Saturday, June 09, 2007

Playing with Loaded Dice

At Las Vegas casinos and racetracks if you make more bad bets than good bets, you generally (but not invariably) lose more money than you win. But this rule of thumb may not apply in the game of American litigation. Consider Jeffrey Anderson, who has reportedly made millions of dollars bringing lawsuits against Catholic clergy for sexual abuse. Anderson, Esq., brags (confesses?), "'I'm the losingest lawyer you've ever interviewed. I've lost a lot more than I've won, and people only read about the stunning victories.'" Terry Carter, Collaring the Clergy, 93 ABA Journal 38, 41 (June 2007). How is this possible? Is it because Anderson has had a lucky streak, recovering such vast amounts in some isolated cases that the winnings greatly outweigh the losses? Or is Anderson a rich man today because he is fortunate enough to work within a litigation system in which neither he nor his clients pay for the full costs of the bad litigation bets -- and the unjustified harms they have inflicted on opponents?

Oh well: Justice at any price! Ya gotta break some eggs to make an omellette? Isn't that right?

P.S. The article reports that Anderson, Esq., flew into a rage on learning that an accused priest had counterclaimed for defamation. Id. at 39. This strikes me as mildly ironic. In any event, would Anderson's rage persist if it turns that his client's accusations against the priest are false? Or, al la the mantra of the 1980s (largely popularized by Oprah Winfrey, about the need to "believe the children," some of whom turned out to be unworthy of belief), is it the case that the following mandate applies: Believe the (alleged?) victim!

Telltale Prints

Richard Gray, Fingerprints Tell A Story, London Sunday Telegraph, reprinted in the Washington Times (June 9, 2007):
LONDON -- For more than a century, fingerprints have helped to bring criminals to justice. Now, in a development that should help police catch more crooks, scientists have discovered how to coax details of an offender's lifestyle and health from the prints he or she leaves at a crime scene.
The technique will prove particularly valuable when officers are unable to find a match for a fingerprint on the national database. Currently, if no match is found, the print is useless until a suspect is brought in for questioning.
The new technique will reveal whether an offender smokes, takes drugs, drinks coffee, is using a certain type of medication or has a specific disease. This will help to narrow down the list of potential suspects, saving time and money for the police and securing more convictions.
Read the rest of the story online!