Results matching “"rhode island" "lead paint"”

The Senate is expected to vote shortly after noon today on whether to move ahead with the full debate on the nomination of John "Jack" McConnell to the U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island.

The public got a preview of any debate Tuesday when Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) spoke on the Senate floor against the nomination of McConnell, an attorney with Motley Rice who made -- and continues to make -- millions from the state tobacco lawsuit, is a major political contributor across the nation -- even in North Dakota -- and who in his public statements demonstrates judicial intemperance. Cornyn:

I am sorry to have to say this, but the hard truth is Mr. McConnell's record--which I will describe in a moment--is one of not upholding the rule of law but perverting the rule of law, ignoring the responsibilities he had to his client, and manipulating those ethical standards in order to enrich himself and his law partners.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, rose in defense of McConnell's nomination, but only after excoriating Republicans for delaying action on President Obama's judicial nominees. Leahy challenged Cornyn's assertion that McConnell had deceived the committee during the confirmation procedures, and praised the trial lawyer's dedication:

Some oppose him because he successfully represented plaintiffs, including the State of Rhode Island itself, in lawsuits against lead paint manufacturers. Some here in the Senate may support the lead paint industry. That is their right. I support those who want to go after the people who poison children. That is what Mr. McConnell did. But nobody should oppose Mr. McConnell for doing what lawyers do and vigorously representing his clients in those lawsuits.

It's a shock to see a Senate chairman so blithely accusing U.S. manufacturers of "poisoning" children. In any case, even if you admire McConnell's partnership with then Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse in ginning up a public nuisance complaint against the paint companies, it hardly reflects a mindset or legal experience befitting a judicial appointment.

We have The Congressional Record's account of the Cornyn and Leahy exchanges here.

The Senate Judiciary Committee today voted 11-7 on party lines to approve the nomination of John "Jack" McConnell for the U.S. District Court, District of Rhode Island. Whether the Motley Rice trial attorney and Democratic contributor ever gets a final confirmation vote on the Senate floor is another matter. (Updated Friday, 9 a.m.: Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) joined the Democrats in supporting McConnell.)

Sen. Charles Grassley (R-IA), the committee's ranking member, read a lengthy and strongly worded statement in opposition to McConnell's nomination. Excerpt:

Mr. McConnell has a view of the law that I believe is outside the mainstream of legal thought. Much of Mr. McConnell's career has been devoted to bringing some of the most controversial mass tort litigation of recent years. He has pursued the manufacturers of asbestos, tobacco, and lead paint, whose actions he believes to be "unjust." In bringing many of these cases, Mr. McConnell has often stretched legal argument beyond its breaking point. An example is the "public nuisance" theory he pursued in the Rhode Island lead paint case. Well-respected attorneys have said Mr. McConnell's theory "just [did not] mesh with centuries of Anglo-American law" and a former attorney general called the lead-paint cases "a lawsuit in search of a legal theory." 

The Rhode Island Supreme Court unanimously ruled against him in State v. Lead Industries Associates, Inc. In a well-reasoned opinion, the court found that there was no set of facts that he could have proven to establish that the defendants were liable in public nuisance.


More on the John McConnell (D.R.I.) nomination - PointOfLaw Forum

The Ocean State Policy Research Institute wants some answers about McConnell's role in a corrupt $2.5 million cy pres award in the Rhode Island lead paint litigation—to a Massachusetts hospital that Motley Rice owed money to, and that accepted the cy pres award as satisfaction of Motley Rice's obligation, thus serving as a laundered attorney's fee. A shame neither the Democratic U.S. Attorney nor the Democratic state attorney general is going to investigate it: the Senate Judiciary Committee should take this opportunity to do so.

Before breaking for the Memorial Day reces, Democratic leadership in the House of Representatives had hoped to push through on the final Friday H.R. 5175, the DISCLOSE Act, to limit speech in response to the Citizens United v. FEC decision. But the House Rules Committee canceled its committee meeting and the bill never made it to the floor.

Looking at the both the Rules Committee and House floor schedule for next week, we find no mention of the bill. Have the faux passions cooled, partisan motivations waned? Doubt it, but the bill's absence is curious.

On the Senate side, the Judiciary Committee has items of interest. Tuesday morning the full committee holds a hearing, "The Risky Business of Big Oil: Have Recent Court Decisions and Liability Caps Encouraged Irresponsible Corporate Behavior?" So far the only witnesses scheduled are Christopher Jones of Keogh, Cox and Wilson of Baton Rouge; Jack Coleman, managing partner, EnergyNorthAmerica, LLC, and formerly a Republican counsel for the House Committee on Natural Resources; and Tom Galligan, president, Colby Sawyer College in New London, NH.

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on judicial nominations, including the controversial nomination of Rhode Island trial lawyer and lead paint litigator John "Jack" McConnell to be U.S. District Court Judge. Also on the schedule is President Obama's nomination to the Second Circuit of Robert Chatigny, a U.S. District Court judge in Connecticut. The Washington Times had a tough editorial recently on Chatigny's record that also criticized McConnell, "Sexual sadism, unleaded."

At NRO this morning, I argued that it was important to keep an eye on judicial nominations other than Elena Kagan's to the Supreme Court:

[I]n 1986, the Democrats in the Senate were so focused on attacking William Rehnquist -- whom Ronald Reagan had chosen to elevate to chief justice of the Supreme Court -- that they made nary a noise about Reagan's pick to succeed Rehnquist as an associate justice. Thus it was that Antonin Scalia was confirmed to sit for life on the highest court in the land with 98 senators in favor, and none against.

It's incumbent on those of us who care about the judiciary to keep this in mind as the nation's attention focuses on Elena Kagan. Only a tiny fraction of cases decided by the appellate courts are granted review by the Supreme Court, which means that those lower appellate benches are usually the courts of last resort in the federal system. And because so many cases never make it even that far, federal trial courts wield enormous power, too.

I focused on three nominees of concern:

  • Goodwin Liu, my law school classmate (see previous posts on this site);

  • Louis Butler, of Wisconsin Supreme Court lead paint and med-mal fame (see ealier posts here); and

  • Jack McConnell, the plaintiffs' lawyer who was Senator Sheldon Whitehouse's symbiotic partner in Rhode Island's $3 billion-lead-paint-verdict fiasco (see posts here, and earlier writings here and here).

Liu's nomination was voted out of the Judiciary Committee today on a straight (12-7) party-line vote.

Our readers may recall that Butler's nomination also passed out of Judiciary last year on a 12-7 party-line vote but wasn't acted upon by the full body; and that the president resubmitted his nomination this January.

McConnell's hearings before Judiciary were scheduled for this afternoon. As Carter reported, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce came out strongly against this nomination on Tuesday, and my piece today in NRO was joined by critical editorials in the Washington Times and American Spectator.

In Rhode Island, campaigning on failure - PointOfLaw Forum

Rhode Island Attorney General Patrick Lynch, a Democrat running for governor, is actually campaigning on having lost a lawsuit. From AP's report on a candidate forum, "6 Rhode Island candidates for governor discuss childhood poverty at interfaith forum":

When the candidates were asked about protecting children, Democrat Patrick Lynch touted his record as two-term attorney general, including suing former lead paint companies for making a toxic product.

The state won a jury verdict in 2006 that could have cost three companies billions of dollars, but the decision was overturned two years later by the state Supreme Court.

"It's still used for political potshots, but I was the only one who stood up," Lynch said.

Stood up and continued the legally suspect public nuisance lawsuit started by Lynch's predecessor, AG Sheldon Whitehouse, before finally losing! (Supreme Court opinion here.)

State of Rhode Island v. Lead Industries Association, Inc., et al. case is in the news again this week because the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday will hold a hearing on the nomination of John J. "Jack" McConnell, Jr., to be U.S. District Judge for the District of Rhode Island. McConnell is the Motley Rice attorney who, on a contingency basis, "led the trial team representing the State of Rhode Island in the public nuisance litigation against the major former manufacturers of lead paint."

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Institute for Legal Reform just issued a statement opposing McConnell's nomination. Lisa Rickard, ILR President, said:

In addition to earning a lackluster rating from the American Bar Association, Mr. McConnell has defined his plaintiffs' lawyer career by suing employers based on controversial legal theories. For example, he has spent a large part of the past decade advancing a misguided interpretation of the public nuisance theory in lead paint litigation, which was rejected by four state supreme courts, including the unanimous rejection by the Rhode Island Supreme Court.

President Obama on Wednesday nominated Rhode Island's most prominent trial lawyer and a generous campaign contributor, John J. "Jack" McConnell, to be a U.S. District Court judge. McConnell is the managing partner at Motley Rice (bio) and was one of primary figures behind the tobacco lawsuits of the 1990s.

McConnell also joined then Rhode Island Attorney General Sheldon Whitehouse in dreaming up the public nuisance suit against paint manufacturers. In 2008, the state Supreme Court overturned the 2006 verdict against Sherwin-Williams Co., NL Industries Inc. and Millennium Holdings, but not before cities and states produced a wave of copycat lawsuits seeking to twist traditional public nuisance law into a new, all-encompassing brand of product liability law.

Whitehouse, now a U.S. Senator, and his Democratic colleague Jack Reed recommended McConnell for the judgeship in April 2009. (News release.) As the Wall Street Journal editorialized at the time:

Mr. McConnell and his firm helped pioneer the practice of soliciting public officials to bring lawsuits in which the private lawyers are paid a percentage of any judgment or settlement. The law firms front the costs of litigation and are compensated if the suit is successful. But such contingency-fee arrangements inevitably raise questions of pay to play. And private lawyers with state power and a financial stake in the outcome of a case can't be counted on to act in the interest of justice alone.

So, yes, McConnell is a transformative political figure, which is not what one normally asks for in a trial judge.

John J. "Jack" McConnell Jr. of South Carolina-based Motley Rice, considered a key architect of the close alliance between the trial bar and the Rhode Island Democratic Party that led up to the state's failed litigation against lead paint companies, has been tagged for a seat on the state's federal district court by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse and Jack Reed (both D-R.I.). [Providence Journal via Genova] As I noted eight years ago (see also this update from David Nieporent and this summary from Jim Copland), an investigation by Forbes found that after McConnell opened a Motley branch office in Providence, the firm quickly established itself as Rhode Island's largest political contributor for the 2000 elections, and McConnell himself became treasurer of the state party (and a key donor ever since, including to campaigns of Reed and Whitehouse). Whitehouse (as state AG) then proceeded to hire the Motley firm to conduct the state's much-publicized lawsuit seeking to assign the costs of lead paint cleanup to companies that produced the paint many decades earlier. That suit would have yielded enormous returns (and legal fees) had it succeeded, but in the event proved to be too drastic a stretch of legal principles for the courts to accept. For McConnell, though, at least, if not for many of the others involved, the whole episode seems to have resulted in a happy ending.

Ohio AG dismisses state's lead paint lawsuit - PointOfLaw Forum

A news release from the office of Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, "CORDRAY DISMISSES LEAD PAINT LAWSUIT":

(COLUMBUS, Ohio) - After careful consideration, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray today voluntarily dismissed the lead paint lawsuit filed by former Attorney General Marc Dann in April 2007. This lawsuit was pending in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas against ten paint manufacturers and was focused on abatement of lead paint throughout Ohio.

"I understand and strongly agree that exposure to lead paint is a very real problem," said Attorney General Cordray. "But I also know that not every problem can be solved by a lawsuit." After assessing the law, facts, and adverse legal rulings in these types of cases nationally, the Attorney General concluded that those at risk - and Ohio's economy - would be best served by focusing on how public/private partnerships can be enhanced to address any existing problems with lead paint exposure.

Very welcome, although a predictable political move. Given the Rhode Island Supreme Court's dismissal last year of the state's public nuisance suit against paint manufacturers, followed by the city of Columbus' dropping its suit, and other dismissals across the country, Ohio's suit was a sure loser, legally AND politically.

Besides, it was Marc Dann's idea.

UPDATE: Jane Genova at Law and More notes Cordray's decision and brings us up to date on the last of its kind litigation, Santa Clara County, now under review at the California Supreme Court.

Around the web, February 4 - PointOfLaw Forum

Rhode Island Superior Court Judge Michael A. Silverstein ruled Thursday that the state must reimburse three paint manufacturers who were charged for costs of developing a lead-paint mitigation plan -- specifically, the costs of "co-examiners" -- before the state Supreme Court had completed consideration (and ultimate vindication) of their appeal. (The judge's decision is here.)

From the manufacturers' news release:

"The Court got it right," said Charles H. Moellenberg, Jr., an attorney for The Sherwin-Williams Company. "These companies should not bear the costs of litigation that the Supreme Court said should have been dismissed at the outset ten years ago. This case demonstrates that state and local governments solicited by trial lawyers to file public nuisance lawsuits should recognize that these cases are not cost-free."

In July 2008, in a long-awaited ruling, the Rhode Island Supreme Court rejected the Attorney General's public nuisance lawsuit filed nine years earlier against former manufacturers of lead pigment used in residential paint, saying the case should have been dismissed at the beginning. After the jury verdict, the state filed a motion seeking costs of more than $1 million. Following the Supreme Court decision reversing the jury verdict, defendants Sherwin-Williams, NL Industries, Inc., and Millennium Holdings LLC, filed a motion seeking reimbursement of $242,121.21 in costs they paid to court-appointed co-examiners whose work began before the Supreme Court reversal.

In its ruling today, the Superior Court said: "With regard to the actions taken by both parties here, as a matter of law and fairness, the Court finds little merit in the State's suggestion that the Defendants should bear the burden of paying the Co-Examiner expenses." The decision added: "The State made a calculated decision to pursue a claim against the Defendants and voluntarily participate in the judicial system, and thus may not invoke sovereign immunity to shield it from the imposition of costs."

Precisely! The companies have more claims for compensation to come. 

And, Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, any reason to keep Ohio's public nuisance suit going? Distance yourself from Marc Dann!


Having written this week (here, here, here, here and here) on the various public policy aspects of the tobacco master settlement agreement 10 years after its enactment, we now get to perhaps the most important and lasting consequences of the MSA: the astounding increase in money and political power the agreement brought to the nation's trial lawyers, as well as the expansion of states' use of private contingency lawyers to carry out cash-seeking litigation. Any review of the decade following the MSA that omits these profound implications for the U.S. legal and political system is incomplete, woefully incomplete.

So that's the way we'd describe NPR's series, "The Tobacco Settlement, 10 Years Later," the most prominent media take on the MSA's anniversary. Each individual story was OK within its limited scope, but the reporters and producers all but skipped the trial lawyer angle, producing woefully incomplete journalism. A non-broadcast sidebar profiled some of the actors, "Update: Key Players In The Tobacco Settlement." There's a paragraph on Mississippi's former attorney general, Mike Moore, who initiated the state lawsuit against the tobacco companies because, "His friend, attorney Mike Lewis, came to him with the idea." And there's a paragraph on Dickie Scruggs:

Mississippi trial lawyer Richard "Dickie" Scruggs first became well-known taking on the asbestos industry on behalf of sick shipyard workers. He was then hired to sue Big Tobacco, representing Mississippi in the protracted tobacco litigation in the 1990s and helping to broker a deal. He said the settlement earned his firm close to $1 billion. He continued as a class action warrior until getting into a dispute over legal fees in the settlement of Hurricane Katrina insurance cases. In 2007, he was indicted on charges of attempting to bribe a judge. He pleaded guilty and is serving five years at a federal prison in eastern Kentucky.

And that's it on the subject of trial lawyers.

High on the list of legal-reform elections - PointOfLaw Forum

Alabama -- In the expensive, expensive, very expensive Supreme Court race, Republican Greg Shaw has defeated Democrat Deborah Bell Paseur by about a percentage point. From the AP: "The Shaw campaign claimed victory with a lead of more than 14,000 votes, while Paseur eyed a possible recount." Very much a business versus trial lawyers face-off.

West Virginia -- Incumbent Democratic Attorney General Darrell McGraw appears to have won a slim victory over Charleston attorney and former legislator Dan Greear. McGraw has contributed to West Virginia's terrible, anti-business legal climate -- see this Manhattan Institute "Trial Lawyers, Inc." update -- hiring highly compensated private lawyers to manage the state's lawsuits and then divvying up the proceeds of awards to his political allies. An expensive race featuring negative ads, but in that, hardly the exception. (More.)

Ohio -- Democratic state Treasurer Richard Cordray easily won a three-way contest for Ohio attorney general yesterday, taking 57 percent of the vote over Mike Crites, a former federal prosecutor. Cordray fills the remaining two-years of the term of Democrat Marc Dann, who had resigned in disgrace amid a sex and administrative nightmare scandal. From The Columbus Dispatch: "Cordray said his top priority will be fighting mortgage fraud. He will also work to strengthen enforcement of consumer-protection laws."

Ohio remains the only state left with a public nuisance suit against lead paint manufacturers, one filed by Dann and kept alive by the interim AG. The city of Columbus previously dropped its suit after the Rhode Island Supreme Court ruling in July. Perhaps Cordray's clear-cut victory gives him the political maneuvering room to drop the pointless, expensive and anti-economic-growth litigation. Respectfully suggested line of argument: "I intend to devote my energies to our most pressing problems, where we can do the most good."

UPDATE: We should note that in the case of West Virginia, Democratic Governor Joe Manchin was re-elected with a big margin. Manchin is a pro-growth governor who has been critical of the state's degraded legal climate, so his election offers continued hope for reform.

UPDATE, Texas: From the Wall Street Journal Law Blog, "If plaintiffs lawyers in Houston are a little groggy this morning from too much partying, please forgive them. They've got much to cheer about: Last night, Houston trial courts underwent a massive face lift, as 22 Democratic judges swept into office." Big picture: "Democrats won 22 of the 26 district-court races in Harris County (Houston). In Dallas County, which also used to be a GOP bastion before a partisan shift in 2006, Democrats won all six district-court races."

In New Hampshire, Merrimack Superior Court Judge Philip Mangones has kept alive the state's suit against oil companies that produced the gas additive MTBE, but he has followed the Rhode Island Supreme Court in rejecting the state's public nuisance claim.

From the Concord Monitor, "State right to sue oil companies jointly":

In the state's biggest-ever environmental case, the attorney general's office is suing producers of MTBE and gasoline containing the additive, saying they should foot the bill for cleaning the thousands of wells and drinking water supplies across the state into which the chemical has seeped, in some cases making the water undrinkable.

The case names 26 defendants - companies such as Exxon Mobil, Irving, Citgo, BP and Hess - some of whom filed motions to dismiss four of the seven counts against them. Mangones denied their requests on three counts but dismissed one about public nuisance.

Citing a Rhode Island lead paint case, Mangones said public nuisance does not apply because the manufacturers were not in control of the product at the time it allegedly caused harm.

The story notes that D.C. attorney Rick Wallace, representing Shell and Chevron, is heartened by the dismissal because, "The state relied principally on this claim for its contention that it can demand payment for what it calls 'the cumulative effect' of MTBE 'statewide' without having to prove that it incurred damages from particular causes at specific sites." The other claims will require proof that a company contributed to a specific incident of contamination.

The original suit was filed in 2003 by Attorney General Peter Heed with the support of Gov. Craig Benson (both Republicans), and current AG Kelly Ayotte announced in January she would continue the suit. (Ayotte succeeded Heed after he resigned in 2004 over allegations of improper touching.)

Links and MTBE-related history below ...

Corporate monitors and double standards - PointOfLaw Columns

By Walter Olson

Last November the Newark Star-Ledger reported on an eyebrow-raising instance of the Justice Department practice of leaning on companies under investigation to appoint "corporate monitors". In particular, New Jersey U.S. Attorney Christopher Christie had "helped the Ashcroft Group—the consulting firm of ex-Attorney General John Ashcroft—obtain a contract worth between $28 million and $52 million to monitor Zimmer Holdings, a medical supply company accused of Medicare fraud." That story quite rightly set off a round of discussion and concern, both because of the dangers of political coziness in the choice of monitor and because the fee numbers seemed high. In July, Democrats on the Hill introduced legislation to impose what it is hoped will amount to an "open, competitive process"—going beyond the Justice Department, which had already adopted its own tightened guidelines for the picking of monitors in implicit acknowledgment that the concerns were genuine.

It's funny how these things work, though. For a full decade now—starting with the great state tobacco-Medicaid litigation, and never really abating since then—debate has raged at the state and local level about the often cozy and uncompetitive process by which governments select outside counsel for the correction of business defendants. In this latter case—exemplified by the gun, lead paint, drug-reimbursement, and many other public-nuisance and mass-tort actions, as well as a wide range of securities class action matters—the lawyers are hired to sue the businesses, as distinct from monitoring them afterward, and they are compensated through contingency fees, which sometimes sets them up for lower fees than Ashcroft & Co., but often for fees that are very much higher.

You may have noticed that many of the folks who have led the charge on the Christie-Zimmer matter display virtually no interest in this longstanding debate about state and local retention of outside counsel. The Times, for example, has gleefully seized on the Christie/Zimmer affair as a stick to beat the Bush Justice Department, invoking "the kindness of cronies", the use of monitoring positions "to throw patronage to friends and political allies", the danger that prosecutorial judgment will be colored by the chance to generate "a rich payday for a friend", and so forth. Yet the Times never shows the slightest editorial interest in the contingency-fee contracts that governors, mayors, treasurers, comptrollers, and attorneys general keep arranging for close chums and leading campaign contributors, whether it be lead-paint contracts in Rhode Island, Oxycontin contracts in West Virginia, securities and drug-reimbursement suits in many states, insurance cases on the Gulf Coast, or tobacco and gun litigation contracts nationwide including its own back yard of New York, Connecticut and New Jersey. Congress never did show much interest in investigating those contracting abuses either, and it shows essentially none now. So although groups like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have pressed for transparency in the awarding of such contracts, they face a mostly uphill and unpublicized fight.

Of course, one obvious difference between the two types of potential corruption is that there is not much partisan mileage to be had by going after the contingency-fee kind, because although plenty of Republican officials around the country are in on the game, even more Democrats are. But that can't be relevant. Can it?

From Washington Legal Foundation by defense-side lawyers Thomas R. Bender, Richard O. Faulk, John S. Gray:

On July 1, 2008, the Supreme Court of the nation's smallest state, Rhode Island, gave a loud and mighty roar as it rejected the use of public nuisance law as a means to sue manufacturers of lawful products. In so ruling, the Court conforms to the traditional role of judges presiding over common law controversies, and joined a growing list of other state supreme courts that have refused to enlarge the boundaries of this ancient tort.

Among fatal objections to the plaintiffs' theory: "Defendants Must Control the Public Nuisance at the Time of the Injury" and "Harm Occurring in a Private Homes is not a 'Public Right' that Triggers Public Nuisance Liability". Full 18-page paper here (PDF).

That "Right Thing to Do" - Natural Law in Scary Times - PointOfLaw Forum

The plaintiff bar has made a good read on the confusion and fear - ethical, emotional and legal - of these volatile times.

In the court of law and of public opinion, it is arguing increasingly about the "right thing to do." That, of course, relies on natural-law theory [lex naturalis] or the fundamentalist belief that holds that there exists a law whose content and authority are established by nature, therefore valid everywhere. Throughout Rhode Island's lead paint public nuisance litigation and afterwards in taking on the state's Supreme Court decision in the media, Motley Rice spoke in terms of some universal legal and ethical code.

Natural law's power, points out Australian law professor David B. Goldman in "Globalisation and the Western Legal Tradition," comes from its deep roots in legal thought, dating back to ancient times. That has been reinforced both pragmatically and in the history of ideas by religious, literary, and political movements. Think the American Revolution which embodies belief in natural law in the "Declaration of Independence."

What the defense bar seems to be doing to neutralize this power includes arguments based on points of law, changing times, community mores, CSI-type evidence, mitigating circumstances, and cause/effect vs. mere correlation. The success of tort reform efforts has also tilted the legal system towards relativism instead of absolutist dictates.

Odd but Perfect Fit: Working-class values/CSI Effect - PointOfLaw Forum

Working-class values and the CSI Effect should be mutually exclusive in legal persuasion, right? Wrong, I found out in interviewing the Rhode Island lead paint public nuisance jurors. They straddled both spheres just fine.

Those working-class values, which have become chic as we endure two recessions in less than a decade, celebrate compassion, community, resilience, and the work ethic. In "Limbo: Blue-Collar Roots, White-Collar Dreams," journalist Alfred Lubrano presents fresh prespectives on the world most of us baby boomers ran from.

The so-called CSI Effect, derived from popular crime TV shows, creates the expectation for and trust of scientific evidence. The RI lead jurors, primarily blue-collar, used both mindsets to come to a verdict. The hazards the children faced from lead paint were uppermost in their motivation to make the right decision. And they persisted through four months of a trial and eight days of deliberation to do just that, despite sickness and an abnormal lifestyle.

Simultaneously, they took copious notes - the court was one of the few which allowed that - to keep the so-called facts straight. They became deadlocked twice because of the lack of evidence. They got to a verdict only by pasting the judge's instructructions, which didn't require evidence, to the wall and going through them line-by-line. Subsequently the RI Supreme Court overturned the jury's verdict because of this lack of evidence.

My hunch is that these two very different modes of persuasion mesh in court because law is a unique institution. It's both rule-bound and subject to the community mores. Regarding the latter, the blue-collar ethos, just like in the counterculture 1970s, has become fashionable. That could change with an economic boom, which could revamp current legal rhetoric, especially for the plaintiff bar.

New guestblogger: Jane Genova of Law and More - PointOfLaw Forum

We're happy to announce that Jane Genova, whose blog Law and More we've linked innumerable times at Point of Law, will be guestblogging with us this week. Genova began blogging as an extension of her work in corporate speechwriting, ghostwriting and marketing, but the work soon took on a life of its own, especially after she began to concentrate on the high-stakes but under-reported field of lead paint litigation, which she's covered with extraordinary energy and detail at Law and More. She pioneered the in-person liveblogging of trials before that idea caught on elsewhere, notably in the landmark Rhode Island lead paint case, and has branched out into other law and business topics with a lively mix of content that includes insider interviews, tips on management and branding strategy, speculation on the stories behind the news, and personal asides.

Around the web, August 19 - PointOfLaw Forum

  • Judge Ward has attracted so many patent plaintiffs to his E.D. Tex. courtroom that its "rocket docket" is slowing down [Texas Lawyer]
  • Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell picks Houston chum Kenneth Bailey of Bailey Perrin Bailey to go after Johnson & Johnson in high stakes Risperdal marketing suit [Legal NewsLine, more]
  • Ted Frank on Mirapex compulsive-gambling suit [Examiner, Overlawyered]
  • Motley Rice is griping (and griping and griping) about being done out of its big lead paint payday by the Rhode Island Supreme Court [Genova]
  • Humane Society lacks standing to challenge New York economic development grant to foie gras maker [NYLJ]
  • Unwise judicial selection methods do not equal unconstitutional: a look back at NY's Lopez-Torres case [Haden/Anderson, Fed. Soc.'s Engage; related, Boog/Judicial Reports]

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