: The Blawgraphy
Life of a Law Student, University of Houston Law Center

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One Injunction Away from Armageddon

Oh to be a clerk on this court, for this case – a federal court in Hawaii is tasked with considering the following claim:

Walter L. Wagner and Luis Sancho contend that scientists at the European Center for Nuclear Research, or CERN, have played down the chances that the collider could produce, among other horrors, a tiny black hole, which, they say, could eat the Earth.

From the New York Times article, Asking a Judge to Save the World, and Maybe a Whole Lot More. Scott Greenfield at Simple Justice is “hopeful that the plaintiffs are wrong about this.” Norm Pattis says “Bring it on.”

Shades of United States v. The Progressive?

The case at bar is so difficult precisely because the consequences of error involve human life itself and on such an awesome scale…. A mistake in ruling against The Progressive will seriously infringe cherished First Amendment rights. If a preliminary injunction is issued, it will constitute the first instance of prior restraint against a publication in this fashion in the history of this country, to this Court’s knowledge. Such notoriety is not to be sought. It will curtail defendants’ First Amendment rights in a drastic and substantial fashion. It will infringe upon our right to know and to be informed as well. … A mistake in ruling against the United States could pave the way for thermonuclear annihilation for us all. In that event, our right to life is extinguished and the right to publish becomes moot.

Aside from the jurisdictional issues, how interesting would this Daubert hearing be?

Mr. Wagner, who lives on the Big Island of Hawaii, studied physics and did cosmic ray research at the University of California, Berkeley, and received a doctorate in law from what is now known as the University of Northern California in Sacramento. He subsequently worked as a radiation safety officer for the Veterans Administration.

Mr. Sancho, who describes himself as an author and researcher on time theory, lives in Spain, probably in Barcelona, Mr. Wagner said.

Um, probably in Barcelona?

Economists as Expert Witnesses

Jenn Chiang, my classmate and apologist par excellence for the top hat and monocle set, has apparently thrown over Julian Simon and Montgomery Burns as her roll models and fixated, at least for the time being, on David Teece.

Read all about it @ the WSJ: Economists as Expert Witnesses

For high-profile economists like the 58-year-old Prof. Teece, expert testimony has become a way to earn $2 million or more a year. Their rise has its roots in the Reagan era of the 1980s, when a free-market view of the law inspired by University of Chicago scholars gained ground. Courts now rely far more on economic analysis, with its apparent precision, to reach decisions. As a result, big companies in legal disputes race to enlist top economists on their side, paying top dollar in an arms race for talent.

Aside from the rising general need for expert witnesses in complex litigation, I think it helps that Teece advocates a position a particular type of litigant really likes to hear.

In a widely cited 1986 paper, “Profiting from Technological Innovation,” he argued that the big winners from breakthrough ideas can be companies that control distribution and customer service, not the inventors.

Lest I give the wrong impression, I should point out that Chiang and I actually agree on most things, having been re-educated by the same economics program, but I think there is a limit to the number of degrees one has time to make use of on this mortal coil.

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