Pro Se Litigants

Today we have a story of a contract attorney who made good — well, a contract attorney who got a permanent position. That position was called “staff attorney” and he still had to review documents, but now with health insurance.

But what happens when that staff attorney feels like he is on the losing end of favoritism, finds himself passed over for promotions, and eventually gets fired? You get employment litigation.

Which firm finds itself defending against a document-reviewer-cum-staff attorney’s claims of age discrimination?

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Which Law Firm Is Getting Sued By A Contract Attorney Now?”

If you’ve ever wondered what a difference your $150K+ legal education makes, watch a pro se litigant. If you’ve ever wondered what a difference your $150K+ legal education and a clean bill of mental health makes, watch this pro se litigant.

Pro se litigants are often entertaining with their hare-brained theories about law and fervent yet unwarranted conviction that everyone is out to get them. Ironically, pro se litigants tend to hate the judge most of all, even though the most frustrating part of litigating against a wingnut is the way judges bend over backward to help out — prolonging the inevitable while slowly bleeding your patience and your client’s wallet. But it’s rare to have video of one launching into a full tirade against a judge before storming out of the courtroom.

So what’s this guy’s deal?

(Be careful — on some computers the video just starts automatically so be prepared)

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When people in the legal profession screw up in major ways, we are there to chronicle the action, providing entertainment and education (in terms of what not to do). For example, sometimes lawyers volunteer to enlarge the size of opposing counsel’s a-holes — and get canned. Sometimes lawyers bill for 29 hours in a day and get taken to task. Sometimes lawyers blush when they accidentally request a trial “on all the c**ts”.

These things do happen, but they’re usually one-time occurrences that would otherwise be missed by the members of the legal community, if not for our coverage here at Above the Law.

On the other side of the coin, when you screw up so many times that a federal judge feels the need to publicly excoriate you with the ultimate insult — by comparing your work to that of a pro se litigant — maybe it’s time to hang your head in shame for the rest of your days…

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Federal Judge Issues Sick Burn, Compares Lawyer’s Filings To Those Of Pro Se Litigant”

Remember Ecce Homo?

* Apple gave the iPhone 5 fingerprint database to the NSA. This would be a gross invasion of privacy but Tim Cook masterminded this, so the NSA got the Ecce Homo of fingerprint image captures. [Hackers News Bulletin]

* Charlie Sheen got dismissed from jury duty after only one day. #winning [TMZ]

* Gordon from Sesame Street lost his palimony case. That’s because he was trying to duck out on the woman who mothered his “1… 2… 3… 4 kids! [thunderclap] Ah… ah… ah!” [Jezebel]

* Remember the early days of Twitter? Legal Cheek went back and found some of the earliest Tweets from British legal luminaries. It’s just funnier when you imagine an English accent saying, “I appear to be on Twitter… why, I have no idea.” [Legal Cheek]

* If you saw last week’s post on crazy people who claim that no court can try them because of maritime law, check out this epic opinion from Canada. Identifying those folks, like the maritime gang from last week, as Organized Pseudolegal Commercial Argument (“OPCA”) litigants, the opinion is 180 pages seeking “to uncover, expose, collate, and publish the tactics employed by the OPCA community.” [Alberta Courts]

* Police crack down on a motorized bar stool. That’s fair, because if there’s one motor vehicle that you’re likely to fall off… [Lowering the Bar]

* Professor Ilya Somin is touring the country and coming to a law school near you promoting his new book Democracy and Political Ignorance: Why Smaller Government Is Smarter (affiliate link). Small government does usually smart, as in “cause a sharp, stinging pain.” [The Volokh Conspiracy]

* An HLS grad working for the World Bank was rescued from the Kenyan mall hostage crisis. We wish her the best. [Daily Mail]

* Senator Elizabeth Warren and Professor Lawrence Lessig are going to be speaking at an event called “The Founders v. The Roberts Court: Corruption, Campaign Finance, and McCutcheon v. FEC” tomorrow at noon Eastern. The event will be livestreamed at the link. [Constitutional Accountability Center]

* Craigslist is suing Craigstruck, a company that specializes in delivering items ordered off of Craigslist. It’s how all those $5/hour attorneys get from place to place. Anyway, the owner of Craigstruck proposed to settle the legal dispute via football wager with Craigslist. If only all disputes could be settled this way. Video wager after the jump…

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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!

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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]

* Court rules that overlapping elements between romance novels do not amount to infringement. I mean, there’s only so many ways to phrase “throbbing member.” [Courthouse News Service]

* Pinellas County, Florida (Tampa Bay area) returns to using fluoridated water after a governmental sea change brought on by the issue. Don’t they understand the Communist plot to sap and impurify our precious bodily fluids? [Tampa Bay Times]

* In fairness, I think pro se litigants generally have a pretty good ineffective assistance claim. [Lowering the Bar]

* The D.C. Circuit managed to irritate both environmentalists and industry by affirming Fish and Wildlife’s designation of polar bears as “threatened.” It’s a nice middle ground. You know who else would appreciate some middle ground? A polar bear clinging to a shrinking ice floe. [Volokh Conspiracy]

* Former Justice Sandra Day O’Connor thinks kids need a healthier respect for the American democratic process. It would be unfortunate if the will of a democratic majority could get hijacked by five partisan hacks. [Courthouse News Service]

* Following up on yesterday’s profile of Lindsay Lohan’s attorney Mark Heller, the judge declared him “incompetent.” Fair enough. [TMZ]

* Oh, but trust him, he’s a doctor (of law). [The Economist]

* To quote the inimitable Spencer Hall, “Fine, here, cry.” [New York Times]

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