Pants Update: Pants Man Sues City
It's the media's fault, of course. If it weren't for the worldwide media hysteria over Roy Pearson's $54 million pants suit against his neighborhood dry cleaners, why, he'd still have his job as an administrative law judge for the District of Columbia. So says Pearson in a federal lawsuit filed this week.
Pearson, who has been keeping to himself since losing both his lawsuit against Custom Cleaners and his job last year, has emerged from his Northeast home to demand a cool million from the city that pushed him out of a job last fall.
You may recall that in the pants case, Pearson styled himself as the "private attorney general" representing all of the people of the District of Columbia in the great battle to make certain that "Satisfaction Guaranteed" signs in retail stores be taken very, very literally. But even though the judge in that case did everything she could think of to disabuse Pearson of the notion that he represented anyone other than his own wacky self, the man kept on litigating as if he were the AG of the Great State of People Who Really, Really Hate Their Dry Cleaners.
Now, it turns out, Pearson is not only an attorney general, he's also a celebrated whistle blower. His suit against the city asks that his job be reinstated because Pearson was actually in the midst of blowing the lid off corruption in the District's administrative law courts, when, of course, he was sacked. The city used the news coverage of the pants suit--the fact that, as Pearson puts it in his suit, he was ""vilified in the media for exercising his constitutional right to file and prosecute a consumer lawsuit."--as the excuse to shove him out of his job, he argues.
"Confident that this media storm would provide cover for a retaliatory demotion
and refusal to reappoint, the defendants made little effort to mask their retaliatory motive," Pearson writes.
In this 52-page complaint against the District, the chief judge of the administrative law court, and the individual judges and others who took part in the decision to deny him another term on the bench, Pearson argues that the panel that sacked him was not permitted to consider Pearson's comments on any public issue or his criticisms of management at his office.
The Pearson suit does contain one bit of actual news. Pearson reveals some of the language the Commission on the Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges used in its decision to end his tenure on the court: He quotes the commission's letter as saying that the publicity around the pants case "demeaned you as a judicial officer and brought OAH, the entire judiciary and the judicial process into disrepute."
Pearson is unimpressed. "Neither the demeaning of an OAH ALJ, nor bringing OAH or any other judiciary into 'disrepute,' are ethical standards or requirements in the OAH Code of Ethics," he writes.
Once again, Pearson paints himself as a public servant who had no choice but "to express opinions and make factual statements about the lack of ethics and the gross mismanagement he discovered at" the Office of Administrative Hearings, where he worked for two years. Pearson writes that he was "speaking truth to power."
Actually, as those involved in the decision not to renew his tenure on the court told it at the time, the notoriety around Pearson's pants adventure was what made it harder to oust him. The decision makers said that they had plenty of cause not to renew Pearson's contract based just on his behavior at the office, but that the pants suit, while enormously embarrassing to the court and the District, took a relatively simple matter and made it very complicated, mixing in all sorts of questions about whether a judge could or should be punished for exercising his right of access to the courts (even if his original suit against the dry cleaners was wildly abusive.)
But Pearson boils this down, as is his wont, to a matter of someone singling him out and giving him a hard time.
In classic Pearson style, it takes him 50-plus pages to make this argument. He spends much of that space boasting about his own credentials and slamming his former boss, Chief Judge Tyrone Butler, as "grossly inept" and corrupt. Pearson makes much of having passed the city's writing test for candidates for administrative law judge positions, but his lawsuit is littered with spelling errors.
Pearson does admit in the suit to having made "unnecessary and derogatory references to the Chief Judge" and to sending an e-mail about the chief that showed "poor judgment and a lack of civility." But he explains that he was legally required to alert everyone from his bosses to the mayor to the chief judge's purported incompetence.
Now back to your regular programming. I'll return with more pants suit news periodically for the rest of your life.
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