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Thu Sep 20, 2012, 05:26 PM

Judge Oliver Diaz from "Hot Coffee"

This is great since it comes on the heels of a midterm election that handed all 3 branches of the Michigan Govt over to the GOP. John Grisham spoke to the importance of this in his book The Appeal...

The Appeal was a book I published. It was always a novel. It’s completely fiction and it’s completely true. It's the story of the purchasing of a Supreme Court seat in Mississippi. ~ John Grisham

"Hot Coffee"
Friday, July 08, 2011

We all think we know the story of the woman who spilled McDonald’s coffee on herself and then sued the fast food chain for millions. But in the new HBO documentary "Hot Coffee", filmmaker Susan Saladoff shows how the media got the story all wrong, and often demonizes civil litigation, using phrases like “frivolous lawsuit” and “jackpot justice.” ...

BROOKE GLADSTONE: There is a whole other media angle to this which involves Citizen United, that ground- breaking decision by the Supreme Court to accord corporations the rights of individuals to free speech and to enable them basically to funnel unlimited amounts of money into political advertising.

SUSAN SALADOFF: So in most of our states now we elect our judges. And that means they have to raise money. And what's happened over the last many years is that large corporate interests have decided well, we want to get rid of these judges who are on our State supreme courts who are more pro consumer.

And so, they started handpicking candidates and funneling money into their campaigns, again, through front groups like Citizens for a Stronger Ohio or Citizens for a Safer Community.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which most people don't know is the largest lobbying group for corporations in the world. They've been shown to be funneling money into these political campaigns.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: And this was long before Citizens United. In fact, you have John Grisham talking about his book, The Appeal:

JOHN GRISHAM: The appeal was a book I published. It was always a novel. It’s completely fiction and it’s completely true. It's the story of the purchasing of a Supreme Court seat in Mississippi.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: So tell us about the fate of Mississippi Judge Oliver Diaz.

SUSAN SALADOFF: Justice Diaz was on the Mississippi State Supreme Court, and he was targeted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because he wasn't pro-business enough.

MALE ANNOUNCER: Diaz even voted to overturn a cocaine conviction because evidence of a prior cocaine sale was allowed. Oliver Diaz, very bad judgment!

SUSAN SALADOFF: The statistics are that the candidate who has the most money for political ads will win about 90% percent of the time. He actually wound up winning the race, despite all of the money that was put into his opponent’s race, and when he won he was then brought up on false criminal charges and was acquitted but was off the bench for three years while he was fighting those charges.

And then, of course, his reputation was tarnished and he was unable to win in the next election.

BROOKE GLADSTONE: I think one of the most alarming images from your gripping documentary is simply the picture of a headline from a paper in Mississippi, which read, “Mississippi Victims Losing 100 Percent of Appeals. Court Ignoring Juries.” ...


Wisconsin Recall: Citizen United, Grisham, Hot Coffee, and Koch



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