LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson Jr. became the poster boy for frivolous lawsuits with his unsuccessful $54 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner over a lost pair of pants. But questions about his temperament and demeanor as an administrative law judge had surfaced long before a media firestorm engulfed him this year.
Since his initial two-year term expired in May, Pearson has been sidelined from the bench and is still earning his $100,512 salary working as an attorney adviser at the D.C. Office of Administrative Hearings. A commission that reappoints administrative law judges at the OAH is expected to vote today on the first step toward denying his appointment to a full 10-year term.
Chief Administrative Law Judge Tyrone Butler has complicated that process by offering shifting recommendations of neutral, positive, and finally negative about Pearson’s reappointment, according to internal documents obtained by Legal Times.
Given their history, it’s hard to imagine why Butler would have anything positive to say about Pearson. Less than three months after starting work in May 2005, Pearson sent a 14-page letter to then-Mayor Anthony Williams urging him “to inquire into whether corrupt ethics, demonstrably poor judgment and failed leadership constitute ‘good cause’ to remove Chief Judge Butler.”
Pearson’s scathing letter — which also accused Butler of “physical intimidation” and a “Mafioso-style of ‘leadership'” — was triggered by a minor misunderstanding over the starting date and length of Pearson’s two-year term. The mayor took no action against Butler.
In February 2006, Pearson went a step further and submitted 33 pages of written testimony for an OAH oversight hearing held by D.C. Council member Phil Mendelson, chairman of the Council’s Judiciary Committee. “The chief judge has unilaterally taken hundreds of cases from administrative law judges who will not rule as he directs and has reassigned those cases to administrative law judges who will agree to rule as they are instructed,” Pearson wrote.
Mendelson says that although he appreciates input from D.C. employees, Pearson “is not an administrative law judge I have looked to for insight into the agency.”