Return to Home
  Legal Update Archive

An up-to-date list of judicial nominees

Confirmation Watch

The Archives

Noteworthy Cases 2001

Noteworthy Cases 2002

Noteworthy Cases 2003

Other Noteworthy Cases — 2003

Below are periodic updates on selected cases affecting individual rights and individual freedoms.

Lies, Damn Lies and Statistics

What a difference reality makes. Three weeks ago, a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit unanimously told us that California couldn’t hold its constitutionally called Gubernatorial Recall Election on Tuesday, October 7, 2003, because "forty-four percent of the electorate will be forced to use a voting system so flawed that the Secretary of State has officially deemed it ‘unacceptable’ and banned its use in all future elections." The judges were objecting to California’s continued regional use of punch card ballots and VotoMatic voting equipment because, according to their decision, such methods are so plagued with "inherent defects … that approximately 40,000 voters who travel to the polls and cast their ballot will not have their vote counted at all." Fast forward to Wednesday, October 8, 2003 – or nearly eight million votes later – and exactly none of these judicial statements are true...[more]

The Robed Recall

Eight Days, eleven judges, and thirteen double-spaced pages later, the California Recall Election is back on again. Returned to its original calendar date of Tuesday, October 7, 2003, by an en banc (or literally "full bench") panel of the same U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit from which three other judges had, just a week earlier, ruled the race had to be put off until March 2004 because the use of VotoMatic punchcard ballots could hypothetically disenfranchise voters violating both the federal Voting Rights Act and the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution...[more]

Constitution ‘Rolls’ Former Crimson Tide Coach Price

Every American needs a good lesson in constitutional law – even those who limit their daily readings to the sports section. This spring, Martha Burk got some legal schooling when she unsuccessfully ran a very public, and lonely, protest against Augusta National Golf Club’s constitutionally protected right to operate as a private club under the First Amendment. Now, Former Alabama Coach Mike Price – fired from his multi-million dollar coaching position over claims of drunken behavior – got his constitutional lesson this week when most of his $20 million lawsuit against the Crimson Tide was dismissed on the states’ rights protections found in the Eleventh Amendment...[more]

Three Down, Many More to Go

Three California trial lawyers, who reportedly made their fortunes shaking down thousands of small immigrant-owned business owners through the filing of frivolous lawsuits, have resigned from the state bar after facing disbarment over alleged ethics violations...[more]

Sue the Lawyers

“Enough is enough.”  That is the new message from corporate America.  After suffering through the deluge of class action attacks against corporations that sell products ranging from hamburgers to medical equipment to automobiles, corporate boardrooms are taking the offensive against the increasing number of vexatious litigants...[more]

The Criminalization of Responsibility:
Making Corporate Officers Guilty for the Acts of Their Employees

For centuries, the law in Western nations was guided by the fundamental principle that an individual could only be prosecuted and convicted of a crime if he willfully or knowingly committed an unlawful act.  Classic Anglo-American legal theory reflected this core belief in its requirement that the state prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused consummated the criminal offense with both an actus reus (a criminal act) and a mens rea (a criminal intent).  Thus, criminal sanctions were never intended to punish bad thoughts remaining unmanifested by action nor bad acts occurring unwittingly or by accident.  The former category was to be resolved by a higher spiritual authority and the latter could properly be resolved by the civil tort liability system...[more]

Justice At What Price? The Sixth Amendment Right to Counsel

At a long-delayed preliminary hearing held last week, a federal judge ruled that Oklahoma City bombing conspirator Terry Nichols can be tried on state charges alleging 160 counts of first degree murder in connection with the 1995 bombing of the Murrah Federal Building.  Nichols was already convicted in 1997 of federal conspiracy and involuntary manslaughter charges for the deaths of eight law enforcement officers in the bombing.  He is serving a life prison sentence for his federal convictions because the jury deadlocked over whether to give him the death penalty, and the judge, to whom the sentencing fell, could impose no more than life without parole...[more]

Entire 9th Circuit Ducks Judge Reinhardt’s Ricochet, Could Hit the Supreme Court Docket

A deeply divided U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit last week refused to review a controversial ruling from a three-judge panel led by Judge Stephen Reinhardt that held the Second Amendment protects only a collective — rather than an individual — right to keep and bear arms...[more]

New Report Justifies Judicial Need to Continue to
Reallocate Fault in Product Liability Litigation

This week, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a notice saying that years after products are recalled or safety warnings are issued, those same products continue to kill and injure.  Many consumer products deemed hazardous and included on the CPSC list have previously received substantial attention because they were recalled or addressed under government safety standards...[more]

McLawsuit Reheated: It Doesn't Taste Any Better

The McFatties are back. A month after a federal district judge dismissed their class action lawsuit against McDonald's, a group of overweight children and their parents filed a new complaint against the fast food giant maintaining that Ronald, Grimace and the Hamburglar must pay up for childhood obesity, high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease...[more]

Second Amendment Showdown in the 9th Circuit Cloakroom

In a new Second Amendment ruling issued by the 9th Circuit on Tuesday, three of Reinhardt’s brethren, Judges Arthur L. Alarcón, Ronald M. Gould and Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain, took the highly unusual step of criticizing a fellow sitting jurist in a published legal opinion for the entire world to see...[more]

GAO Drops Lawsuit Aimed at Forcing Vice President Cheney To Disclose Energy Task Force Information

It has been 30 years since Watergate and a time when the public eye closely watched a court battle between the executive branch and Congress over disclosure of documents.  In 1973, the special prosecutor investigating secretly recorded conversations in the Oval Office subpoenaed the tape recordings.  President Nixon refused to release them, asserting executive privilege and a risk to national security.  Some of the political backlash from Watergate resulted in the erosion of the doctrine of executive privilege...[more]

The Road to Democracy Starts at the Schoolhouse Door; Teaching our Children Beyond the “Three Rs”

Gone are simpler days when students were taught the “Three Rs” — reading, writing and arithmetic.  Today, the schools confront children with complicated social algorithms involving issues such as dress codes, bans on “junk food,” zero tolerance disciplinary policies, and political correctness.  Undoubtedly, these “educational” changes have come at the expense of more objective lessons that might actually improve academic performance.  But, more importantly, the “new curriculum” has sacrificed vigorous public education founded on free expression...[more]

The Methodology of Frivolous Lawsuits
(The Short Version)

When a federal judge threw out one of the baseless lawsuits against McDonald’s last week, John Banzhaf, the blustery plaintiff’s attorney and George Washington University Law School professor involved in bringing the case, told MSNBC’s Dan Abrams, “You don’t think we’ll find some judge somewhere…who’s going to buy it and let it go to a jury?  You may not like it…but we’ll find a judge…and then we’ll find a jury.”

As a justification for putting judges on the bench who will stop the systematic abuse of our legal system, no further words are necessary.  Mr. Banzhaf, Esquire, is an unusual plaintiff’s attorney only in the openness of his cynical exploitation.

McLawsuit Deep Fried
Judge Dismisses Fat Case Against the Golden Arches

Eating a Big Mac a day does not keep the doctor away — everyone knows that … or, at the very least, should know that, according to a federal judge in New York.  A decision issued Wednesday by Judge Robert Sweet threw out a multi-million dollar class action lawsuit filed against fast food giant...[more]

Review of Walter K. Olson’s The Rule of Lawyers:
How the New Litigation Elite Threatens America’s Rule of Law

A senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and author of The Litigation Explosion, Walter Olson serves up an eye-opening, jaw-dropping, behind-the-scenes look at how the self-anointed “Fourth Branch” has managed to infiltrate every corner of America’s legal and political landscape.  The author paints in lurid detail an incestuous picture of the trial lawyers’ well rehearsed “three prong” strategy comprised of legal, political and public relations efforts, bolstered by open checkbooks, lies, deceit and, dare we say, extortion...[more]

Medical Professional Liability Crisis Bleeds Across America

Get out the tourniquet because the shark bites have America bleeding again.  From Pennsylvania to Florida to Texas, and most states in between, victims of the shark (AKA trial lawyer) attacks are drowning in the Litigation Sea. National headlines make it increasingly apparent that a rise in malpractice lawsuits has caused a swell in professional liability insurance premiums, with the current medical liability crisis driving up health care costs and resulting in less access to care...[more]

To subscribe to our e-mail list for periodic updates on important litigation and legislation affecting your individual freedoms, click here.

The Archives

Other Noteworthy Cases: 2001 •  2002 •  2003