Monday, July 31, 2006

Troubled past for Missiouri 'execution doctor'

The doctor overseeing executions has a troubled past, according to an account in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
The Post-Dispatch has confirmed the man behind the screen was Dr. Alan R. Doerhoff, 62, of Jefferson City. Two Missouri hospitals won’t allow him to practice within their walls. He has been sued for malpractice more than 20 times, by his own estimate, and was publicly reprimanded in 2003 by the state Board of Healing Arts for failing to disclose malpractice suits to a hospital where he was treating patients.

It is unclear how much U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. was told before he strongly questioned the doctor’s qualifications — and whether Missouri was delivering unconstitutionally cruel punishment in its death chamber.

Doerhoff’s reprimand was no secret to Attorney General Jay Nixon’s office. Nixon’s office, which fought to keep Doerhoff’s identity a secret in death penalty appeals, signed off on the discipline.

Executions in Missouri have been stopped by a federal court order.

Our question: If the doctor is supposed to oversee executions, can he be held liable if the inmate survives?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Attorney Offers to Wear Asbestos

Attorney Ed Mueller, who unsuccessfully defended a $10. 4 million wrongful death suit for John Crain Inc., has been quoted as saying he would wear the products accused of contributing to the death of 60-year-old Buddy Jones, a former shipyard worker.

Jones was diagnosed with mesothelioma, a fatal cancer linked to asbestos, nearly 20 years after leaving the shipyard job. Mesothelioma can lie dormant for decades.

John Crain is known for not settling asbestos cases, preferring to take them to court.

"We defend cases because we believe in the safety of the product," Mueller is quoted as saying. "If you were sitting here right now, I'd take a piece out and put it around my neck and wear it home."

It's important to note that Mueller qualified his statement with the phrase "if you were sitting here right now."

We wonder if he would be willing to put in four years of the type of work Jones performed.

We think not.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Good News, Bad News for Andrea Yates

It seems that Texas can find a reasonable jury that is not just out for blood.

The good news for Andrea Yates is that she was found not guilty by reason of insanity this week in the drowning of her five children in 2001.

The bad news for Andrea Yates is that she was found not guilty by reason of insanity and "will be committed to a state mental facility in Texas until she is deemed to be no longer a threat."

The main question is: Will she get the care and treatment she needs, or will she be locked away and forgotten?

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

How far should the state go?

A case in Virginia involving a 16-year-old cancer patient who, along with his parents, decided to forgo a second round of traditional chemotheraphy has us wondering just how far the state should go in determining what is best for a person.

From the Associated Press:
Starchild Abraham Cherrix, who is battling Hodgkin's disease, a cancer of the lymphatic system, refused a second round of chemotherapy when he learned early this year that the cancer had returned.

Abraham chose to instead go on a sugar-free, organic diet and take herbal supplements under the supervision of a clinic in Mexico.

A social worker asked a juvenile court judge to require the teen to continue conventional treatment, and the judge on Friday ordered Abraham to report to a hospital Tuesday. Accomack County Circuit Court Judge Glen A. Taylor set aside that order.
Complete Article >>>

Our question: what makes the social worker who sought to force treatment on Starchild an expert on what is best for that particular individual. It seems he had already tried regular treatment which resulted in a relapse. Does the family not have the right to attempt alternative treatments?

You be the judge.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Former Nixon Lawyer dies

Robert Mardian, a former lawyer for Richard Nixon, who had his conviction for obstruction of justice during the Watergate scandal overturned on appeal, has died, the Associated Press reports.
Mardian died of complications from lung cancer Monday at his vacation home in Southern California, said his son Robert.

The attorney long denied helping conceal the Nixon administration's involvement in the break-in and attempted bugging of the Democratic National Headquarters office at the Watergate complex.
Complete article >>>

Virginia 'chairs' convicted murderer

A 27-year-old convicted murderer became only the fourth person to be executed by electric chair in Virginia since electrocution became an option 11 years ago.

Reuters news service reports:
Brandon Wayne Hedrick, 27, was sentenced to death for the rape and murder of Lisa Crider, 23, near Lynchburg, Virginia, in May 1998.

"Death was pronounced at 9:12 (EST/00:12 GMT). There were no complications," said Virginia Department of Corrections spokesman Larry Traylor.
Complete article >>>

Sunday, July 16, 2006

New York Judges may carry guns

The Associated Press reports:
NEW YORK - It's one way to assure order in the court. The New York state Advisory Committee on Judicial Ethics has ruled that it is permissible for judges to pack a pistol beneath their robes while on the bench.

Monday, July 10, 2006

First Katrina Lawsuit Begins

Are insurance companies trying to avoid payment of claims resulting from Hurrican Katrina by blaming damage on flooding? A lawsuit underway in Mississippi is the first of many.

From The Associated Press:
GULFPORT, Miss. - Attorneys carried files and exhibits into a federal courthouse Monday for what they expect to be a groundbreaking trial on whether insurance policyholders who lost homes in Hurricane Katrina are entitled to recover losses that insurance companies claim were caused by flooding.

"A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step, and this is the first step," plaintiffs' attorney Richard "Dickie" Scruggs said as he arrived in court. "It's one case. If you win it, it's a huge win. If you lose it, you spin it the best way you can."

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of police Lt. Paul Leonard, who had taken out homeowner's insurance with Nationwide Mutual Insurance Co. long before Katrina pulverized his Pascagoula house on Aug. 29.

After the storm, Nationwide blamed the damage on water, not wind. The insurer said Leonard's policy didn't cover floods.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Suit Alleges Cingular Deception

From Consumer Affairs:
Cingular Wireless misled and overcharged millions of AT&T cell phone users when Cingular bought AT&T Wireless, according to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Seattle.

Cingular bought AT&T's cell phone system in October 2004, after assuring federal regulators that the merger would be "seamless."

But, the lawsuit contends, instead of the new and better services that Cingular promised AT&T customers, Cingular immediately began dismantling and degrading the AT&T network, forcing AT&T customers to move to Cingular's cell network. That meant buying new phone equipment, moving to higher cost plans, and, in some cases, an $18 "transfer" or "upgrade fee."

Thursday, July 06, 2006

SC Decision Victory for Working Women

The Supreme Court decision upholding a jury verdict in favor of a female forklift operator was a momentous victory for working women everywhere.

Read Article

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Gitmo Lawyer Expects to Lose Job

From the Seattle Post-Intelligencer:
Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift -- the Navy lawyer who beat the president of the United States in a pivotal Supreme Court battle over trying alleged terrorists -- figures he'll probably have to find a new job.

Of course, it's always risky to compare your boss to King George III.
More >>>

Monday, July 03, 2006

Bobbleheaded Justice

The LA Times has an article about bobblehead dolls of the U.S. Supreme Court Justices. Some collectors are paying thousands of dollars for the rare dolls.


Perhaps they have more dollars than sense.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

Who's Really in Charge of Supreme Court?

A LA Times news analysis reports:
John G. Roberts Jr. may be the new chief justice, but the Supreme Court is not truly the Roberts court, at least not yet.

In the most divisive cases before the court in the term that just ended, it was Justice Anthony M. Kennedy who determined the outcome every time. In unpredictable fashion, he sided some of the time with the court's conservative bloc and some of the time with its liberals.

Saturday, July 01, 2006


The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don't do anything about it. -- Albert Einstein