Administrative Law

Pants Judge Vote Today

Posted Aug 6, 2007 6:45 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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The administrative law judge who unsuccessfully sued a dry cleaners for $54 million will soon learn whether a commission wants to reappoint him.

Roy Pearson has had a history of combative behavior and has been a frequent critic of his employer, Washington, D.C.’s Office of Administrative Hearings, Legal Times reports. His boss, Chief Administrative Law Judge Tyrone Butler, told the legal newspaper that Pearson “is an annoyance like a mosquito bite."

Roy Pearson’s two year-term as an ALJ is up, and Butler has recommended against reappointment, saying Pearson’s lawsuit “brings discredit to the judiciary.” (See this ABAJournal.com post for more details.) Pearson’s job had involved hearing appeals of littering fines and other citations issued by the Department of Public Works.

The commission votes today whether to send Pearson a letter warning him that he may not be reappointed. Pearson can respond with written comments and an appearance at the group’s next meeting in September.

Three months after he became an ALJ, Pearson sent a letter to the mayor accusing Butler of "physical intimidation" and of having a "Mafioso-style of ‘leadership.' " The letter was prompted by a dispute over Pearson’s start date and length of term. It urged the mayor to investigate whether Butler should be fired for “corrupt ethics, demonstrably poor judgment and failed leadership.”

Pearson also submitted 33 pages of critical testimony to a city council oversight committee and sent an e-mail to other ALJs saying they could expect retaliation from the chief judge if they expose wrongdoing. He sent the e-mail after Butler’s initial positive recommendation. Butler says the e-mail was part of the reason he changed his mind about Pearson.

The general counsel of the Department of Public Works wrote a Dec. 5 letter questioning Pearson's temperament for the position.

Pearson did not comment for the story.

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