Roy Pearson Jr., the former D.C. administrative law judge who famously sued over a lost pair of pants, is now picking a fight with U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle.
Huvelle was the presiding judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia who, last year, tossed Pearson's suit for damages that targeted -- among others -- city officials and judges.
Pearson gained national attention for a 2007 trial in D.C. Superior Court in which he sought $54 million from a dry cleaner that allegedly misplaced a pair of his pants. When Pearson was then not re-appointed to a full 10-year term as an administrative law judge, he turned around and sued in federal court on a claim that he was retaliated against for suing the dry cleaners.
The pants suit didn't go anywhere. Neither did his suit against the city. Huvelle dismissed it last July. Now, with the case on appeal, Pearson is taking a personal swipe at Huvelle in court papers in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, where Pearson is pro se.
Pearson wants the appeals court to take notice of a photograph showing Huvelle standing with several Superior Court judges, including Anita Josey-Herring, who is a defendant in Pearson's suit. Pearson included the photo -- taken in May at the annual Law Day Dinner Program hosted by the Washington Bar Association -- in his opening brief, filed Jan. 21 in the appeals court.
Here's how Pearson puts it: "Judge Huvelle's enthusiastic participation in this smiling, arm-in-arm 'sisterhood' photo with defendant Josey-Herring" took place before Huvelle ruled on pending motions in the suit. Pearson said in court papers that Huvelle should have recused from hearing the suit.
Lawyers for the District want Pearson's brief tossed from the record for technical reasons. City lawyers are making a big fuss about spacing and pages. "According to Mr. Pearson's certificate of compliance, his brief contains 1,288 lines of proportionately spaced text. The brief thus appears to be far longer than he was allowed to file," Holly Johnson, an assistant D.C. attorney general, said in court papers filed Jan. 25.
Pearson doesn't dispute the over-length charge. But he said his brief should not be thrown out. "This good faith mistake bears no rational relationship to the draconian relief appellees propose," Pearson said. He noted that he is not a regular filer in the D.C. Circuit. The brief he lodged Jan. 21 was his first.
The city's lawyers "have repeatedly sought, in the district court and on appeal, to stop prosecution of this case in its tracks so as to wear down the plaintiff-appellant and make it financially impossible to continue to prosecute this case to trial," Pearson said in court papers.
This article first appeared on The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.