May It Please The Court
One Man, One Idea, One ResultIt's the weekend, so time for a little light reading, and perhaps a history lesson. 50 years ago, Justice William O. Douglas led a hike to call attention to the then-plight of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal. A proposal existed to pave over the canal.
Justice Douglas wanted to keep the canal in its natural state. He succeeded. And you wonder, what can one person do? 184 miles of canal are now preserved.
Meanwhile, the Merced River Keeps FlowingIt's Earth Day, and true to form, a decision came down yesterday regarding Yosemite. (Great view of Half Dome).
The decision has everyone up in arms. No two environmentalists agree that we're going in the right direction.
Well, actually, we're not going anywhere. Progress, in whatever form you want to call it, was halted. To the tune of stopping all work on a whopping $441M project.
Some say the project would protect the Merced River (this link gives you the plan that was halted). According to the Stockton, CA Record.net, "The entire valley plan rests upon an invalid river plan. We don't think we should have to hear a nail, a hammer, a chain saw in the entire valley until there's a valid plan in place," said Adair, whose organization sued and won the order along with Mariposans for Environmentally Responsible Growth.
Another environmental group is decidedly unhappy. Again, quoting the paper, "Congratulations -- they've just handed the job of planning Yosemite's future to the Bush administration," said Jay Watson of the Wilderness Society. "This could throw the whole process open, and there's no telling what future plans might look like."
Can't leave it like it is (link to a bevy of Yosemite web cams) because it will damage the river. Can't fix it because it will damage the river.
The only one that didn't win here was the river.
I Vant To Pump You UpHydrogen. You breathe it, you can power a car with it. Heck, for a $150.00 you can even find out how it works.
It's just not working here in California. The First Hummer is hydrogen-less, as we reported here first two days ago. (Right, I know it's no big scoop or anything, it just sounded good to say that it was here before it was on FindLaw or the Associated Press).
If Ah-nold was really serious, I suppose he could curb the Hummer and drive one of these. But, he did propose statewide hydrogen "filling" stations.
Got muscles? How about Got Hydrogen?
Is It Worth It?Here's a whopper: the Plaintiff's fee award in the (don't click on this link yet) Exxon Valdez case. But, before I give you the number, let me try something first.
Sure, you've got the setup - it's a large number. Sure, you can click on the link and cheat. But, stick with me please. This is a bit of an experiment. You have the opportunity to participate. Read these facts first, and then decide what kind of an award is justified. Then, after you've read all the facts, think if knowing the number first would have made you think differently.
If so, then think of that when you hear lawyer jokes.
Here, I'm going to quote directly from the article. It's talking about the effort put in to defend against Exxon. "Over 15 years, at least 2,348 plaintiffs lawyers and paralegals clocked more than 1.2 million hours on the case, according to the fee application. ... Out-of-pocket costs topped $30 million. The fee request alone filled 200 binders." The Plaintiff's lawyers are requesting a 22% contingency fee. Most lawyers have a 33% fee, and some go as high as 50%.
One of the plaintiffs lawyers, who has spent most of the last 15 years on the Valdez case, commented that "the long wait for payment has been 'a big burden' for his firm." According to the article, "the case has exacted a heavy personal toll, too. Of the 15 ... lawyers who started on this case with him, only one is in the same marriage or personal relationship: 'It's created a huge amount of personal turmoil.'"
Also according to the article, "In making the award, federal district court judge H. Russel Holland granted the plaintiffs request for a 22.4 percent contingency fee. 'Exxon [Mobil Corporation] put up an unflagging, spare-no-expense defense that might have been overwhelming but for the skill and resources of class counsel,'" the judge wrote.
OK, so you've lost your family, spent $30 million of your own money in costs, been worked to death for 15 years by the other side, and you haven't been paid yet. Plus, you earned a $5 billion jury verdict for the greatest environmental catastrophe of our time.
We're not done yet. Despite all this work, and the Judge's compliments, you may not get the fee that he awarded, still. Plus, if you do, it's going to get split 60 ways among the various Plaintiff's law firms.
How much did the lawyers get? $1.3 billion, or more accurately, $1,293,373,000, which according to the article, "appears to be the largest fee ever approved by a court."
Is it fair?
Green Cars or Green Laws, Which Came First?Trends start in California. We've set the stage for auto air emissions, too. The AQMD here set the tone for the development of catalytic converters.
Now, it appears we're about to do it again, and automakers are complaining. They want the standards set nationally, not by the states, and not, in particular, by one state.
Environmentalists believe the technology already exists to meet even the most aggressive standards. Their new report claims that Californians, and presumably everyone else, would save money.
I'd be happy with lower gas prices. But, it appears that we're still waiting for our famous governor to go green with his Hummer.
Check out this guide to greener cars if you're interested in learning more.
Don't Quote Me On That Unpublished OpinionLast week, a U.S. Judicial Conference advisory committee recommended a proposal to allow citation of unpublished opinions.
Interestingly the seminal Ninth Circuit opinion on this point was written by one who opposes and one who is against citing unpublished opinions.
My thoughts side with Kozinski. The recommendation still has to get past the Judicial Conference and the U.S. Supreme Court.
Allowing the citation of unpublished opinions, as quoted in this article, came from Federal Circuit Chief Judge H. Robert Mayer is dangerous. He said "unpublished opinions are 'not prepared with less care' than published ones, but rather are 'not written with the extra care and concern for language/ that characterize published opinions."
So, citing an unpublished opinion is something like citing part of the law. It just doesn't work.
Maybe He Was Looking for Another DrinkSo, you went out and partied last night. Of all the places to go the following morning, where do you think you should avoid?
If you were Robert Gulley, one of those places would be the Vancouver Police.
Apparently, he wanted a job with the police.
Unfortunately, he was a little bleary-eyed and allegedly drunk. He claims only to have had one Long Island Iced Tea.
Instead of a job application, he went away with a DUI ticket.
Banned in Boston (and elsewhere)The Atlanta (not Boston) law firm of King & Spalding was banned from practicing in Madison County Circuit Judge Nicholas G. Byron's courtroom. Former Attorney General Griffin Bell (and a member of King & Spalding) directed criticism at the way lawsuits alleging harm from asbestos were being handled in Judge Byron's courtroom, claiming that defendants' constitutional rights are being violated.
According to the article, when "contacted Friday night at his home in Edwardsville, [Judge] Byron said: 'I have no comment. Good night.'"
Guess he's not having a good day (or evening).
Could be worse, though. They could have been the accounting firm of Ernst & Young, who was
banned from accepting new clients for six months by an SEC judge.
It must be catching.