Friday, July 26, 2013


There was a bit of a stink over the lack of an opposing point of view in disability hearings after this NPR program on disability aired:
When he started in 1979, Binder represented fewer than 50 clients. Last year, his firm represented 30,000 people. Thirty thousand people who were denied disability appealed with the help of Charles Binder's firm. In one year. Last year, Binder and Binder made $68.7 million in fees for disability cases.
The way Binder tells it, he's is a guy helping desperate people get the support they deserve. He is a cowboy-hatted Lone Ranger going to court to fight the good fight for the everyman.
Who is making the case for the other side? Who is defending the government's decision to deny disability?
"You might imagine a courtroom where on one side there's the claimant and on the other side there's a government attorney who is saying, 'We need to protect the public interest and your client is not sufficiently deserving,'" the economist David Autor says. "Actually, it doesn't work like that. There is no government lawyer on the other side of the room."
On the other hand, there was almost no alarm raised over the fact that the secret FISA Court has a similar one-sided arrangement:

Unlike the Supreme Court, the FISA court hears from only one side in the case — the government — and its findings are almost never made public. A Court of Review is empaneled to hear appeals, but that is known to have happened only a handful of times in the court’s history, and no case has ever been taken to the Supreme Court. In fact, it is not clear in all circumstances whether Internet and phone companies that are turning over the reams of data even have the right to appear before the FISA court.
DESPITE the fact that a former FISA judge went public about this problem:
WASHINGTON (AP) — A former federal judge who served on a secret court overseeing the National Security Agency's secret surveillance programs said Tuesday the panel is independent but flawed because only the government's side is represented effectively in its deliberations.

"Anyone who has been a judge will tell you a judge needs to hear both sides of a case," said James Robertson, a former federal district judge based in Washington who served on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court for three years between 2002 and 2005. Robertson spoke during a Tuesday hearing of a federal oversight board directed by President Barack Obama to scrutinize government spying.

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