SLABBED (not exactly) Daily – August 5, 2010

On a slow news day – or a day when it’s not so hot – any one of these stories could take an entire post to cover.  However, today is neither and without going further, here is news you can use:

Making a diagnosis of “improper influence” requires a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. Not only is it unrealistic to think we can eradicate all judicial biases, instincts, leanings or interests, however termed, but it is also unwise. We want our judges to live in the real world, so that they can bring their life experiences and common sense to the table when deciding cases. Judges must remain “partial” to some influences, therefore, like the case law, and controlling statutes, and perhaps even basic standards of decency and morality, too. As The New York Times recently cited, former Chief Justice William Rehnquist’s view on recusal was that if a justice’s mind was “a complete tabula rasa” in relevant respects, it “would be evidence of lack of qualification, not lack of bias.”

While I hope you’ll follow all the links, but by all means, read this opinion post on recusal from Law.com.

  • Staying with matters of public policy for the moment, let’s talk unemployment rates. Online news is filled with stories like this about the uptick in unemployment rates – and all appear to have been written by someone clueless about the issue.

Here’s a clue – anyone reporting on the increase should start by defining “seasonal”. Continue reading “SLABBED (not exactly) Daily – August 5, 2010”

Judge Senter issues “tell all” Order and Opinion, puts more heat under State Farm – update on Rigsby qui tam

Most who feel the heat see the light – and then there’s State Farm.  Will Judge Senter’s “tell all” Order and Opinion on Expert Witness Qualification that hit the Rigsby qui tam docket yesterday produce the flicker needed for State Farm to see it’s time to file another Motion to Withdraw?

First, the “tell all”:

“The Relators have identified six expert witnesses, and State Farm Insurance Company (State Farm) has moved the Court to exclude the opinions expressed by all…”

Next, Judge Senter’s Opinion of State Farm’s four motions regarding two of the Rigsbys’ expert witnesses, noting that when Judge Senter puts the heat on, he uses a torch:

“Patrick J. Fitzpatrick, Ph.D., (Fitzpatrick) and Keith G. Blackwell, Ph.D., (Blackwell) are meteorologists. According to their reports, they will be called to testify concerning weather conditions, particularly wind speed and storm surge flooding during Hurricane Katrina. Fitzpatrick’s testimony and Blackwell’s testimony do not relate specifically to the storm damage to the McIntosh property. Rather, their opinions are general in nature, indicating the time the storm forces’ effects were manifested on shore and the strength of those forces.

State Farm’s motions [294] [705] to exclude Fitzpatrick’s testimony and to exclude Blackwell’s testimony [296] [719] are premised on State Farm’s contention that Fitzpatrick’s and Blackwell’s opinions are irrelevant since these opinions do not deal specifically with the damage to the McIntosh property and the cause of that damage, two of the key issues in this case.

It appears to me that both Fitzpatrick’s testimony and Blackwell’s testimony are relevant and admissible Continue reading “Judge Senter issues “tell all” Order and Opinion, puts more heat under State Farm – update on Rigsby qui tam”

The Sun Herald updates the Scott Walker saga: Drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.

Scott Walker mug shot / The Sun Herald

Given the recent google searches on Scott Walker that landed here on Slabbed I was very happy to see that Sun Herald reporter Margaret Baker updated this continuing story with the latest details today. Here is a snippet: 

Municipal Court Judge Matthew Mestayer said Wednesday he and the city’s prosecuting attorney are recusing themselves from the misdemeanor drunken-driving case of former mayoral candidate and local businessman Scott Walker. 

Mestayer contacted four other local judges to hear the case, but they also had conflicts of interest. So Mestayer said he’s following state statutes and transferring the case to Jackson County Justice Court. Continue reading “The Sun Herald updates the Scott Walker saga: Drunk and stupid is no way to go through life, son.”

Slabbed updates the Oil spill and takes a look at the environmental damage done by Louisiana’s politicians

As I was doing my morning sweep of the news yesterday I ran across several articles that once again distilled the extent to which Louisiana’s citizens have been let down by both their elected officials and at times the local media, which is peddling a message that is not playing outside of Louisiana. 

Now that it appears that BP’s Macondo blowout has been killed once and for all national media outlets are beginning to reassess the events and ask some harder questions including at the Whitehouse. I personally think this second looksie will not treat the politicians kindly. 

Let’s begin by spotlighting Louisiana’s own Mary Landrieu, who bashes BP in public while continuing to push for limiting the liability of the oil industry when they pollute.  Bruce Alpert has the skinny for the Times Picayune

But it’s clear that Reid also had problems with some Democrats, including Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu. 

She raised issues with the Reid bill’s unlimited cap on oil company liability for future spills, a proposal she said could prevent small and mid-size companies from competing for off-shore drilling permits. 

I want a liability shield too Mary. Wait, I’m just a small business schmuck that has to buy insurance to cover the business risk I face so I’m sorry for asking. I wonder if Mary belongs to Women of the Oil? (Hat Tip Editilla)  One thing is for sure, Landrieu’s service to the oil industry is exceeded only by fellow Senator David Vitter who also pushed to limit BP’s liability for the spill

Next up the Times Picayune’s David Hammer who wrote an interesting story for yesterday’s paper.  Even as the local coastal ecosystems were being destroyed the T-P editorially was against any timeout from drilling.  With that in mind let’s take a peeksie at Hammer’s story: Continue reading “Slabbed updates the Oil spill and takes a look at the environmental damage done by Louisiana’s politicians”

Jim Browns Weekly Column: Start speaking English or get out!

Thursday, August 5th, 2010
Redneck Country, Louisiana

DON’T TELL ME TO SPEAK ENGLISH OR LEAVE!

I was at a book fair recently hawking some of my Lisburn Press publications, and was asked to comment on the nation’s immigration problem. One fellow apparently didn’t like my response. “Oh, I know all about you writers out there with your fancy English degrees. You think you have a lot more common sense then us rednecks.”

All right, I’ll admit it. I do live in a semi cosmopolitan city of Baton Rouge, received part of my education outside the U.S. and have traveled the world a good bit. But you can’t take the Ferriday redneck out of city folks like me. I have a pick up as well as an old SUV with 180,000 miles on it. They both have driven the back roads of north Louisiana on many occasions. I laugh at, and mostly agree with all the “you must be a redneck” jokes. (You must be a redneck if you know instinctively that red wine goes with possum.) And by the way, I have a great possum recipe coming out in my updated version of “Jim Brown’s World Famous Squirrel Stew and other Country Recipes.” U.S. illegally, and go to work on the overheated and unsustainable housing market that was desperate for new workers. Paraphrasing Pogo, “We have found the problem, and the problem was created by those we sent to Washington.”

Anyone who came from the same southern country town that raised Jerry Lee Lewis and Rev. Jimmy Swaggart certainly qualifies as a card-carrying redneck. So assuming you accept my credentials, you might be surprised at my reaction to a bumper sticker I saw driving down a gravel road just past Frogmore, Louisiana. (That’s right. Frogmore — about 15 minutes west of Ferriday if you check your map.) A truck ahead of me on the back windshield displayed the driver’s feelings in no uncertain terms: “You’re in America Now; Speak English or Get Out!”

Continue reading “Jim Browns Weekly Column: Start speaking English or get out!”