Pro Se Litigants

John Farren and Mary Farren

When we last checked in on John Michael Farren, the former general counsel to Xerox and deputy White House counsel under President George W. Bush, things were not going well for him. Back in December, a jury found him liable for assault and battery against his former wife, Mary Margaret Farren. The jury awarded Mary Farren some $28.6 million in damages — an amount that reflected the brain injury and emotional trauma suffered by Mrs. Farren, who went from a lucrative job at Skadden to unemployment.

Criminal charges against Mike Farren remained pending at the time of the civil verdict. On Friday, the criminal case got resolved — and not in a manner favorable to Mike Farren….

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‘That professor will rue the day he gave me a D!’

When most law students receive crappy grades, they drown their own self-pity in alcohol, shrug it off, and tell themselves they’ll do better next time. Some law students, though, as ludicrous as it may be, feel that their only recourse after receiving a bad grade is to sue. This is without fail the very worst option a law student could take, but it’s entertaining if only because these whiny lawsuits are filed pro se.

Take, for example, a lawsuit that was recently filed by a former student at an unaccredited law school. The plaintiff is pissed that he got a terrible grade in one of his classes, and he wants a federal court to mete out his revenge against the professor who ruined his life.

Did we mention that he wants $100,000 in damages for “years of not being in a legal career”?

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Johnny Manziel (By: Thomas Campbell-USA TODAY Sports)

I have nightmares of [Johnny] Manziel; he needs sex therapy. Seeing Manziel with his small penis caused me psychological emotional distress. I had to see a psychologist because I have nightmares of Manziel’s penis.

– An excerpt from a lawsuit filed by “Samantha Schacher,” but more likely filed by Jonathan Lee Riches, better known in the legal community as America’s favorite serial litigant. Read some of his work here, here, and here.

(Keep reading to see the rest of this entertaining lawsuit.)

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‘Hey Girl, I can’t go out tonight, but maybe we can Skype.’ Chris Sevier / Model Mayhem

Our old friend Chris Sevier is back and wackier than ever. Sevier, you may recall, is the lawyer (or at least Vandy law grad) who filed suit against Apple for building a computer that let him get addicted to porn so very easily. The complaint was 50 pages long and riddled with tirades and typos. It was all good fun. In the end, the remedy Sevier sought was basically a nanny state — a hot nanny state, with a schoolgirl uniform and daddy issues.

Anyway, with marriage equality cases bubbling up across the country, it was only a matter of time before Sevier said, “Hey, I’m litigious and enjoy drafting frivolous filings about sex stuff!” And with that, he filed to intervene in Florida’s ongoing marriage equality case on the compelling argument that his rights needed to be heard.

Specifically, his right to marry the love of his life: his computer.

I’m assuming if the Florida judge allowed that, Sevier’s wedding would have to feature a toast by Apple telling everyone how the couple met.

Well, we have Sevier’s latest tour de force. Let’s take a look….

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Muscle Milk: drink this and you’ll write awesome pro se briefs.

I’m about to share with you an awesome pro se court filing from a law student who drinks Muscle Milk — enough of the stuff to belong to a class action of Muscle Milk consumers. Please try to envision what this submission might look like.

In terms of the student, I’m imagining a real meathead. He belonged to a frat in college. He’s not a great law student, but his family has connections that will help him land a job post-graduation. His bookshelf looks like this.

As for his pro se filing, it’s probably a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury (and Bluebooking errors). The UVA Libel Show would call it a Muscle-Milk-induced “roid rage of shame.”

But no, it’s not; it’s so much better than that. It’s actually a work of genius….

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Dude, I thought a graduate of Duke University would have more to offer… maybe you should ask for a refund.

Chance Addison, the owner of Addison E-Cigarette LLC, in an email sent to William M. Bryner of Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton. Bryner is representing a subsidiary of Reynolds American in a product marketing suit against Addison.

Addison’s communications with Bryner “have become increasingly profane, menacing and harassing, and include veiled threats to court personnel,” and a temporary no-contact order was issued after Addison randomly showed up at the firm’s office, unannounced and uninvited.

(Want to see more of Chance Addison’s entertaining emails? We’ve got ‘em.)

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As 2013 draws to a close, let’s look back at the 10 biggest stories in the legal profession over the past year. This is an annual tradition here at Above the Law, which we’ve done in 2012, 2011, 2010, and 2009. We’ll fire up the old Google Analytics machine to get data on our most popular posts, based on pageviews, and share the results with you.

Before turning to specific stories, let’s look at the top general discussion topics here at ATL. For 2013, our most trafficked category page was Biglaw, which bumped Law Schools out of the top spot — a spot that Law Schools held from 2010 through 2012. Now that the word is out about the perils of getting a law degree, leading to plummeting applications, perhaps it’s time to move on from the “don’t go to law school” narrative.

After Biglaw and Law Schools, our third most-popular category page was, as usual, Bonuses. This wasn’t a terribly exciting year for bonuses — there were no spring bonuses, and Cravath and its many followers paid out the same bonuses as last year — but people still want to know the score.

Our fourth most-popular category page was small law firms. Small firms, including boutiques, are an area of increasing focus and readership for us — and also where many of the job opportunities are these days.

Moving on from the topic pages, what were the 10 most popular individual posts at Above the Law in 2013?

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Ed. note: Merry Christmas! We will resume our normal publication schedule on Boxing Day. We hope you have a wonderful holiday, and we thank you for your readership.

* Adoption, probate, and Elf. You know what child welfare really needs to look into is leaving kids to be raised in a sweatshop; that seems like a much bigger problem than an intestate parent. [The Legal Geeks]

* Were you looking for analysis of the Supreme Court’s decision in Kansas v. Cheever, but don’t have time to commit to a full article? Here it is in Haiku. [Supreme Court Haiku]

* Man declared a “quarrelsome litigant.” What’s the threshold for that moniker? Well, he filed a case against the Dominican Republic for “bad weather.” [Lowering the Bar]

* The Top 5 arrests of guys dressed as Santa. [Legally Weird]

* Professor Barry Sullivan of Loyola-Chicago explains how A Christmas Carol shaped his legal philosophy. And yet, if one were to pick one Dickens book to prepare a young lawyer for the profession, a better bet would be Bleak House (affiliate link). [TaxProf Blog]

* Happy anniversary to the Curt Flood case! [Lawyers, Guns & Money]

John Farren and Mary Farren

Lawyers John Michael Farren and Mary Margaret Farren were once a storybook couple. If Above the Law had been around in the nineties, they might have made the pages of Legal Eagle Wedding Watch. Mary Farren practiced energy law at the high-powered firm of Skadden Arps, where she attained the rank of counsel, and John Farren’s résumé was even more impressive: he served as general counsel to Xerox, a Fortune 500 company, before going on to serve as deputy White House counsel under President George W. Bush.

Their success transcended their impressive job titles. She earned $500,000 a year at Skadden; he made millions as GC of Xerox. They had ample material wealth — $3 million in cash here, a $4.6 million mansion there — and two lovely daughters.

And then things went wrong. Horribly, terribly wrong….

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Ex-Skadden Lawyer Wins $28.6 Million From Her Ex-Husband (A Former GC And White House Lawyer)”

Nose candy for pimps.

* An NSA review panel thinks the Chief Justice of the United States shouldn’t be the only one appointing judges to the FISA Court. We imagine John Roberts is pulling a Stuart Smalley. Don’t worry, you’re good enough. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Sadly, Amy Schulman, one of America’s most influential lawyers and best-paid general counsel, is out at Pfizer. After leading the charge against outside counsel’s hourly billing, we doubt she’ll head back to DLA Piper. [Corporate Counsel]

* Scott Bloch, former head of the Office of Special Counsel in the GWB administration, allegedly hated gay staffers so much he shipped them to Detroit. That settles it: he really hated them. [Blog of Legal Times]

* Sen. Elizabeth Warren proposed a bill that would ban all private employers — except the government — from running credit checks on new hires. Let’s go rack up some credit card debt! [National Law Journal]

* Law schools are facing enrollment problems, but Boalt Hall and Santa Clara Law saw the size of their entering classes rise. Flooding the entry-level job market continues to be celebrated. [The Recorder]

* “Yes — I do share nose candy with these girls. For free. For my personal use, OK?” Pro se litigants say the darndest things. Good thing this guy got an attorney before things got worse. [Albany Times Union]

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