Pearson: Your Suit’s off the Hook, But You’re Not

By August 8, 2007Briefly Legal

Across the nation, headline writers are urging a quick resolution of Judge Roy Pearson’s status as a public servant. Their supply of puns is running out.

The D.C. Examiner is hanging in there, though, with the front-page story, “Pants suit judge told he may be disrobed.” A district commission sent Pearson a letter yesterday that puts the process in motion of dismissing him, or more precisely, not appointing him to a 10-year post as an administrative law judge. The story implies something worth noting:

The commission also reviewed long, rambling letters that Pearson wrote criticizing his boss, D.C. Chief Administrative Judge Tyrone T. Butler. Butler had recommended Pearson for a 10-year term, though Pearson has been an outspoken critic of Butler.

See that journalistic convention being used there? It’s the description, “long, rambling.” That’s a standard phrasing reporters use to convey the idea that someone’s not altogether there, not making sense, disoriented, nuts. And really, who sues for $54 million over misplaced pants?

It is tempting to feel at least a little bit of sympathy for the man, someone so troubled he would torment his drycleaners because they misplaced a pair of suit pants, who would use the courts to carry out an obsession.

But, well, no. Our sympathy is reserved for the Chungs, hard-working and decent people who are just trying to earn living and get ahead in America, whose legal bills are running $100,000, who have suffered hours upon hours of anxiety because our legal system encourages the kind of abusive litigation that Pearson brought. Pearson deserves the obloquy that’s coming his way, but so do the laws and legal system that gave him power. As Tiger Joyce of the American Tort Reform Association reminded attendees at the July 24th fundraiser for the Chungs, the district’s consumer protection laws gave Pearson a legal platform to stand on. The city should fire Pearson — and Pearson has shown to be lacking judicial temperament, eh? — but it also should amend its laws to prevent recurrences of this sort of thing.

The Washington Post story on the commission’s actions is here.

Oh, yes: www.chungfundraiser.com.

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