By Keith L. Alexander
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 31, 2007
Roy L. Pearson Jr., the administrative law judge who lost his $54 million lawsuit against a Northeast Washington dry cleaner, lost his job yesterday and was ordered to vacate his office, sources said.
Pearson, 57, who had served as a judge for two years, was up for a 10-year term at the Office of Administrative Hearings, but a judicial committee last week voted against reappointing him.
The panel had a seven-page letter hand-delivered to Pearson about 3:30 p.m., directing him to leave his office by 5 p.m. Pearson's term ended in May, at the height of his battle with the dry cleaners. Since then, he has remained on the payroll, making $100,000 a year as an attorney adviser.
A source familiar with the committee's meetings said Pearson's lawsuit played little role in the decision not to reappoint him.
Instead, the committee said it had reviewed Pearson's judicial decisions and audiotapes of proceedings over which he had presided and found he did not demonstrate "appropriate judgment and judicial temperament," according a source who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.
Sources said Pearson also was criticized for displaying a "combative" nature with supervisors and colleagues and for failing to comply with policies in drafting opinions.
Administrative law judges hear cases involving city agencies and commissions.
The Commission on Selection and Tenure of Administrative Law Judges first notified Pearson in August that it might not reappoint him, several weeks after he lost his civil suit against the dry cleaners. Pearson was asked to provide witnesses on his behalf. However, no witnesses testified.
The group met last week at D.C. Superior Court and officially voted not to reappoint Pearson.
Pearson has not responded to recent requests for comment.
Pearson waged a legal battle against Custom Cleaners, alleging that the shop on Bladensburg Road NE lost a pair of pants he brought in for $10.50 worth of alterations. Pearson sued the owners, Soo Chung and her family, and lost when a D.C. Superior Court judge ruled in favor of the Chungs.
The judicial committee was made up of its chairman, D.C. Superior Court Judge Robert R. Rigsby; Judge Anita Josey-Herring, presiding judge of Family Court; and Peter Willner, a senior policy analyst at the nonprofit Council for Court Excellence. Two others serve as nonvoting members: Tyrone T. Butler, chief administrative law judge, and George Valentine, a senior lawyer in the D.C. attorney general's office.