I just got sued.
Go ahead. Laugh if you want.
No doubt some will say it's a fitting comeuppance for a former trial lawyer. It's not the first time I've been on the receiving end of a lawsuit, but no litigation against me has been successful.
A few years ago, I spoke out against a bureaucrat (who, ironically, was supposed to be promoting affirmative action) after he complained about "Jew lawyers and Jew architects." I thought those words should have cost him his job, or at least led to a request for his resignation. Instead he was demoted and reprimanded, and sued me, apparently because I had the audacity to offer my opinion. Go figure.
While I've come to recognize that such complaints are one of my job hazards, this time it's different.
There's a guy I'd never heard of (and whose name I will not repeat) who has plenty of time on his hands because he resides in a federal slammer down South, where he is serving time for wire fraud and identity theft. Alas, he has enough time on his hands to be his own lawyer and launch his own lawsuits. He's claiming I caused him "major mental damage" when I supposedly said, "Anyone who steals credit cards and does identity theft should rot in prison."
Evidently it's not his prison stay that caused his "mental damage," but rather my public declarations about criminals that finally knocked him off his rocker.
At least I'm not alone. Former CBS3 Anchor Alycia Lane, Michael Vick, Barry Bonds, Bill Belichick and George Steinbrenner have all been sued by the same guy.
As Philadelphia Inqurier Columnist Michael Klein recently reported, this fellow sued Lane "for trying to get the scoop" on him. Nowhere in my legal training did I learn how "trying to get the scoop" on somebody could rise to the level of an actionable offense. I suppose he'd have a case if Lane tried to "get the scoop" while banging him on the head with her iPhone. But the complaint contains no such allegations - though he did claim she had been trained by the CIA ("it's part of her first name").
Cue the Rod Serling music. I did a little research and quickly found it gets a lot more bizarre.
Last July this same plaintiff sued quarterback Michael Vick for billions of dollars because Vick had allegedly stolen his pit bulls, sold them on eBay, and used the proceeds to buy missiles from Iran. Vick, the plaintiff said, did so because he "pled allegiance to al-Qaeda." Michael Vick, Mastermind of Iran-contra 2.0. Imagine that.
This same litigant has also claimed that New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick (notorious for clandestinely taping the New York Jets) has orchestrated a "vast conspiracy with video equipment to illegally tape anything and everything with significant value" since the 1970s. Now that's clearly false. Nobody would argue that the Jets' defensive play signals had any "significant value."
According to another lawsuit the same man initiated, Barry Bonds and baseball commissioner Bud Selig plotted to boost baseball's TV ratings at two meetings at the I-70 Steak 'n' Shake, where Selig purportedly provided Bonds with steroids. As a result of that knowledge, Bonds called this plaintiff on the latter's iPhone and threatened him, though in this case the abuse was physical as well as verbal: "Barry Bonds on June 22, 2004, bench-pressed me against my will," reads the complaint.
Still, his wackiest work is a lawsuit filed against New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner ("Daddy Steinbrenner," as the plaintiff alleges Steinbrenner wanted to be called). Daddy Steinbrenner, he claims, "degraded, embarrassed, and harassed" him by calling him "Jonny Choo Choo," "Cake Boy" and "Sweet Cheeks." More disturbingly, Steinbrenner supposedly sent him constant love letters (15 per day!), one of which came with lipstick, used condoms, hot fudge, and a request to sing "Macho Man" upon his release from prison.
From the sounds of it, this goes beyond anything Billy Martin ever had to endure. Jonny Choo Choo? At his most acerbic, Steinbrenner had merely nicknamed Dave Winfield "Mr. May" - and Winfield deserved it.
You get the picture. I'm not going to dignify the con by naming him. Candidly, I suspect doing so would incur another frivolous lawsuit.
The allegations of Jonny Choo Choo aside, there's an important point to be made here. Americans are fortunate to have almost unfettered access to the courts. The sanctity of those courts empowers us all - including the proverbial "little guy" challenging the latest American Goliath.
But the fellow suing me is abusing that sanctity. Forget pushing the constitutional envelope. He's force-feeding it to the shredder.
I can't define the precise point when a lawsuit passes the Rubicon from creative to frivolous. But I know we all pay a price when they do.
Patently frivolous lawsuits filed by convicts with apparently unlimited access to computers and legal pads (and in this case, crayons) debase the judicial process. And we should not be prisoners to a process that exists to protect our liberties.
When phony plaintiffs abuse the judicial system, their rights need to be curtailed. Perhaps no cable TV for a week.
Follow Michael Smerconish on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@smerconish