The Chicago River is only slightly less green when it's not St. Patrick's Day.
* America’s favorite serial litigant, Jonathan Lee Riches, wants to make an appearance as former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick’s lawyer. [Detroit News]
* You better run and hide, because the vacuum bandit is coming to town. [Legal Juice]
* A Chicago reporter fell into in the Chicago sewer system River. He is currently on a respirator, and another court reporter has set up a relief fund for him. Get well soon, Andrew Pitts. [Kruse Reporters Blog]
* Speaking of Chicago, this could be an Odd Couple reboot: The drug dealer and his roommate, a local prosecutor. What goofy hijinks will they get into next? [Chicago Tribune]
* This Australian reporter says the American legal system has evolved to conceal truth, not reveal it. See how long you can read this before smoke starts coming out your ears. [The Atlantic]
* Happy Father’s Day! Even to all the famous, lawbreaking dads out there. [Attorney Fee]
And if you thought that the Patrick Ewing of Suing would cease and desist once he was released from prison, then you were dead wrong. According to his various Facebook pages, he intends to “flood the universe with more lawsuits.” Now that he’s out of the pokey and has computer access, you can count on many more entertaining filings from him.
One of his latest lawsuits has already hit the papers, and we don’t see why the targets of his affections would want to dismiss the case — after all, they’re some of the most fame-hungry people on the planet (sorry Gloria Allred). We’re talking about the KKK Kardashian Klan, which consists of Khloe, Kourtney, and Kim.
What kind of wild allegations has Riches made against the woman with whom he claims he’s had a “relationship off and on since 2002″?
But the embarrassment of riches in Riches’s latest complaint should remind everyone why he is still the king of pro se whackjobs. On January 24th, he filed for a temporary restraining order against Jared Lee Loughner, the alleged shooter in the Tucson attacks. Riches claims that if the Bureau of Prisons should transfer Loughner to the Lexington, Kentucky facility that currently holds Riches, Loughner might use “his bare hands or a prison shank to kill me for being a moderate Democrat.”
And if you know anything about Riches, you know that quote isn’t anywhere near the craziest claim in his complaint…
We’ll start with the funny stuff. It’s been a few months since federal prisoner Jonathan Lee Riches has graced these pages. We welcome the wacky pro se litigant back as he joins the war against World of Warcraft. He’s filed a motion to intervene in video game lawsuit MDY v. Blizzard (WoW’s creator). Virtually Blind has Riches’ motion to intervene, where Riches claims:
World of Warcraft caused Riches [sic] mind to live in a virtual universe, where Riches explored the landscape committing identity theft and fighting cybermonster rival hacker gangs. Riches was addicted to video games and lost touch with reality because of defendants. This caused Riches to commit fraud to buy defendants video games. Riches chose World of Warcraft over working a legit job. Riches mind became a living video game.
Riches has definitely lost touch with reality. He’s filed countless lawsuits, against everyone from Catherine Zeta-Jones to Duke basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski.
Judges are understandably fed up with frivolous and crazy pro se suits like those filed by Riches. Louisiana judge Edward Dufresne grew so sick of them that he stopped reading pro se appeals from convicts. According to the Times-Picayune, he directed court staffer Jerrold Peterson to automatically deny any appeal not filed by an attorney. Dude, due process much?
The sad news: After 13 years of this, Peterson committed suicide, blaming guilt over the 2,500 appeals he denied. In response to Peterson’s suicide note, the Louisiana Supreme Court has asked the Fifth Circuit to step up and review the many appeals.
The federal court filing spree launched by Jonathan Lee Riches, a pro se inmate who has barraged courts around the country with some 1,500 handwritten suits, is coming to a halt—at least in the Northern District of Georgia.
Calling Riches a “vexatious and abusive litigant,” U.S. District Judge Willis B. Hunt Jr. last week permanently enjoined Riches—who has filed 351 suits in the Northern District alone over the past several months—from filing any more without first meeting a strict set of criteria.
Vexatious. That’s a great Scabulous word!
The order [pdf] dismisses all of Riches’ pending cases without prejudice. Skadden Arps and Pepper Hamilton must be breathing huge sighs of relief.
Among the defendants to Riches’ Atlanta suits were former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his wife, Silda; the law firms Pepper Hamilton and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Hooters of America; Norwegian Cruise Lines Inc.; and investment banker Bruce Wasserstein, whose private equity fund used to own the Daily Report’s parent company.
Riches’ celebrity targets included actors Anne Heche, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones; musicians Cyndi Lauper and Eddie Van Halen; and Braves pitcher Tom Glavine.
In one case, he alleged that actress Molly Ringwald “said she is going to turn me into a redhead and … burn me with 16 candles,” an apparent reference to Ringwald’s 1984 hit movie “Sixteen Candles.”
As many of you may recall, from our prior coverage of him, Jonathan Lee Riches is in a South Carolina prison until 2012 for wire fraud and conspiracy. He’s killing his time by filing a ridiculous number of ridiculous lawsuits in courts across the country, nicely summarized in this overview of his oeuvre, in the Fulton County Daily Report:
Thirty-nine percent of the 491 cases filed so far this month in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia have been filed by one man: Jonathan Lee Riches.
Among the defendants to his 192 suits are former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer and his wife, Silda; the firms Pepper Hamilton and Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom; the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation; Hooters of America; Norwegian Cruise Lines Inc.; and investment banker Bruce Wasserstein. Riches’ celebrity targets include actors Anne Heche, Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones; musicians Cyndi Lauper and Eddie Van Halen; and Braves pitcher Tom Glavine.
Riches has alleged that Eliot Spitzer “used the fines [from corporate convictions] to pay for prostitutes,” that the MacArthur Foundation froze Riches’ inmate account and funneled the money to Spitzer; and that Pepper Hamilton took a $1 million retainer from him and other inmates, but used the money to gamble on the New York Giants.
We wonder if the suit against Cyndi Lauper was about the mental anguish suffered when “Time After Time” gets stuck in your head.
Federal district courts across the country are annoyed at the waste of their man hours and money in processing the complaints. Is he crazy or crazy like a fox? He’s garnered a great amount of media attention, as detailed in his Wikipedia entry (and we’ve written about him extensively in these pages). We surmise that he may be setting himself up as a media commentator on frivolous lawsuits.
Some of Riches’ prior complaints have been dismissed, including a $662 trillion suit filed in the Northern District last summer against Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick. The suit alleged that Vick was attempting to “kidnap” Riches’ mind and to force him to lose weight, and demanded that the $662 trillion be delivered — in “British gold” shipped via truck — to the front gates of the prison where Riches is incarcerated.
Noting that a trio of other Riches’ suits — in federal courts in Michigan, South Carolina and Florida — had been dismissed as frivolous, Senior U.S. District Judge Willis B. Hunt Jr. dismissed the suit against Vick in August. He cited 28 U.S.C. §1915(g), the “Three Strikes Rule,” which says a prisoner is prohibited from bringing federal civil actions in forma pauperis if, while incarcerated, he has had three other suits dismissed on the grounds of frivolity, malice or failure to state a claim.
There is, however, an exception. The prisoner may file, the statute says, if he’s in imminent danger of physical injury.
“[T]his Court finds that none of Plaintiff’s farcical assertions in the complaint, including his claim that Michael Vick threw snowballs at his car, qualify as a claim of imminent danger of serious physical injury,” Hunt writes in Riches v. Vick, No. 07-13940-J.
* Crazy pro se lawsuit against Google, seeking $5 billion in damages, touches upon the war on terror and a Burton snowboard. And no, it wasn’t filed by Jonathan Lee Riches. [TechDirt]
* A misdemeanor count of cruelty to animals? Guess he wasn’t that good. [Denver Channel]
* Law professors get their academic gowns in a wad over the gender divide in faculty hiring. [TaxProf Blog]
* Dewey LeBoeuf? Already done it. [WSJ Law Blog]
* Debevoise & Plimpton lords it over the competition. [Times of London]
* Oh, those crazy French people. They eat the darnedest things! [Conglomerate]
* A shameless (and belated) plug: we were interviewed last week by NPR’s Mike Pesca, for an interesting story about Jonathan Lee Riches and his wacky pro se lawsuits. (We appear around the 2:30 mark.) [NPR]
* Blawg Review #123 — in the form of a judicial opinion. Very clever! [Texas Appellate Law Blog via Blawg Review]
Federal prisoner Jonathan Lee Riches, whose “$63,000,000,000.00 Billion dollar” lawsuit against Michael Vick was discussed in these pages last month, has a new celebrity athlete in his sights. From a tipster:
Got to think you’ve seen this by now: the guy suing Michael Vick for a bazillion dollars or whatever it is now realizes that the real culprit is Barry Bonds. See here.
Question: Where can we file amicus briefs on these?
More description of Riches’s latest Complaint, alleging “Fraud Against Mankind” and “Batman and Identity Robbin,” from the Smoking Gun:
Riches, who is doing a decade in prison for fraud, is at it again, this time filing a loony — though quite funny — complaint again Barry Bonds, baseball commissioner Bud Selig, and Hank Aaron’s bat.
In his lawsuit, Riches weaves an intricate conspiracy theory involving television ratings, steroids, the cracking of the Liberty Bell, Colombian narco-terrorists, and secretly recorded conversations for which journalists Robert Novak and Judith Miller have transcripts.
Sounds like the plot to Syriana or Babel. Might Riches — a/k/a “Secured Party” d/b/a “The White Suge Knight” — have a future as a Hollywood screenwriter?
As it turns out, Jonathan Lee Riches is an old hand at crazy lawsuits — a veritable pro at proceeding pro se. More after the jump.
In a land that is right here and in a time that is right now, a technology has arisen so powerful that it can replace basic human document review. Is it time to bow down before our new robot overlords?
First, here’s a little story about me: my life in the legal world began as a paralegal. My first case was a GIANT patent infringement case that was already six years old and had involved as many as five companies, multiple US courts, the ITC and an international standards committee. I knew nothing about any of this.
On my first day, my supervisor (a paralegal with at least eight other cases driving her crazy) sat me down in front of a Concordance database with a 100,000+ patents and patent file histories. “Code these,” she said. I learned that “coding”, for the purposes of this exercise, meant manually typing the inventor’s name, the title of the patent, the assignee, the file date, and other objective data for each document. I worked on that project – and only that project – for at least the first six months of my job. After a week or so, time began to blur.
What I know, in retrospect and with absolutely certainty, is that as time began to blur, so did my judgment. So did my attention to detail. If you could tell me that I did not make at least one mistake a day – one inconsistent spelling, one reversed day and month, one incorrectly spaced title – I frankly would need to see your evidence. I would not believe it. The human mind is trainable but it is not a machine.
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