If you have a good memory, you may recall the incident four years ago in which a street vendor was arrested because a judge disliked the coffee he sold. The event got considerable publicity -- most of it unflattering to the judge -- but then slipped out of the news. It is worth bringing the situation up to date because this is one of those times when the little guy won.

Thomas Zarcone's troubles began -- and so did those of Judge William Perry, although he didn't know it -- when the judge bought two containers of coffee from Mr. Zarcone's truck. The judge thought the coffee was terrible and ordered a deputy sheriff and two police officers to bring Mr. Zarcone in from his parking place outside a Long Island courthouse. They did and when Mr. Zarcone appeared in handcuffs, the judge spoke harshly to him of his coffee. Some witnesses even used the word "screamed" to describe the tone of voice.

Mr. Zarcone's troubles quickly got worse. Courthouse employees, he says, boycotted his truck and he was forced out of business. But the problems of Judge Perry also got worse. He was removed from his $40,000 judgeship a year later by state disciplinary authorities for lying about the incident. Then Mr. Zarcone sued him for damages and won $141,000 from a federal jury. Now Mr. Zarcone has sued him again, this time in a state court. The New York Times reported this week that the court has ruled the ex-judge may be liable for even more damages.

You can write your own moral for this story. At a minimum it is an inflationary tale.We can remember when bad coffee (which drives out good) only cost a dime.