Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Citizen Lawsuits

SmallTownLawyer has an interesting snippet from an article out of the Plattsburg Press-Republican on his blog. It seems various groups are planning a SEQRA suit to contest recent local laws concerning the siting of wind turbines.

Proceeding pro se is a Constitutional right, but rarely a good idea in complex litigation. Especially when activists are very caught up in the issue and probably not presenting information in the most relevant format to the court (ie, the mention of internet-derived health data by the town's high-powered Mr. Spitzer (not the AG)).

In a not-dissimilar fashion, opponents of a proposed Potsdam Wal*Mart recently had their suit tossed (subscription required, sorry) out of Supreme Court. The reasons were also not dissimilar as to the ones that will probably get this one dismissed. In short, there is a difference between socially- or environmentally- relevant data and legally-relevant data.

As an activist, you may have data on the cancer rates associated with a proposed project that would make an epidemiologist wake up screaming every night. You may have mountains of evidence of scurrilous economic practices. But when you are challenging based on compliance with SEQRA, one needs to present the evidence properly. And for that, my legal opinion is that one needs a lawyer.


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