Pro Se Litigants

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?

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* 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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* Dewey know how many professional firms have been allowed to stay on as advisers for the largest law firm bankruptcy in U.S. history? Six out of nine firms were permitted to continue services, but Proskauer wasn’t one of them. [Am Law Daily (sub. req.)]

* In other defunct firm news, Al Togut will be presenting Dewey & LeBoeuf’s former partners with a proposed settlement on Wednesday. You’ve been warned: prepare yourselves for some Biglaw-style bitching. [Thomson Reuters News & Insight]

* Despite reports of the billable hour going the way of the dodo bird, it looks like they’re here to stay. Right now, corporate law departments are still much more excited about alternative billing arrangements than law firms. [WSJ Law Blog]

* Judge Sam Sparks, the King of Benchslaps, dismissed Lance Armstrong’s lawsuit against the USADA in record time. That ruling came too quickly — guess it’s time to investigate judicial doping. [New York Times]

* Marc Dreier’s son, Spencer Dreier, is representing himself pro se in a defamation suit against his former college roommate. Looks like Daddy couldn’t spring for his kid’s lawyer while he was in the clink. [Bloomberg]

* A California woman claims that the Food and Drug Administration’s methods regarding sperm donations are unconstitutional. Why should she have to go to an intermediary to get sperminated? [Huffington Post]

* Do you smell what The Rock is cooking? It’s not exactly something to be proud of. Actor Dwayne Johnson is listed as a “co-conspirator” in a $1.8M fraud lawsuit that’s been filed by a South Florida family. [NBC Miami]

The Kardashian Sisters

It’s been more than a year since we’ve written about Jonathan Lee Riches, and in that time, the man with the most astounding litigious legacy on record was released from prison on April 30, 2012. In case you’re not familiar with him, Riches has sued thousands of people (and places, and also things) — from Eliot Spitzer to Molly Ringwald to Jared Lee Loughner.

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″?

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Humiliating? Yes. Harassment? No dice.

At this point, nearly everyone has at least one friend who finds perverse joy in posting stupid, unflattering photos of their friends to Facebook. Maybe drunk photos or maybe just dorky, grody ones from right after you ran a marathon or something.

In these mildly annoying situations, most people would untag the photos and then forget that they existed. But not everyone. A Minnesota man named Aaron Olson could not handle the fact that his uncle posted photos from his childhood in front of the Christmas tree, along with some snarky captions. So he sued his uncle for harassment.

A Minnesota district court tossed his case, and earlier this week the Court of Appeals of Minnesota denied Olson’s pro se complaint. Judge Natalie E. Hudson wrote a surprisingly zen unpublished opinion, considering how silly the lawsuit (and Olson’s in-court behavior) was…

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