Are these two documents inconsequential--neither mentioned Warren Burger's bygone warning--or will society begin taking the issue seriously?
Two big legal fish have been hooked recently. Richard Scruggs (tobacco companies) has been indicted for criminal contempt:
(Federal Judge) Acker feels Scruggs did not comply with an injunction in December, refusing to hand over documents from E.A. Renfroe, a claims-handling company working with State Farm, back to the company's attorneys.William Lerach (securities law) has left the firm he founded, which is dropping his name, to defend himself against plaintiff-kickback charges:
Instead, Scruggs gave them to Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood. Acker recommended to U.S. Attorney Alice Martin that she pursue criminal contempt charges, but she declined. That's when Acker enlisted the special prosecutors.
Sources familiar with the matter said in June that Lerach and founding partner Melvyn Weiss had rejected an offer from prosecutors to plead guilty and serve prison sentences.It remains to be seen whether all the above is the beginning of a trend. Skepticism is warranted: Burger's warning made no more difference than did Eisenhower's warning about the military-industrial complex.
Addendum May 31, 2008. The worthy Professor Barton, author of the working paper mentioned above, has written another one, which "argues that the shared characteristics, thought-processes, training, and incentives of Judges and lawyers lead inexorably to greater complexity in judge-made law."