead
By Suhrith Parthasarathy
The U.S. government's controversial and secret
warrantless-wiretapping program is set to expire on Dec. 31. It
was reauthorized by the Republican-dominated House of
Representatives in September, and now Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore)
has said he will lift the procedural hold that bars the Senate
from voting on the measure, Wired reports.
The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act Amendments Act
amends the original Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of
2008 and authorizes the government to wiretap American phone
calls and emails without a probable-cause warrant if one of the
parties is believed to be outside the United States, to obtain
"foreign intelligence information." In June, Wyden objected to
extending the law, since no information was provided on the
number of people in the country whose communications had been
intercepted or how the law was being applied, Wired reported at
the time. He used a little-known power, a "hold," to block the
Senate from a routine vote, demanding a floor debate and
threatening a filibuster.
Wyden says he's now willing to lift the hold, as long as the
law is extended only for a short term with the chance of a
debate in the "early future." The law is also under a separate constitutional challenge before the Supreme Court, where the
ACLU argued in October that it violated Fourth Amendment
protection against illegal search and seizure.
By Caitlin Tremblay
If you now can hear yourself sighing in relief, you have the
Commercial Advertisement Loudness Act (yes, CALM) to thank. The
act, which goes into effect on Thursday, states that television
commercials can no longer be aired at a louder volume than the
programs they accompany.
CALM was passed by both houses of Congress and signed into
law by President Obama on Dec. 15, 2010, and adopted by the
Federal Communications Commission a year ago, on Dec. 13, 2011.
The past year has served as a grace period for television
service providers to update equipment to comply with the law.
Why commercials were so loud in the first place basically comes down to advertisers wanting to catch your attention.
Happy channel surfing.
Summary Judgments for December 12
Summary Judgments for December 11
Summary Judgments for December 10
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