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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Arlen Specter's Trial Lawyer Windfall Act of 2009

In order to sue someone today, you need to have a plausible claim that the person did something wrong. Arlen Specter, facing an uphill climb in his Senate re-election fight, needs trial lawyer money badly. So he's decided that this hurdle is simply too high to reach and wants to change it. From the WSJ:

The reason has to do with the discovery process. Rightly used, discovery allows lawyers from both sides to gain access to evidence—documents, email, depositions, etc.—that support their case. In practice it can be abused, as when lawyers use discovery to go fishing for a case they don't have. And because compliance alone can be expensive and time-consuming, many companies find it cheaper to settle.

Greg Garre, a former solicitor general for the Bush administration who will testify at tomorrow's hearing, puts it this way: "If passed and signed into law, the bill would drive a truck through the Supreme Court ruling and dramatically lower the standards for pleading lawsuits."

Not only that, but as the WSJ argues, it makes it significantly easier for terrorists to charge, say the President or Attorney General to go on discovery expeditions. To Specter, this doesn't matter. He has already proven he will do anything humanly possible to win re-election.