- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 14, 2007

The pants judge told a D.C. Superior Court judge yesterday that, if he is awarded $54 million, he will pay himself $500,000 in lawyer fees, set aside $2 million to ease his mental suffering and use the remaining $51.5 million to start a consumer-protection fund for residents of the city.

Roy Pearson was able to make this declaration without welling up in tears, a sign of mental progress after his watery-eyed presentation the previous day. The poor pants judge. It takes an unusual sort to walk into a courtroom and present a frivolous case, all the while knowing that you have become a source of amusement and derision.

But the pants judge is pressing forward, unbowed, undeterred, ever-defiant. Perhaps he does not realize that all manner of radio call-in psychologists have been pontificating on what possibly could be his problem. Perhaps he does not realize that his story has gone international. Perhaps he is so consumed with his pants that he is oblivious to the world around him.

At least the pants judge has made the proper pop-culture reference in saying his ordeal with the Bladensburg Road dry cleaner in Northeast was a Twilight Zone experience. Cue the music. Here comes the pants judge, and there goes the last vestige of common sense in our judicial system.

The pants judge never should have had his day in court. His various contentions are so over the top, so obtuse, that a judge with a sense of fairness would have thrown out the case and spared the taxpayers the cost of hearing the nonsense.

Maybe Judge Judith Bartnoff will surprise us all and rule in favor of Jim Nam Ki and Soo Chung, the Korean small-business owners who perpetrated this horror on Mr. Pearson.

They deserve the sympathy of the court. They deserve to have their lives back. They deserve to have the benefit of the doubt. Mistakes happen. It is called life. Yet that is the beauty of being a lawyer. Too many lawyers exist on the premise that mistakes never should happen. They do so with a wink and a nod, for they know the reality.

The cleaners initially lost the pants belonging to Mr. Pearson. They then said they recovered them. Mr. Pearson said, no, those were not his pants. He said the recovered pants had cuffs, and he never, ever wears pants with cuffs. So there.

So here we are 25 months later, dealing with the matter of the sacred pants, and Mr. Pearson is spilling his guts in a courtroom because of them. Before he became an administrative law judge with the city, he was coming out of a divorce and in debt.

Mr. Pearson and the cleaners already had an uneasy history involving a previous pair of lost pants. This resulted in compensation from the owners and a suggestion not to return. But Mr. Pearson pleaded with the owners to remain a customer, and a truce was forged.

The owners only can rue their decision.

Theirs is the old-fashioned immigrant”s tale — of coming to the U.S. to seek a better life and doing so in a legal fashion, quaint as that notion is today. Their thanks is a system that indulges the pants judge.

We can play along with the pants judge. Maybe the recovered pants were not his. And maybe he has been traumatized by it all.

But he is not about to find help in a courtroom. Instead, he needs a nice couch and an able professional who could teach him how to prioritize things. A cleaners that loses a pair of pants is an annoyance, not a potential legal issue. After all, cleaners sometimes lose clothing items. That is the nature of the business. It is run by human beings, and the last time anyone checked, humans make mistakes. We suspect even the pants judge has made a few mistakes in his time.