It's a few months old by now, but the report still makes for entertaining reading -- a full-throated defense of activist attorneys general hiring contingency lawyers to sue industry. "State Attorneys General: The People's Champion," comes from the Center for Justice and Democracy, one of the many "consumer" groups financed by the plaintiff's bar. From the news release announcing the report:
In State Attorneys General: The People's Champion, authors Emily Gottlieb and Amy Widman find that state AGs act on behalf of citizens in many diverse areas, including consumer protection, antitrust and utility regulation, and environmental protection. The White Paper delves into many past and current AG lawsuits, including cases where AGs, whose offices may be underfunded and understaffed, work with private outside counsel to accomplish these goals. Outside counsel are hired on contingency at no cost to taxpayers. According to the study, such agreements have been the target of brazen criticism by conservative business groups whose members have often been found liable by state AGs and forced to repay taxpayers millions of dollars.
Gottlieb and Widman write, "When Attorneys General and private attorneys join together, the power of the state is made stronger by the additional resources, manpower and strategic advice provided by private counsel. It increases their access to documents so the state can investigate exactly what was happening behind corporate doors. Also, because the state is involved, it can provide more whistleblower protection to insiders willing to speak the truth about industry misconduct." Moreover, "[S]ettlements and fees are paid for by the wrongdoer, not the taxpayer, and the money is used to cover the costs of the litigation as well as disbursed into public programs related to the lawsuit or funneled back into the Attorney General's office."
All rightee. Walter Olson has written about the group over the years, and Ted Frank* has aptly described CJD as a "trial lawyer front group." It's a 501(c)(3) organization that got out of the lobbying business back in 2006.
*We've updated the post to reflect clearly it was Ted, not Walter, who used the term "trial lawyer front group."