Today the Supreme Court of the United States unceremoniously informed us that on February 22, 2005, it denied a writ of certiorari for U.S.ex rel. Tingley v. 900 Monroe, Case No. 04-886. So we've reached a dead-end with this particular process to hold the polluters and their cohorts responsible for the Toxic Towers illegal dumping scandal. Fortunately other avenues for accountability remain.
Nonetheless, this is an injustice if for no other reason than the court record will permanently reflect U.S. District Court Judge Robert Bell's intemperate calumny of us and our cause. In fact, I'm filing this post under "The Guild" because I believe this injustice has more to do with the defects of the judicial system in this country than the substance of our complaint against the Toxic Towers polluters.
We were shut out of the federal judicial process for one reason and one reason alone: We had the temerity to circumvent the bar and represent our complaint on our own. Whatever the merit of the old saw that a man who represents himself has a fool for a client, the law does not exist as a full-employment program for attorneys. The fact that judges are more comfortable handling lawyers than ordinary pro se citizens is not a legitimate reason to raise the hurdles unrepresented parties must clear to access the courts. The right to seek redress is primary; whether or not that right is sought through a mouthpiece should have no bearing.
Nevertheless, many judges do make negative assumptions about cases brought by ordinary individuals rather than through attorneys. They look for technicalities to ignore the substance of the complaint being brought before them. (Judge Bell went to considerable lengths in this regard to boot our case.) Thus, the pro se litigant becomes fodder for docket-clearing. There is no denying that many frivolous and meritless cases are brought pro se, because no lawyer will responsibly file them. The flip side is that many volatile, yet meritorious, cases are never brought to court, because no lawyer in the community will stick his neck out in an unpopular cause. So, the mere absence of a lawyer is no basis for forming any belief about the merit of a lawsuit.
But it happens, and what to do about that? Especially after a biased judge drags your name through the mud and remains utterly unrepentant when shown he had his facts completely wrong? Food for thought.