In reading over the Complaint filed by various state Attorneys General against the health care bill, I noticed something interesting. Paragraph 14 of the Complaint notes that the state of “Nebraska Carolina” is a plaintiff in the lawsuit. Not only that, but it’s a “sovereign state in the United States of America.”
I can only guess that some fine folks from North Carolina and Nebraska have gotten together and formed a new state! Having lived in both states, I congratulate the new sovereign, and wish them the best of luck in their lawsuit.
But does this mean we have to add another star on the flag?
Update: The first paragraph also lists the plaintiffs, but has a bracketed “[ADD STATES AND AG’s]” rather than the party names. Do the lawyers over at Baker Hostetler not know how to proofread?
Via Barking Up The Wrong Tree, are uncertain experts more persuasive than experts who are firm in their convictions?
Experts are more persuasive when they seem tentative about their conclusions… But the opposite is true of novices, who grow more persuasive with increasing certainty.
In one experiment, college students were randomly assigned one of four variations of a restaurant review, praising a local Italian spot. In some versions, the reviewer was described as a famous food critic; in others, he was a technology worker at a local college with a penchant for fast food. Each of the critics expressed positive certainty about the restaurant’s virtues in one variation, and tentative praise in another. Asked to evaluate the restaurant, the students who read the expert’s review liked it much better when he seemed tentative; the opposite was true of the novice.
I wonder how this might play out with the use of expert witnesses in trials. In an expert witness showdown, both sides often seem to be lobbing absolutely-certain experts at one another, each with contradictory but adamantly endorsed opinions. For any case that is technically or scientifically complicated, it’s an open question about how much of the substance of the presentation that the jury really comprehends. Since by definition the witnesses are experts on the subject they’re testifying to, jurors probably will not have the expertise to judge the merits of their testimony, so it comes down more to the witnesses’ demeanor and authoritativeness.
Obviously, trial strategy should be based on something a lot more thoroughly researched than a stray psych study. But I think it is at least plausible that in a battle of the experts situation, having a (well qualified) witness who gives a more reserved endorsement would be more persuasive than an opposing expert who is willing to follow his testimony to the grave.
Judge Clay Land, a U.S. district court judge in the Middle District of Georgia (my “home district”), is growing impatient with all these lawsuits alleging that Obama is not an American citizen. Judge Land ordered Orly Taitz, the California lawyer (and dentist!) behind most of these suits, to explain why she shouldn’t be subject to a $10,000 sanction after her latest “motion for reconsideration”. (Read the hilarious order here.)
Taitz’s motion is a hoot, but I especially love this line:
[T]his Court ignores some of the soundest and most carefully researched and professionally assembled and presented evidence, collated and substantiated by a former agent of England’s fabled ’Scotland Yard”.
Just when things couldn’t get any worse for Taitz, it turns out her client is actually threatening to file a complaint against her in California. Booyah!
If a recent article is any indication, we might be subjecting ourselves to legal liability by starting this blog. According to the ABA Journal, comments on blogs and websites have encouraged a number of recent lawsuits. These lawsuits are not just coming from crazy folk; a former dean of Pace Law School sued a newspaper website after commenters suggested he had taken bribes, while a company running an online role-playing game lodged its own suit against an internet blog critical of its business practices. And yes, even law-related websites like ours sometimes get sued.
I hesitate to ask, but . . . does anyone have any comments?