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Pants Extra: Inside the Courtroom

Today's column reports on the doings on Day Two of the $54 million pants trial, but as it was such an action-packed day on the trousers front, here are some scenes that didn't make the column:

Divorce Case Redux

Roy Pearson and Judge Judith Bartnoff squabbled throughout the trial over to what extent the pants case would be an opportunity for Pearson to "relitigate" his divorce trial, which took place in Fairfax County a few years ago. A Virginia appeals court decided in that case that Pearson has abused the legal system with excessive filings; for example, he peppered his wife with 248 demands for responses to questions. Bartnoff resisted Pearson's attempts in this trial to talk about how the Virginia courts had supposedly erred in his divorce case.

"You appeared to be suggesting that I should somehow find that the Virginia court had been unreasonable and I'm not going to go behind what the Virginia court said," Bartnoff said.

"The court can and should go behind the decision," Pearson replied.

The Reasonable Roy Pearson

Pearson went to some lengths to persuade the judge that he is a simple servant of the people who really would rather not have sued the Chungs, but was forced to do so because they committed the horrific crime of posting a "Satisfaction Guaranteed" sign and then not caving to any and every demand made by any consumer.

"It's always been my practice to try to settle cases early because things inevitably escalate," Pearson said at one point.

At another point, he said, "I don't get frustrated or angry."

Earlier, Pearson called his own son to the stand to testify that dad, contrary to popular opinion, actually loathes litigation and would do anything to avoid it. Indeed, in one case, the son said, "He advised me not to sue." Apparently, the moment stuck in the young man's mind.

That Goes For The Rest of Us Too

After a lengthy debate over Pearson, who represented himself, was testifying, arguing law, or entering an exhibit, an exasperated Judge Bartnoff said it all:

"I don't know what we're doing at this point."

The Closeted Truth

After some confusion over what a particular photograph that had been entered into evidence actually depicted, Judge Bartnoff said it appeared "to show two things: One is that Mr. Pearson owns lots of pairs of pants." Indeed, Pearson testified that he had in his closet somewhere between 40 and 60 pairs of pants--and he insisted that not one of them comes with cuffs--proving, he said, that the pants Custom Cleaners tried to return to him were not and could not be his.

Driving Mr. Pearson

Among Pearson's many demands for big money was his calculation that he deserved $15,000 to pay for renting a car every weekend so that he can drive his clothes to a dry cleaner other than Custom Cleaners, which is the only cleaners within walking distance of his home in the Fort Lincoln section of Washington. Judge Bartnoff could barely hold in her laughter as Pearson spelled out his potential car rental costs over the next decade.

"Obviously, I think it's ludicrous," defense lawyer Christopher Manning said.

And even Pearson noted that his attempts to use a different cleaners a mile from his house "proved to be so demanding that after a year of that, I finally succeeded in getting a wardrobe closet at my work so I could use a cleaners near my job." But Pearson said he won't be able to use that solution for much longer because his office is moving and he will no longer have a proper closet in his office.

The Down Years

After working for a quarter century for Neighborhood Legal Services, Pearson was unemployed for more than two years prior to becoming an administrative law judge. During those jobless years, Pearson testified, he had no car, no bank account, and cash holdings of only around $1,000 to $2,000. He said he left his longtime position with the federally funded legal services program because his boss "ceased communicating with me. I thought he was being unreasonable, so I quit." During the time after that, Pearson said he collected unemployment benefits and was enrolled in a utility assistance program that allowed him to avoid paying for heat.

Manning started to question how Pearson could have received unemployment benefits when he had quit his job, but withdrew the question.

The Green Mr. Pearson

Pearson said he has not had a car for decades. Asked why, he said, "I have some concerns about pollution and the environment."

"But no concerns about renting a car?" Manning asked.

Pearson replied that it was ok to rent a car for weekends and long trips.


More scenes from the trial coming up later this morning....


By Marc Fisher |  June 14, 2007; 9:28 AM ET
Previous: Pants Update: Trial Over, Verdict Next Week | Next: Pants Plus: More DropTrou Moments from the $54 Million Pants Trial

Comments

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What a circus the courtroom must have been! Pearson is such a zero.

Posted by: laughing | June 14, 2007 10:05 AM

This "judge" obviously is a wack-job and should be mentally evaluated....bringing his divorce into this case???? I'm not a lawyer, but how could that possibly be relevant other than to further show that he's a nut-bag.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 14, 2007 10:24 AM

This pearson guy is obviously a wack-job and should be mentally evaluated....bringing his divorce into this case???? I'm not a lawyer, but how could that possibly be relevant other than to further show that he's a nut-bag.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 14, 2007 10:25 AM

"A car for weekends and long trips". He still rented a car. He still added to the "pollution and the environment". He does not sound sane.

Posted by: J | June 14, 2007 10:26 AM

And what about public transportation? Or isn't that good enough for him? Or choosing a cleaners that does pick-up and delivery? Or using Zipcar for heaven's sake!

Posted by: R | June 14, 2007 10:45 AM

Regardless of the outcome Roy Pearson has doomed his career. He will live in infamy and ridicule as the "pants" guy. I think he suffers from severe depression and will soon realize his life is about to get much worse than it was. People will snicker and laugh at him the rest of his life and he deserves it. When he gets to the gates of heaven, they'll say "didn't you read the signs? Do unto others...no? Well tough luck, straight to hell for you."

Posted by: Ben | June 14, 2007 10:46 AM

Roy Pearson: setting back race relations 20 years.

Posted by: Jess | June 14, 2007 10:47 AM

He tried to bring in his own divorce. Who knows why. The Judge didn't bring it in. The Judge seems quite fine. A judge cna't sue sponte throw out an ad damnunm clause (throw out a damages clause before the trial), if the underlying case has any colorable merit at all (it's possible the pants they returned weren't his). It's ridiculous, but that's what sanctions motions are for. It's terrible the people got hijacked in the meantime, but what alternative judicial system would people propose?

But how does renting a car for a weekend add up to $15k?

Posted by: Sigh | June 14, 2007 10:48 AM

After losing this case, Pearson should be made to pay court costs including the judge's salary, other court employee's salaries, utilities, janitorial services, etc.

Then he should be hit with a huge fine for his frivolous lawsuit.

Who in the world hired this man as an administrative law judge?

Posted by: Judge Dredd | June 14, 2007 10:51 AM

I also question the sanity of the person who appointed him to be a judge.

What are the requirements for the job of administrative law judge in DC?

(1) Must be a nut case.
(2) Must have a proven record that nobody wants to employ you - history of two years without a job minimum.
(3) Must be capable of endless abuse of the legal system - attach court proceedings of your divorce with a minimum of 200 requests for irrelevant information.
(4) Can you cry on demand for no particular reason?
(5) Have you purchased 5 new suits at approximately $1000 apiece when you only have $1000-$2000 in your bank account?
(6) Have you collected unemployment insurance for 2 years while everybody else in DC only received this support for 6 months?
(7) Are you willing to lie on the witness stand for personal gain? Can you get your child(ren) to do the same?

Posted by: SoMD | June 14, 2007 10:53 AM

Who is this nutcase?
Leeching off of the system?
DC Employee.

Posted by: Pants Haiku | June 14, 2007 11:20 AM

This guy should be taken out and shot. All this over a lousy pair of pants. For crying out loud, why not take a modest monetary settlement and buy a whole new suit?

Posted by: John Paul | June 14, 2007 11:21 AM

You just KNOW he doesn't bring his own clothes to a dry cleaner anymore. I'm sure he has to get a relative to bring it in for him. Now that his mother and son have been seen by the media, they will hopefully be banned from all the dry cleaners (hell, all businesses) from now on.

Posted by: Cassidy | June 14, 2007 11:37 AM

I have a feeling that what happened originally was that the man wanted a new suit to wear to work so he brought in a pair of pants he bought at the Salvation Army. (after all why didn't he bring in the whole suit???) He then claims the suit pants are lost so he can wring enough money to get a new suit at the dry cleaners expense. The dry cleaners refused to be scammed. The guy blew up and decided to punish them with this lawsuit and he's so batguano crazy he ended up where he is today. The guy is a scam artist.

Posted by: Josie | June 14, 2007 11:41 AM

Gee, I wonder why his wife left him?

Posted by: Anna | June 14, 2007 11:43 AM

A frivolous suit.
Our court system held hostage.
Caught in the zipper.

Posted by: Pants Haiku | June 14, 2007 11:45 AM

Scam artists are masters of finding loopholes and weaknesses in the system. That is what RP does. I agree he is a conman.

Posted by: Theo | June 14, 2007 11:45 AM

I missed it -- did he actually prove he rented these cars? Did he produce receipts?

See, that would be reporting. That would be useful, instead of more piling on on Mr. Pearson [he's deranged, we get it, let`s move on].

Posted by: RL | June 14, 2007 11:46 AM

Lost pants have a chance
Reaping millions in cash
Snowball's chance in hell

--paying tribute to the original Pants Haiku person whoever you are.

Posted by: Debby | June 14, 2007 11:48 AM

``After a lengthy debate over Pearson, who represented himself, was testifying, arguing law, or entering an exhibit, an exasperated Judge Bartnoff said it all:

"I don't know what we're doing at this point."``

I don`t know what I am reading. Makes more sense if the word ``whether`` is inserted before ``Pearson.``

Posted by: RL | June 14, 2007 11:49 AM

RL--He is presenting the car expense as a hypothetical cost for the future.

Posted by: Casey | June 14, 2007 11:49 AM

It would have also been useful if we were told whether the defense raised the issue of the plaintif`s obligation to mitigate damages.

Posted by: RL | June 14, 2007 11:51 AM

I think we can surmise that defense is a capable man and has questioned and objected to all the right things. If defense was incompetent we would have heard about it. This trial is a joke and everyone knows it but Roy Pearson.

Posted by: Ted | June 14, 2007 11:54 AM

Thank you my child.
If posted by "Pants Haiku"
Those I have written

Posted by: Pants Haiku, Pants Haiku-Pearson Side, et al.. | June 14, 2007 11:57 AM

What Pearson is doing, the arguments he is making, and his penchant for bringing in even the most wildly ridiculous reasons for compensation are NOT crazy... they are the standard operating procedure for every lawyer in this country.

We make fun of this guy, but most seem to miss that this kind of ridiculousness goes on in every civil court room across the nation every day.

Lawyers claim it is their duty to 'zealously' go after every possible avenue of compensation and try every possible argument... they are all little "Pearsons".

Posted by: David | June 14, 2007 12:14 PM

Wow. What a way to make an ass out of oneself. Fine, even if this Pearson fella is a nutjob, aren't there any friends or relatives that could have beat some sense into him before he went through with this?

Here is an idea for his next lawsuit. He should sue his friends and family for willful negligence, causing loss of career. Compensation? FIFTY MILLION DOLLARS!

Yes, that was sarcasm. And yes, it's still less than what this nutjob's demanding in an actual court of law.

Posted by: RK | June 14, 2007 12:18 PM

RK, don't give him any ideas. He'll sue his son for failure to testify effectively.

Posted by: Noel | June 14, 2007 12:25 PM

What's gonna course correct this madness is the biatch-slap he's gonna get from reality once all this is over.

Yes anyone can bring a lawsuit like this to trial but most people are wise enough to not destroy their lives and careers for it.

Posted by: Sam | June 14, 2007 12:27 PM

Just like Marion Barry, this bum will somehow come out smelling like a rose.

Posted by: theory | June 14, 2007 12:31 PM

so, uh, were there no references required from former employers before he was appointed as an administrative law judge? and with 60 pairs of pants, certainly he must have one pair that matches the alleged suit jacket.

Posted by: eo mcmars | June 14, 2007 12:32 PM

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/06/13/AR2007061302033.html

He is Roy Pearson and he comes from an ethnic minority all his own: first class jerk.

We'd like to see him jerked from this case, jerked from the bench and jerked into mental treatment.

The person that filed this law suit has no "judgment." Therefore, this guy should never judge another case.

Whomever this judge works for, and everyone has a boss, needs to get on the phone now and have this guy run though a team of psychiatrists and psychologists. He needs a
mental evaluation and should never again be allowed to rule on points of law or give punishments or awards in any kind of case.

Posted by: Anonymous | June 14, 2007 12:40 PM

A couple comments/observations
1) If he has 60 pairs of pants, why would he need a dry cleaner every week. He probably has at least 30 shirts with 60 pants, that is only 1 dry clean a month!

2)Great observation for taking public trans instead of renting car. duh!

3) I wish this was a jury trial and that I was on the Jury for once!!!

Posted by: navy brat | June 14, 2007 12:46 PM

Pearson's actions and ruining the Chungs is shameful and a further disgraces our local political community, remember our local convicted felon Marion Barry who is still on public payroll?

I'm sure this Judge Roy P. will be promoted somehow after this as our local govt does have the balls to deal with this guy.

I here they are marching around his house with fine BBQ and outrage signs, I might have to stop in for lunch. This man needs to feel the hurt he's done. See link for contacts and addresses:

http://victimsoflaw.net/JudgeRoyPearson.htm

Posted by: Brett | June 14, 2007 1:01 PM

An email sent to Fox News:

I am outraged at a District of Columbia judge using his credentials to ruin a family-run dry cleaning business over the loss of a pair of suit trousers. This judge by the name of Roy Pearson computed that the dry cleaners should pay him $15,000 for leasing a car every weekend for 10 years. Why? Because he must find another cleaner and since he does not have a car, he says he has to rent one to get his clothes cleaned. This is not only a case of over-abuse of power by judge Roy Pearson, but also gross intimidation and extortion. This is a barbarian in black robes for his horrible lack of decency and self respect, not only for the law that he was sworn to uphold. This is costing the taxpayers $2,600 a day and not to mention the backlog of cases there. If I were handling this case, I would mandate psychiatric treatment for Mr. Pearson. How could something like this even happen and be allowed? The oath of office he took is to protect the honest citizens. Where is the respect that the office should hold?

Posted by: Anonymous | June 14, 2007 1:33 PM

The issue of the pants themselves bothers me. The tag on the pants and the reciept match, which are in the hands of 2 different parties. Pearson has to have tried to commit some sort of fraud here. If he truly loved these pants so much he would have happily taken them back and at that point sue for his allged "pain and suffering" for the delayed return of pants. But the fact that he won't take the pants back shows he was never concerned about them at all. If they were not his pants he would ask for the measurements and then try them on. He has done none of these things, therefore he is a filthy liar.

Posted by: Derek | June 14, 2007 1:39 PM

Marc, you write, "... he peppered his wife with 248 demands for responses to questions ..." I'll be the ex-wife would make a great interview. Anyone working on finding her?

Posted by: ke | June 14, 2007 3:46 PM

WOW. Can someone please tell me how I can get a job as an administrative judge after being UNEMPLOYED for TWO YEARS??? Good God what a racket.

DC Government, nuff said.

Posted by: ResIpsaLoquitor | June 14, 2007 4:35 PM

How does an individual with $1000 in their bank account and on unemployment (or someone working for Legal Svcs) afford $15,000 to rent a car, weekly dry cleaning and 60 pairs of pants? I just curious, because I can't and am fully employed.

Posted by: mlk | June 14, 2007 5:25 PM

Separating the wheat from the chaff, what we have here is just another black (or African American, or person of color, or negro, whatever's the "in" term for them these days) with a chip on his shoulder. Most all of them have the chip and they use it freely as a race card. Blacks (I'll settle for that term for the time being) have intense hatred for Orientals, even more so than hatred for white honkies. Whether or not anything comes of his suit pants suit, he'll be back going after someone else. I just hope it doesn't happen while he's robed and on the bench (if he in fact returns to the bench.)

Posted by: JTW | June 15, 2007 4:07 PM

I have practice law for nearly 30 years and have seen the profession go from a reasonably respected one to one rated slightly above snakeoil sales. One of the reasons for this decline is lawyers like this sleazeball, so-called administrative judge who is using the system for this recreational litigation. He should be broght up on ethics charges. Then whipped severely around the head and shoulders.

Posted by: AWR | June 15, 2007 5:39 PM

I have practice law for nearly 30 years and have seen the profession go from a reasonably respected one to one rated slightly above snakeoil sales. One of the reasons for this decline is lawyers like this sleazeball, so-called administrative judge who is using the system for this recreational litigation. He should be broght up on ethics charges. Then whipped severely around the head and shoulders.

Posted by: AWR | June 15, 2007 5:39 PM

I have practice law for nearly 30 years and have seen the profession go from a reasonably respected one to one rated slightly above snakeoil sales. One of the reasons for this decline is lawyers like this sleazeball, so-called administrative judge who is using the system for this recreational litigation. He should be broght up on ethics charges. Then whipped severely around the head and shoulders.

Posted by: AWR | June 15, 2007 5:39 PM

>>>was enrolled in a utility assistance program that allowed him to avoid paying for heat.<<<<<
Geez!! This slime knows all the angles. And he's a sitting Judge. He makes the final discision that effects peoples lives? Ain't that a kick in the pants!! Geez!!

Posted by: Robin | June 16, 2007 1:56 PM

He sure is Mr. antsy pants for these fancy pants,
or is it that said pants are just on fire.

Posted by: Brent | June 18, 2007 3:31 PM

It makes one wonder what type rock the
court system turned over to find this ( Roy
Pearson ) slug to put on the goverment
payroll.

Posted by: Donald | June 20, 2007 10:16 AM

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