Monday, May 21, 2007

Roy Pearson Administrative Jerk Update

Roy L. Pearson, Jr., is a lawyer and the plaintiff in a lawsuit seeking sixty-odd million dollars as compensation for bad service and dissatisfaction with the result of business he did with a local dry cleaner.

If you don't know the story, I have written about it previously.

Pearson represents what is wrong with many Americans: avarice, litigiousness, self-centeredness, self-importance, self-righteousness, delusions of grandeur.

Pearson has worked as an administrative law judge in the District of Columbia. The title of the job is much more impressive than the actual position itself; he's not really a judge. It's a job often enjoyed by a political lackey who is unable to make it as a lawyer in the often cut-throat, highly competitive legal industry. Often men and women who cannot make partner in a prestigious firm, or do not possess the skills to succeed in private practice or electoral politics. Not all administrative law judges are losers, only some of them. Well, maybe a lot of them. They are, no matter their skill set, political appointees, often referred to in the vernacular as hacks.

I am having trouble avoiding calling this man names and diminishing his role as a public servant, because he disgusts me so much that my stomach rumbles when I type anything about him.

In an email with columnist, Marc Fisher, Pearson says:
that his $65 million claim "has little to do with lost suit pants." Rather, he wrote, his case focuses on the signs posted at the cleaners: "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service," promises that he says were misleading.

"I hope you will attend the trial and see how little of the damages sought and awarded there have anything to do with suit pants," Pearson wrote.

I don't think anyone disputes that Pearson is dissatisfied and that the dry cleaner failed to deliver same-day service. What disgusts me is what and how he believes he should be compensated for their failure to deliver, to satisfy him as a consumer.

What is he entitled to? A refund. A full refund. And the right to use a different dry cleaner. He is entitled to nothing else.

That he continues to justify his lawsuit with this jargon proves that he is unfit to be involved in the legal system in any role other than as a defendant.

And the fact that he is cloaking himself in the notion of consumer protection is the most revolting, because he was protected. The dry cleaner did hem his pants and after misplacing them, found them and returned his pants. When he said he was dissatisfied, they offered him THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS as compensation.

This wasn't enough for this administrative law judge. He wanted more.

It gets better!

Pearson's ten-year term as an administrative law judge is up for renewal. Many members of the legal industry have expressed concern that a man such as Pearson is unfit to hold the position. However, according to Marc Fisher's column, the District of Columbia's chief administrative law judge, Tyrone Butler, has recommended approval of Pearson's application based on his job performance!

That's right! Roy Pearson's boss thinks that Roy Pearson does a good job and should retain his position as an administrative law judge.

So, even though this guy is abusing the judicial system in hopes of huge monetary gain, making a mockery of his city's consumer protection laws, and destroying a family over a pair of trousers and a couple of signs hanging in a store, Tyrone Butler thinks he should continue in a position of authority because of his job performance!

I think the District of Columbia is in bigger trouble than any of us suspected, because it is now clear that Roy Pearson's boss should also be removed from his position, because he doesn't think a person who behaves like an idiot should be removed from the bench.

Roy Pearson is not fit to participate in our legal system as a professional, never mind as a pretend-judge. And if Tyrone Butler thinks Pearson should be re-appointed because of his job performance but not disqualified for his lack of good judgment, then the entire District of Columbia's administrative law judge department needs to be investigated and revamped.

Judge in $65 Million Suit Might Keep Seat on Bench
by Marc Fisher
Thursday, May 10, 2007

Around the D.C. government and around the world, Roy Pearson -- the man who sued his neighborhood dry cleaner for $65 million in a dispute over a missing pair of pants -- has become a laughingstock, a symbol of a legal system gone wild, another blot on the image of the District.

So last week, when the order came from managers of the city's Web site to remove Pearson's biography from the page about his job as an administrative law judge, a cheer went up among the techies in the office. Word spread like wildfire: Finally, the city had acted to salvage its reputation.

It's true that Pearson's term as a judge expired last week, his bio was taken down from the Web site and, for now, he is no longer hearing cases.

But he remains on the D.C. payroll, "doing administrative work," said a senior city official who declined to be named because he was discussing a personnel matter. Pearson will be in paid limbo for weeks while a commission decides whether to reappoint him for a 10-year term to handle disputes with city agencies.

There is good reason to believe that Pearson might win a new term. Before the pants suit became a worldwide story, the city's chief administrative law judge, Tyrone Butler, recommended approval of Pearson's application based on his job performance, said D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson and three other sources with direct knowledge of the recommendation. Butler did not respond to a request for comment.

"Everyone agrees that to file a lawsuit asking for $65 million for a pair of pants is absolutely outrageous," the D.C. official said. "But we are trying to keep that out of the discussion about reappointment. I don't think it's appropriate not to reappoint someone just because they file a lawsuit. You can't retaliate against someone for exercising their constitutional, First Amendment right to file a lawsuit to vindicate their rights."

The lawsuit against the Chung family, the owners of Custom Cleaners on Bladensburg Road NE, where Pearson took his pants for a $10.50 alteration, is scheduled for trial June 11. Court records show that Pearson has turned down a $12,000 settlement offer from the Chungs and refused a Superior Court judge's offer of mediation.

Pearson's lawsuit has united both sides of the eternal battle over our easily abused legal system, with the American Tort Reform Association and the American Association for Justice, the trial lawyers' lobby, calling the suit ridiculous and offensive and urging their members to contribute to a defense fund for the Chung family.

Pearson's case has become fodder for ridicule on Howard Stern's radio show, TV networks' morning news programs and countless blogs. Since I wrote about it two weeks ago, I've been invited to appear on broadcasts in five countries. Astrologers and handwriting analysts have claimed to have insights into Pearson's actions. Asian Americans have worried that the lawsuit expresses ethnic animosity.

But the overwhelming question that readers want answered is this: How could such a person still be a judge?

The commission that decides whether judges such as Pearson get reappointed "is entitled to consider things that happen outside the walls of the courthouse," said Robert Spagnoletti, former D.C. attorney general and a partner at the Schertler & Onorato law firm.

"What's tied them in a bind is that the chief judge recommended him for reappointment," Spagnoletti said. "My personal view is that when you put somebody on the bench, the public needs to have confidence in their abilities. A lot of people think this is off the hook. You can't go anywhere without people saying, 'How can this guy be a judge?'"

The commission, which is short one of its three voting members because his term expired, might wait to decide Pearson's fate until the trial is completed or Mayor Adrian Fenty appoints someone to fill the vacancy; Fenty sent a letter yesterday saying he plans to do that soon.

This isn't the first time Pearson has represented himself aggressively. A 2005 Virginia Court of Appeals decision notes that the judge handling Pearson's divorce found him "responsible for excessive driving up of everything that went on here, including threatening both the wife and her lawyer with disbarment."

Even if D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff rules against Pearson next month, both sides generally must pay their own legal fees. But lawyers around town are hoping Bartnoff will conclude that Pearson acted in bad faith, which would open the door to making him pay the Chungs' legal bills.

Pearson declined to be interviewed for my columns on the suit suit. But in e-mails responding to my last column, he said that his $65 million claim "has little to do with lost suit pants." Rather, he wrote, his case focuses on the signs posted at the cleaners: "Satisfaction Guaranteed" and "Same Day Service," promises that he says were misleading.

"I hope you will attend the trial and see how little of the damages sought and awarded there have anything to do with suit pants," Pearson wrote.

Read that again. The man expects to win.

This from says:

Contrary to what we had speculated, it appears that Pants Judge Roy Pearson still has a job and may continue to do so. According to an unnamed D.C. official, and exemplifying the attitude with which the tort reform movement is fighting, "I don't think it's appropriate not to reappoint someone just because they file a lawsuit. You can't retaliate against someone for exercising their constitutional, First Amendment right to file a lawsuit to vindicate their rights." (No, but you can retaliate against someone for filing a frivolous lawsuit.) Meanwhile, as a face-saving publicity stunt, the American Trial Lawyers Association filed an ethics complaint against Pearson; really, Pearson isn't doing anything that ATLA doesn't endorse in other situations.

That's another thing! An unnamed official from the District of Columbia says that Roy Pearson has the First Amendment right to file a lawsuit. Who is running Washington, D.C.? I used to support the notion that D.C. should have more autonomy from the federal government, but it is obvious that there are only idiots running that city!

OK! For a moment I will agree that Pearson has the right to file a lawsuit -- that his First Amendment rights protect him. With this logic, Pearson would be protected in his job if he exercised his First Amendment right to use racist, sexist, or homophobic epithets. Would Roy Pearson keep his job if he used the "N-word" to describe Tyrone Butler? No! He would be fired! Why? Not because he exercised his First Amendment rights to use the N-word, but because using the N-word to describe your boss shows your lack of judgment.

Hiding behind the First Amendment is always the sign of someone who is wrong. If your only argument is that you have a Constitutional right to carry-on with your behavior, then others should look very closely at your actions.

Roy Pearson's constitutional right to file a lawsuit is not in question. What is in question is his judgment, his ability to know right from wrong and make good decisions based on that ability to discern right from wrong.

I now think we should ask the same question about any supervisor who would recommend an employee based on his job performance, even if that employee shows that his ability to discern right from wrong is in question.

As soon as Roy Pearson's future as an administrative law judge is determined, I think the citizenry should work towards removing Tyrone Butler from his position.

Here's an opinion piece by Mary Lou Kelsey that you might enjoy.

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1 comment:

Lawyer in Indy said...

It's not just Pearson, who appears to have let down the justice system in the pants case. As an attorney with 40+ years experience, I can tell you the pants case was nothing more than a small claims court case, which are typically tried in a half an hour, standing before the judge. I presume that DC Rules provide for "protective orders" to curb oppressive conduct by a litigant, so why Chung's attorneys would charge fees that ate up the Chung's savings is beyond me. A protective order coupled with a request for a quick trial setting should have done the trick, unless the judge is an idiot and let the case get out of hand. Making a $12,000 settlement offer to that moron was an act of pure cowardice. There's no way he could win that much, again, unless the judge is an idiot. (BTW as I write this, I haven't seen her ruling.) Which may well be the case. I heard a report that Pearson was allowed to argue (in summation?) for hours at the trial, which again should have taken about 30 minutes, especially since the lost pants had been found and persumably returned. Judges always put time limits on argument. Pearson should have been given no more than ten minutes to sum up his claim. That said, I wasn't there and only have media reports to go by. Nevertheless, something's wrong in the D.C. court system for a case like this to go down the way it has been reported by nearly everyone.