May 28 roundup

  • Squatter sues homeowners from prison, gets default judgment [Eric Ross, KOAA; Colorado Springs. Colo.]
  • “Judge Thomas Hardiman on the history of judicial independence” [Cato Audio of last year’s Constitution Day lecture]
  • There really needs to be an off ramp at Child Protective Services by which an investigation of a family that proves unfounded can just end instead of cycling through more and more investigation [Lenore Skenazy]
  • Authors, journalists, photojournalists challenge AB5 in court: “California’s Anti-Freelancer Law Violates the First Amendment” [Trevor Burrus on Cato amicus brief in American Society of Journalists et al. v. Becerra, Ninth Circuit]
  • California’s legislature has long been itching to gut or repeal Proposition 109 (1996), in which voters banned race and sex preferences. Now they’re going to try to bring back the old identity-spoils system [Gail Heriot, RealClearPolitics]
  • “Identifying #NeverNeeded Regulation after COVID-19” [Cato Daily Podcast with Caleb Brown and Matthew D. Mitchell, Mercatus Center]


  • An “off-ramp”–yeah, there needs to be. But you know what, you can pass any statute you like–CPS has parents by the you know what, and without a court saying so (and it will never get to that), CPS’ actions won’t be illegal.

  • Sometimes, if you peek behind the curtain, there’s no there there. The main point of the story “Squatter sues homeowners from prison, gets default judgment” is that the squatter-prisoner falsified service documents and the defendant never knew about the suit. The DJ will be set aside forthwith.

    • I don’t agree at all that fraudulent conduct in litigation that gets exposed quickly amounts to “no there there.” It can be costly to the targets, even when it never eventuates into a serious threat of an enforced judgment. Some “sovereign citizen” believers use factitious litigation and claims to cut a swath of havoc through whole communities. It may be that there is no perfect way to adjust procedures to prevent the sort of thing that happened in Colorado Springs, but it’s worth thinking about whether the law can do anything to at least reduce the incidence.

      • In re “no perfect way” to protect against sham default judgments. One certain way to reduce the incidence of such things is to prohibit default judgments entirely. Nothing compels their existence. Secondly, and in a similar vein, would be to require some further inquiry beyond a reliance upon court filings. Requiring appearance of the plaintiff (not just counsel), requiring in-court testimony to prove service, some quantum of proof of damages, etc. Pretty easy stuff.

        The judge in this particular case will not soon so quickly grant a default judgment I think. And one can only imagine the well-deserved ribbing he must be getting from his fellow judges and the staff at the courthouse. He deserves it. He ought to be the poster boy for all future judicial training in perpetuity on the perils of granted default judgments.

        Kind regards,

      • Walter, I agree, costs from frivolous litigation are a problem (just being sued is a burden, even if you win), and there should be some earlier screen before the motion to dismiss stage, to filter out frivolous suits. My point was really about the article synopsis. “Prisoner commits fraud, obtains judgment” is more accurate and less hair-on-fire than “Squatter sues homeowners from prison, gets default judgment,” which immediately brings up the McDonald’s-hot-coffee emotions of That’s Outrageous!!!

      • The “law” can do something. First, the prisoner can and should be prosecuted and all good time credits taken away.

        And the state Supreme Court can look into the judge’s conduct in this case.

  • “Forthwith.”

    Four months after the the defective judgment the case is still dragging on and the victim is still paying her lawyers. As of yesterday there is still no resolution, all she has gotten is a teleconference to schedule yet another hearing to look at the phony lawsuit service.

    • ETA: The hearing is not scheduled until July.

    • Eric, agreed four months is not “forthwith,” but in my neck of the woods all non-essential court proceedings have been closed since mid-March. I assume the ability to get a hearing to set the DJ aside is from similar circumstances.

      • I hope that the system is agile enough to get the prisoner denied parole…looks like he is eligible. That might teach him a lesson.

  • Regarding the repeal of Prop 109, the problem is that California is a majority-minority state. That’s going to create some issues for the repeal.

    • Another issue for the repeal bill, ACA-5, as Prof. Gail Heriot pointed out in the linked article:

      The measure needs a two-thirds majority in both houses. Even then, the battle will only have shifted. The legislature can’t by itself repeal Proposition 209. The matter must then go to the people for a vote, at taxpayer expense, in November.

      The legislators who drafted ACA-5l certainly engaged in clever rhetoric drafting it. The text of the bill refers to it as restoring “equal opportunity”. That rhetoric may or may not fool the voters if the bill passes and becomes subject to vote in November.

      The proponents’ theory, from the text of the bill, seems to be that restoring “affirmative action” based admissions will increase “diversity”, by “allow[ing] gender, racial, and ethnic diversity to be considered among the factors used to decide college admissions and hiring and contracting by government institutions”.

      As Prof. Heriot also observes, Asian-American groups are already gearing up to oppose passage of the repeal bill. Asian-Americans were most heavily discriminated against when college admissions, and government hiring and contracts were based on “affirmative action” prior to Prop. 209. That they are organizing early to oppose repeal is encouraging.