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Around the Web, May 10

  • Good Wall Street Journal opinion section today, with an editorial, "Tennessee's Trial Run," on the judicial selection process in the Volunteer State. The state's current appointive plan, a modified Missouri-plan "merit selection" gives inordinate influence to insides and special interests, including the Tennessee Trial Lawyers' Association. Gov. Phil Bredesen is on the side of the reformers.
  • Lots of links and commentary on Tennessee and judicial selection at American Courthouse, the new blog from Dan Pero of the American Justice Partnership.
  • Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen gets lots of mentions as a potential vice presidential candidate, a moderate Democratic governor with a record of fixing the state's budget problems, one who could possibly bring his state's electoral votes with him. Can he afford to offend a major constituency, the trial lawyers?
  • Back at the WSJ, Stephen Moore chronicles the tort-reform successes in Mississippi that helped bring the state out of the "Judicial Hellhole" status that corrupted justice and bedeviled business investment. The column, "Mississippi's Tort Reform Triumph," features Gov. Haley Barbour, the Manhattan Institute's Jim Copland, state Sen. Charlie Ross, and the Pacific Research Institute.
  • The Journal interviews Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who comments on the blocking of legal authority for surveillance of international communications that pass through U.S. exchanges, i.e., FISA reform. Forty-some lawsuits have been filed against the telecommunications companies that acceded to federal requests for surveillance after 9/11, and McConnnell believes the failure of Congress to act is in direct response to a powerful constituency: "It shows you how far they're willing to go," he says, "to enrich these obscenely wealthy characters who practice this kind of law. They'll do anything for them, even jeopardize the security of the United States of America." Cooperation from private firms is essential to conduct intelligence operations, he adds. "This is a private-sector activity. We're not in the phone business. There will be no terrorist-intercept program without the cooperation of the private sector."
  • From The New York Sun: "Lawyers for Mayor Bloomberg are asking a judge to ban any reference to the Second Amendment during the upcoming trial of a gun shop owner who was sued by the city. While trials are often tightly choreographed, with lawyers routinely instructed to not tell certain facts to a jury, a gag order on a section of the Constitution would be an oddity." The Sun link is broken as we post [seems fixed now], so try these excerpts at SayAnythingBlog. The NRA comments: "Considering the trial judge is Jack Weinstein--who has almost singlehandedly attempted to keep illegal efforts to sue the lawful manufacturers and sellers of guns afloat--we will be waiting with bated breath to see how he rules on this motion."
  • An AP weekend story: "Following year of division, Supreme Court avoids 5-4 splits," with a dose of John Paul Stevens watching.
  • From The Houston Chronicle: Failing to inform victims of a potential plea bargain violates the Crime Victims' Rights Act of 2004, the 5th Circuit ruled this week in a case that grew out of the 2005 BP explosion in Texas City. The deal still stands, for now. The ruling is available here.

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Rafael Mangual
Project Manager,
Legal Policy

Manhattan Institute


Published by the Manhattan Institute

The Manhattan Insitute's Center for Legal Policy.