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Pants Update: Pants Man Sues City

It's the media's fault, of course. If it weren't for the worldwide media hysteria over Roy Pearson's $54 million pants suit against his neighborhood dry cleaners, why, he'd still have his job as an administrative law judge for the District of Columbia. So says Pearson in a federal lawsuit filed this week.

Pearson, who has been keeping to himself since losing both his lawsuit against Custom Cleaners and his job last year, has emerged from his Northeast home to demand a cool million from the city that pushed him out of a job last fall.

You may recall that in the pants case, Pearson styled himself as the "private attorney general" representing all of the people of the District of Columbia in the great battle to make certain that "Satisfaction Guaranteed" signs in retail stores be taken very, very literally. But even though the judge in that case did everything she could think of to disabuse Pearson of the notion that he represented anyone other than his own wacky self, the man kept on litigating as if he were the AG of the Great State of People Who Really, Really Hate Their Dry Cleaners.

Now, it turns out, Pearson is not only an attorney general, he's also a celebrated whistle blower. His suit against the city asks that his job be reinstated because Pearson was actually in the midst of blowing the lid off corruption in the District's administrative law courts, when, of course, he was sacked. The city used the news coverage of the pants suit--the fact that, as Pearson puts it in his suit, he was ""vilified in the media for exercising his constitutional right to file and prosecute a consumer lawsuit."--as the excuse to shove him out of his job, he argues.

"Confident that this media storm would provide cover for a retaliatory demotion
and refusal to reappoint, the defendants made little effort to mask their retaliatory motive," Pearson writes.

In this 52-page complaint against the District, the chief judge of the administrative law court, and the individual judges and others who took part in the decision to deny him another term on the bench, Pearson argues that the panel that sacked him was not permitted to consider Pearson's comments on any public issue or his criticisms of management at his office.

The Pearson suit does contain one bit of actual news. Pearson reveals some of the language the Commission on the Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges used in its decision to end his tenure on the court: He quotes the commission's letter as saying that the publicity around the pants case "demeaned you as a judicial officer and brought OAH, the entire judiciary and the judicial process into disrepute."

Pearson is unimpressed. "Neither the demeaning of an OAH ALJ, nor bringing OAH or any other judiciary into 'disrepute,' are ethical standards or requirements in the OAH Code of Ethics," he writes.

Once again, Pearson paints himself as a public servant who had no choice but "to express opinions and make factual statements about the lack of ethics and the gross mismanagement he discovered at" the Office of Administrative Hearings, where he worked for two years. Pearson writes that he was "speaking truth to power."

Actually, as those involved in the decision not to renew his tenure on the court told it at the time, the notoriety around Pearson's pants adventure was what made it harder to oust him. The decision makers said that they had plenty of cause not to renew Pearson's contract based just on his behavior at the office, but that the pants suit, while enormously embarrassing to the court and the District, took a relatively simple matter and made it very complicated, mixing in all sorts of questions about whether a judge could or should be punished for exercising his right of access to the courts (even if his original suit against the dry cleaners was wildly abusive.)

But Pearson boils this down, as is his wont, to a matter of someone singling him out and giving him a hard time.

In classic Pearson style, it takes him 50-plus pages to make this argument. He spends much of that space boasting about his own credentials and slamming his former boss, Chief Judge Tyrone Butler, as "grossly inept" and corrupt. Pearson makes much of having passed the city's writing test for candidates for administrative law judge positions, but his lawsuit is littered with spelling errors.

Pearson does admit in the suit to having made "unnecessary and derogatory references to the Chief Judge" and to sending an e-mail about the chief that showed "poor judgment and a lack of civility." But he explains that he was legally required to alert everyone from his bosses to the mayor to the chief judge's purported incompetence.

Now back to your regular programming. I'll return with more pants suit news periodically for the rest of your life.

By Marc Fisher |  May 6, 2008; 5:00 PM ET
Previous: The D.C. Quarter: A Brief For The Duke | Next: Ping Pong Politics On Connecticut Avenue


Please email us to report offensive comments.

This guy needs to gather up the last shreds of self-respect and find a tailor in this town willing to sew it back together for him.

No one has a right to a job, unless a liberty interest was created. If one were created, then he can still be fired if there is due process. All that due process consists of is a chance to defend oneself against the charges that lead to the firing. Which he was amply afforded. Funny, he never mentioned the alleged corruption then.

In fact, lovely timing on the whistle blower -- right after the Post runs a story on the ill treatment of whistle blowers in D.C. Thanks Post for giving him an idea. It is all the media's fault.

Posted by: ep | May 6, 2008 5:31 PM

Is this guy paying the court costs for this nonsense?

Posted by: Ed | May 6, 2008 5:40 PM

Judge Pearson has a prima facie case for "gross mismanagment" in the OAH. Exhibit A: his paycheck.

Get ready to pay up, DC.

Posted by: Virginia | May 6, 2008 5:43 PM

An image wrinkled.
The Pants Lawsuit is reborn.
"Caution: Do Not Press"

Posted by: Pants Haiku | May 6, 2008 5:46 PM

This nut case needs to stop abusing the courts. How much has he cost the city so far?

Posted by: alan | May 6, 2008 5:47 PM

Marion Barry - DC Mayor for Life
Roy Pearson - DC Litigant for Life

Posted by: Chasmosaur | May 6, 2008 6:20 PM

There is a notorious prison inmate named John Lee Riches, who has become infamous for his ridiculous lawsuits, including against inanimate objects and fictional characters. He even has his own wikipedia page.

Pearson may be challenging Riches for the throne of ridiculousness. Now, if Riches sues Pearson, the circle will be complete.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 6, 2008 7:03 PM

Could you imagine having this wacko as a judge on your case?

Posted by: WashingtonDame | May 6, 2008 7:48 PM

Isn't it telling that his pants lawsuit sought $54 million in damages, but his lawsuit over his ruined career is only seeking $1 million? He's conceding that his career was worth only 2% of the value of his pants!

Posted by: DCObserver | May 6, 2008 8:23 PM

I'd comment about Pearson, but I don't want to get sued.

Posted by: Michael | May 6, 2008 8:51 PM

I hope the briefs in this matter are not made public.

Posted by: Karl | May 6, 2008 8:55 PM

So crotchety Mr. M-I-A Pants is suing someone besides his dry cleaner?! Let's hope the court (in the seat of national power) zips this one up a little quicker...and maybe (speaking off the cuff) issues an order to crease and desist! If not, and a Draconian gag order is issued, he'd be forced to litigate in pant-omime, instead of trying the case in

Posted by: Staticphoto | May 6, 2008 9:23 PM

How come this guy hasn't been disbarred yet?

Posted by: jkp | May 6, 2008 10:28 PM

This guy is unbelievable! He needs to be dragged from his house and have some sense beaten into him.

Posted by: rhadams | May 6, 2008 10:47 PM

Grounds for legalizing guns in DC. I rest my case.

Posted by: DC Voter | May 7, 2008 7:13 AM

I think I will sue his parents for not having an abortion.

Posted by: nuther voter | May 7, 2008 7:14 AM

"AG of the Great State of People Who Really, Really Hate Their Dry Cleaners."

Apparently, you all love your dry cleaners, therefore he doesn't represent you...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2008 7:44 AM

And a follow-on to DC Observer....and his pants were ruled to be close to worthless, so 2% of that is.....

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2008 11:45 AM

Did he send a notice of intent to sue the city before filing the complaint? This is usually required before suing a political entity.

If he did not:
1. he just proved he got fired for incompetence by not knowing this basic fact; and

2. Grounds for throwing out the case. Preferably with prejudice to refiling.

Posted by: ep | May 7, 2008 12:21 PM

Maybe he was just thinking, "Well, if Hillary can win with pant suits, why can't I?"

Posted by: scilicet | May 7, 2008 12:37 PM

Sadly, this reflects just as badly on whistleblowers as it does on DC government employees. Whistleblowing is the last refuge of the incompetent. Whoever has been fired that wasn't just about to go public with allegations of misdeeds and corruption?

It's like falsely claiming rape. Sure there are real cases and those are serious, but the recurrence of fake allegations make it that much more difficult for real ones to get the justice they deserve.

Posted by: athea | May 7, 2008 1:57 PM

how the heck can he even file a suit anymore?
i'd think the best he could do now is file a sport-coat and slacks.

Posted by: SA | May 7, 2008 2:46 PM

When will Pearson's loved ones, presuming he may have one or two left, perform an intervention and get him the institutional care he so sorely needs? Perhaps he can bunk with John Hinkley at St. E's for awhile, at least until all those little voices in his head stop telling him he's being persecuted.

Posted by: mckdarrendc | May 9, 2008 10:04 AM

Go Roy Pearson! Smart man, getting back at the system. I just wish I had enough time/money to fight the way this very strong-willed man is.

100% support from me, especially with the number you did on those rude and mean Koreans, they're acting all high and mighty and stuff, I'm glad you were able to put them in their place. We definitely need more people like you willing to go the extra mile for the betterment of out community. Thank You.

Posted by: 9.5" | May 12, 2008 3:05 PM

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