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.”
What is it about Florida that causes its lawyers and litigants to misbehave so egregiously? Just last week, the Florida Supreme Court sanctioned colorful attorney Jack Thompson. And now they’ve expressed their displeasure (PDF) with pro se litigant Julio Mora.
What did Mr. Mora do to upset the court? From its opinion:
Mora has filed pro se pleadings containing scandalous and obscene language. Specifically, in his “Petition to Inhibit Jurisdiction From this Very Supreme Court of Injustice,” Mora maintained that through its show cause proceedings with DOC, the Court has proven itself “to be a pack of incompetent cowards, without balls, testicles, courage or valor.” Further, Mora urged this Court to
“take this case and the ultimate decision, if ever, and please shovel it to the chief justice and every other justice’s a**hole, in order to have a common place to store the justices’ crap, together with the justice crap from their’s mind, properly disposed through the sewer system, in order to prevent the contaminants to reach the citizen of Florida, and also kiss Julio Mora’s the idiot seeking justice, kiss his a**hole every time the justice will retire going to their den. . . . Please kiss my a** one more time.”
The court declined to grant Mora the requested relief. Instead, it sanctioned him, directing the clerk of court to reject any future filings from Mora “unless signed by a member of The Florida Bar.”
In a court of law, it’s the parties who do the ass-kissing — not the judges. Mora v. McNeil (PDF) [Supreme Court of Florida]
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.
Based on all the non-sequiturs appended to Non-Sequiturs, some of you clearly want to talk about the latest filings in the AutoAdmit case. So here’s an open thread for you to go wild (but not too wild).
Most people who follow the case are already up on the recent developments. But if you need background, see The Legal Satyricon. Professor Marc Randazza writes: “Excuse me while I greedily devour this slice of humble pie…. If you want to see the dumbest thing ever done in litigation, feast your eyes on this letter [PDF] that AK47 sent to the Plaintiffs’ attorneys. What a nimrod.” AK47 Pwned [The Legal Satyricon] Earlier: Pro Se Litigant of the Day: ‘AK47′ of AutoAdmit
There’s a new development in the well-publicized AutoAdmit lawsuit. The defendant known as “AK47″ has filed a pseudonymous, pro se motion to quash the plaintiffs’ subpeona. The memorandum in support of the motion appears here (PDF)
Over at the WSJ Law Blog, reporter Amir Efrati — who first broke the news of this case’s filing, and has done a great job covering it — describes the motion as “well-composed…. which leads us to suspect that ‘he’ is an aspiring lawyer.” He also notes that AK47 “shows he’s done some research, citing a host of Internet law precedents he says bolster his arguments.”
But over at the Legal Satyricon, Professor Marc Randazza is less impressed: “My prediction — had Mr. AK47 written his motion a little more skillfully, he might have had a great chance. Unfortunately for him, the motion is so poorly drafted that it will take some charity on the Court’s part for it to fly.”
We’re not surprised that Professor Randazza applies a demanding standard. After all, he practices First Amendment law. He previously (and successfully) represented AutoAdmit exec Anthony Ciolli, who was dropped from the lawsuit back in November.
Feel free to share your thoughts on any of this in the comments. AutoAdmit Case – Motion to Quash by “AK47″ [The Legal Satyricon / Marc Randazza] AutoAdmit Suit Update: Defendant “AK47″ Responds [WSJ Law Blog]
It appears that Jonathan Lee Riches — ATL’s favorite pro se litigant, who filed that famous $63,000,000,000.00 Billion lawsuit against Michael Vick — has some competition in the contest for craziest complaint.
Pro se litigant Gregory Newman has filed a lawsuit against “Covert Action Air Operations.” This entity does not exist. But that hasn’t stopped Mr. Newman from alleging that it erased his videotape of a “magnetic tornado” that descended upon his backyard.
Here’s an excerpt from the memorandum opinion dismissing the complaint, which describes some of Gregory Newman’s more colorful allegations:
You can read the two-page opinion — which includes some boilerplate and citations, perhaps helpful to the law clerks among you, for the proposition that complaints “that describe fantastic or delusional scenarios are subject to immediate dismissal” — by clicking here. Memorandum Opinion: Newman v. Covert Action Air Operations [U.S. District Court (D.D.C.)]
As the old adage goes, “A lawyer who represents himself has a fool for a client.” And there is some anecdotal evidence in support of that proposition. See, e.g., Elana Glatt / Elana Elbogen (depending upon how you view the merits of her case against her wedding florist).
Here’s another example of what can happen when Biglaw litigators represent themselves. From TaxProf Blog:
The Tax Court today decided Hynes v. Commissioner, T.C. Summ. Op. 2008-1 (1/2/08), a case involving Shawn T. Hynes, a fifth year securities litigation associate in Cleary Gottlieb’s New York City office. The taxable year at issue was 2003, when Hynes was a Penn 3L (he tranferred to Penn after completing his first year at Oregon).
More about the facts of Shawn Hynes’s case, and how he got benchslapped by the Tax Court, after the jump.
In our earlier post about the recusal motion filed by one Robert Seitz — a Florida pro se litigant seeking recusal of Judge Mary Barzee Flores, claiming that he once received a pre-judicial BJ from Her Honor — we noted that his claims were mere allegations.
We expressly disclaimed any independent knowledge of his claims. We were simply passing along allegations made in a publicly filed court document — which, by the way, has circulated widely via email. (It was forwarded to us by maybe half a dozen different tipsters.)
Now we bring you Judge Barzee Flores’s side of the story. From an omnibus order filed in the case, denying Seitz’s motion to recuse:
* 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]
If your firm is in ‘go’ mode when it comes to recruiting lateral partners with loyal clients, then take this quiz to see how well you measure up. Keep track of your ‘yes’ and ‘no’ responses.
1. Does your firm have a clearly defined strategy of practice groups that are priorities of growth for your office? Nothing gets done by random chance, but with a clear vision for the future. Identify the top practice areas for which you wish to add lateral partners. Seek input from practice group leaders and get specifics on needs, outcomes, and ideal target profiles.
2. In addition to clarifying your firm’s growth strategy, are you still open to the hire of a partner outside of your plan? I’ve made several placements that fit this category. The partner’s practice was not within the strategic growth plan of my client, but once the two parties started talking with each other, we all saw how it could indeed be a seamless fit. Be open to “Opportunistic Hires.” You never know where your next producing partner might come from, so you have to be open to it. I will be the first to admit that there is a quirky element of randomness in recruiting.
Ed. note: The Asia Chronicles column is authored by Kinney Recruiting. Kinney has made more placements of U.S. associates, counsels and partners in Asia than any other recruiting firm in each of the past six years. You can reach them by email: email@example.com.
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