A NEW LEGAL GOSSIP WEBLOG . . . You know David Lat as the proprietor of Underneath Their Robes who was also, for awhile, a writer at Wonkette. Lat's new legal gossip weblog -- or "tabloid," if you prefer -- is Above the Law. I'm certain that it will be good reading.
TED FRANK TAKES ON MAINSTREAM MEDIA . . .You won't go wrong reading Ted Frank's account at Overlawyered of how he investigated a mainstream newspaper's account of a recent trial and found it to be lacking. But was it? If you want to begin the long process of deciding for yourself, read the extensive comments about Frank's post at The Volokh Conspiracy. Some are supportive, but others criticize Frank for getting much of his information about the case from the defendant's expert reports and the defendant's portion of the joint pretrial brief. All the comments are good reading.
IS THE ROBING ROOM A GOOD IDEA? . . . The Robing Room is a website that allows federal judges to be rated anonymously by lawyers or litigants--or anyone pretending to be lawyers or litigants, I suppose, since it's unclear whether the editors of the site actually verify that people rating judges are who they claim to be.
I'm not planning to spend much time there myself, unless I'm in the mood for fiction, fantasy, or gossip. Although the editors reserve the right on their FAQ page to delete comments and ratings which they "believe are. . . not submitted in good faith," they don't explain how they're going to make that determination. It wouldn't be too hard to hide your bad faith in a system that relies on numerical scoring.
ON KEEPING BUSY AT WORK, PLUS NEWS ABOUT MY BOOK . . . It seems to be one of those extremely busy periods at work. I used to like the way the days fly by working as a lawyer, as compared to other jobs I've had, such as dishwasher or groundskeeper or janitor. Those were high school jobs, and the thing I remember most about them was how the time went by so slowly. But now that I've had another birthday and I'm almost certainly in the second half of my life, I'd like time to slow down again. It doesn't mean I want to go back to washing dishes. Perhaps a vacation house in Colorado is a better answer . . .
For anyone who's interested, here's how I've been spending my time these days--
I'm working with my old partners at Carey & Danis on a PPH diet-drug case that's set for trial in St. Louis in late October. We're getting into the final trial prep stages, including expert discovery, which is why I was in San Diego last week.
In the Vioxx litigation, again with my old partners, we now have more than 2,600 cases on file. In the cases in Illinois state court, the defendants have started taking depositions, mostly plaintiffs and treating doctors. Meanwhile, I'm also in charge of all the cases we have filed in California.
I'm moving forward on the other Schaeffer & Lamere cases I'm responsible for, including some work-intensive class actions. The next big item on that agenda is an oral argument next week in the Illinois Appellate Court.
You might wonder why I continue to spend time posting to this weblog if I'm so busy. It's a question I raised myself in "What's the Use of This Weblog," where I tried to explain the time I put into my weblogs. I know I'd enjoy it more if I weren't so busy, but I also know that I'm not going to give it up, at least not now, when I'm approaching the publication date of the legal book I'm writing for James Publishing. It's something else that's had me busy lately: this month, I had to read over and correct the entire 500-page single-spaced manuscript. It wasn't much fun.
As for the weblogs, they ought to work very well as promotional vehicles for the book. I promise not to overdo the promotion. On the other hand, I'm happy to say I've finally been given the green light to say what the book is about and to reveal its title. But I'm not going to do that today. I'm saving that news for another post.
A YEAR AGO AT LEGAL UNDERGROUND . . . On August 31, 2005, I posted "Katrina's Refugees," in which I related a conversation with a lawyer from New Orleans who'd just arrived in St. Louis and was seeking refuge at a Clayton bar. To anyone who would listen, he described Katrina's devastation.
The conversation took place early in the disaster, at a time when most of the world hadn't yet realized its awful scope. I remember how some of us thought the lawyer was exaggerating. As it turned out, he had all the details exactly right . . .
AT TORTSPROF BLOG, LOTS TO THINK ABOUT . . . At TortsProf Blog, there are ten new guest posts on this topic: "What Should Be Taught in Torts?" Authors include John Day, David Swanner, Ted Frank, and other lawyers and law professors. A judge and a doctor round out the group. Be sure to check it out.
TORT "REFORM" BY ANY OTHER NAME . . . The proprietors of Blog 702 were so upset by John Stossel's recent anti-lawyer column in the New York Sun (reprinted at Point of Law) that they decided to violate their own rule against what they call "partisan polemic." Here's how their long response begins:
Stossel cannily deploys the traditional opening gambit of almost all anti-tort invective: an ad hominem attack on lawyers. In these philippics, it is customary, in particular, to trot out the phrase "trial lawyers" at the first opportunity. Like so many words and phrases with double meanings, this one serves handily as a rhetorical pivot point. Its more expansive meaning ("litigators in general") helpfully maximizes the universe of lawyers toward whom the reader is invited to feel antipathy, thereby improving the odds that each reader will hit upon some particularly contemptible exemplar, drawn from personal experience, hearsay acquaintance, or some suitable work of fiction. The availability of this more expansive interpretation also helps the anti-tort rhetorician present himself as fair-minded and even-handed. It's not lawsuits he necessarily dislikes, we're invited to think, so much as litigators of all stripes. (A simple matter of taste, perhaps, but who could really argue?) After the reader has assented to the truism that litigators are a generally shifty and unpleasant crowd, the meaning of the phrase can segue to the narrower category actually in the anti-tort rhetorician's crosshairs: litigators who represent plaintiffs.
For more polemic, see the full post. It also includes a good point about the term tort reform--
We nearly said "tort reform," but we stopped ourselves, for two reasons. First of all, Stossel's piece shows no interest in "reforming" anything. It simply complains. But secondly, we've come to the view that even scare-quotes do not sufficiently confront the Orwellian qualities of this phrase. In our view, the word "reform" simply does not capture the actual agenda of most self-identified "tort reformers," which is to "reform" the tort system by so radically shrinking its field of operation as to effect its de facto abolition, save perhaps in cases of battery and tortious interference with prospective economic advantage. From now on, we plan to refer to that agenda forthrightly as the "anti-tort" position.
So tort reform becomes the anti-tort position. Does it work? The proposal has some merit, but it's hard to talk about those who espouse the position without resorting to anti-torters, which is confusing. What other options are there? Some like the term tort deform, which suggests tort deformers, but those terms seem too flip for serious discourse. Are there other workable ideas? I'm opening the floor to suggestions.