Litigious Society: Not so Fast Mr. Balko

Radley Balko of The Agitator has an otherwise good post up detailing the scandal of how a couple was raided by SWAT after being tipped off by an feuding family member. It’s pretty screwed up how the police warrant-shopped around until they could get the raid approval. On that, Balko is — as usual — on top of his game. What’s problematic is his litigious solution:

Here’s hoping the Davises get at least the $12.5 million the Gallardos got. Perhaps a bankruptcy will convince North Richland Hills’ inept public officials to a) exercise some oversight over its jacked-up police department, b) rethink the policy of sending the SWAT team after nonviolent offenders, and c) put some accountability mechanisms in place when things go wrong in the future.

No Treason chimes in by noting the money isn’t free:

Why would that work? The money won’t be coming out of the pockets of these people, it will of course be paid out of tax revenues. And a public bankruptcy won’t show up on their individual credit reports.

I was instantly reminded of a recent South Park episode on litigation (sexual harassment lawsuits), but the moment of clarity sums it up nicely (and humorously):

[The courthouse. Closing arguments begin.] […]
Petey, the Sexual Harassment Panda: Listen to me: when you sue somebody, it hurts everyone. You sue for money, but where do you think that money comes from? From the schools, from taxes, from the state. From you. [The courtroom is silent, listening] There’s no such thing as free money. When you sue somebody, you take money away from parks and schools and charities, and put it in your own pocket. And that makes me a sa-a-a-a-ad panda. [reactions are seen in the faces of various people in the courtroom, even in Gerald’s face.]

Bearded man: I’m a sad panda, too.

Man 1: I’m a really sad panda. I didn’t know we were doing all that damage. This is all that damn lawyer’s fault! [people get angry at Gerald Broflovski, Kyle’s dad]

Man 2: [rises] Yeah! Let’s sue the lawyer!

All: [rising] Yeah!

Gerald: [approaches Petey and the boys] No! Don’t you see? Th-the panda’s right. Boy, what a great message he has! When you sue people, you just end up causing a lot of problems for society. Uhwell, I’ve really learned something today. All I could see was the millions of dollars coming to me and I didn’t care about where the money came from. Well, I’m no longer doing sexual harassment lawsuits in schools! They’re too vague and two easily corruptible. Thank you, Sexual Harassment Panda!

Petey: “Don’t Sue People” Panda.

Gerald: Yeah, well, whatever, sooo let’s sue anyone again. Okay, come on, guys. Let’s go get some ice cream!

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