Monthly Archives:' May 2016

Polluters In South Carolina Are About To Get A Huge Boost From The State House

By: Samantha Page, Originally Published: 5.6.16, Source: Think Progress

For the past 65 years, if someone — or some company — was illegally polluting in South Carolina, you could sue. The law was put on the books so that if South Carolina’s enforcement agencies didn’t have the time, money, or political backing to go after a polluter, the average citizen could step in.

Now, with only a month left in its 2015-2016 session, the South Carolina legislature has picked up a bill that would do away with this ability.

“No one in the public of South Carolina is calling for the repeal of their rights to protect their communities and clean water,” Frank Holleman, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC), told ThinkProgress in an email. “Instead, this is an example of the lobbyists for corporate polluters controlling politicians who will take away the rights of citizens in order to curry favor with major campaign contributors.”

How Do You Put Out A Subterranean Fire Beneath A Mountain Of Trash?

By: Maggie Koerth-Baker, Originally Published: 5.10.16, Source: FiveThirtyEight

The Bridgeton Landfill, about 20 miles northwest of St. Louis, is in many ways a typical pile of trash. Bridgeton is a layer cake of garbage and dirt at the bottom of an old limestone quarry, all of it covered with a frosting of clay, plastic liner, soil and grass. But for the last six years, there’s been something wrong at the core of Bridgeton — a wrongness that has led to lawsuits, angry neighborhood activists and national media attention. It’s confusing and scientifically strange — and all those problems are exacerbated by the nearby presence of a big old pile of nuclear waste.

Down beneath the layers of trash bags, banana peels, Chinese takeout cartons, diapers and dirt, the Bridgeton Landfill has becomevery hot. Normally you’d expect the process of decomposition to heat the interior of a landfill to around 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Parts of the Bridgeton landfill, in contrast, have reached temperatures as high as 260. That 120 degrees is the difference between a healthy landfill, decomposing merrily along, and one in which the systems of safe waste management are falling apart.

South Carolina's poisonous police culture: The death of Lori Jean Ellis

By: Radley Balko, Originally Published: May 6, 2016, Source: The Washington Post

Editor’s note: This is part 1 of a four-part series.

“To this day, if you live in Kershaw County and saw those media reports, you’d still think Lori Jean Ellis was just some crazy old black lady who opened fire on a bunch of cops,” says Robert Phillips. “You’d think she got what she deserved.”

Phillips is an attorney in Rock Hill, S.C., just across the border from Charlotte. He represented Ellis’s estate in a lawsuit after her death. Ellis, 52, was killed on April 21, 2008, when an officer from the state’s Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and two Kershaw County sheriff’s deputies served a series of warrants on her home at about 11 pm.

In the ongoing national discussion about police brutality and lethal force, a common reform recommended by advocacy and activist groups is that police shootings be investigated by an outside organization. Police agencies shouldn’t be trusted to investigate internally, the thinking goes, and prosecutors are too close to and dependent on local police to be impartial. Wisconsin recently passed a bill requiring all police shootings investigations be led by a law enforcement agency other than those involved in the shooting. The new policy has been well-received by both police groups and advocates for reform.

Howard Nations and Shakespeare"The First Thing We Do, Let's Kill All the Lawyers" Shakespeare's Tribute to Trial Lawyers

By: Howard Nations, Source:

The great trial lawyer Daniel Webster said: “Justice is the greatest concern of man on earth.” There is no greater professional calling than to stand as a lawyer at the bar of justice and breathe life into the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the statutory law and common law by defining, asserting and defending the rights of citizens. Lawyers play many vital roles on the world’s stage but none more important than preserving, protecting and perpetuating the rights of citizens, both individual and business. Since lawyers play such a vital role in our democracy, why has lawyer-bashing increased exponentially in recent years and how should we respond to it?

One of the many enigmas to arise out of the corporate dominated decade of the eighties is the advent of lawyer bashing. The adversaries of our proud and noble profession continue to misquote the law, distort case results and unjustly attack judges and juries in a mass media onslaught designed to silence the victim’s voice – the trial lawyers of America.

Ironically, the rallying cry of the lawyer bashers has become Shakespeare’s quote from Henry VI: “THE FIRST THING WE DO, LET’S KILL ALL THE LAWYERS.”