Cyrus Sanai tells Patterico that his triggering an investigation of Judge Alex Kozinski’s web site is all “part of a litigation strategy” but does not reveal what the other two steps of his three-step strategy is, or more insight into his strategic genius.
We had a request to post the District of Minnesota opinion dismissing the meritless Sinclair v. Obama litigation (discussed May 15), so I have uploaded the magistrate’s thorough report and recommendation in Case No. 08-cv-00360-JMR-RLE (D. Minn.). Sinclair failed to file objections to the February 25 report, and Judge James M. Rosenbaum adopted it in a summary order dated March 19, issuing final judgment the same day.
Note that the magistrate applied 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B)(i) to dismiss the plainly frivolous case sua sponte without requiring the victimized defendants to expend legal fees in responding; in December 2006, I discussed the underuse of this provision in pro se litigation. More on delusional pro se cases.
We’ve had a lot of Montgomery Blair Sibley coverage over the years:
- His meritless suit against the DC Circuit (followed by a self-defeating appeal to the Supreme Court, where there was no quorum because he had sued seven of the justices)
- his follies in the Palfrey case and in an earlier 2006 Florida prostitution case; and
- his vexatious pro se work in family court.
And we didn’t even mention his work representing Larry Sinclair (the fellow who unsuccessfully sued Barack Obama for denying Sinclair’s implausible claim that he had engaged in a homosexual tryst with him) in a lawsuit against three anonymous bloggers. (DBKP blog, Mar. 14.)
After years of over-the-top abusive litigation, the state bar finally took action, and he has been suspended by the Florida bar for three years. No doubt, this will result in a new round of frivolous pro se collateral litigation. It took a contempt-of-court citation for failure to pay child support before the Florida bar took action, so this can hardly be considered a rousing success of the bar in policing its own, even for someone as over-the-top as Sibley. (Florida Bar v. Sibley; ABA Journal, Apr. 25; MPGS blog, May 14; h/t S.G.).
Update: Two commenters (who never appeared on Overlawyered before) implausibly defend Sibley, both posting from BellSouth accounts in Atlanta, GA. Nothing about a divorce requires one to sue seven Supreme Court justices for “judicial treason” for denying a (frivolous) certiorari petition from a frivolous lawsuit. He should have been disbarred a long time ago; that he is only being suspended, and then only because of failure to obey court orders, is appalling. He’s been a hazard to his clients and to taxpayers; so, no, I don’t think he’s a “damn good lawyer.”
Update, May 16, 2:45 AM: We originally repeated a second-hand report sent to us that Sibley had also been suspended in DC as part of reciprocal discipline. It is possible that our correspondent confused a Rule 8.1 report, made by the DC Bar counsel recommending reciprocal suspension, with an actual suspension. If a Rule 8.1 report was filed, Sibley is entitled to file a response; no oral argument is scheduled at this time (though none is required to be scheduled) and no DC Board on Professional Responsibility report is listed as having issued with respect to Sibley. Rule 8.4 of the DC Board on Professional Responsibility Rules of Procedure is titled “Conclusive Effect of Adjudication in Other Jurisdiction,” which would appear to give Sibley nothing to argue in DC, and would likely make discipline inevitable, but the District of Columbia, in its typical competence, has posted the wrong text for 8.4 on its website, so I cannot say that for certain. Montgomery Sibley is, as of May 16, still listed on the DC Bar’s website as a member in good standing. If the error is ours, rather than that of the DC Bar website, we regret the error. Without written confirmation of the suspension, we retract the original statement that the DC Bar has suspended Sibley in response to the Florida bar’s three-year suspension of Sibley.
Update, May 20: We were right the first time.
Another bunch of things not to do if you’re a member of the legal profession.
- Send insulting letters to opposing counsel. (G.F. Pignato, ordered to write an article about civility.) [Legal Profession Blog via ABA Journal]
- Leave your innocent client in jail by failing to act on new evidence. (William S. Gebbie, surrenders his California license; also accused of stealing client funds.) [ABA Journal]
- Use the NY Yankees trademark without permission in advertising for asbestos clients. [ATL]
- Make “jerk-off” motions in court. (Adam Reposa, Texas, sentenced to ninety days for contempt of court; many in blogosphere are appalled at what they call an overreaction.) [ATL; Simple Justice; Mark Bennett and again; and Patterico notes an interesting coincidence]
- Mock the plaintiffs’ attorney at a jury trial with “Overruled” signs and soccer-style red cards. (Judge James M. Brooks, admonished.) [ATL]
- As a prosecutor, conceal exculpatory evidence. (Former Sonoma County Deputy District Attorney Brooke Halsey Jr., suspended.) [ABA Journal]
- And even if you’re a pro se, don’t send a death threat to opposing counsel by fax. [Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel]
Earlier: Feb. 24.
- Speaking of privacy, consider what happens when lawyers get a hold of your email. (When will we see law professors eager to create new causes of action consider the privacy-destroying implications of ediscovery?) [Fulton County Daily Report/law.com; Toronto Globe & Mail; Point of Law] Earlier: Jan. 9 and links therein.
- Speaking of privacy and reputation, Mary Roberts goes to trial, but Above the Law doesn’t mention our coverage (June 2004; Sep. 2005; Feb. 6; Mar. 19; May 17), and misses the juicy details.
- Oy: “Woman who ‘lost count after drinking 14 vodkas’ awarded £7,000 over New Year fall from bridge.” News from the compensation culture not entirely bad: damages were reasonable, and the court did hold the woman 80% responsible, the exact opposite of the McDonald’s coffee case. [Scotsman.com]
- No good deed goes unpunished: Sperm donor liable for child support, judge rules. [Newsday/Seattle Times]
- Bad attorney gets fired, sues DLA Piper for discrimination, represents herself pro se, demonstrates firsthand why she got fired: law firm wins on summary judgment. [ABA Journal; update: also New York Law Journal]
- Romney on tort reform; McCain on medmal. [Torts Prof Blog; Torts Prof Blog]
- Another day, another Borat lawsuit. I’m still waiting for the consumer fraud lawsuit from moviegoers upset that it was not actually a Kazakh documentary. [Reuters; earlier]
In the Fall 2006 semester, Brian Marquis got a C in his “Problems in Social Thought” class at the University of Massachusetts. Apparently attempting to prove he learned more about the problems than about the solutions, he immediately proceeded to file a federal class action lawsuit alleging that the school, its trustees, his professor, and various deans violated his constitutional right to get an A.
In a rare case of speedy resolution, it took the court just four months from the time the lawsuit was served on the defendants for the court to dismiss the case; that might have had something to do with the fact that Marquis was proceeding pro se, and drafted a semi-grammatical complaint with no legitimate causes of action. (For instance, he listed a racial discrimination statute as one of his causes of action, despite being white and failing to allege that race played any role in the matter.)
Still, that hardly means the suit was cost-free; as one of the defendants put it, “It ended up just wasting a lot of people’s time and money.” Moreover, Marquis says that he’s thinking of appealing. But lest you think that Marquis just had sour grapes, he had a good reason for filing the suit:
Marquis – who salts his comments with “strike that” – acknowledged he was alarmed the C might lower his grade point average and make him less attractive to a law school.
The C has rendered his transcript a “dismal record of non-achievement,” his suit said. Marquis, who enrolled at UMass-Amherst in spring 2006, said he has roughly a B-plus average.
I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that “Has a history of filing lawsuits against his school and his professors” on his résumé isn’t actually going to make him more attractive to a law school. (Although his 2004 lawsuit against his previous school didn’t keep him from being admitted to the University of Massachusetts.)
(h/t Kerr @ Volokh)
Fifty years ago, conspiracy theorists could rant in bars, or perhaps write letters to the editor. Twenty years ago, conspiracy theorists could call talk radio. Now? Through the magic of qui tam laws, conspiracy theorists can wage their war against sanity in the courts.
While reading Bizarro-Overlawyered’s paean to 9/11 lawsuits — guess what? They’re not (just) about the money! They’re really about helping the public “know what happened”! — a commenter on the site provided a link to Morgan Reynolds’ 9/11-related lawsuit. Reynolds, a former economist at the Department of Labor, became unhinged sometime after 9/11 and began ranting on the internet about the various conspiracies that brought down the World Trade Center. (Hint: government laser beams from space, not airplanes.) In the past, that would have been the end of it. Even if Reynolds wanted to take legal action, he couldn’t — he wasn’t injured by 9/11, so he would have no standing to file a lawsuit against anybody.
Ah, but that doesn’t take into account the False Claims Act. The qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act allow private individuals to sue on behalf of the government whenever the government is defrauded, and collect a portion of the money owed to the government. So all one needs to do is find a creative legal hook to claim that the government has been cheated, and all of the sudden one has standing to sue. What was Reynolds’ claim? He argues that when the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) — a government agency — prepared its report on the collapse of the World Trade Center, it paid various companies to consult with it. Since none of those consulting companies mentioned the government laser beams from space, they obviously defrauded the government.
So he sued… well, he sued everyone. To be precise, he sued:
Science Applications International Corp.; Applied Research Associates, Inc.; Boeing; Nustats; Computer Aided Engineering Associates, Inc.; Datasource, Inc.; Geostaats, Inc.; Gilsanz Murray Steficek Llp; Hughes Associates, Inc.; Ajmal Abbasi; Eduardo Kausel; David Parks; David Sharp; Daniele Venezano; Josef Van Dyck; Kaspar William; Rolf Jensen & Associates, Inc; Rosenwasser/Grossman Consulting Engineers, P.c.; Simpson Gumpertz & Heger, Inc.; S. K. Ghosh Associates, Inc.; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, Llp; Teng & Associates, Inc.; Underwriters Laboratories, Inc.; Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc.; American Airlines; Silverstein Properties; and United Airlines
Those are engineering firms, airlines, consulting firms, defense contractors, building contractors, and real estate firms. All of which get to deal with his lawsuit. (Will it eventually be dismissed? Yes. Will Reynolds be ordered to pay defendants’ costs? Probably. (Assuming he could afford those costs, which seems unlikely given how many defendants he sued.) But thanks to the notion that private citizens can sue without suffering any injury, it superficially states a valid claim. And, hey, it isn’t that much kookier than the actual 9/11 families who seek to blame the airlines, the World Trade Center, etc. for 9/11. Incidentally, this isn’t one of those wacky pro se lawsuits; Reynolds has an actual lawyer, albeit one who’s also a 9/11 conspiracy theorist.)
(No links in this post; no need to encourage these people. Google if you want to find it.)
- Picture of farmer with goose appears on greeting card, he wants $7.5 million [Roanoke Times; earlier]
- More class actions filed over Apple iPhone [Ars Technica on roaming and battery claims, O’Grady’s PowerPage, iPhoneWorld; earlier]
- L.A. Times quotes attorney Stephen Yagman on prison overcrowding, but forgets to mention that he was lately convicted of thirteen felonies [Patterico]
- Bad idea watch: compulsory national service [Somin @ Volokh]
- Doing well representing the little guy: Gerry Spence lists his Wyoming residence for sale at $35 million [WSJ/Chicago Daily Herald]
- “Appropriate”, not “perfect”, justice needed: “We simply have to stop killing litigants with kindness,” says chief judge of Australia’s largest state [The Australian]
- Toddler killed after wandering into heavy traffic, trucker should have been more on guard against such a thing happening [Salt Lake Tribune]
- Pennsylvania pro se litigant sues Google, says it spells his social security number upside down [Ambrogi] More: Coyote says “Up next, the owner of Social Security number 71077345 sues Shell Oil for the same reason.”
- Once billed as “King of Torts”, Miami asbestos lawyer faces fifteen years behind bars for stealing $13 million from clients [Sun-Sentinel]
- Groom sues bride, saying she took the ring and presents and never got the wedding paperwork straightened out leaving them legally unmarried [ClickOnDetroit]
- Surgical resident on the hook for $23 million in Wisconsin case; she was the only one of the docs involved not covered by damage limits [Journal Sentinel via KevinMD]