Posts Tagged ‘pro se’

“They oughta be investigated for RICO!”

“[Disliked person or institution] should be investigated for racketeering!” is the sort of slogan “waved around by morons like a big foam finger at a ball game.” But RICO, or the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, is a law requiring proof of “the commission of a whole bunch of very specific federal crimes… not just any crime [but] only the ones on the list.” It “is not a … frown emoji. It’s not an exclamation point. It’s not a rhetorical tool to convey you are upset about something…. RICO doesn’t mean ‘this organization advocates things that are bad for society.'” Wait, there’s no RICO predicate act for climate denial or for being the NRA?

Ken White’s RICO explainer at Popehat observes that civil RICO is overused in court both by pro se litigants and by plaintiff’s lawyers who employ it as “a scare tactic and a propaganda tool.” So overused is it that “judges often have standing orders requiring plaintiffs to explain how and why they are claiming RICO — that’s something judges don’t do for almost any other cause of action…. So why do we still have civil RICO? Mostly because Congress is more scared of being called soft on crime than they are interested in reforming time-wasting abusive statutes.” Incidentally, the cutesy acronym for an anything-but-cutesy law is because “Congress likes acronyms like your great-aunt likes porcelain cats.”

P.S. From Jonathan Adler, Greenpeace, RICO, and what goes around comes around.

Magistrate recommends dismissal of Apple-made-me-watch-porn action

A federal magistrate has recommended dismissal of an action by a Tennessee attorney representing himself who “contends that he should not have been inadvertently allowed to view pornography on the Internet,” and that Apple is liable for not including a default filter against such images on its devices. The plaintiff blames the resulting viewing for a host of physical and other ills, including the breakup of his relationship with his wife, who “simply could not compete with the endless stream of ageless cyber vixens, who ‘never say no’.” His earlier litigation against Google and other defendants likewise fell short. [Sevier v. Apple] [edited Aug. 31 to clarify that plaintiff was attorney representing himself, h/t David N. in comments]

May 13 roundup

“Inspired by man who filed more than 120 lawsuits, Indiana Supreme Court sets pro se limits”

The Indiana high court didn’t sanction an Indianapolis man who has sued several judges as well as many commercial defendants “but warned him that he could face fines and criminal charges if he files new lawsuits” and provided guidance aimed at strengthening the hand of judges “confronted with abusive and vexatious litigation practices” [ABA Journal, Indianapolis Star and more]

Pro se lawsuit demands 2 undecillion dollars

An undecillion is 1,000 decillion, a decillion being represented by a 1 with thirty-three zeroes after it, which means an undecillion would have thirty-six zeroes. A pro se litigant is demanding that amount from Au Bon Pain, the City of New York, and various other defendants over alleged indignities that took place at LaGuardia Airport and elsewhere. [Lowering the Bar, including a discussion of earlier lawsuits with demands in the quadrillions and septillions; XKCD with a discussion and cartoon of just what it would take to reach a total of 2 undecillion dollars, culminating in a galaxy filled with Ted Olsons]

January 17 roundup

Connecticut: judges can review fee waivers

Pro se (lawyerless) litigants in Connecticut with low income have been allowed to sue without paying the ordinary $350 filing fee, and some have made the most of the situation by filing scads of suits. In May, following publicity about the high cost and hassle imposed on targets, the state adopted a law which “allows judges to review the details of a lawsuit before granting a plaintiff… a waiver from filing fees.” A former courthouse employee who testified in favor of the bill was himself named in a subsequent lawsuit by a litigants whose activities he had mentioned, along with various other defendants including the New London Day and one of its reporters. [WFSB via @SickofLawsuits]

According to research by Yale law professor Donald Elliott, early American civil practice empowered judges to review the details of a lawsuit for adequacy at its outset, and before a target was faced with major costs of response. That practice — dropped later during the purported modernization of our legal system — would come in handy in screening out ill-founded or tactical suits, and not just regarding in forma pauperis (indigent-filed) cases.