Perhaps a name change for a controversial plaintiff-side class action law firm is in the works... (Bumped)

It appears that attorneys at Initiative Legal Group are starting to appear at a "new" firm named Capstone Law, APC.  But Capstone is in the same building as Initiative Legal Group, so, fishy.  Perhaps its is just a coincidence, but maybe it has something to do with the problems Iniative Legal Group is having in Lofton v. Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, Case No. CGC-11-509502 (see also, Maxon v. Initiative Legal Group APC, App. Ct. Case No. A136626).  Nothing like a change of name to shake off the taint of allegations like those, right?

Ted Frank sure loves all class actions...

I just haven't found an instance yet where he actually commended the outcome of one.  But I'm looking.  Still looking...

I was going to link to a very recent example of his affection for a particular class action settlement by directing reader to a post on the blog he edits for publisher Center for Legal Policy at the Manhattan Institute.  However, his post is, arguably, defamatory and/or slander per se.  If I link to it, I could, theoretically, be construed as a republisher.  So, my apologies; I can't supply authority to support my sarcasm.

Harvard Law Unbound blog successfully blacklisted by Harvard

As a blogger myself, I find myself growing increasingly uncomfortable about reports of speech suppression of other bloggers through threats, intimidation, maliciously false process and the like.  In this installment, some dissenting Harvard Law students were the victims of a likely bogus DMCA takedown demand issued by Harvard to WordPress.com.  Bogus is as bogus does.  If you are a Harvard alum, tell them you'll be a little short in the donation area this year.  But this story has a better ending than some; the students didn't stand for it and immediately started a new blog.  Keep fighting the good fight.

Governor Brown proposes taking unconstitutional under-funding of Courts to unconscionable new high (low)

Yesterday, Governor Brown's rosy revenue projections ran smack into the brick wall of reality.  California's budgetary deficit isn't the paltry $9 billion predicted by the Governor.  Heck, we could have found $9 billion in the state's couch cushions.  No problem.

Instead, our deficit, thanks to the inexcusable fiscal malfeasance of years of legislators spending beyond our means, and the inexcusable electorate allowing them to do so, is more like $16 billion.  That's billion with a "B."  This year.  A one-year deficit against a $91 billion budget.

The solution proposed by the Governor is to (1) tax us more than we already are, and (2) cut stuff.  What gets cut?  As far as our constitutionally created branch of government knows as the judiciary is concerned, the cut proposed is another $544 million from the courts budget, which has already lost $650 million over the last three years.

One retired judge recently told me that the Los Angeles Superior Court is just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.  But, for the most part, the leaders of the Courts, while complaining loudly about the cuts, are too political to take on the Legislature and Governor over this constutional crisis.

Where is the leadership? When are the advocates of Court access and the constitutional scholars and the judges crushed under this unchecked robbery going to stand up and demand that the third branch of government receive the first distribution of funds, regardless of what revenue is available.  The Courts are entitled to protected funds sufficient to discharge their constitutional role in California.

See, for example, coverage in the Los Angeles Times.

The unconstitutional dismantling of California's judicial branch continues unchallenged

I have written previously about the unconstitutionality of underfunding California's Courts, including a Daily Journal article posted here.  And with every additional funding cut, I believe that the legislative and executive branches march further down the path of unconstitutional conduct.  In the latest example of grevious injury to our Courts, the Los Angeles Superior Court has announced $30 million in additional cuts (about $70 million in prior cuts).  These cuts include the loss of 56 courtrooms, layoffs of 100 additional non-courtroom staff (above 329 layoffs and 229 attrition-based reductions), and a significant reduction in court reporter availability.

It is my fondest wish that a victim of these latest layoffs, a litigant, and a judge will all step forward and challenge the constitutionality of starving a co-equal branch of government.  Where are the checks and balances when one allegedly equal branch exists at the mercy of politicians that refuse to make the tough choices necessary to ensure, as a first priority, that the judicial branch is capable fo resolving the legal disputes it was created to resolve?

Regardless of whether you represent plaintiffs, or defendants, civil litigants or those charged with crimes, you cannot acquiesce to this relentless assault on fundamental, constitutional rights.   This is not a political question.  The California legislature is not constitutionally empowered to eviscerate the judicial branch.

Write your legislators.  Tell them that they must discharge their constitutional obligations before any other consideration.

And no, this is not the end of my rant.  It's just a pause...

Breaking News: Brinker opinion now available

With traffic to the California Courts website so heavy that a temporary mirror site was added, the long wait for the Brinker opinion in now over.  I can't write extensive comments now, but a quick skim suggests to me that the opinion falls somewhere in the middle of what the respective sides hoped to see happen.

Dear Congress: Get your grubby paws off the internet - I'm looking at you, SOPA and PIPA

In case my opinion isn't entirely clear, SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) and PIPA (Protect IP Act) are junk.  The laws display a catastrophic ignorance about how the Internet actually works, are so poorly written as to invite abuse, will most certainly be abused (based on how the MPAA and RIAA have conducted themselves in the past), and will move the United States uncomfortably down the road towards a fragmented, censored Internet.

If you aren't all that technical and want an idea of what's wrong with these laws, reddit has a good post on the topic.

Oral argument comes and goes in Brinker; many prognosticators see a Court rejecting the "ensure" standard

Oral argument was finally held in Brinker last week.  Wagering on appellate court outcomes after listening to oral arguments is not a smart use of gambling funds in most instances, and it seems dangerous here as well.  But most assessments of the argument seem to agree on two things.  First, the consensus is that the Justices appeared to direct a more critical set of questions to plaintiffs' counsel, Kimberly Kralowec, on the issue of whether employers must "ensure" that meal periods are taken, rather than simply "provide" employees with an opportunity to take a meal period.  Second, on the issue of when a meal must occur, at least Justice Liu appeared to take exception with an interpretation that would allow an employer to schedule meal period after more than five hours of work.

Here are a few examples of coverage of or opinions about the oral argument:

In something approximating 90 days we will finally know the answer to this great mystery.