I am not honoring the appeals court that just upheld the lower court judgment in my favor in a two-year old (and probably not over yet) frivolous lawsuit against my for defamation by an angry ex-Ethics Alarms commenter. The court’s decision rejecting the plaintiff’s appeal was dictated by precedent and black letter law, as was the decision in the original case. It took no special courage or integrity to hold so, and in fact any other result would have evinced rank incompetence.
No, I am awarding the court Ethics Hero status after receiving today its published opinion in case n. 18-p-1605, where the judgement of the lower court judge was affirmed. It is officially a summary decision, and thus not binding precedent, since the usual details a full appellate opinion would contain are missing. However, in the eight page opinion affirming the lower court dismissal of the complaint, the judges are impressively restrained, respectful, and thorough. They manage this despite the fact that the lawsuit was doomed from the beginning, without merit or law on its side. The persistence of the plaintiff has wasted taxpayer money (and mine) and occupied time the judges needed to address more serious and legitimate matters.
Nonetheless, the fact that a pro se litigant is able to receive more than perfunctory handling of even a complaint this misbegotten and trivial speaks well for our system, and very well for the judges. Despite all the attacks claiming that our system only caring about ‘justice for the rich,” a pro se litigant seeking justice (as he saw it) and using confused, garbled and outrageously long documents to that end, cannot deny that his case and arguments were ignored. He lacked the financial resources to hire a lawyer to pursue them (though I wonder if any lawyer would have accepted the representation) and represented himself—rather badly, but still, he took his best shot.
The result was a mess, and the judges could have rejected it out of hand. Instead, they took the time and effort to patiently treat the plaintiff’s appeal substantively and more thoroughly, frankly, than it deserved. This was kind, impressive, and, I have to grudgingly concede, in the best interests of society.
In a footnote, the court writes,
[The} arguments on appeal are difficult to understand, and do not satisfy the requirements of Mass R.A.P 16, as apearing in 481 Mass. 1628 (2019). Nonetheless, we have carefully reviewed his submissions and address those arguments that we can discern.
At the end, the opinion states, “To the extent that we have not specifically addressed subsidiary arguments in [the] brief, they have not been overlooked. “We find nothing in them that requires discussion.” Commonwelth v. Domanski, 332 Mass 66, 78, (1954).
Nicely, and kindly, understated, particularly when one considers that the main thrust of the plaintiff’s appeal was that the lower court judge was incompetent and ignored the case law, which he did not.
Clarence Darrow wrote that in order to have enough liberty, it is necessary to have too much. Similarly, it is also true that in order to afford citizens enough access to justice through the courts, it is necessary to provide them with too much.