Former U.S. appeals court Judge Richard Posner: Get rid of lawyers

If Digital Realty didn’t carry employment practice liability insurance, the lawsuit Paul Somers v. Digital Realty & Ellen Jacobs would never become the 5-year battle that it is.  Why?  Because Paul Somers and Scott Peterson, CIO, were working to resolve Somers’ illegal termination on the heels of Somers’ former manager, Kris Kumar’s forced exit from the company.  Mr. Peterson was aware of what Kumar had done to damage Somers.  Peterson was also aware that Kumar had teamed up with Ellen Jacobs to falsify reasons to fire Somers out of revenge and retaliation.  In September of 2014, five months after Somers employment was terminated, Scott Peterson was acting as a liaison to get Bill Stein, (CEO) and Somers to meet to talk about what could be done to resolve matters.   Bill and Scott were careful not to let Jacobs or Chubb’s lawyers, Seyfarth Shaw, find about the secret talks aimed at getting Somers back in his former role and avoiding litigation.  But Chubb’s law firm Seyfarth Shaw did find out and were furious.  They stepped in and told Digital “no way” would there be a settlement because legal action had commenced (though it had not) and it was their case to decide,  not Digital’s.  Scott and Bill backed out. (See letter which proves Seyfarth stopped the settlement talks >>>Screen Shot 2018-03-28 at 4.58.32 AM

here.) Scott Petersen didn’t even bother to tell Somers what had happened.  He simply ignored Somers messages asking about the settlement meetings Scott had promised to set up.

Seyfarth Shaw has manipulated this case to get what they want. So far, 48 months of billing Chubb for a case that should have settle 42 months ago.  It’s one good reason we need to get lawyers out of disputes – all the want they want is to collect a fee. They have no interest in cases settling.   Get rid of the lawyers, please.  Allowing legal trolls like Brian Ashe, Shireen Wetmore and Kyle Peterson to park themselves in a Somer’s life for five years to get rich off of damaging a hard working and dedicated employee’s reputation.  That’s all there really is to the defense.  Its sick, it’s wrong, it’s the unvarnished truth.





Kim JanssenContact ReporterChicago Tribune

Lawyers — who needs ‘em?!

Not big companies defending themselves against small-time plaintiffs who can’t afford a lawyer of their own.

At least, that’s the opinion of recently retired U.S. Court of Appeals Judge Richard Posner, who seems to be taking as much delight in tweaking the egos of attorneys and his former colleagues from off the bench as he did when he was on it.

Instead of having lawyers face off in an adversarial battle, Posner, 78, says he’d like to see a judge order both sides in a case go to trial without their lawyers, just like on “Judge Judy.”

“There’s no constitutional right to an attorney in civil cases,” Posner pointed out to Chicago Inc., adding that plaintiffs “don’t necessarily need lawyers.”

“I’m looking for a judge who’s willing to say, ‘I’m not going to let either side have any lawyers. … I don’t want to have the case clogged up with lawyers,’” he said, with a chuckle.

“A judge could do it … and people are so reluctant to upset judges that they’d probably go along with it.”

Forcing a business’s officials to handle cases, rather than using high-powered attorneys, would level the playing field with less wealthy plaintiffs and speed up the process, Posner suggested, pointing to less confrontational arbitration hearings and the judge-led, nonadversarial legal systems used in some European countries as models. (An American Bar Association spokesman declined to comment, saying Posner’s proposal was “too vague” to respond to.)

Long feared by attorneys for his withering intellect, Posner — a prolific and acclaimed author as well and the most widely cited American legal scholar — has never been shy about criticizing his former colleagues. He has described the quality of Supreme Court justices as “awful” and often rails against the standard of legal writing.

After quitting the 7th Circuit this summer in part over his belief that “pro se” plaintiffs and defendants (people who represent themselves in court, rather than hire a lawyer, typically because they can’t afford one) are poorly treated by the courts, he is forming a law firm to help pro se litigants.

(Posner, ironically, had a jury verdict in a criminal trial he presided over overturned by his colleagues on Tuesday after they found that he had prejudiced the jury against a pro se defendant).

His could hardly have picked a more provocative first client than William C. Bond, an unemployed Maryland man who has spent years alleging that members of his state’s federal judiciary are involved in a corrupt scheme with federal law enforcement to illegally keep him under surveillance and deny him his First Amendment rights. But despite being deemed a “frivolous and vexatious” filer of lawsuits by the judge handling his case, Bond is actually “intelligent and lively,” according to Posner, who values both attributes highly and last week filed papers in the 4th Circuit seeking to represent Bond.

A lower court’s ruling throwing out Bond’s $270 million lawsuit seemed designed to trigger Posner, containing, as it does, the argument that “courts should not be in the philosopher-king business of worrying about consequences so long as the law commands their behavior,” an “originalist” position favored by recently appointed Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch and the late Antonin Scalia, whom Posner could not abide.

“That’s a lot of crap!” Posner said. “A judge shouldn’t worry about consequences? That’s the most important thing there is — the outcome of the case.”

Though he was known to induce a state of near-terror in lawyers forced to make oral arguments before him, Posner said the prospect of arguing on Bond’s behalf before 4th Circuit judges causes him no anxiety. He noted that he had argued before the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1960s when Justices Earl Warren, Abe Fortas and Byron White were all tough questioners. (Warren struggled to separate his disdain for causes he disliked from the lawyers hired to represent them, he said, while Fortas was an “extraordinarily arrogant man” who “asked strange questions that didn’t relate to the case,” and White was a “sourpuss, but a very good Supreme Court Justice.”)

Posner intends to hire Bond as a part-time employee, along with several other nonattorneys and a recovering cocaine addict who did time in prison and has become an expert on prison conditions, he said. Including lawyers, he has 14 people signed up to represent poor plaintiffs and defendants at no cost, he said.

He is leaning toward calling his new law firm “Pro Bono Pro Se Law Group” but said with a laugh that his friends are encouraging him to go with a simpler name — “Team Posner.”

kjanssen@chicagotribune.com

Twitter @kimjnews

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