Woman charged with intimidating judge overseeing her suit against
A Massachusetts woman who brought pro se lawsuits against Seyfarth Shaw
and her former employer is facing criminal charges for a letter she
sent to a Boston federal judge and statements she made on a YouTube
video. . . .
On April 6, Natasha DeLima was
charged in federal court with impeding, intimidating and interfering
with a federal official. Following an April 9 initial appearance,
DeLima was released on a $10,000 bond. . . . Judge Denise Casper of
the District of Massachusetts recused herself on April 10 from
DeLima's civil case against Seyfarth Shaw and Marriott International
DeLima v. Seyfarth Shaw, filed last September.
Casper's electronic docket entry stated that recusal was prudent in
light of the criminal charges in U.S. v. DeLima. "I do not do so
lightly since a litigant's expression of displeasure at the conduct
of a case does not ordinarily warrant such action," Casper wrote.
. . . According to an
by FBI special agent Rachel Boisselle in the criminal case,
DeLima sent a letter to the Boston federal courthouse addressed to
Casper on March 23. The outside of the envelope stated, "Judge, made
a video at [District of Massachusetts] Judge [William] Youngs this
weekend take a look before you rule on my case!" Young presided over
DeLima's previous case against Marriott.
In Lawsuits, Long Island Inmates Complain of Squalor
The inmates at Suffolk County Correctional Facilities told anyone who
would listen that they were being forced to live in squalid
conditions, with human waste bubbling up from the drains, brown
water running from the tap and mold multiplying on the walls.
. . .
Saying that their complaints were
ignored by jail officials, inmates accused of murder and robbery
became jailhouse lawyers, banding together to file scores of
handwritten lawsuits claiming that they were being subjected to
cruel and unusual punishment.
. . . First they sought help
from the inmates who had the least to lose, those with long
sentences. Soon low-level offenders were taking part. And in less
than a year, a litigation campaign that was organized in whispers on
the jailhouse yard, resulted in the filing of 69 separate
handwritten lawsuits in Federal District Court in Central Islip,
N.Y., eventually overwhelming the court.
. . . “The courthouse called
us,” said Corey Stoughton, a lawyer for the New York Civil Liberties
Union. “The court really wanted us to take this on.”
Lawyer Wins Constitutional
Challenge to Red-Light Ticket; Looks Forward to New Battle in Next
A former New Jersey insurance attorney has beaten the rap on
constitutional grounds after getting a red-light-camera ticket from
a Florida municipality in the mail.
. . . Allowing New Port Richey to fine him $158 without
properly proving its case in court, including the identity of the
driver, would violate his due-process rights, Thomas Filippone
argued in an 11-page motion, and a Pasco County judge agreed, the
Tampa Bay Times
reports. . . . "If they
are going to prove I was driving the car, it's their duty under the
law to prove the identity of the driver," the 45-year-old Filippone
tells the newspaper. "It unjustly shifts burden to me and makes me
shoulder the burden of having to prove their case."
AT&T Drops Plans to Appeal, Pays
Throttled Data Plan User $935 Settlement
AT&T has dropped its plans to appeal a small-claims-court ruling
that the company unfairly limits subscribers of its "unlimited" data
plans after they use up a particular amount of monthly bandwidth.
. . . Matt Spaccarelli
took AT&T to small claims court in February to protest the company's
data throttling procedures for users of its unlimited smartphone
data plans. AT&T previously throttled users when they reached the
"top five percent" of bandwidth hogs in a location where network
capacity struggled to meet user demand.
. . . To Spaccarelli,
however, no amount of throttling
– after all, he was already paying $130 a month for his "unlimited"
service plan. Judge Russell Nadel of the Ventura Superior Court in
Simi Valley agreed, and he awarded Spaccarelli a total of $935 --
$850 for the 10 months remaining in Spaccarelil's contract times the
estimated $85 monthly cost he might pay for his data use, and an
additional $85 for court costs.
Lawguru is a Victims-of-Law
Pro Se Plaintiff Wins $850
Small-Claims Award in Data-Throttling Case Against AT&T
Individuals who purchased "unlimited data" plans from AT&T in years
past presumably may have expected to use as much as they wanted.
. . . But, after warning customers, the telecommunications
company has started slowing down the speed at which the heaviest
users of such plans can proceed. It stopped selling such plans in
2010. . . . That approach has been controversial, although AT&T says it
has the right to impose the slowdown. California judge disagreed and
awarded a pro se plaintiff $850 in a Simi Valley small-claims case,
'Sovereign citizen' movement now
on FBI's radar
Homeland Security Department has ranked the movement as a major
threat. Its members reject the law, and some kill police.
With the FBI pounding on his door, and his wife and two children
barely awake, Shawn Rice allegedly strapped on a bulletproof vest,
grabbed a semiautomatic pistol and stepped out his back door on Dec.
22. . . . But dozens of
FBI agents and local police had surrounded the ranch house in
Seligman, Ariz., about 80 miles west of Flagstaff, and the only
nearby cover was knee-high sagebrush. Rice ducked back inside, and
warned the FBI to keep away. . .
. After a tense 10-hour standoff, Rice, 49, was arrested. He
now sits in a Las Vegas jail awaiting trial on federal
money-laundering charges. . . .
But it wasn't Rice's alleged offense alone that prompted the
FBI's interest. . . .
According to court papers, Rice was involved in the "sovereign
citizen" movement, a group that has attracted little national media
attention but which the FBI classifies as an "extremist
antigovernment group." So-called sovereign citizens argue that they
are not subject to local, state or federal laws, and some refuse to
recognize the authority of courts or police.
Pro Se Malpractice Suit Against
Fried Frank Survives Motion to Dismiss
A Maryland woman suing Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson pro
se for legal malpractice survived a motion to dismiss today,
although the District of Columbia Superior Court judge made it clear
that he was doubtful of the case's merits and that he'd like both
sides to attempt to resolve the case. . . . Fried Frank agreed to
represent Michelle Etlin pro bono in early 2008, to assist her in
defending against an attempt by Virginia authorities to enforce a
child support action against Etlin in Virginia and Maryland. Etlin
the firm in Oct. 2011, claiming they failed to adequately represent
her. She accused firm attorneys of making decisions that harmed her
interests, ignoring her wishes and misinforming her of what was
Ind. county's small claims courts
Defendants who say they've faced intimidation from attorneys for
debt collectors in Marion County's small claims courts are welcoming
the Indiana Supreme Court's decision to appoint two judges to review
allegations against the court system. . . . Indiana Court of Appeals
Judge John Baker will serve on the task force to examine the
county's nine small claims courts that handle civil cases involving
less than $6,000. . . . Baker tells The Indianapolis Star (http://indy.st/wA8zeo
) he expects the review to find potential solutions to some problems
and perhaps propose changes to state law. He said it's important for
the public to have confidence in the court system. . . . "I'm
worried that people might perceive they aren't being treated
fairly," Baker said. "And if they have that perception, it really
doesn't matter if they were treated fairly or not."
Honda loses Civic hybrid Small
Claims Court lawsuit
The owner of a Honda Civic hybrid won an unusual Small Claims Court
lawsuit against American Honda Motor Co.
. . . Los Angeles County Superior Court Commissioner Douglas
Carnahan ruled that the giant automaker mislead Civic owner Heather
Peters when it claimed that the hybrid could achieve as much as 50
miles per gallon. . . .
Peters said the Torrance Small Claims Court commissioner awarded her
$9,867 in damages, very close to the maximum $10,000 allowed in
Small Claims Court that the Los Angeles resident was seeking.
. . . “It is a victory for Civic Hybrid owners and consumers
everywhere,” Peters said. “Sometimes big justice comes in small
packages.” . . . Her award was far greater than the damages Peters would
have collected if she had signed on to a class-action lawsuit
settlement that would end larger litigation that makes many of the
same claims against Honda.
Pro-se Woman fired for working
during lunch wins court battle
Ex-receptionist spiraled toward edge of bankruptcy but never stopped
Growing up on the South Side, Sharon Smiley was taught by her father
that success comes from hard work, and he demonstrated that truth
over 47 years as a railroad worker.
. . . But when Smiley put that principle into practice, she
was fired -- for the first time in her life -- from a receptionist
job she had held for a decade. . . . Her offense? Voluntarily doing
extra work one day during her lunch break. . . . Not only was Smiley fired, but the realty company she
worked for challenged her unemployment benefits, saying she was
guilty of misconduct and insubordination. Smiley says several
lawyers declined to take her case, telling her she was bound to
lose, so she represented herself.
Now Launched! The Network on Self Represented
Litigation: Fulfilling the Promise of Access
to Justice for the Self-Represented
November 2008 --
Represented Litigation Network is an open and
growing grouping of organizations and working
groups dedicated to fulfilling the promise of a
justice system that works for all, including
those who can not afford lawyers and are
therefore forced to go to court on their own.
The Network brings together courts and access to
justice organizations in support of innovations
in services for the self represented. . . . The
participants are cooperating in a wide variety
of collaborative efforts and working groups.
These efforts include providing information
about innovations for the self represented,
promoting best practices in such areas as the
setting up of self help offices, the use of
forms, and e-filing, discrete task
representation, and judicial practices and
education programs, establishing a research
agenda, and working for integration with the
system as a whole and for long term funding to
support access to justice for the
self-represented. . . . Initial concrete
projects include the
cooperation in the planning of a series of three
regional conferences on self-represented
litigation, and the distribution of a national
directory of court-based programs for the self