Abuse of the Legal System

By Attorney Gregg Herman
February 4, 2014

Occasionally, someone abuses the legal system by filing numerous motions, affidavits and other pleadings.  They are typically pro se and view the legal system as some type of conspiracy, on which they are on the wrong side.  They can make legal proceedings extremely expensive.

A court of appeals case released today is a good example.  In Anderson v. Anderson, 2012AP280, the court found:

Mr. Anderson has engaged in repetitive, overly burdensome, and non-meritorious motion practice.  On June 4, 2012, Mr. Anderson filed a motion seeking relief from the judgment, contempt sanctions against Ms. Anderson, and various other orders.  The motion was accompanied by an eighty-four-page affidavit.  When Ms. Anderson’s attorney reduced the oral judgment to writing, Mr. Anderson responded with a letter objecting to the existence of the finding and conclusions and alleging that Ms. Anderson and various unspecified officers of the court perpetuated and profited from an unexplained Fraud upon the Court.  On November 2, 2012, Mr. Anderson filed a motion in the circuit court seeking to set aside the judgment for fraud.  He supplemented this motion with a filing on December 11, 2012.  Mr. Anderson also filed several motions objecting to an October 9, 2012 hearing on an order to show cause why he should not be held in contempt for failure to make maintenance payments.

Despite these filings, Mr. Anderson has effectively abandoned the adjudication process since the May 9, 2012 decision.

Sometimes in the past, the courts have failed to deal with these people with sufficient toughness.  For example, in Puchner v. Hepperla, 2001 WI App 50, 241 Wis. 2d 545, 625 N.W.2d 609, the CA court found an appeal frivolous and barred Mr. Puchner from commencing future proceedings until monetary sanctions are paid in full.  Very nice, except it was the 21st (count ’em) appeal the Mr. Puchner appealed before the court said enough.

Therefore, it was nice to see the CA in Anderson make the following order:

The clerk of this court is instructed to return unfiled any document submitted by Mr. Anderson relating to any matter involving Ms. Anderson.  On remand, the circuit court shall enter whatever order is necessary to give direction to the clerk of the circuit court relating to this opinions prohibition on future filings by Mr. Anderson.  The clerk of this court will resume accepting Mr. Anderson’s documents for filing if the documents are accompanied by an order of the circuit court indicating that Mr. Anderson has paid the costs, fees, and reasonable attorney fees awarded on remand.

We have a legal system which prides itself on being fair and open.  That’s fine when the parties are using the system appropriately.  When they are abusing it, the courts need to stop them.
Attorney Gregg Herman is a founding partner of Loeb & Herman, LLC in Milwaukee, WI. He practices family law exclusively, and can be reached via e-mail or by calling (414) 272-5632.