Why would anyone run down Rhode Island or badmouth Milwaukee? Rhode Island’s a lovely state. Milwaukee’s a fun town. 

In Rhode Island, you can enjoy WaterFire in Providence, tour the magnificent mansions in Newport, see the Tall Ships sail into port, enjoy the beautiful Atlantic Coast beaches, and dine on succulent seafood.

In Milwaukee, you can go sailing on Lake Michigan, tour the breweries, catch a Brewers game at Miller Park, visit the ultimate bikers museum at the House of  Harley-Davidson, and enjoy traditional Bavarian cuisine and a host of other ethnic foods.

Maybe Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge James Kleinberg has never been to Rhode Island or Milwaukee and doesn’t know what he’s missing.

Of course, when the judge said, “This is not Rhode Island and is not Milwaukee,” he wasn’t talking about the state and the city as places. He was using the names as shorthand for lawsuits tried and concluded in those two locations.

Judge Kleinberg made his disparaging remarks about Rhode Island and Milwaukee at the close of a 13-year-old public nuisance case against Atlantic Richfield, et al. in which 10 California counties are seeking a billion-dollar judgment for lead paint abatement.

For some reason (perhaps fear of being subsequently overturned), Judge Kleinberg appears reluctant to make a decision in favor of the plaintiffs and seems anxious for the defendants to settle with the politicians poised to pick their pockets.

“If you’re interested in gambling, go to Reno and Las Vegas,” Kleinberg advised. “If you are interested in being intelligent, you’ll have to settle this case now. This is not Rhode Island and is not Milwaukee. Go back and reread the 6th District’s opinion again.”

The 6th District’s opinion overturned an earlier ruling in favor of the paint companies, a ruling more in keeping with precedents established by Rhode Island and Milwaukee.

Maybe Kleinberg is the one who should go back and reread something -- Rhode Island and Milwaukee?

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