California: “Stanley Hilton, 60, of Hillsborough, said in unique court papers that his wife of 13 years divorced him and took their young triplets with her last year because of ‘around-the-clock’ jet noise at SFO. …Hilton last week sued (PDF) SFO, Hillsborough, the counties of San Mateo and San Francisco, dozens of airlines and jet manufacturers, and the real estate agents and couple that sold him his home on Darrell Road for $1.475 million in April 2003.” Hilton, who is representing himself pro se, “is a former civil litigation attorney with a law degree from Duke University and was an active member of the State Bar of California for most of the past three decades, records show. However, the Bar said courts deemed Hilton ineligible to practice law in August.” [San Mateo County Times, SF Chronicle “The Scavenger”, Lowering the Bar.]
Courts will often bend over backward to accommodate litigants who file cases without attorney assistance, but in this case the judge lost patience with one who “embarked on a pro se campaign of litigation that has lasted nearly seven years [and] needlessly consumed a large amount of judicial resources”. [NJLJ]
Anyone suing over anything dept.: a Florissant, Mo. man proceeding pro se (without a lawyer) “is suing Apple because he says two of the company’s iPods contained illegal receivers that allowed the Mafia to send him threatening messages, according to court documents obtained by CNET. … The alleged motive for the threats was that the Mafia wanted McKenna to work as a fashion model for them at a New York modeling agency.” The suit also names the St. Louis County police department and other defendants. [CNet, The Petition Site, AppleInsider, Gizmodo]
- Elena Kagan’s changing views of Senate confirmation process: “Lobster in Pot Re-Evaluates Pro-Boiling Stance” [Spruiell, NR “Corner”]
- “Federal Courts React to Tide of Pro Se Litigants” [NLJ]
- We get permalinks in nice places including a prominent Dutch business paper [NRC Handelsblad]
- Someone who needs research done should snap up Kathleen Seidel, model practitioner of citizen journalism on autism-vaccine fray [Neurodiversity] When she got a call from a charity telemarketer recently, she began checking them out online. Results? Devastating. [Neurodiversity, Popehat]
- How far does Britain’s new animal welfare law go? Does it really cover little Nicholas’s pet cricket? [Never Yet Melted]
- Constitutionalizing judicial ethics: Caperton v. Massey case before Supreme Court is a bit more complicated than you’d think from the NYT editorial [Point of Law]
- If you’re not in favor of government cracking down on what is said in online forums, are you “trivializing women’s harms”? [Danielle Citron/ConcurOp, Scott Greenfield] On the other hand, it doesn’t take a commitment to feminism to note that there are online bullies and they’re a nasty, overwhelmingly male lot [Popehat, language]
- Attorney walks away from a whole bunch of cases after accusation he bribed a Royal Caribbean Cruise Line employee, and his troubles may not be over yet [Florida Daily Business Review]
The new king of the infomercial is Vince Offer, whose abrasive ads for, well, $20 rags and overpriced plastic kitchen gadgets have made him millions and won him an extensive YouTube following.
But Offer thinks he’s an actor/writer/director, though has demonstrated little talent for it; his Underground Comedy Movie, starring such lights as Joey Buttafuoco and Angelyne, got risible reviews.
Of note for this page is that he has had even less success as a litigant. In 1998, Offer brought suit against the Farrelly brothers, implausibly claiming that their hit There’s Something About Mary was plagiarized from his movie. (The Farrelly brothers weren’t impressed: “We’ve never heard of him, we’ve never heard of his movie, and it’s all a bunch of bologna.”) Unfortunately, by bringing the suit under federal copyright law, Offer exposed himself to one of the few two-way fee-shifting statutes out there, and a federal judge had little trouble (literally) rubber-stamping a motion for summary judgment and an order requiring Offer to pay over $66 thousand in attorneys’ fees. (Offer v. Farrelly, Case No. CV 98-7697 RAP(RCx) (C.D. Cal. Jan. 13, 2000); id. (Mar. 14, 2000)).
Offer’s also brought suit against Anna Nicole Smith, and issued a press release threatening to sue The Church of Scientology, but I’m not inclined to spend $4.75 to learn about those cases.
Ex-jailhouse inmate Thomas Goodrich has filed a pro se federal suit against the Delaware Department of Corrections and the former warden of Young Correctional Institute seeking redress for the death of “Freddy,” a valuable parrot. In his complaint, Goodrich alleges that he was held for 12 days on a misdemeanor warrant without being allowed to contact anyone to arrange for Freddy’s feeding. Young seeks damages for the value of the parrot itself, as well as punitive damages against all defendants. It is unknown whether People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will seek to intervene in the suit, but a PETA representative has expressed strong displeasure over Freddy’s death, suggesting that perhaps jail would be appropriate for officials who allegedly caused the bird’s demise.
While it’s always a good idea to view allegations in lawsuits, particularly pro se suits, with skepticism, Goodrich’s complaint does allege a Kafkaesque ordeal over a minor warrant, in which Goodrich was not allowed to use a telephone, or to contact an attorney, or to contact family members to arrange security of $200. Finally, Goodrich alleges, he was able to get in touch with the outside world when after 10 days some friendly person gave him a postage stamp.
Unfortunately, by that time Freddy was an ex-parrot.
- Newest “Trial Lawyers Inc.” report is on Louisiana [Manhattan Institute, Point of Law]
- Mel Weiss disbarred automatically w/strong language from judges [Matter of Weiss h/t @erwiest]
- Pro se claimant: I wrote down cure for cancer and then the darn hospital stole it! [Above the Law]
- “California Supreme Court Ruling May Deter Good Samaritans” [The Recorder; SF Chronicle with copious reader comments, GruntDoc, our coverage last year]
- Due diligence on dodgy funds? Sometimes it seems everyone’s relying on someone else to do that [Bronte Capital] Madoff fraud may date to 1970s, maybe “recent laxity” angle has been overdone [Securities Docket] “Ponzi crawl” = pub crawl whereby new person is added at each location and has to buy a round [Re Risk]
- Radley Balko on Julie Amero malware-prosecution story [Reason, earlier]
- Join Paul Ehrlich in some of the world’s most famously refuted predictions, and you too may get to be Obama’s science adviser [John Tierney/NYT, John Holdren]
WisconsinMinnesota pig-sitter trial set for March, claim is that defendant let star porker overfeed and gain a hundred pounds [LaCrosse Tribune h/t @kevinokeefe]
- More on the Patent and Trademark Office “acceptable error” employment case [Venture Chronicles, Jeff Nolan; earlier]
- Procter & Gamble “Satanism” case finally settles, soap giant got $19 million verdict against four Amway distributors who spread rumor [OnPoint News]
- Once filing of a suit severs the channels of communication, attorneys and clients alike begin to make up “what really happened” narratives [Settle It Now]
- Sometimes lawyers need to be formal. Don’t IM “Court denied your appeal u will b executed saturday thx” [Beck & Herrmann]
- Bangladesh hoping to build replica of Taj Mahal despite copyright claims [Times Online h/t @mglickman]
- Midnight regulations? “OMB Watch” vigilant (and with reason) during this R-2-D transition but sang different tune in 2000’s D-2-R [Gillespie, Reason]
If you’re hoping to get the judge to take your complaint seriously, it’s best not to list your home address as “1600 Pennsylvania Avenue”, Washington, D.C., as did Ernest L. Dixon. (Mike Doyle, Suits and Sentences (McClatchy newspapers law blog), Dec. 2).
From the annals of fevered pro se cases, a lawsuit filed by Kent © Norman [sic], which advanced various confused legal theories including that then-President Ronald Reagan had caused Norman’s “civil death without legislation”; it also asked that parking tickets be forgiven. An Oregon federal court dismissed the case in 1982 for failure to prosecute, noting in its opinion, among many other oddities:
There is included in the file a process receipt which bears the “Received” stamp of the Supreme Court of the United States. On this form are the notations, apparently written by the plaintiff, “Taxes due” and “D.C. Circuit was green” as well as “Rule 8 … Why did you return my appeal form? Why isn’t the ‘1840’ W. 7th mailbox still next to the 1830 one?” and “Something suspicious about that mailbox.”
(Lowering the Bar, Nov. 26; Norman v. Reagan, 95 F.R.D. 476 (D. Or. 1982).)