Up until only a few decades ago many state and federal judges practiced sua sponte judicial review when dealing with lawsuits filed by self-represented / pro se litigants. Consequently, many of those pro se lawsuits were justifiably deemed meritless and summarily dismissed sua sponte.
The previous practice of sua sponte judicial review of pro se lawsuits needs to be codified into law NOW to put an end to the time consuming, expensive blight of meritless lawsuits filed by harassing, abusive pro se litigants that are flooding our courts. There is simply no good reason for the courts to participate in the deliberate and obvious intentions of abusive pro se litigants to weaponize the courts for the sole purpose of harassment and damaging innocent people’s finances and reputations.
The foundational principle of the U.S. Constitution and of state constitutions is fair and equal treatment under the law for everyone. As with any civil right, the 1st, 5th and 14th Amendments were never intended to empower abusive litigants to violate the actual civil rights of innocent people to life, liberty and property (14th Amendment). The current judicial practice enabling and empowering pro se litigants to weaponize the court system by filing meritless, harassing lawsuits against innocent victims is unconstitutional in that it gives pro se litigants unbridled power – for no just cause – to do significant undeserved and unjust damage to innocent parties’ finances (property) and reputations, thereby depriving innocent victims from having undisturbed lives free of harassment, constraints, and threats to their livelihood. Sua sponte judicial review of pro se litigants’ lawsuits is completely constitutional because such a process ensures that no innocent party incurs undue and unjustified defense and financial burdens. Sua sponte judicial review also ensures that the court process is respected. Requiring all pro se litigants’ lawsuits to undergo good sense sua sponte judicial review would weed out the frivolous, meritless, harassing lawsuits filed by many if not most pro se litigants.
Oftentimes abusive pro se litigants are vindictive ex-spouses/ex-partners, estranged family members, former employees or bad neighbors. Increasingly more abusive pro se litigants are religious fanatics, leaders of cults/coercive groups/new religious movements or their followers. Some pro se litigants exhibit clear signs of being delusional and mentally unbalanced. Meritless, harassing lawsuits filed by abusive pro se litigants cause significant financial and psychological damage to their victims who are forced to pay costly legal fees to defend their innocence and get these meritless lawsuits dismissed (due to the complexities of the law it is not recommended in most cases for innocent defendants to fight these abusive lawsuits pro se but they should rather be represented by reputable legal counsel). These meritless, harassing lawsuits filed by abusive pro se litigants are clogging the courts and preventing legitimate cases from getting timely hearings. Many if not most pro se litigants lose their lawsuits, but only after costly and time-consuming efforts by the victim-defendants.
Lawsuits cannot be ignored. If defendants do not respond to a lawsuit by filing an Appearance, an Answer, a Motion for Dismissal, etc., then a default judgment will be entered against the defendant for whatever monetary amounts, injunctions, etc. that the plaintiff requested. At that point the defendant is notified that a default judgment has been entered and the defendant has a certain amount of time to respond to the court, such as asking the court to set aside the default judgment. If a defendant is not notified of either a lawsuit or a default judgment or never responds to either the initial lawsuit notification or to the default judgment notification then the plaintiff can use that default judgment to seize the defendant’s assets, freeze bank accounts, and garnish wages.
Requiring preliminary sua sponte judicial review of all pro se litigants’ lawsuits would be very similar to the process that prosecutors’ offices have to take in order to obtain arrest warrants. State or district attorneys’ offices must present compelling proof before a judge in order to obtain arrest warrants. Yet in civil court pro se litigants (and sometimes unethical attorneys) can quite literally file preposterous claims – for example claiming that the defendants are aliens from another galaxy planting electrodes in the pro se litigants’ brains, or claiming that Jesus or some other supernatural entity is commanding them to “expose the wicked deeds of darkness” that they claim innocent defendants are committing against them – and those lawsuits are accepted by the court with no questions asked. For too many of these outrageous, baseless cases the court sets up hearings after time-consuming, costly hearings spanning not mere months but oftentimes years. In many cases the judges put pressure on the defendants to “settle” with the abusive, harassing, and in too many cases mentally disturbed pro se litigant, thereby actually putting pressure on innocent parties to reward the abusive litigant’s behavior. Could you imagine a prosecutor’s office being able to obtain instantaneous arrest warrants simply by accusing an innocent person – without one shred of proof – of being “demon possessed” or of being an alien from another galaxy intent on taking control of earth, or any number of other bizarre, completely unsubstantiated claims? Judicial review already exists for the issuance of arrest warrants, and judges are required to practice judicial review toward pro se litigants who have pre-filing injunctions and restrictions against them due to their previous attempts to bring meritless, abusive lawsuits against innocent parties. The same standard for sua sponte judicial review – which used to be practiced by many good sense judges in previous decades – needs to be codified into law for all civil cases filed by pro se litigants.
There is no way our courts’ current practice of empowering abusive pro se litigants to weaponize the court system by filing obviously meritless lawsuits against innocent people can even remotely qualify as constitutional. Victims of abusive, meritless pro se litigants are automatically presumed guilty and have to pay exorbitant amounts of money in attorney fees to defend themselves from false and defamatory lawsuits, oftentimes against pro se litigants who keep repeatedly filing their meritless lawsuits without restraint. Even when pre-filing injunctions that require judicial review of any subsequent lawsuits are finally imposed on abusive litigants there are either very little or no punitive consequences taken against them to provide real-world relief to their victims. The harsh reality of our present court system is that even when monetary judgments are ruled against abusive litigants the victims can rarely collect on those judgments.