[Guest post by DRJ]
The lawsuit filed by the wife of Michael Richard, the Texas inmate executed in September, was abruptly and without explanation withdrawn by the plaintiff’s attorney the day after it was filed:
“The lawsuit filed with great fanfare this week by an executed killer’s wife against a judge for blocking the inmate’s last-minute appeal has been dropped — at least for now.
Civil rights lawyer Randall Kallinen said Friday that the dismissal is part of his strategy and that Wednesday’s news conference at the Houston federal courthouse was not a publicity stunt.
“I really cannot divulge my strategy right now, but I’m sure it will become evident in the near future,” Kallinen said.”
Legal experts speculated on the reasons for the voluntary dismissal:
“Legal experts said the lawyer’s strategy could range from second thoughts about his legal theory to displeasure with the assigned judge.
“One reason might be that he realized that it was a frivolous suit and at some point you’ll be sanctioned if you persist in a frivolous suit. He might have decided he got the publicity he wanted and why not dismiss it now?” University of Houston law professor Peter Hoffman said.
It would have been less costly to amend the original claim than pay another $350 civil filing fee, Hoffman added.
“It may be that he’s going to reformulate his theory and he’s going to try again, but I think it will be difficult for him to come up with a viable theory.”
South Texas College of Law professor James Paulsen said Kallinen could be judge shopping or perhaps the case contained an error. “It may be that what he’s doing is taking a free shot at another judge,” Paulsen said, adding that it may backfire if the court gives him the same jurist. The case was assigned to U.S. District Judge Melinda Harmon and was scheduled for an initial conference in March before U.S. Magistrate Judge Frances Stacy.
Another option involves making public statements about an active lawsuit, instead of slinging accusations. “Sometimes you are more protected when you are speaking about something that is a matter of public record,” Paulsen said.”
Who says law is boring? There’s something new every day.
There is an earlier post on this subject here.
Update Saturday, 11/10/2007: It looks like plaintiff and her counsel might have been judge-shopping because the case “has been withdrawn from one court and moved to another.”
See what I mean about something new every day?