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The Corporate Observer A Publication by Attorneys Devoted to Protecting Consumer Rights

Monthly Archives: March 2011

Attorney’s Incentives: Why Conviction Rate-Based Bonuses for Federal Prosecutors Are Unjust

Posted in In the Courts

District Attorney Carol Chambers, who instituted the policy late last year, has pitted monetary incentive directly against Justice Sutherland’s eloquent summary of a prosecutor’s duty. By paying only for trial success and ignoring successful plea bargains (not to mention cases dropped for lack of merit), Ms. Chambers unconditionally encourages her office to take cases to trial; unsurprisingly, in 2010 her district held vastly more felony trials than districts like Colorado’s Second District, which includes Denver.

Elizabeth Warren, Walmart and Discrimination Against Women

Posted in Social Policy

My comfortable (and naïve) perception that all was right in the world of gender and employment was snapped earlier this week. I was attended a conference at no less than the United States Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC, just across Lafayette Park from the White House. I was there to see and hear Professor Elizabeth Warren. Since 2008, she has been a powerful voice for consumers; no, she has been the most powerful voice for consumers. And now as she races to get the new Consumer Finance Protection Board (CFPB) up and running, she faces the full court press of corporate, banking and Wall Street interests attempting to derail her.

Almost Live from the US Chamber of Commerce: Elizabeth Warren Speaks Eloquently to a Skeptical Crowd

Posted in Consumer Protection

Professor Warren is really good; straightforward, persuasive and… well… charming. And this was no friendly audience. She followed Congressman Spencer Bachus of Alabama to the lectern. He is the Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee. The Congressman rather derisively referred to Professor Warren as “a nice lady”. He then went on to suggest she and her agency — the CFPB — were omnipotent and would destroy competitive markets, while imposing a Maoist (that’s no typo) style of “total regulation” on the capital markets.

Chris Nidel and Daniel Stockin: Fluoridegate and Fluoride Litigation: What Law Firms Need to Know About Fluoride Toxic Tort Actions

Posted in Consumer Protection

You have probably heard the recent news in the media about fluoride risks; a growing “Fluoridegate” scandal; cities dropping their longstanding policy of water fluoridation; and concerns about fluoride harm to kidneys, bones, thyroid glands, and teeth. For decades, Americans have heard of a long-simmering controversy over the whole-body safety of ingested fluorides. Now government agencies and private sector groups are admitting concerns about the impact to the body from fluorides in numerous consumer products, including water, beverages, foods made with fluoridated water or containing fluoride fumigant residues, and oral care products.

Elizabeth Warren, Bankers and Billions: Its time for Congress to Stand Up for Home Owners

Posted in Banks and Financial Services

Far from being penalized, even slapped on the writs, big banks–specifically Bank of America, JPMorgan, Citigroup, Wells Fargo, and Goldman Sachs–are enjoying the time of their lives. They are saving tremendously to the tune of billions by refusing to service distressed properties and loans. “Walk away fellas and don’t look back.” Instead, they are using some of that money wisely to lobby Congress and it’s working.

A Blunder: The Rajaratnam Prosecutors’ Decision to Call Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein to the Stand May Have Been an Error

Posted in In the Courts

It is only natural for the jury to be distracted. Mr. Blankfein’s presence overshadows the courtroom dynamic of prosecution versus defense. Although I was not in the courtroom, it also seems as if the jury could take away the conclusion that this is all about making money and Raj, Lloyd and Mr. Gupta are all just trying to get their piece of the pie.

Judge Rakoff Decries the SEC Practice of Allowing Bad Guys To Settle Without Admitting Or Denying Wrongdoing

Posted in In the Courts

Last year it was Judge Rakoff’s refusal to accept a proposed settlement between Merrill Lynch, soon to be Bank of America and the SEC. He almost made the parties go to trial but in the end accepted some modest changes to the settlement and let the parties move forward. The Judge was hardly throwing real punches, just shadow boxing. Well he’s at it again.

Elizabeth Warren, Neil Barofsky, and Senator Tom Coburn: Who is the Most Courageous Politician in Washington?

Posted in Consumer Protection

In government, as in life, it is always easy to take the path of least resistance. “Keep your head down, let someone else make a decision and do what makes everyone around you happy.” But leadership takes courage. It takes a willingness to stick your neck out for what you believe. Over the weekend, I thought of these three very different, yet courageous leaders and wondered who would be viewed as the most courageous:

The Better For Business Bureau: aka The Better Business Bureau

Posted in Consumer Protection

No doubt consumers may rely on those BBB ratings and spend hard earned money on a product or service that not only doesn’t deserve an A+, but one that they wouldn’t purchase if they knew the truth. How does that foster trust in the marketplace? Finally, what’s the incentive of doing a better job when companies can get an A + without even going to class?

Whistleblowers, the IRS and Reducing the Budget Deficit

Posted in Whistleblowers

It’s fair. A tax increase to lower the deficit forces everyone to pay more – even those who have already paid their fair share. The whistleblower targets those that tried to cut corners — putting the burden on others. So charge on whistleblowers and thank goodness the IRS is finally responding.