Legal Ethics

Final Likely Loss for 'Pants' Judge: His Job

An administrative law judge who became a target of international disapprobation after suing his neighborhood dry cleaners for $54 million over an allegedly botched dry-cleaning job that resulted in the loss of his suit trousers, is now poised to lose more than his pants and the case.

It is becoming increasingly doubtful that Roy Pearson Jr. is going to get the 10-year reappointment he is seeking as a Washington, D.C., administrative law judge, according to a Washington Post columnist, who cites unnamed sources. In addition to questions raised by the at least arguably frivolous lawsuit–which Pearson lost (see previous post for details), Pearson has now managed to alienate the chief administrative law judge responsible for issuing a recommendation on his reappointment, according to Post columnist Marc Fisher.

Chief ALJ Tyrone Butler had originally written the Commission on Selection and Tenure of ALJs saying that he didn’t oppose Pearson’s reappointment, Fisher recounts. Then, when the commission told him he was legally required to make a recommendation, he wrote another letter saying that he recommended it. But, after “Pearson sent a series of emails within the ALJ staff disparaging the chief judge, calling him ‘evil’ and mean-spirited,” Fisher writes, Butler sent a third letter to the commission recommending against Pearson’s reappointment.

While a judge has a First Amendment right to bring suit, and the commission is somewhat uncomfortable about measuring a jurist’s performance by behavior outside his courtroom, Fisher continues, “[t]he panel looked specifically at whether Pearson’s extraordinary zeal in pursuing the case against the [dry cleaner] was so frivolous and embarrassing to the judicial system that it should be taken as evidence of his lack of judicial temperament.”

A news article in the Post today also says that Pearson’s reappointment is in question. Fisher says Pearson should receive a letter next week that will start the process of putting him out of a job by advising him of the reasons why the commission has doubts about reappointing him. The next step after that would be a hearing before the commission.

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