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"As God Is My Witness, I Am That Fool"

by Charles Carreon
July 19, 2013

Okay, admit it.  Everybody wants to be bloodless and eternal, like a corporation.  That’s why playing a vampire is the surest route to celebrity.  But I have always liked immortals of a less rarefied type.  The homey characteristics of the Addams Family enamoured me from childhood.  The Munsters were even cooler in their TV show manifestation, with that crazy car and the blonde sister.  Whoa!  I fancied myself an Eddie Munster.  There were similarities.  I had a killer widow’s peak.  I wore short pants for longer than I wanted to.  My father always drove huge Cadillacs that looked like he’d checked them out of the government motorpool.  Our house was a dilapidated dive that my brother once proclaimed, humorously, but with satirical style, “I figured out where we live!  We live in a slum!”  I was so proud.

Growing up as a schoolkid, I was ahead of everyone else, seven years old in the fifth grade for a little while, then put back to fourth grade, ’cause I was always in fights ’cause I was so little.  I was always the runt, picked last for every sports team.  I didn’t have to pick my friends, because only nice kids would be my friends, since I couldn’t throw or hit a ball, or do anything very well with my body.  This pattern continued.  I didn’t learn to swim until I was eleven, and didn’t learn to drive until after I was married.  But I learned how to fight.  Hell, we had a TV, so what excuse would I have for not knowing how to fight?  Charge!  Knock the other guy off his feet!  They’re all smaller sittin’ on their ass.

The Addams Family movie became especially dear to the hearts of my children.  It went well with the daily regimen of waking to the sound of “Rock and Roll High School” playing at 11 over the stereo.  I never had a problem waking my kids, and they never minded getting up.  And when we went to see The Addams Family at its Christmas release, it was a very fun trip to the movies.

When Gomez, his homestead menaced by the machinations of his own lawyer, delivered his pro se soliliquy, I was thrilled: “Have no fear. Justice shall prevail. The courts will decide. They say a man who represents himself has a fool for a client. Well, with God as my witness, I am that fool!” Of course, it does not turn out at all well, and the family is evicted.  Note, however, that Gomez was not a lawyer.  Gomez’s mistake was not in representing himself, but in failing to observe that he was not a lawyer, and could not hope to compete on an equal footing in the courts.

When Gomez returns to his strong suits — swordplay and magic — he’s back on top in no time. Most pro se litigants lose because they have no idea what the rules are.  The rules are everywhere in the judicial system, and most pro se litigants don’t even know where to find them.  Then, when they read them, they don’t understand them. 

They are in a worse position than the blind men trying to determine the identity of the elephant.  Three years in law school and you barely begin to scratch the surface of the law’s immensity.  But if you have to go pro se, don’t despair.  The most important case in the law of criminal procedure, Gideon v. Wainwright, was pro se.  And what did it achieve?  Eventually the principle articulated inGideon gave nearly all criminal defendants the right to counsel.  One pro se criminal defendant who was too stupid to give up did more to provide lawyers with jobs at public expense than all the lawyers had accomplished in hundreds of years.  That man did not have a fool for a client.

But is it not undignified for a lawyer to represent himself?  Yeah, let me consider that idea.  Is it undignified for Chuck Norris or Steven Seagal to kick someone’s ass instead of calling the cops?  Especially when, as in many action movies, the cops are all on the take and will sell your ass out for a nickel?  And who was going to sue Matt Inman, Indiegogo, the American Cancer Society and the National Wildlife Fund for me?  Find me the lawyer with the pair big enough to do that, and maybe I’d actually try to hire him or her.  But from all the caterwauling I hear from the girlie-men lawyers, I think I’d have been wasting my time.  So pardon my well-trained fists.  I’ll kick ass on my own behalf anytime I find it useful.

Those who criticize me for not surrendering, and instead using my own pugilistic skills, are simply saying that a lawyer is merely a mercenary.  He has no principles of his own to defend or assert.  Without a client distinct from himself, he is a neuter drone.  He is supposed to “stand down,” as Paul Levy wanted me to do after he got his panties all in a bunch because Register.com coughed up Recouvreur’s contact information in response to my standard “cough up the registrant’s name” letter.  Believe me, Register.com has gotten them before from me, and their lawyers know the law.

If you reflect on it, this argument that pro se representation is a profanation of the courthouse is just typical brotherhood propaganda, intended to accustom the average person to the tyranny of the legal profession.  As a member of the brotherhood, I don’t have to buy the propaganda.

So the idea that I, being a lawyer, would not stoop to representing myself when I don’t have money to hire even a bad lawyer, is absurd.  That’s like not reaching for a handy SKS assault rifle when someone stops by for a little home invasion.  Get real.  What kind of world do these rapeutationists live in?

Besides which, very few lawyers will litigate the way I litigate.  I entirely agree with all these rapeutationist lawyers who said they would “never do this,” and “never do that” thing that Charles Carreon did.  That is one hundred percent true, which is why I have won many cases that they would have lost for pure lack of trying, or just not having the guts to make the other lawyer lose.  They would call their cowardice “professional behavior.”  I tell you what.  The rich don’t put up with that kind of crap.  Their lawyers fight like partisans down to their last bullet.  When they screw up, it’s not a small matter.  Millions in fees can disappear, and an associate’s job right along with them, if something gets misfiled, or an argument is not made.

Maybe because I haven’t earned a salary since 1995, and don’t depend upon anyone’s good will but that of my clients, I have tried to give all my clients the type of service I know the wealthy receive. It keeps them coming back, but it means that I have to contest vigorously with other lawyers. I suspect that much of the outcry about my unfair tactics by the army of zombie lawyers spouting nonsense was conjured up to assure my adversaries of victory in the court of public opinion sufficient to overshadow the truth about myself and the legitimacy of my claims.  Ultimately, the vast amount of grossly inaccurate information proliferated through the rapeutation procedure virtually moots the effectiveness of any strategy adopted to counter it. And chief among those misrepresentations was the statement that I am unethical.

I know the types of lawyers who say my tactics are unethical.  They’re the lawyers that sound like tigers before they get their fee.  Oh, are they fierce! In the confines of their own offices, they describe how they will strike the foe.

“Ha!” they laugh at the arguments that the client fears the opposing side might make.  ”Ridiculous!  An easy case!  Wouldn’t you say, Jim?”

The obsequious sidekick agrees.  ”I think we can win this one.”

The retainer is signed, the check crosses the lawyer’s desk, and invisibly to the eyes of the client, a transformation takes place. As soon as they start talking to the adversary, they start softening up on the case, backpedaling, finding reasons not to do what they promised.  Motions never get filed.  Excuses get delivered instead. This is not my style. I am the same carnivorous beast before and after being fed. My adversaries complain because I hit them as soon as they walk into the ring, and then have a whole series of attacks planned as follow-up. There’s a principle at work here — every day must be a bad day for the enemy.  But sustained effort is costly, so effective litigation is, by definition, expensive. This must be disclosed at the outset, but many lawyers soft-pedal the risk, luring their clients into the mire, where they will contribute their bones to the tarpit. When the client realizes how costly litigation is, they easily agree with the lawyer’s plans to do little, and hope for the best. This is the legal product commonly delivered in law offices around the country every day. By spreading the idea that aggressive representation in litigation is a bad thing, mediocre lawyers are simply making the world more comfortable for their lazy selves. So if you are looking to waste your money on legal fees and get excuses instead of results, you should definitely hire those lawyers who claim I am too aggressive.

Finally, I should address the argument that a pro se lawyer working on his own case, like I, in dealing with Paul Levy’s lawsuit against me on behalf of Christopher Recouvreur, is at a disadvantage.  This may or may not be true, but I personally was at a dire disadvantage.  Why?  Because I hated working on the case.  Paul Levy is an icky lawyer to deal with.  He has mannerisms that are strange.  The lama Chogyam Trungpa once described the feeling of dealing with a guy like Paul:  ”You think that they are looking at your face, but actually they are watching you from behind your back.”  You say something to Paul, and he comments on your statement with a long, lingering “Oh….” as if you just revealed your naked crotch and he’s going to tell the principal.  I actually tried to get a friend in San Francisco to represent me in that case, and he was willing until I told him Paul Levy was on the other side.  Then he apologized and said, “Ooh.  I’d like to help you, but I actually get involved in cases that he’s in, and he’s weird.  I mean he does weird things.”  Yes, I agree with that, but that fight’s not over by a long shot.  I filed my appeal.  Lex est longa, vita brevis.

And since we’re talking about Paul Levy, if you would like to get in bed with a snake, then associate with him as co-counsel. After being your friend, and co-counsel, he will then tell people that your work product was “terrible.” I wrote my brief to the New York Court of Appeals in American Buddha exactly the way I wanted to. It was not at all traditional, because the entire NYCA briefing was a ridiculous exercise in result-oriented jurisprudence, instigated by the activist, pro-publisher panel, that wanted to give Penguin every opportunity to overturn Judge Edward Lynch’s decision without insulting Judge Lynch who had just recently been elevated to the Second Circuit himself, as Obama’s first judicial appointee. There was no logic in the question certified by the Second Circuit that asked the NYCA to determine the situs of a copyright, because the New York state courts never hear copyright cases, as all copyright cases are subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal courts. It is a rare occasion when an advocate feels so certain about the outcome of a particular piece of judicial gerrymandering that he will devote his brief to criticizing the legitimacy of the process itself, in an effort to provoke an attack of judicial conscience, but that is what I was up to.

Levy also claims that it’s wonderful that an attorney from his office argued the appeal before the NYCA. Really lucky. Because they lost.

What is most obscured by Levy’s diatribe against my litigation skills is that while on appeal at the NYCA, I was defending a win before Judge Lynch at the District Court level, and that after losing the appeal, I went on to win again in the District Court before Judge Ronnie Abrams. To hear Levy tell it, his disapproval is a black mark against an advocate that obscures even the lustre of victory. I assure you, my client does not concur.