April 30, 2007
Professional Reading: History of the Courts of Kentucky
Kurt Metzmeier, Acting Director, U of L's Brandeis School of Law Library, has uploaded History of the Courts of Kentucky to SSRN. The article is a survey of the history of Kentucky courts from the foundation of the commowealth in 1792 to the ratification in 1891 of the state's fourth constitution. [RJ}
Class Action Fairness Act Boosted Federal Cases
"Federal courts are handling more class action cases since the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) was enacted, a study shows.
"In the 16 months since CAFA went into effect on February 18, 2005, we find a substantial increase in class action activity based on diversity of citizenship jurisdiction," said the third in a series of interim reports from the Federal Judicial Center." [RJ]
Federal Election Commission Makes Legislative Recommendations
"The Federal Election Commission (FEC) met in open session today and unanimously approved five legislative recommendations to be forwarded to the President and Congress. Commission Chairman Robert Lenhard described the recommendations as “measured, common-sense changes that would bolster the Commission’s ability to efficiently and effectively perform its disclosure and enforcement duties.” The Commission makes recommendations annually, with an eye toward improving the administration of Federal election laws." [RJ]
NBER Report: The Origins of State Capacity
The Origins of State Capacity: Property Rights, Taxation, and Politics
Timothy Besley, Torsten Persson
Abstract: Economists generally assume the existence of sufficient institutions to sustain a market economy and tax the citizens. However, this starting point cannot easily be taken for granted in many states, neither in history nor in the developing world of today. This paper develops a framework where "policy choices", regulation of markets and tax rates, are constrained by "economic institutions", which in turn reflect past investments in legal and fiscal state capacity. We study the economic and political determinants of these investments. The analysis shows that common interest public goods, such as fighting external wars, as well as political stability and inclusive political institutions, are conducive to building state capacity. Preliminary empirical evidence based on cross-country data find a number of correlations consistent with the theory.
"Will & Grace" Lawsuit Stalls Over Juror's Web Site
The New York Lawyer is reporting [registration required] that jurors who reached a verdict in the multimillion dollar lawsuit brought by the creators of "Will & Grace" against NBC Studios may have to begin deliberations again after the jury foreman was removed. The foreman was removed Thursday for failing to reveal he had a Web site critical of corporations, including NBC. Oops. See also Juror Blogs Complicate Trials, Law Blog Metrics (March 7, 2007).
Sounds like it is time to amend voir dire checklists.[JH]
April 29, 2007
The Iranian Regime: Human Rights and Civil Liberties Under Siege
CRS Report on U.S. Aid to the Palestinians
U.S. Aid to the Palestinians
Jeremy M. Sharp, Middle East Policy Analyst, Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division, Congressional Research Service
Summary: With the recent success of Hamas at the polls, many observers have cautioned that continued foreign assistance to the Palestinian Authority (PA) may be at risk due to Hamas’ commitment to the destruction of the state of Israel and its designation as a terrorist group by the United States. Currently, the Palestinians are the largest per capita recipients of foreign aid worldwide and, with a shattered economy, are completely dependent on external support to meet basic needs. Without Western aid, a Hamas-led government may be forced to rely completely on donations from wealthy Arab Gulf states or from Iran. On the other hand, the prospect of losing U.S. and European aid may force Hamas to tone down its radical views and accept Israel’s right to exist. In the meantime, foreign donors have been cautious, demanding that Hamas renounce the use of violence and recognize Israel while withholding a complete cessation of aid programs pending the formation of a new Palestinian government.
Soros on the American Israel Public Affairs Committee
George Soros calls for the reform of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in a think piece published in The New York Review of Books. [JH]
CFR Backgrounder Looks a Al-Qaeda in Iraq
Al-Qaeda in Iraq: Resurging or Splintering? reviews al-Qaeda's operations in Iraq, which appear resurgent but have also shown some signs of internal splintering. [JH]