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One of the very few antiquities that our legal system has abolished is something known as the "form of action." This was a requirement that a legal complaint set forth the specified elements of an offense. That may sound reasonable, but we're talking about an era that knew nothing of "emotional distress" or even much of "negligence." In order to be actionable - sue-able - a case had to follow the playbook. If something was missing from a complaint, the defendant could ask the court to find a judgment of "nonsuit." Nonsuit meant not only that the complaint had left something out, but barred all future litigation on the matter. The case was out and beyond appeal. You got it right the first time or else.

Nonsuiting was obviously an injustice to the poor and the progressive. We were right to get rid of it. But Roy Pearson makes me think that we ought to bring it back. Even though his $65 million case against some nice Korean dry cleaners in Northwest Washington, DC, claims to be based on a literal interpretation of the District's consumer anti-fraud protections, it is OBVIOUSLY de minimus - beneath the attention of the law. Forget about disbarring Roy Pearson. We need to get rid of the judge who failed to quash these proceedings at the start.

After all, without those pants, Mr Pearson as much as admitted that he was nonsuited!


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It is amazing--and disgusting--that such a frivolous suit has been allowed to proceed this far, but it seems to happen all too frequently. A litigator I know told me about a case he handled that was ultimately thrown out in its entirety, but only after the judge allowed the plaintiff to amend the complaint 11 times. I'm all in favor of bringing back nonsuiting--particularly in cases where the plaintiff is a lawyer representing himself or herself. What is even more mind-boggling is that whoever runs the agency Pearson works for is considering reappointing him to his administrative hearing judge position. (One also wonders how much of Pearson's work day, and how much of the resources of the government office for which he works, were devoted to pursuing his personal vendetta.) But then, this is all happening in D.C. and, as some wise soul once said in reference to the District, 'too small to be a state, too big to be an asylum.' (By the way, I loved the pun.)

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