C. Michael Kamps, a certified public accountant from Rockwall, earns his living as a mortgage broker. But, he says, “I’m prepared to drop everything and go to law school.”

For now though, Kamps gets his legal training from the school of hard knocks at the courthouse. A pro se litigant, Kamps received his most recent lesson when he filed faulty petitons with the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which the court rejected, before filing his Aug. 2 motion for reconsideration, now pending.

Background

Kamps filed those petitions and motion in an age-discrimination suit — Kamps v. Baylor University et al. — that he initiated in 2012 against Baylor University and some of its officials in U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas.

In his 2012 complaint, Kamps alleged the defendants discriminated against him on the basis of his age when they denied him admission and scholarships based on his undergraduate grade point average (GPA). He alleged that, because he earned his undergraduate degree in 1979, his GPA reflects none of the “grade inflation” that has taken place nationwide at universities since the late 1970s.

He also alleged that, after he complained about the alleged age discrimination, one or more of the defendants retaliated against him by not admitting him into the 2012 fall session and acted to increase the weight given to a GPA for determining merit-based scholarship assistance — “a move calculated to mortally injure [Kamps'] scholarship candidacy and simultaneously breathe life into the candidacies of three, much younger applicants.”

Kamps alleged that, by relying on an undergraduate GPA as a standard for measuring applicants from different academic generations, the defendants have created a bias against applicants who received their undergraduate grades prior to the advent of grade inflation.

He argued in his complaint that Baylor should adjust for grade inflation by using undergraduate class rankings or adjusting GPA scores for law school applicants of his academic generation.

Kamps asked the court to declare that the use of an undergraduate GPA, when judging admission applications of different academic generations, is “a disparate standard” and therefore unlawful. Among other things, he also asks the court to order Baylor to award him a scholarship and full tuition; and to pay him damages, including punitive damages, and attorney fees.

In an answer filed in November 2012, the Baylor defendants denied the allegations and asserted as an affirmative defense that the school followed its age-neutral policies with respect to Kamps’ application.

Recent Lesson

Kamps’ most recent hard-knocks lessons came from the 5th Circuit, where Kamps on Aug. 2 filed a motion for reconsideration of a three-judge panel ruling. That July 12 ruling had denied Kamps’ pro se challenge to the transfer of his casefrom Austin to Waco.

A few days before he filed his motion for reconsideration, the 5th Circuit told Kamps that he incorrectly had filed petitions seeking a panel and an en banc rehearing — together.

“Petitioner may designate either document to be filed as a motion for panel reconsideration but will not be permitted to file both,” the PACER abstract entry about Kamps’ mistakenly filed petitions read.

According to the 5th Circuit panel’s July 12 ruling, the Baylor defendants moved for and the district court granted a transfer of venue to the Waco Division, where Baylor is located. Kamps then filed in December 2012 his petition for mandamus, opposing the transfer of Kamps to the Waco Division, “because of the close ties between members of the judiciary in the Waco Division and Baylor Law School,” the 5th Circuit ruling states. The ruling adds that Kamps, to support his claims about those close ties, “relies on the ‘clear and evident relationship . . . between the district judge in Waco and Defendant Baylor,’ as well as his own ‘reasonable belief that the Defendants enjoyed similar relationships with other personnel at the court, since Baylor operates an elite law school and would, in all likelihood, have a close relationship with the Federal court in the same city.’ “

The ruling notes that Kamps cites “the relationship between defendants’ counsel and the former law firm of federal Judge Walter S. Smith, Jr., as well as the fact that several attorneys listed as counsel have in the past served as law clerks for Judge Smith.”

The ruling states that Kamps has the option to move for recusal of the district judge and that if “his motion is denied, that issue may be raised on appeal.” As a result, the ruling concludes, “[H]e has an appellate remedy for the potential harm that he foresees. Kamps has not shown a clear and indisputable right to mandamus relief.”

Donald K. Dorsett, a partner in Waco’s Fulbright Winniford, who represents all of the Baylor defendants, declines comment.

Kamps says as a mortgage broker he remains particularly busy this time of year. But he still pines about law school.

“I always wanted to do it, and I can do it,” he says about getting the formal training. Kamps has refrained from hiring counsel to represent him due to the expense. “But this is obviously consuming great amounts of my time. Everything I do takes 10 times as long as it would if I was a trained lawyer.”

Kamps believes he is acquiring knowledge about the law.

“There is no doubt that things you learn by doing are indelibly planted in your mind.”