WASHINGTON – A U.S. judge who lost a $54 million lawsuit against a dry cleaner owned by South Korean immigrants over a pair of missing pants has been notified that his job might be in jeopardy, according to published reports.
After meeting last week, a city commission formally notified Administrative Law Judge Roy Pearson in writing Tuesday that he may not be reappointed, The Washington Post and The Washington Examiner reported, citing government employees who have seen the letter and spoke on condition of anonymity.
While the letter addressed the lawsuit briefly, it focused mostly on problems with Pearson's temperament as an administrative law judge over the past two years. Pearson has not been fired and will be given 15 days to file a rebuttal. He could ask for a hearing at the commission's next meeting in September.
Officials said Pearson's reappointment process is being kept secret because he is a city employee, and it is considered a personnel matter. The D.C. Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges will ultimately decide whether to reappoint Pearson, at which time there would be a public announcement.
Pearson's litigation against a family owned dry cleaning business incited jokes from around the world. The lawsuit in D.C. Superior Court claimed Custom Cleaners, owned by South Korean immigrants, did not live up to Pearson's expectations of "Satisfaction Guaranteed," as advertised in store windows.
Pearson demanded repayment for the lost pants, as well as damages for inconvenience, mental anguish and attorney's fees for representing himself. He calculated his losses initially at $67 million (euro48.57 million) but lowered his request to $54 million.
Pearson did not immediately respond to an e-mail from The Associated Press on Thursday requesting comment on his reappointment. Pearson was appointed in 2005 to an initial two-year term and is seeking reappointment to a full 10-year term. He has not been hearing cases since his first term expired at the end of April and is now considered an "attorney advisor" while his reappointment is being considered.
Legal reform groups have called for his ouster, based on the lawsuit and a lack of public confidence in him as a judge.
"Judicial temperament is a critical characteristic of an outstanding jurist. Any individual who chooses to pursue a case such as Judge Pearson's, at a minimum, calls into question his or hers," American Tort Reform Association President Sherman Joyce wrote to the commission in April.