Decisions Loom in $54-Million-Pants Case

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According to Washington Post bloggers, a decision in the Pants Case is expected by Monday, possibly this afternoon.  With any luck, the court’s opinion will be available for immediate posting and review.

Also, Marc Fisher reported this week on the status of Roy Pearson’s bid to be reappointed to another term as a D.C. administrative law judge notwithstanding the furor surrounding his antics in the lost-pants extravaganza.  Pearson’s initial two-year term expired on April 30, but the three-member commission that decides whether to reappoint judges still has not made a decision in his case.  Apparently that is because it doesn’t currently have three members — one member’s term expired at the end of April and the mayor hasn’t appointed anyone new yet.  Probably says something about District government that they can’t get around to appointing anyone to the appointment panel that will decide whether to reappoint the man who is now the most famous administrative law judge in the history of administrative law judging, and not for good reasons.

Note that a reappointment would be for a ten-year term, not just another two, which is only the duration of an initial term.  The commission can remove an ALJ during his or her term, but still.

The D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings helpfully provides a link to the 2001 statute that established it and that now sets forth the standards for appointing ALJs.  It appears that, when the law was passed,

Administrative adjudication in the District of Columbia [suffered] from the general perception, and in some cases the reality, of unqualified hearing officers who lack[ed] the qualifications to fairly and properly adjudicate the cases before them.

Obviously, the law instantly rendered that a thing of the past.

Shall Judge Roy Pearson be appointed to a full ten-year term as ALJ?  You decide.  Among other requirements, the 2001 statute provides as follows:

Sec. 11. Administrative Law Judges.

(a) Administrative Law Judges shall be accountable and responsible for the fair, impartial, effective, and efficient disposition of cases to which they are assigned by the Chief Administrative Law Judge.

* * *

(d) To be eligible for appointment, an Administrative Law Judge shall:

(1) At the time of appointment, be a member in good standing of the District of Columbia Bar and remain in good standing throughout his or her tenure . . .Sec. 12. Powers, duties, and liability of Administrative Law Judges.

* * *

(5) Possess judicial temperament, expertise, experience, and analytical and other skills necessary and desirable for an Administrative Law Judge . . . .

Seems to me that Section 11(d)(5) is the show-stopper here.  Unless valuing a lost-pants case at $65 million (subsequently revised to $54 million) demonstrates the analytical skills "necessary and desirable" for an ALJ in the District, this alone ought to make Pearson not eligible for reappointment.

In the meantime, Fisher reports, Pearson is still drawing a six-figure salary although he is not currently performing any duties other than making the District of Columbia look ridiculous.

Link: Raw Fisher
Link: OFF/beat