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My gender has a hard time with pants. I don’t know why this is. As body coverings go, pants are decidedly low-tech. You would think a gender that can � more or less � cope with shoelaces and French cuffs and four-in-hand knots could manage pants. I mean, once you get out of the way of the zipper, how tough can it be? And yet, my kind � conquerors of empires, builders of cathedrals, golfers on the moon, architects and successful defenders of a social structure which prefers them over the other gender in the face of overwhelming evidence of contrary worth � cannot manage pants. You want proof of this inadequacy? Go to a ballgame. Watch the men walking by with their bellies hanging over their belts. Here are hundreds of men who are convinced their pant size, like their pizza preference, was fixed when they were 19 and has never changed. Like my friend the high-school free safety, they are convinced their waist size is still 34, and � while vaguely concerned about the fact their inseam has somehow shortened five or six inches, leaving their pants legs scrunched up around their ankles like some kind of bizarre, wool worsted Slinkies � they see no reason to change their pants-buying habits. We need a telethon for these people. Somehow pants have clouded their minds and made them unable to employ the minimal technology represented by a mirror. Even a cat figures out eventually that the picture in the mirror is him. But men don’t. If they did, they wouldn’t dress like this. Pants do this to us. Pants have always clouded our minds. What is the question that has historically screwed up men’s heads more than any other? What question has every family counselor and divorce lawyer and priest had to address more than any other relationship problem? Who wears the pants in the family? Men are constantly worrying about who wears the pants in the family. This is a remarkable thing, considering the whole planet has been entrusted to us and we’re pretty much steering it to hell in a handbasket. You would think we would have more important things on our minds � especially since, considering the ballpark evidence, we should all be walking around in caftans anyway. But this is the power pants have over us. Studies have repeatedly shown that there is less divorce in countries where men do not wear pants.[ 1] This just makes sense. If you don’t have to figure out who wears the pants in the family, you have a lot more time to address to real issues in the marriage � like who gets custody of the remote and what is the default setting on the toilet seat. And it’s not just relationships. Pants play havoc with our judgment about everything. Anyone within 10 years of my age has known at least a half-dozen authority figures � judges, district attorneys, managing partners � who bent themselves into Gaudi corkscrews, over the issue of whether women should be allowed to wear pants to the office, to court, to depositions, or wherever. What was that all about? Propriety? Modesty? Bull … shorts. It was about pants. Pants turn men’s mind to okra. Old, overheated, fermenting okra. Always have, always will. So I was not the least bit surprised to pick up the May 4 issue of The Week[ 2] and read that “a North Carolina man attempting to pick up his pants from a dry cleaner was arrested for not wearing any pants.” Clearly, the man’s mind had been overwhelmed by this simplest of pants issues. Clearly, the logic of “I don’t have any pants on now, but once the lady at the dry cleaners gives me mine, I will have some” convinced him he was on firm ground. Golden retrievers � who do not wear pants � do better than this. But for those skeptics amongst you who think the guys at the ballpark and the pantsless North Carolinian[ 3] are some kind of cretinous aberrations, let me trot out Exhibit AA.[ 4] Exhibit AA is Roy L. Pearson Jr. Roy is a judge. Those may be the four most painful words I’ve ever typed, as you will understand if you read on. If you’re already convinced that pants are a bad idea and would like to hold on to whatever illusions you still maintain about the judiciary, turn to the next page and don’t give this matter another thought. Not reading my stuff is always a better idea than reading it, and you gotta figure if I’m suggesting it, this is probably worse than most. So stop now and go look at the expert witness ads, which are a lot more entertaining anyway. And yet, here you are, still reading. Either you’ve lost three straight summary judgment motions and are looking for reinforcement of your low opinion of the bench, or you’re just in the mood for a train wreck. Either way, Roy L. Pearson Jr. fills the bill. According to the Associated Press, Pearson was appointed as an administrative judge in Washington, D.C., in May 2005. He immediately did what all judges do when they’re first appointed: He took several suits in for alteration.[ 5] He took them to Jin Nam Chung and Ki Chung, and their son Soo Chung, Korean immigrants who own and operate an establishment called Custom Cleaners. When he went back two days later, one pair of pants was missing.[ 6] Long story short, Judge Roy and the cleaners have been unable to satisfactorily resolve the missing pants issue, so he has sued them for the customary $65 million. Yep, that’s what it says. $65 million. That’s a six and a five, followed by six zeroes and a couple of commas.[ 7] $65,000,000. American. He sued them for $65 million. Over a pair of pants. That is probably the biggest price ever put on a pair of pants by someone not employed as a purchasing agent for the Department of Defense. “How,” you might ask yourself, “did Judge Roy come up with that number for his damages� a question you might immediately follow with, “Was peyote involved?” And while you will doubtless be dismayed to learn I do not have the answer to the second question, I do have the answer to the first. When you hear it, I think it will answer the second question to your satisfaction. Judge Roy does not maintain the original pants were worth $65 million.[ 8] He says the suit of which the pants were half was worth only something over $1,000. He arrived at the … somewhat larger figure[ 9] … by applying what, for lack of a better term, I’ll call “pants logic” to the District of Columbia’s consumer protection statutes. Here is how that works. Judge Roy was so devastated by the loss of his pants that he could no longer use Custom Cleaners. There were no other cleaning establishments within walking distance of his home, so he had to drive to another cleaning establishment. Judge Roy has no car. That necessitated renting a car. In fact, it necessitated renting a car every weekend for the two years since his pants went MIA. Now, if you’re like me,[ 10] Judge Roy has already lost you. You could summary judgment him right now just for making the lunatic rental car argument, right? And I’ve given him the benefit of the doubt. According to all the news reports, Roy wants rental car reimbursement for TEN years. But I figure that has to be a typo. Even if Roy were rolling the pants up and smoking them, he couldn’t be asking for 10 years’ worth of car rentals for two years of pantslessness. But that doesn’t get us anywhere near $65 million, does it. No, that’s where the District of Columbia’s consumer protection act comes into play. According to the AP, “The bulk of the $65 million demand comes from Pearson’s strict interpretation of Washington’s consumer protection law, which imposes fines of $1,500 per violation per day. Pearson counted 12 daily violations on each of 1,200 days, [ 11] then multiplied that by three defendants.” By my math, that’s $64,800,000. The rest I take to be the rental car costs and the $1,000 for the original pants. I tried to double check this with the only two guys I know who have experience with numbers this big but Blaise Pascal is dead and James Sturdevant was pretty busy counting his ownmoney. This is the mathematical equivalent of three-card monte. Nobody’s done math this questionable since Seward convinced the Russians (who were doubtless wearing pants at the time) to sell us Alaska for only $7 million. And Alaska was in mint condition. Pristine. These pants weren’t even new! You know who I feel sorry for? Oh, sure, I feel sorry for the cleaners. And I feel sorry for ANYBODY who has to deal with Roy L. Pearson Jr. on any level more personal than flipping him off. But I really feel sorry for the defendants’ attorney, one Chris Manning. I have never met Mr. Manning. I have no idea how good a lawyer he is. I have no idea how glib and articulate and intelligent he is. But I know this: I know John Marshall Harlan and Oliver Wendell Holmes[ 12] working as a tag-team could not explain to Korean immigrants � or anyone else for that matter � how our legal system could allow a $65 million suit over a lost pair of pants to drag on for two years. Not without first explaining the ability of pants to cloud men’s minds. If I were Mr. Manning, I’d go for an all-woman jury. Contributing writer William W. Bedsworth is an associate justice at the Fourth District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana. He writes this column to get it out of his system. He can be reached at [email protected]. You can read more columns like this in “A Criminal Waste of Time,” a book fromThe Recorder featuring more than 30 of the best columns from Justice Bedsworth. Order by calling (800) 587-9288 or visiting www.lawcatalog.com/bedsworth.
Footnotes [ 1] I’m not actually aware of any of these studies, but I’m sure they exist, so I see no reason to waste time looking them up. This, by the way, which I like to think of as “confident assertion of the likely” turns out to be a very fruitful method of dealing with inadequate appellate records. But my colleagues � most of whom wear pants� seem resistant to this approach. Still more evidence of the destructive influence of pants. [<[ 2] My favorite magazine next to The Hockey News. By the way, have you ever noticed that hockey players don’t wear pants? They wear shorts. This explains why the players’ minds are so much clearer than in other sports. [ 3] Boy, was I surprised when spell check had no problem with “Carolinian.” Lucky guess.[ 4] For Absolutely Astonishing. [ 5] Contrary to common belief, the head is not the onlything that swells on this occasion. [ 6] If, after all I’ve said up to this point, you can read the word “pants” in this context without wincing in anticipation of ineluctable pain and embarrassment, go back and start reading all over again. You obviously have not been paying attention. [ 7] If you were just dealing with me, you could leave out the commas. But Judge Roy L. Pearson Jr. strikes me as a man not likely to look the other way for bad punctuation. [ 8] Although he must have been VERY fond of them, since he’s since turned down offers of a replacement suit, $3,000, $4,600 and $12,000 for them so far. [ 9] The original said “crazy ass number,” but my editors prefer that I stay away from technical terms. [ 10] Don’t worry; you won’t be required to admit this. It’s really only a rhetorical device. Relax. [ 11] No, I don’t know how he arrived at 1,200 days. My guess would be the aliens communicating with him through the fillings in his teeth came up with it. [ 12] Either of them. Both of them. “And their sisters and their cousins, whom they reckon by the dozens, and their aunts.” Doesn’t matter how many people you put on this task, it can’t be done.

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