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Robert Winner

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Frivolous lawsuits ... should the attorney and the filer be punished for knowingly filing a "silly" suit?

I just listened to the TV news and a lady in Dallas is suing homeowners who shot her brother as he broke into their home and threatened them with a gun. She said the homeowners did not post a sign stating that they owned a gun which would have warned her brother and he then could have chose another home to rob.

I was sued by a inmate for having pizza in my lunch. (Cruel and unusual punishment). He gets prison pizza once a week but he said mine looked better and wanted me to give it to him. I didn't and he sued.

I was sued for taking away drugs from a inmate (heroin) as he had paid for them and they were his property. He charged me with theft.

Lawyers who take these cases and file a lawsuit as well as the client waste billions of taxpayers dollars and employee time for suits that have questionable merit and little chance of winning in court.

Should there be a penalty for "silly" lawsuits if determined to be frivolous.

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  • Jan 7 2014: I am all for penalties of Frivolous and even some "fringe" legal suits. I think the major penalty should be on the lawyer because they should be advising their clients against the suit. If the client is rich, the totalal penalties can not be paid by the client. the lawyer has to feel the pain.
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    Jan 2 2014: Absolutely. Death sounds like a reasonable punishment to me.
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    Jan 1 2014: Well, it takes a certain amount of effort to file a suit, plus the filer has to pay a fee, so I would tend to think that if someone files it they do believe in it. Maybe those examples you name those people really believed in the claim they were making?

    Did those cases involving you actually go to court, the ones involving pizza and heroin? Was it small claims court? How does an inmate appear in court if they are locked up, they come to court with a police escort or....? Were you actually an authority in the jail or prison, did you have authority to take the heroin?
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      Jan 1 2014: Greg, Felons are looking for the quick and easy buck. They have attorneys appointed at our expense. How much of the peoples money they waste is not a big concern. If they burn down a state building ... they do not care .... kill another inmate they do not care ... As I explained to you before .. this is a totally different world than you live in. Colleen and I lived on the fringe of it and understand only some of it. As staff we have a obligation to uphold all rules ... drugs are called contraband ... If Colleen saw drugs she would have to report it to staff ... if I saw it I would declare a emergency for safety of the staff and inmates and conduct search and seizure. Inmates have the right to go to court and may appear in person or by camera. It is the decision of the judge if they wear prison cloths or street cloths ... cuffed or not ... etc ...

      Greg .. the state prison in New Mexico was burnt down because a inmate tried to take a orange out of the chow hall and a officer stopped him and took the orange .. which was a proper and lawful action ... no food can be taken out by inmates. A fight begin and turned into a riot and the loss of life and property occurred. They had planned on making home brew and needed fruit and sugar and each inmate was to smuggle something out.

      I saw a inmate beat up his wife because she showed up on his girlfriends day to visit. They were to visit on alternating weekends. We took him down and as we were taking him off she was yelling how sorry she was and she loved him and the damn cops would not let her go to him. She filed a complaint that we cause her to not complete her visit because we took him off over a family dispute that was none of our business. He filed a complaint that we took him down and cuffed him in front of his kids causing mental injury / damage.

      Like I said a whole different world .....
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        Jan 2 2014: well, to get back to your larger question, it would be hard for a judge to decide that any given lawsuit is frivolous, wouldn't it, Robert? I'd still like to know if the cases went to court, you mentioned one where someone complained that you had better pizza than him, and another where someone complained because you took away his heroin. Did they go to court, or did the inmates just complain to the prison administration, because that's different, isn't it?
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          Jan 2 2014: Yes they filed a law suit. Because we are a agency of the Attorney Generals office the suit was stopped and never went to a Grand Jury for consideration.
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        Jan 2 2014: well, then one hopes it didn't cost the public too much money? So what is the process when an inmate files a lawsuit, Robert, do they, or their attorney, go to a regular county courthouse to file it, or is there some office perhaps within the prison, or....? And then someone from the prison admin looks at the suit, or someone from the Attorney General, or....? I still would think it's hard to know what's frivolous, it is possible that those inmates, or their attorneys, really thought they had a case, or might possibly have a case and wanted to see how whoever evaluated the case on the opposing side would think through the issues. We might have to be careful about penalizing people for filing frivolous cases, because then people with legitimate cases might hesitate to file them, afraid they'll be penalized for being frivolous. That wouldn't be good.

        Even if those cases of heroin and pizza got stopped quickly, I could see some value in them being filed, it forces those of us on the other side to think through the conditions of the prisons and the prisoners and articulate why we do what we do.

        Is there a famous case where someone bought a cup of coffee from McDonald's, spilled it on themselves and got scalded, and got a big judgement from a jury? I never understood that judgement, I remember looking it up once on some site that goes through different stories one hears and tells you whether they really happened, I can't remember what they said about this one.

        Thanks, by the way, for the description of life in prisons, it fills in my knowledge of the world. Have you ever noticed me talking on TED about how I've been living almost entirely on skim milk for the last five years, Robert, every day I drink about two gallons of skim milk and hardly eat or drink anything else. It's been good for my physical and psychological health, I wonder if it would help in prisons if this was the diet, only milk?
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          Jan 2 2014: You have went beyond my duties and responsibilities. Here is what I know. Legal mail and legal documents are privileged correspondence. We can only skim through .. not read ... legal document when searching. Knowing this inmates often attempt hiding their drugs among those documents. Envelopes and letterhead have been stolen from offices to introduce contraband into prisons and they are also checked but never read.

          I do not make policy or law ... I follow them. Have I ever messed up ... yep. I accepted the punishment and learned and grew from the experience. I probably still error but not intentionally ... and my wife and TED members keep me straight.

          I do not know of the value of your diet .... for me I would say no ... I like meat and taters.

          Personally I thought the MacD case of hot coffee was a stupid decision .... if a person orders hot coffee and puts it between their legs a squeezes and then tries to blame someone else is an idiot. The jury saw a company with deep pockets and a poor girl and said why not MacD can afford it.

          We have pretty much beat this to death ... see ya ..... Bob.
  • Dec 31 2013: Probably a good idea, actually, assuming the criteria for "silly" is set by the judge in charge of the case.

    Anything that gets you laughed out of court should get you in trouble for wasting everyone's time and money.