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Former D.C. Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson Jr. learned a hard lesson in 2007 � there’s no use crying over lost pants, at least not in Judge Judith Bartnoff’s courtroom. Pearson, better known as “the pants judge,” openly wept during the two-day June bench trial in D.C. Superior Court surrounding his $54 million lawsuit against Custom Cleaners. Pearson claimed that Custom lost his favorite pair of slacks after he’d brought them in for alterations. His tears didn’t win him Bartnoff’s sympathy; she ruled in favor of the dry cleaner’s owners, South Korean immigrants Jin and Soo Chung. (Pearson did not respond to a request for an interview for this article.) The judge’s decision, however, did nothing to ease the roughly $100,000 in legal fees the Chungs racked up as a result of Pearson’s claims. And despite fund-raising efforts by tort reform advocates, the emotional and financial toll of the ordeal ultimately led Custom Cleaners to close. However, the pants drama lives on. In August, Pearson filed an appeal in the D.C. Court of Appeals, even though the Chungs withdrew their motion seeking reimbursement for more than $82,000 in attorney fees. In a statement in August, the Chungs’ lawyer, Manning & Sossamon partner Christopher Manning, chalked Pearson’s appeal up to “desperate irrationality.” In November, the D.C. Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges confirmed that the incident cost Pearson something besides a pair of his pants � his job. The commission decided not to reappoint Pearson to a full 10-year term after his initial tenure expired in May. The two years he did spend at the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings had been rocky ones. Pearson and Chief Administrative Law Judge Tyrone Butler had had a combative relationship. In August, Butler described Pearson to Legal Times as “an annoyance like a mosquito bite.” Butler added that the “pants lawsuit was actually not unexpected, knowing the personality.” Even before Pearson filed the pants complaint, Butler said, he was “pretty sure he was not going to make a good judge.”
Marisa McQuilken can be contacted at [email protected].

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