Civil Justice

California Farmer Warns: "Don't Trust Oil Industry, State or Courts" to Protect Water

By Dan Aiello

Kern County almond farmer, Fred Starrh, is an unlikely darling of the anti-fracking movement in California.

Hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is an environmentally risky oil production method of pumping under pressure large volumes of water, sand and chemicals underground to bubble to the surface heavy tar-like oil left in depleted oil wells and to reach deep deposits of oil and natural gas.

Fracking is the method oil companies seek to employ to proliferate drilling in California where the discovered Monterey Shale Deposit is estimated to contain as many as 15.4 billion barrels of crude 11,000 feet deep.

Welcome to the Golden Age of Arms Dealing

By Tina Dupuy

In 2004, the families of eight gunshot victims sued the manufacturer and dealer of the Bushmaster XM-15 used in the DC Sniper rampage for negligence. They won. The New York Times reported, "Under the terms of the settlement, Bushmaster Firearms Inc. of Windham, Maine, the gun's maker, will pay $550,000 to the victims' families; Bull's Eye Shooter Supply of Tacoma, Washington, the gun dealer, will pay $2 million."

What about the families from the Amish schoolhouse shootings? Virginia Tech? The 2007 Northern Illinois University shooting? The Gabby Giffords shooting in Tucson? The Carson City, Nevada IHOP massacre in 2011? The Aurora Theater shooting? Or the parents of the first-graders gunned down in Newtown?

Time For "Testing As Child Abuse Suits" to Fill the Nation's Courts

By Mark Naison

A tragedy is quietly taking place in America's public schools that represent an important opportunity for America's lawyers to advance the cause of equity and justice. All over the nation, with the support of both major parties, schools systems are now requiring that teachers and administrators be evaluated on the basis of student test scores, with their jobs placed in jeopardy if the scores do not reach a certain level.

A Call for Shared Sacrifice on Juvenile Corrections Budget

By Brian Heller de Leon
Center on Juvenile and Criminal Justice

The Senate and Assembly Budget Subcommittees on Public Safety are being pressured to reconsider the Governor’s revised cost-saving proposal for the state’s youth correctional system, the Division of Juvenile Facilities (commonly referred to as DJJ). Law enforcement agencies are demanding that the Legislature reduce or eliminate the new $24,000 per ward fee structure, which was proposed by the Governor’s office in the May revised budget.  

This amount greatly contributes to the $24.8 million in cost savings that the proposed budget targets for the state’s youth prison system.  The figure already represents a significant reduction from the Governor’s January 2012-13 juvenile justice realignment proposal, which would have amounted to approximately $200 million in savings to the state over time.

The Trouble With “Tort Reform”

By Scott H.Z. Sumner

We tend to think of public figures who advocate for what they like to call “tort reform” as being conservative. We shouldn’t.

Why? Because the “reforms” for which they advocate fly in the face of core principles held by conservatives and others, namely personal accountability, reducing government spending, empowering individuals and strengthening family values.

Personal accountability: By making it difficult or, in some cases, impossible for consumers who have been harmed to take corporations or other wrong-doers to court, or by limiting the amount of compensation harmed consumers can receive if they do go to court, “tort reform” measures strip accountability from the equation.

That lack of accountability limits the deterrence of further wrongdoing. “Tort reform” supporters who would blanch at being considered “soft on crime” regarding criminal matters wind up winking at wrongdoing in civil matters.

Foreclosure Fraud: Scoring the Deal, Continuing the Fight

By Richard (RJ) Eskow

The Federal government and the Attorneys General from 49 states have signed a deal with five major banks over charges of fraud, including reported acts of widespread perjury and forgery, in the so-called “robo-signing” scandal.

A few days ago we suggested that any deal be scored against five basic principles: openness, justice, restitution, deterrence, and reconciliation. It's clear that this deal falls short in every category. The best thing that can be said about it is that, thanks to a few tough holdouts led by New York AG Eric Schneiderman, it now allows additional civil and criminal investigations to proceed.

That's far from nothing, and it could be a big deal. But it will only be a big deal if the Administration stops coddling banks and devotes a lot more resources to helping homeowners and upholding justice.

Today's Visionary: An Illustrated Guide to Dr. King's 21st Century Insights

By Richard (RJ) Eskow

Here it comes again. This holiday weekend we'll see a lot of media coverage of Martin Luther King, Jr. But we'll hear very little about what he really was - a brave and visionary leader whose vision is as relevant today as ever.

One year ago I listed ten quotes by Dr. King, and mourned the lack of a movement that would advance his kind of vision. Then came the uprising in Madison and the Occupy movement, which began a long-overdue national debate about economic, as well as racial inequality.

Once again, Dr. King's insights provide offer insight and vision for today's movement activists - and tomorrow's.

The Top 10 Best and Worst of U.S. Politics in 2011

By Randy Shaw
Beyond Chron

For progressives, the first eight months of 2011 were the worst of times. Not since the Reagan tax cuts and slashing of domestic programs in 2001 have progressives been so left out of the national debate, and the 2011 exclusion occurred with Barack Obama as President. Obama got the year off to a terrible start with his agreement to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy for two years in exchange for one year of extending unemployment benefits. His failure to include raising the debt ceiling as part of the deal then allowed Republicans to use that as a bargaining chip for slashing domestic programs even further in August. But Occupy Wall Street’s emergence in September raised progressive spirits, as has the unexpected rise of Newt Gingrich as the frontrunner for the GOP presidential nomination. Here’s my list of the top ten best and worst political events that occurred across the nation in 2011.

The 10 Best

Fewer Nurses at For-Profit Nursing Homes Leads to Poorer Care

By JG Preston
Protect Consumer Justice

The quest for profit in the nursing home industry is leading to lower quality care for seniors as a result of dangerously-, and sometimes illegally-, low staffing levels.

“Poor quality of care is endemic in many nursing homes, but we found that the most serious problems occur in the largest for-profit chains,” according to University of California, San Francisco professor emerita Charlene Harrington, who led a study on the issue that has been published online in Health Services Research. Harrington also said in a university news release, “The top 10 chains have a strategy of keeping labor costs low to increase profits. They are not making quality a priority.”

Move Your Money Movement Having a Revival

By David Dayen

After passively accepting ever-increasing mistreatment from big banks, activists, community groups and even some politicians are jumping aboard a broad, multi-stage “move your money” campaign designed to transfer bank deposits into community banks and credit unions.