Archive for the ‘law’ Category

Mexico: No rule of law

Monday, November 17th, 2014


Teacher protesting the #Ayotzinapa disappearance of the 43 student teachers. His shirt reads “I AM A TEACHER. I defend education. I defend my people. I defend my country.”

Mary O’Grady looks at Mexico’s Rule of Law Crisis
The fate of 43 missing university students and corruption allegations test President Peña Nieto’s pledge to transform the country.

Until now the president has been able to ignore Mexico’s legendary lawlessness. He has been riding an international wave of excitement around the opening of the energy sector, with few questions asked. But unless he wants to make common cause with the hard left—which thinks it has him on the ropes because of the missing students—he needs to admit his mistakes, purge his cabinet and make the rule of law job No. 1.

That would be a first in Mexico’s history, a country that sees, as O’Grady puts it, “the traditional use of the criminal-justice system as a profit center for the state.”



Ecuador: Patton Boggs to pay Chevron $15 million

Wednesday, May 7th, 2014

HUGE:
Following Chevron’s win in the fraud case committed against them, Chevron and Patton Boggs settle their epic legal battle over jungle oil pits in Ecuador

Chevron and Patton Boggs have settled disputes linked to long-running litigation over toxic drilling waste pits in Ecuador, with Patton Boggs agreeing to pay Chevron $15 million, issue a statement of regret, and withdraw from the Ecuador case. Chevron agreed to release all claims against Patton Boggs and its partners.

The settlement is a stunning and highly unusual setback for any law firm, let alone the nation’s leading lobbying firm, long a bedrock of the Washington establishment. While the payment will cover only a tiny portion of the money Chevron has spent on the legal battle, the settlement overall tarnishes the reputation of Patton Boggs.

I know of no other instance where a top lobbying law firm has settled publicly in such terms, particularly when

Now, as part of the settlement with Chevron, Patton Boggs has agreed to assign its 5 percent interest in any money the plaintiffs might obtain. It also agreed to assist Chevron with discovery against the Ecuadorian plaintiffs and their New York-based lawyer Steven Donziger, who has been doggedly fighting Chevron for more than two decades and who Chevron has argued was part of a racketeering scheme to obtain a fraudulent judgment.

Daniel Fisher at Forbes puts it best: Patton Boggs Pays Chevron $15 Million To Rid Itself Of Donziger

The settlement, down to the humiliating, pre-negotiated press release, resembles deals Chevron has negotiated with London-based Burford Capital and other parties that assisted New York attorney Steven Donziger in his attempt to make the oil company pay for widespread pollution left over from a Texaco drilling program in Ecuador in the 1970s and 1980s.

Law firms are rarely found liable for tactics they use to zealously represent their clients, and multimillion-dollar settlements are even rarer. Perhaps more unusual is the law firm’s agreement to deliver partners James Tyrrell and Eric Westenberger to Gibson Dunn’s New York offices for depositions overseen by a court-appointed special master. The firm has also agreed to turn over documents, provided its former clients don’t prevail on challenges under the attorney-client privilege.

Maybe, just maybe this will give pause to anyone considering to engage in fraudulent legalfare against U.S. corporations.

Related:
Why Patton Boggs Has Come to Regret Picking a Fight With Chevron

A federal judge in New York has dismissed a suit Patton Boggs filed against Chevron (CVX), which accused the oil giant of bad faith in response to the law firm’s attempt to enforce a multibillion-dollar pollution judgment in Ecuador. While the fizzling of the Patton Boggs case by itself might not seem significant, the dismissal leaves behind Chevron’s counter claims against the law firm, in which the oil company accuses the Washington partnership of participating in a massive fraud and coverup related to that same Ecuadorian judgment.

I’lll be in Silvio Canto’s podcast tonight at 8PM Eastern to talk about this and other Latin American news.

UPDATE:
Paul M. Barrett writing for Business Week:

In nearly three decades of writing about the law business, I can’t think of a comparable retreat.

Linked to by Doug Ross. Thank you!

Linked to by Instapundit. Thank you, Ed Discoll!

Linked to by Bad Blue. Thank you!

Linked to by American Thinker. Thank you!

Le-gal In-sur-rec-tion‘s post of the day. Thank you! Understatement of the year: “Chevron must have really good lawyers.”


Brazil: “Mensalão” vote-buying convictions to be appealed

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

Their lawyers will be able to put their kids through Princeton University; heck, the lawyers will have enough money left to retire in Princeton, if they ever get to retire! This is going to be drawn out for decades:

Brazil Court Allows Corruption Case Appeals
Decision Could Lead to Lengthy Retrials

Brazil’s Supreme Court voted Wednesday to reassess the landmark convictions it handed down against a dozen defendants found guilty last year of participating in a vote-buying scheme that rocked the government of former President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

The 6-5 vote allows 12 of the 25 defendants in the case, including Mr. da Silva’s once-powerful chief of staff José Dirceu, to appeal parts of their prison sentences, which could open the door to lengthy retrials. Mr. Dirceu maintains his innocence and says he is a target of political retribution.

The decision could send shock waves through a country that has long struggled with corruption, and where many held up the court’s earlier convictions of the defendants as a sign of change. The cash-for-votes scandal, dubbed the Mensalão, or ‘big monthly payoff’, resulted in Brazil’s biggest-ever political corruption trial.

Instead, the retrials now risk becoming a symbol of the inability of Brazilian prosecutors to make high-profile corruption convictions stick, said José Garcez Ghirardi, a professor of political theory and law at the Fundação Getúlio Vargas law school in São Paulo.

As I had posted a while ago, no one has served time on these charges.

Lula himself was not implicated in the case and has denied any knowledge of the scheme, so don’t be surprised if he runs again.


Immigration law problem,

Thursday, June 20th, 2013

particularly considering how it affects current citizens; here’s a list of the crimes waived under S744 (click for larger version),

UPDATE,
More here.

Linked by Mr. Bingley. Thank you!

My latest at BlogHer

Friday, May 24th, 2013

BlogHer invited me to write about the Heritage immigration study:
The Heritage Foundation and IQ: Not a Reflection on the GOP.

IQ is a side issue; the real issue is what policies and laws the government enacts, and we should be cautious when watershed laws are rushed through.

Please read the article and leave a comment.

Argentina: Courts now under Cristina’s authority

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

The judicial system is compromised: borrowing a page from Chavismo, Argentine Legislature Extends President’s Control Over the Judicial System

Argentina’s Congress passed legislation giving the president and political parties greater control over the judicial system, just days after hundreds of thousands of Argentines took to the streets to protest the measures.

President Cristina Kirchner’s populist, left-wing ruling coalition approved the changes that limit injunctions against government policies and create three new appellate courts.

Within a week or two, Congress is also set to change the Magistrates Council that appoints and impeaches judges, subjecting its members to popular elections. That likely will give Mrs. Kirchner’s party control over the council, which will be able to impeach judges by a simple majority, instead of the two-thirds vote required now.

Mrs. Kirchner says the new laws will make the legal system less beholden to special-interest groups. The sweeping changes come less than a month after Mrs. Kirchner submitted the legislation to Congress.

No more separation of powers,

Legal experts say the revisions will make it hard for individuals and companies to challenge laws and presidential decrees, especially those expropriating private property. Rights groups Human Rights Watch and Transparency International have warned the legislation would give the executive branch unprecedented control over the courts.

This gives free hand to the government to act or seize assets before a case is solved.

For commentary in Spanish, please read Monólogo de una República Perdida, by Agustín Ulivarri Rodi.

Venezuelan immigration to the USA quadrupled over the past 15 years

Friday, November 23rd, 2012


Venezuelan journalist Carlos Subero researched immigration patterns from Venezuela to the US since 1997 and found that it has surged from 2,500 to 10,000 per year. This reverses the trend of the 1950s, when Venezuela received immigrants from Spain, Italy and Portugal.

Subero, who blogs at Carlossubero’s blog, also found that every forty minutes a Venezuelan obtains a US resident visa, and that the majority of Venezuelan immigrants to the US are middle class or upper-middle class. One in every six is in the traditional professions, a real “brain drain” in Venezuela.

As you can see on the graph below, immigration jumped to the 10,000/yr mark on 2005, when Hugo Chávez announced the Salto Adelante, hacia la construcción del Socialismo del Siglo XXI (Leap Forward, towards building 21st Century Socialism) and began expropriating private lands and businesses:

Personal safety, economic reasons, and politics are the top reasons for immigrating to the USA. Subero also found,

  • Whole families are immigrating – the parents seek better lives for their children
  • Venezuelans are not interested in entering the USA illegally
  • 40% of immigrants in 2009 were sponsored by next-of-kin who is an American citizen
  • Most seek American citizenship.

Subero’s book, in Spanish, is available through Amazon.

Here’s a brief interview, also in Spanish,

Cross-posted at Liberty Unyielding.

Boy reunited with Dad in Brazil

Thursday, December 24th, 2009

I have been following but hadn’t posted on Sean Goldman, who had been taken to Brazil by his mother – he is now on his way back to the USA:
Boy Is Reunited With American Father in Brazil

Mr. Goldman spent much of the last five years fighting in American and Brazilian courts for the return of his son. The boy’s mother, who was then married to Mr. Goldman, took Sean to Brazil in 2004 for a two-week vacation but kept him there, divorced Mr. Goldman and remarried.

After the mother died last year, her new husband, a prominent Brazilian lawyer, and the boy’s Brazilian family insisted that Sean should stay with them in Brazil. The chief judge of Brazil’s Supreme Court, however, ruled this week that the family had to return Sean to Mr. Goldman, a charter fishing boat captain and real-estate agent from New Jersey.

On Wednesday, a federal court in Brazil gave the Brazilian family a deadline of Thursday to turn Sean over to Mr. Goldman, and lawyers for family members indicated that they would comply, said Representative Chris H. Smith, Republican of New Jersey.

The scene at the courthouse was a media zoo. Here’s the video,

They are now reunited

Mr Goldman’s US lawyer, Patricia Apy, was critical of how the handover was carried out.

“Unfortunately, the Brazilian family, rather than have the hand-off take place in a garage, which would have been secure, parked away and walked him through the press, which only serves to make the situation more stressful for the child,” she told the Associated Press news agency.

They are on their way to New Jersey.

Toxic Revenge: 15 Minutes on Latin America

Tuesday, September 1st, 2009

In today’s podcast at 11AM Eastern, economist, journalist and Warren Brookes Journalism Fellow at the Competitive Enteprise Institute Silvia Santacruz talks about her Forbes article, Toxic Revenge
A $27 billion lawsuit against Chevron won’t clean Ecuador’s dirty slate
, on the Ecuador-Chevron lawsuit.

Join us!

Liveblogging The Art of Legal Blogging at Princeton U.

Tuesday, April 21st, 2009

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Liveblogging The Art of Legal Blogging, with panelists Lyle Denniston of SCOTUSblog, Ilya Somin of The Volokh Conspiracy, and Alex Wohl of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy.

Prof. Somin, yesterday,

I will try to focus my remarks on the contribution that academic lawbloggers can make to public debate. Our main comparative advantage, in my view, is our ability to bring to bear our expertise on particular areas of law and public policy. We usually cannot compete with the traditional media in breaking news stories; nor are our talents likely to be effectively used if we simply cheer on a particular political party or candidate. At the same time, we have to present our knowledge in such a way that it will be accessible to nonexpert readers. Also important, but very difficult to achieve, is the ability to reach out to readers who don’t already share our views.

A couple of the panelists are delayed due to NJ traffic.

4:45PM: Somin and Wohl here, still waiting for Denniston.

4:50PM Alex Wohl: Blogs already being outdated by new techonologies like Twitter, but it takes itself very seriously: there are no blogger jokes out there. Stats: probably over 200 million blogs.
Legal blogs: coudln’t come up with exact number. Probably 8-9% of lawyers blog. Legal blogs go into every type: aviation law, Guantanamo, legal humor, legal layoffs, Lawyers, guns and money.

The American Constitution Society for Law and Policy is modeled after the Federal Society; do not take individual sides on cases. Instead they promote panels and groups discussing almost any legal issue. At least 1 conservative on each panel. ACS started a blog about 4 years ago. They have: legal news items, guest blogging from experts on every area of law – top level people. The goals: to get the information out, and to engage members in debate and discussion. Certain people go to them and they get cited in media, lessons planned by professor because ACS is supposed to be an umbrella for progressives. Well informed, well backed up by experts in the field. In general they know their audience.

How do remain topic? Rated as one of the ABA’s top 100 blogs. In blogging in general you pick your 5 things that you want to go back to. They use Law.com to help them . What separates ACS from the other blogs is that they are not shooting off anonymous comments, but are based on sound thinking, and accademic and journalistic integrity while they know their purpose. Slate had two very good legal writers but that is not Slate’s purpose.

One extreme: Virginia Heffernan’s column, Let them eat tweets, talks about how “poor folks love their cellphones”, as in the elites have their own opinions. Another extreme: Sherman and Williams, having an argument, were neither of them gives a damn about what the other one says.
You need to know what to say, and who to appeal to.

5:15PM Ilya Somin: When the student mentioned Volohk as a “conservative” blog, Ilya corrected it to libertarian.
“It’s a sign that we’re not as well known as ACS that we still get confusedd as a conservative blog instead of a libertarian.” VC cover a large range of different legal and political issues by seven contributors, and every so often on other issues such as science fiction. His post on Federalism and Star Trek showed that people are interested on things that are entertaining as well as informative.

Legal bloggers can not be reporters, he’s a consumer of news, not a creator of them.
They should not try to mobilize opinion. There are experts who do that. Instead, they should focus on their areas of expertise, and if they focus on those issues they can be more informative, particularly if considering counter-intuitive points.

Being libertarian helps you set yourself apart from the political parties, including his own separating himself from the Libertarian Party.

One example to bring his academic work to bear was with the Kelo case. What he wanted to bring was non-obvious points: the rights of individual property owners and the needs of the community. But instead what happens it that it destroys the use and 10 years and $80 million in value was destroyed and nothing was created, which is what happened in Kelo. Real world politicians do what helps them get re elected and they transfer the property of politically weak people to politically powerful. When you see this as a systematic pattern you can contribute to the debate. He also posted on the massive political reaction – 43 states passed legislation following the case.

A broader political process is that most of the public has very little knowledge of what law is being passed. So IS’s interest in property rights overlapped with other issues. At the same time, you need to be honest to the other side, such as prior precedents which gave government even more powers than Kelo.

Know what your expertise is, be able to say something interesting that can not be found in other sites. If that doesn’t work, you can blog about Star Trek.

5:30PM Lyle Denniston: LD started by mentioning today’s oral argument involving the strip search was that the girl had over seven tattoos. Only justice Ginsburg and Stevens were not concerned over drugs. It was pretty clear that school administrators will be able to gain some form of search authority such as strip searches.

LD will try to sketch the situation in journalism because SCOTUS blog is a media organization.

Princeton is not a bad place to talk about Thoreau: Quted from Civil Disobedience on the acorn and the chesnut,

I perceive that, when an acorn and a chestnut fall side by side, the one does not remain inert to make way for the other, but both obey their own laws, and spring and grow and flourish as best they can, till one, perchance, overshadows and destroys the other. If a plant cannot live according to its nature, it dies; and so a man.

Journalism is the chesnut and is not being able to live according to its own laws and is dying.

LD would like SCOTUS blog to be a source of information on law in general, but Tom wants it to remain on SCOTUS. The mainstream press tends to cover the case on broad focus. “They show up for the big shows and leave when the big show is over.”
LD is saddened by newspaper closings.

But the problem is not simply an economic one. The mainstream media is losing its serious purpose. A front page story was actually an advertising for a movie. NYT, page 1, how consistently basketball players make their freethrows.

The loss of this serious purpose is beginning to infect legal journalism in the mainstream media. Each story began with the plight of the student.

Next week on constitutionality of Sec. 5 of the Civil Rights Law, but if he hears again that it’s about moving the polling place, he might begin to believe it.

“Substantive reports on matters of critical public policy are increasingly shortchanged.” Carly vs. US: not 1 word in the NYTimes. Papers have space only for the big case, and only if it’s part of a bigger case.

SCOTUS is the only blog following the story on how the war on terrorism is being engaged.

The Supreme Court has a past and a future. Legal journalists are not interested in process but outcomes. Also interested in journalism.

LD tries to demonstrate that legal blogging is increasingly the art of filling a void.

A blog has immediacy, can have depth, can expand on a story. His report on the Savanna Redding case ran 3,000 words. A blog can also immediately correct itself.

The story on gun ownership brought them over 300,000 visitors. It anticipated the controversy over the 2d Amendment.

What is SCOTUS Blog? Centered on the Supreme Court, has a seat in the press room and a seat in the court. They use both of those forms of access. Half is news, the other half is analysis pieces, with a small portion on commentary.

LD is entirely independent of a legal practice. He examines every case that is on pay dock, and the paid cases; many are cases he already knows from tracking them through the lower courts. Every SCOTUS entry will have all of the legal documents. They make the text of all the arguments and all the decisions.

LD’s work as a blogger is different from that of a journalist: no editor, no assignments, no deadlines, no copy editor. Whatever interpretation he derives is his own. He makes a strenous effort to not use legal terms a general audience won’t understand.
It pleases him to give credit to other blogs. He wants his readers to link immediately to the posts.

With very few exceptions court decisions are on line somewhere – he believes his readers should get the links in his posts so they can examine the work directly.

There’s an unfortunate tendency to refer to blogs as frivolous, tendencious. He’s working for a legal establishment organization and was told the name could not have “blog” in the name because of the reputation of blogs. Blogs need to work at a high level of reliability and seriousness.

Questions:
for LD
: What is the line for bloggers to be considered journalists, and afforded the protections, and how long before a blogger is prosecuted under the espionage laws?
LD: A blogger should have the same rights and the same responsibilities under the law. Libel laws are being used quite aggressively against bloggers. The credentialing problem is a serious problem. Generally we’re excluded.

Q: Relationship between traditional academic legal scholarship and newer forms of essays on blogs?
IS: There are different schools of thought. What blogging can do is facilitate the exchange of academic ideas, and it also makes it easier to promote scholarship than before. Today if you can link to it in a blog it’s easier to reach a large audience, and people who don’t have access to law searches.
AW: You have people who are in the process of being tenured, I don’t see the blog process as a way to get tenure. It makes the work more accessible instead. The real danger is that there’s a misuse of academic articles on other blogs. It requires responsibility on the part of the reader.
LD: If one reads a blog like Balkanization, it’s very serious commentary. While it is not as extensive as accademic research, it gives a good voice. Same with Volohk, and Election Law, it is good scholarship. He also uses Patently O Blog.

Q. Are blogs being cited in cases?
IS: Yes, that doesn’t mean they influence it. However it’s some indication of greater influence than before.
AW: This was the 1st year bloggers could be up for Pulitzers, but he gives it 2 years.
LD: Politico was a finalist.