Roy Pearson has a law degree and a job as a judge. We all know him as the man who sued a dry cleaner for losing his pants. His request: $54 million. Peterson is not the only person who makes outrageous claims. There is an entire class of these people. They are called rabid pro se litigants.
Rabid pro se litigants, like people who make false criminal accusations, are people so far removed from our daily lives that we don't even fear them lurking in the shadows. But God help you if they sue you or one of your clients.
No demand they make is unreasonable. Millions of dollars for a pair of lost pants? You'd better believe that's reasonable.
If a judge rules against them, it's because of a judicial conspiracy - always, always a conspiracy! Adverse rulings make them do even crazier things. It was a pro se litigant, Bart Ross, who murdered a federal judge after she ruled against him. He had an even lengthier hit list of other judges who, by virtue of their ruling against him, were part of an anti-Ross conspiracy.
And what is being done? Nothing. Everyone treats them with kid gloves.
Judges usually cut them an incredible amount of slack. "Deadline" becomes a very relative term, with pro se litigants be allowed to file papers almost whenever they feel like it. Each hearing where deadlines are extended usually involves defense lawyer time. So the person being sued foots the bill for this preferential treatment.
If (almost always, when) they lose, everyone leaves the courtroom as if nothing had happened. The lunatic litigant isn't sanctioned. And he will surely strike again.
Indeed, Judge Roy "I'm kookoo for Cocoa Puffs" Pearson was going to be allowed to keep his job, as a judge, even after the details of his lawsuit were widely known. Only after insulting his boss does he now face removal from the bench.
What's up with that?
I have never understood why rabid pro se litigants are able to escape unpunished. Have we gotten so used to our legal system being used as a plaything for petty grievances that even pure lunacy is tolerable?
People who file lawsuits pro se usually have mental health issues, so I imagine there is an element of pity at play. But where is the pity for the poor schmuck who had to pay tens-of-thousands of dollars to defend himself? Where is the pity for the person who was, you know, actually wronged?
In any event, courts are part of a legal, not mental health, system. I do indeed feel sympathy for people with mental health issues, and I support measures to get them treatment. But allowing them to proceed with lunatic lawsuits is just as bad as letting them randomly vandalize ours homes.
Something needs to be done about people like Roy Pearson. Allowing them to act out in public courtrooms is not the answer.