I just hope Bobby Chen gets his brief in on time. It’s due at the Supreme Court in a few days and he is nowhere to be found.
Every pro se litigant who’s ever lost a case prays for the day the appellate court delivers a smackdown to the idiot judge with the K-mart law degree who ruled the wrong way. And when the appellate court doesn’t get your argument either, you think surely the professionals at the Supreme Court will.
Bobby Chen thought so, and he may be right. The city of Baltimore demolished his house and carted off his personal belongings when he left town briefly in 2008. He sued the city in federal district court, but like so many pro se’ers, got caught on technicalities. Apparently, he failed to serve the right papers on the right city officials within the time allowed. Even though a judge granted an extension that let Chen serve the officials properly, another judge found the service was too late and dismissed his case.
What’s wonderful about Chen’s case is his perseverance under harsh conditions (he avoided the $300 filing fee by showing a monthly income of $700), his legal knowledge (he presented a question that appellate courts have disagreed on, forcing the Supreme Court to resolve it), and his powerful argument (pdf) (with English as a second language, no less). The fact that his case would be one of the 75 or 80 the Supreme Court will take up this year is an endorsement of pro se litigation and dose of adrenalin for all pro se litigants.
So if anyone has seen Bobby, please have him call the Court at (202) 479-3000 or submit his initial brief by the 22nd. Win or lose, we want him to represent!