Thursday, February 05, 2009

Judge Judy alert!: There are NO federal small claims courts in America

(Photos are of the federal court building in San Francisco and the small claims court in Berkeley)

When I sued the Department of Justice in small claims court last June, I fully expected to get a call from Judge Judy, asking me if I would be willing to bring my case on her show. Absolutely! Count me in! But would the Department of Defense agree to appear on the show too? Fat chance of that ever happening.

Can't you just see it now? Me in the witness box, toe-to-toe with General Petraeus? Awesome. But this high point in the history of television small claims court shows is never to be because the U.S. Attorney General's office has just bumped my case up to federal court. And the federal judicial system allows for NO SMALL CLAIMS COURTS.

It's true.

If you wanna sue the government, you gotta go big -- hire lawyers, write a complaint, file a case management statement, depose witnesses, testify in front of a jury, the whole nine yards. For instance, if you want to sue the feds for a measly $1,780 like I do, you could end up spending $20,000 or more to do it. And not only that, but the U.S. government will have to take its attorneys off of far more important cases -- such as possibly suing GWB for war crimes -- in order to put them onto your dinky little case. U.S. taxpayers will then have to pay for thousands of dollars in attorneys' fees and the costs of tying up federal courts for months just to settle a $1,780 dispute. That's crazy!

In the name of justice -- and saving U.S. taxpayers a bunch of money -- Americans NEED a federal small claims court! "
Judge Judy! Help!"

But even if Judge Judy won't do anything about this situation, I will. On February 25, 2009 at 9:30 am in Courtroom F, 15th Floor of the federal courthouse at 450 Golden Gate Avenue in San Francisco, federal Judge James Lawson will be hearing me argue a motion to remand the case of Stillwater vs. Department of Defense back into state court.

"So, Jane," Judge Judy might ask, "what will be your reply to the Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand that the defendant just filed?"

Are you ready for this? My reply will be, "Plaintiff alleges that, because the federal court system has no equivalent to small claims court, the above-captioned civil action transcends plaintiff’s simple request for the return of her $1,780 based on the doctrine of promissory estoppel and therefore plaintiff is requesting that this Court please consider setting a precedence in this case -- wherein civil lawsuits against the federal government be allowed to be remanded to State courts in matters involving $7,500 or less or that the federal court system itself develop its own small claims court mechanism, thereby saving federal attorneys the expense and inconvenience involved in prosecuting civil actions where the costs of said litigation to both the federal court system and the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices would far outweigh the expense involved in paying a plaintiff the relief being sought." Humph.

What I am hoping is that Judge Judy will then appear as my witness and plead, "Your Honor, America NEEDS a federal small claims court!" on my behalf. And that the judge will then nod his head solemnly, agree with my motion and set a just and fair precedence -- for all us little guys in America to finally be able to get our cases against the feds heard without having to spend an arm and a leg. Plus during these troubled economic times, who among us has an extra $10,000 or more to spare on frivolous lawsuits? Not me.

And once American citizens actually DO have a federal small claims court, then I'm gonna take the Department of Defense on the Judge Judy show for sure!

PS: I also have another OSC hearing date for this same case, set to be heard in small claims court on October 9, 2009 at 2:00 pm in Department 202 of the Alameda County Courthouse at 2120 MLK Way in Berkeley. This is the third continuation of my state small claims court trial against the DoD. Will the defendant show up? Probably not. Will Judge Judy show up either? Don't hold your breath.

PPS: And if all thse plans don't work, I'm gonna take my case all the way up to the U.S. Supreme Court. Judge Bader Ginsberg, pleeze get well! I'm gonna need you.