Pants Judge Roy Pearson Is Back in Court

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Now with ample time on his hands, having not been reappointed to another term as a D.C. administrative-law judge, Roy L. Pearson, Jr., continues his quest for justice. As you may recall, that quest began years ago when, according to Pearson, his dry cleaners lost a pair of his pants and did not remedy the situation to his full and complete satisfaction. This resulted in a lawsuit in which Pearson sought $54 million but fell short of that goal (by exactly $54 million). Appeals failed. Pearson then filed another lawsuit going after the people who had refused to reappoint him, claiming they had unfairly retaliated. That case was dismissed, and now another appeal is in the process of failing.

In his opening brief (posted by the BLT), which is long (65 pages), rambling, difficult to follow, and not remotely compelling, Pearson argues that the ruling should be reversed and the judge removed from the case for alleged bias. Most of this is too dull to repeat, but there is some comedy in the section on Pearson’s second cause of action, alleging First Amendment violations.  Pearson claimed that defendants violated his First Amendment rights by retaliating against him for pursuing what he repeatedly calls “a public interest lawsuit” that was a matter of “public concern”:

[T]he public interest lawsuit sought injunctive relief that would benefit thousands of consumers, as well as the imposition of punitive damages to deter a group of merchants from persisting in the fraudulent and unfair trade practice of displaying deceptive advertisements.

Emphasis added. Again, Pearson was demanding $54 million from dry cleaners who allegedly lost one pair of his pants on the grounds that they had not acted to his complete satisfaction despite having posted a sign reading “Satisfaction Guaranteed.” (This sign-related argument is why Pearson would likely tell you that the case was not about his pants.) The brief does not really mention any of that. Pearson goes on to argue that the issue was clearly one of great public concern because everybody was talking about his case:

Count II alleges that plaintiff’s public interest lawsuit was of such public concern that it received newspaper, magazine, television, cable and Internet coverage all over the world, and that the coverage continued every day, for months.

Indeed it did. But being widely mocked for wasting one’s life on a pants-related dispute does not necessarily mean the case is a matter of public concern. At least, Pearson doesn’t make the case in this brief. Maybe in the reply, he will do more to explain how his quest benefits those downtrodden members of our society, the underclass of pantsless Americans.  Or are they the “unpantsed”?  The “underpantsed”? No, that’s not right either. Well, there are still a few weeks left until the reply brief.  I’m sure he’ll come up with something.