- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 9, 2007

A city administrative law judge is too big for his pants, the value of which he places at $65 million in an absurd lawsuit against the owners of Custom Cleaners on Bladensburg Road in Northeast.

The infamous pants became a point of contention two years ago after the judge took them to the cleaner to have them altered. These pants initially were deemed missing by the cleaner before being found a few days later.

By then, Roy Pearson wanted compensation for the pants. The owners of the cleaner just wanted to return the pants and be done with the matter.

That, of course, was not good enough for a judge who has the time and expertise to use the city’s consumer-protection law against a small business. Judge Pearson filed a lawsuit against the cleaner, and no attempts to compromise have satisfied him in the past two years.

An attorney for the Chung family — a father, mother and son — says they have offered Judge Pearson settlements of $3,000, $4,600 and $12,000, which is an incredible sum of money for one lousy pair of pants. But no matter. To the judge, it no longer was about the pants.

It was about his “mental suffering.” It was about the cost of leasing a car to drive to another cleaner. It also was about the cost of litigating the pants.

So the sorry case of the “missing pants” will be heard June 11.

The pants now hang in the office of Chris Manning, the attorney who represents the Chungs.

Not surprisingly, the pants have received considerable airtime in the Washington region. They have come to be a symbol of a city’s frivolous bent. We live in serious times, as the news cycle reminds us each day. We live among the crazies plotting to kill our soldiers on Fort Dix, N.J., in celebration of Allah.

Yet here we have a judge who lacks the perspective, humanity and decency to drop the travesty of the pants. Instead, he is squeezing the Chungs, who have paid a princely sum in lawyers fees and learned a disappointing lesson about the American system.

Any crackpot can fashion a lawsuit against another party, no matter how ridiculous the claim is. They are pants, for goodness sake — destined to wind up in a landfill, as material goods do.

Given the over-the-top actions of Judge Pearson, you would think the pants were a cherished family heirloom that have been passed down through the generations.

For the record, Judge Pearson claims in court documents that the pants hanging in the office of Mr. Manning belong to someone else. Yet Mr. Manning says the ticket on the pants matches Judge Pearson’s receipt, as do the inseam measurements.

If you did not know better, you could think this was a comedy skit. Alas, two years of legal maneuvering show that Judge Pearson is not kidding. He is consumed with his pants. He is not talking, predictably enough, for it can’t be easy going through life known as the pants judge.

If there is any justice, a judge will throw out Judge Pearson’s lawsuit and order him to see a mental-health practitioner. By allowing a pair of pants to cause “mental suffering,” Judge Pearson has granted this clothing item a quality-of-life power that it does not deserve.

What if the cleaner had misplaced two pairs of his pants? Would Judge Pearson have gone into mourning at that point? Would he have taken to wearing a black armband to honor the memory of his two pairs of pants?

Tell you this: He is not the kind of person you would want to invite to your home because of the potential legal ramifications. Just imagine if he slipped and fell on your property.

What if he were injured in the fall? Worse, what if he also tore his pants?

It is an expensive thought.

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