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The battle of the law-cumentaries

Just weeks after the HBO debut of a film setting out to debunk what it calls the myths of tort reform, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Institute for Legal Reform is set to release its own film examining what it calls America’s “lawsuit industry,” which it says is filled with “greed and corruption.”

The ILR-backed film, called “InJustice,” premiers on the ReelzChannel Monday night.

Last month the documentary “Hot Coffee: Is Justice Being Served?” was screened in Washington for an audience that included members of Congress and civil justice advocates before it debuted on the cable network. That film, by trial lawyer-turned-documentarian Susan Saladoff, took aim squarely at tort reform advocates – including the Chamber – who back  mandatory arbitration clauses, state law damage caps and judicial election systems that civil justice advocates say protect businesses at the expense of consumers, workers and ordinary Americans.

But the film drew sharp criticisms from business groups and tort reform advocates who said it portrayed a skewed vision of the nation’s litigation system and painted trial attorneys as heroes.

According to the Chamber’s blog ChamberPost, filmmaker approached the ILR two years ago with an idea of making a film on haw the “lawsuit industry” has “transformed the practice of law from a calling into a multi-billion dollar a year business.”

As push for “Caylee’s Law” begins, jury consultant says social media shaped Anthony defense

Memorial for Caylee Anthony near where her body was found

On the heels of the verdict heard round the world, an effort has begun to urge Congress to pass a law making the failure of a parent to notify law enforcement of a child’s disappearance a federal felony.

According to online petition organization Change.org, tens of thousands of people have signed a petition calling on Washington lawmakers to pass legislation in response to the verdict rendered yesterday in the Casey Anthony case. A Florida jury found Anthony not guilty on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated child abuse and manslaughter in connection with the death of her 2-year-old daughter Caylee.

Prosecutors had focused on, among other things, the fact that Anthony did not notify police of her daughter’s disappearance.

“When I saw that Casey Anthony had been found not guilty in the murder of little Caylee, and that she was only being convicted of lying to the police about her disappearance, I was sickened; I could not believe she was not being charged with child neglect or endangerment, or even obstruction of justice,” Michelle Crowder, the Oklahoma woman who started the “Caylee’s Law” petition, said in a statement issued by Change.org.

Meanwhile, Amy Singer, the chief trial consultant for Anthony’s defense team, told Lawyers USA that monitoring public opinion on social websites was crucial for Anthony’s defense strategy.

“Social media was the difference between winning and losing,” said Singer, whose consulting team monitored 40,000 blogs, chat rooms and Facebook pages to find out what people were thinking about the nationally-televised trial. That provided a window into the minds of jurors in terms of what questions they may have had, she said.

“Then the defense lawyers were able to answer those questions [in front of the real jury],” she said. “It was like having a free shadow jury. You would not believe the kinds of things people were saying, and a lot of it was counterintuitive.”

More here on Lawyers USA online.

Quoted: Ginsburg on staying put

“Couldn’t think of leaving until after it is returned to me, which won’t be anytime soon.”

~ Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, in a note to the Associated Press, saying that she will not consider retirement from the Supreme Court bench before the conclusion of a traveling art exhibition that includes a painting by Josef Albers that usually hangs in her office.