- Ohio's Chief Justice decries the influence of cash: In an op-ed column in this week's Legal Times, the Chief Justice of the Ohio Supreme Court weighs in on the unhealthy influence of campaign contributions and politics on elected judiciaries--an issue we've recently discussed here, here, and here:
Over the past decade a perfect storm of millions in campaign contributions, increasingly hardball TV ads, and bare-knuckled special interest demands has descended on a growing number of state supreme court campaigns. The new politics deters good lawyers from becoming judges and increases voter cynicism. In August the states’ Conference of Chief Justices voiced "grave concern" over the changing nature of judicial elections and called for meaningful reforms . . . .
The bottom line is that we can’t leave judicial elections to the partisans and politicians. It’s time for everyone—judges, lawyers, and civic leaders—to enter the national debate over our courts. Americans want and need judges who are accountable to the law and the Constitution, not to special interests.
- A "Consumer Class Defense"?: Consumers should be allowed to intervene to assert their interests as a class in certain suits between two businesses--such as the recent patent litigation involving Blackberry handheld devices--under a "consumer class defense" theory. That's the unusual proposal put forward in a note in the hot-off-the-presses Yale Law Journal, "Blackberry Users Unite! Expanding the Consumer Class Action to Include a Class Defense."
- National Law Journal on federal class action stats: The Journal reports on the Federal Judicial Center's report on the Class Action Fairness Act -- which Brian Wolfman discussed here several weeks ago -- showing a marked increase in class actions winding up in federal court:
"I was surprised that the impact happened so soon," said senior researcher Thomas E. Willging of the center, the research arm of the federal judiciary. "Often it takes time for a law's impact to play out. But we saw it in just four and a half months after the effective date. This was particularly dramatic."
- Pretexting: Pretexting continues to be a hot topic in the news. The FTC recently announced a settlement with a pretexting outfit, requiring the defendant to give back a whopping $2,700 in ill-gotten revenue (no, that's not a typo). Reuters reports that "[d]isgorgement of the $2,700 is the stiffest penalty the FTC can seek under current federal law. The FTC has recommended that any new laws adopted give the agency authority to impose additional civil penalties for pretexting." Meanwhile, in California, three of the defendants in the Hewlett Packard pretexting case were arraigned this afternoon.
- Project Posner: Tim Wu, a law professor and former Posner clerk, has created a website where you can easily search and read the published decisions of "probably the greatest living American jurist." The site doesn't include Posner's ridiculously large corpus of articles and books.