Pro Se Litigants

Avast, ye maties! Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, and what better time to look in on that hornet’s nest of screaming crazy that is the pro se community? Not that all pro se litigants are crazy, but there is a subculture of citizens who love representing themselves. And representing themselves badly. Usually while airing their personal grievances with the government the whole time.

This peek at the pro se world focuses on a hot theory among pro se crazies: the outright denial of court jurisdiction over anything because courts can only exercise admiralty jurisdiction. Apparently the entire legal system — down to and including the maritime architecture of the courtroom and the fringe on the flags in the courtroom — is an elaborate ruse by the Gubment, in association with lawyers, to hoodwink people into consenting to admiralty jurisdiction.

They got us, guys.

Here’s some more color on the nature of this encroachment of maritime jurisdiction onto our soil. Land ho!

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Stupid Pro Se Legal ‘Theory’ Making the Rounds”

Suing a school for giving you bad grades seems ludicrous. On the other hand, there’s something respectable about filing a 60-paragraph complaint in response to a law school telling you that you’ve failed Legal Writing and Civil Procedure. It’s kind of meta when you think about it.

The crux of the story is that a the law school demanded that a 3L retake CivPro II: Electric Boogaloo because he got a D the first time around. This interfered with his plans for his 3L year, so he decided to take them to court. In the process, every complaint he has about the school worked its way into the filing.

Which law school is getting sued?

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Jackson County Court Clerk Sharon Snyder, 70, was a mere nine months from retirement when she was unceremoniously fired for insubordination. Her rebellious act consisted of pointing someone to a publicly available document.

An inmate who was trying, and failing, to file a simple motion was given a successful motion to use as a model. His motion was granted, he was exonerated, and like the aging cop archetype of film — dramatically killed just before his scheduled retirement — Snyder got canned after 34 years of working in the courthouse.

Now the justice system is once more desperately trying to spin why it punishes people for being right…

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Or at least R.I.P. for non-lawyer pro se litigants. Just when you thought the Supreme Court season had finally come to a close, the Court released a new rule book this morning. It’s 80 pages long and mostly a rehash, but the addition of Rule 28.8 garnered some attention for finally closing a door on the practice of non-lawyers arguing before the Court.

Not that it happened very often.

It’s unknown why the Court decided to take this step now, but if you’ve ever had to deal with a pro se litigant, you have to think one motivating factor is saving Justice Alito’s eyes from rolling completely back into his head.

So now let’s reminisce about the triumphs and defeats of past pro se litigants before the Court…

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* It’s amazing that sports betting is not legal in New Jersey. What possible moral wackadoodle says that it’s okay to have something like the Jersey Shore (the place, not just the TV show), but you can’t take Michigan to out-shoot the Syracuse zone and then break Louisville’s legs. [Legal Blitz]

* Cloud tools for lawyers. Or as partners understand them: “Newfangled virtual file cabinets.” [Smart File Blog]

* Pro se prisoner wins! He probably wouldn’t have had he consulted a lawyer. [Simple Justice]

* Actually, congratulations to Christopher J. Paolella, who argued before the Court on behalf of Kim Millbrook — and scored a 9-0 victory. [Reich & Paolella]

* Apparently “we gotta fix that” is Obama-speak for “Let’s form a commission to study how Republicans are disenfranchising voters instead of actually stopping them.” [NPR via Election Law Blog]

* Goodbye and good luck to Bruce Carton of Legal Blog Watch. [Legal Blog Watch]

* I thought this was a law already on the books in Mississippi. [The Onion]

* Instead of Angie’s List ranking law schools, I’d like to see U.S. News ranking plumbers. Undoubtedly, they’d use size of exposed butt crack as a key factor. [TaxProf Blog]

* Maker’s Mark will not get diluted after all — likely causing a shortage. Start hoarding mediocre bourbon, folks! [Wonkblog]

* If you’ve ever wondered what the Supreme Court feels like to a pro se petitioner, here’s your answer. “Simply put, the Supreme Court uses its desktop publishing and printing guidelines as a weapon against the American public.” So much for “the least dangerous branch.” [Aaron Greenspan]

* “Nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.” Russia’s taking that phrase to a whole new level by pushing forward with a criminal tax evasion trial against a dead man. This is the first case of its kind since United States v. Bernie Lomax. [Reuters]

* Is the pressure mounting on the Washington Redskins to change their name? It’s an interesting take, but overlooks one important detail: Dan Snyder is a tone deaf jerk. [Sports Law Blog]

* Computer science students realize that taking collective action to intentionally fail the test was better than trying to pass it. It’s like The Producers of education. And if this grading policy applied to 1Ls, there’d be at least one jerk who defected to ruin everyone else’s curve. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Ten points to Gryffindor if you know what “tumid” means. Because you’re going to have to know before you pass through Ohio again. [Legal Juice]

* Two guys, one gun, three wounded. Definitely what the Founders intended. [KENS 5]

* Here’s the affirmance of the dismissal of Greg Berry’s $77 million lawsuit against Kasowitz Benson. Fun times. [Appellate Division, First Department]

* Ex-girlfriends are uniting to go after a revenge porn site. If this stupid site ruins Section 230 for everybody, I’m going to be pissed. [Jezebel]

* Not that anybody should need the help, but here is another reason to hate lawyers. [She Negotiates / Forbes]

* Honestly, I kind of forgot Gitmo was still open. What with all the talk of having a progressive president, I kind of assumed that this would have been a promise he kept and stuff. [How Appealing]

* Speaking of things I’ve forgotten about, say hello to the 27th Amendment. [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* It looks like the world has forgotten about Atari. [Bloomberg Law]

Gregory Berry

It’s been almost a year since we’ve mentioned the name Gregory Berry here at Above the Law, but it wasn’t easy to forget him, what with his “superior legal mind” and all. In case you’ve somehow forgotten about him, Berry was a former first-year associate at Kasowitz Benson who decided to sue the firm in a pro se suit for more than $77 million after working there for less than a year. In his monstrous 50-page complaint, he asserted 14 causes of action, including wrongful termination, fraud, and breach of contract.

This guy thought he was God’s gift to the legal profession, but Justice Eileen Bransten of the New York Supreme Court wasn’t impressed — come on, the guy tapes his glasses together, for God’s sake. She failed to see the merit in his arguments, and dismissed his case outright, with prejudice. But Gregory Berry being the remarkable man that he is, the dismissal didn’t sit well with him, so he opted to file an appeal.

Berry was in court earlier this week for a hearing on the matter. How did he fare this time around?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Gregory Berry’s ‘Superior Legal Mind’ is Back in Action on the Appeal of His $77 Million Case Against Kasowitz Benson”

* In case you’ve been sleeping under a rock, Mitt Romney picked Rep. Paul Ryan as his Vice Presidential running mate. Putting politics aside, this is a great pick, if only because Ryan is so handsome. Seriously, he’s a total stud. [Wall Street Journal]

* “How can I be the one guy with a good degree who is going to be chronically unemployed?” Sadly, many lawyers are still looking for jobs after (multiple) layoffs, but thanks to a lack of positions, employment is just “not in the cards” for them. [New York Times]

* Deadliest clerkship? The Washington, D.C. judge who presided over one of the most violent mass shooting cases in the nation’s capital was reportedly held up at gunpoint last week, with her law clerk in tow. [Fox DC]

* Something is rotten in the state of Denmark Texas. Judge Sam Sparks “know[s] the smell of bad fish,” and now wants to know why the USADA waited so long to bring charges against Lance Armstrong. [Bloomberg]

* After reversing a bankruptcy court’s decision that loan repayment would be an “undue hardship” for a law school debtor, a judge took the time to rip law schools a new one over escalating tuition. [Oregonian]

* Match.com class-action plaintiffs found no love in court after a federal judge ruled that the dating website hadn’t breached its user agreement. Much like their love lives, their claims aren’t getting any action. [Reuters]

* A man who is his own lawyer has a fool for a client: 23% of all cases filed in the federal court for the S.D.N.Y. are brought by pro se litigants, and the vast majority of them seem to have lost their minds. [New York Post]

Whether you like it or not, people are going to go back and forth on grade inflation until the end of time. Some think it’s God’s gift to gunners, and some don’t. But if you’ve decided to embark upon your legal career later in life, it may seem like there’s no way to compete with millennials whose college report cards are so littered with inflated grades that they might as well be printed in glitter and accompanied by gold stars.

And that is exactly what one certified public accountant alleges in a lawsuit that he’s filed himself against Baylor Law School — the same school that accidentally released its incoming students’ GPAs and LSAT scores, as you may recall….

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