Thursday, April 2, 2020

Thanks for the Megaphones

My Tuesday blog post this week, “Have Fun!,” included a challenge for readers  can you identify the clueless gay Mormon boys pictured in old photographs? (Psst: Don’t give away the answers in the comments if you've already read “Have Fun!”)

Both of these examples came from Northern Utah. They date from either 1883 or 1983:

The top photo was actually taken in Farmington, Utah, on my last ever visit to Lagoon Amusement Park. Nowadays I seldom have the opportunity to indulge my passion for roller coasters. In contrast, when I was a teenager in Utah we lived less than an hour away from Lagoon. I regularly went for thrills with friends or family. 

Forty years later, I can only remember details from two visits to Lagoon. The first memory is actually a composite of four annual Pioneer Days. Every 24th of July, the band from Box Elder High marched in the Pioneer Day Parade before descending on Lagoon in our purple polyester trousers. (We left the rest of the band uniforms on the school bus.)

My second Lagoon memory is from Spring 1983. As I described this week in “Have Fun!,” the gang from my sophomore year at Brigham Young University posed for that sepia-toned portrait in Lagoons “Pioneer Village.” The other group photo was taken at the mall a few weeks later, when I was learning Korean at the Missionary Training Center before shipping out to Seoul. 

Here’s another quiz question:  How many non-Utahn readers recognized the reference in the title of my essay “Have Fun!”? 

As other locals will confirm, back when I was a clueless gay Mormon boy myself, a Lagoon employee said “Have Fun!” whenever you embarked on one of the rides. Do they still do that today?

I found Lagoon’s ancient slogan inspiring. When I was still a teenager in Utah, I began signing all my letters and postcards “Have fun, love Roger. My letters home always ended the same way, regardless of whether I was an exchange student in Switzerland, a Mormon missionary in Korea, or a gay rights lawyer in Chicago. After four decades I still sign all my personal correspondence “Have fun.” No exclamation mark.

In contrast, my business and professional correspondence always ends with a different tag line:  “Let me know if you have any questions.” If I really like the addressee, I’ll add a “Please.”  

I can only recall two occasions in the last year when legal correspondence omitted my customary closing. Both occurred during the same week in October 2019, and involved my ongoing public education campaign regarding the serious consequences of lawyer dishonesty.

In May 2017, I filed a lawsuit seeking compensation from Ogden Murphy Wallace PLLC and one of its partners, Patrick Pearce. Defendants are the Seattle lawyer-investigators that my former employers hired to justify my wrongful termination. Unfortunately, my case has now been on hold for almost three and a half years – ever since Defendants’ second set of insurance defense lawyers convinced the busy trial judge to dismiss my Complaint on an erroneous technicality.

Fortunately, last fall I won my appeal in the Washington Court of Appeals. At that point the case could have returned to the trial court. There the Ogden Murphy Wallace lawyers will finally answer questions under oath about the fraudulent representations they made to a gay single dad suffering from discrimination and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. 

Rather than face the truth, however, Ogden Murphy Wallace again responded with stall tactics. On October 3, 2019, thirty minutes before the court deadline, Defendants attorneys filed a long-shot petition seeking discretionary review by the Washington Supreme Court.

Here’s the account of my frustrated reaction in “The Prime of Roger A. Leishman, Esq.”:

On my way to chorus rehearsal in Vancouver that week I was seething. Not because Defendants exercised their right to seek discretionary review of the Court of Appeals’ decision, or because their Petition for Review was predictably sleazy, or even because I’d be waiting until at least Fall 2020 to finally have my day in court. No, I was frustrated because as a lawyer and a writer, I knew I wouldn't be able to resist filing an Answer to Petition for Review. I couldn't think of anything I could say to the Supreme Court that would make it even less likely for them to accept Defendants’ half-baked appeal. And I used to write exactly this kind of brief for a living.

Then like the Grinch I had a terrible, horrible, wonderful idea – why not try to make it more likely that the Washington Supreme Court would take the case? 

The result is described in my blog essay “This is what ‘Impact Litigation’ Looks Like.” I joined the strategically clueless folks at Ogden Murphy in urging the Supreme Court to accept review. This case indeed presents important issues of substantial public interest that should be determined by our Supreme Court. I explicitly invited the Court to take this opportunity to provide guidance to lower courts and the public – not just about the proper interpretation of Washington’s whistleblower protection statute, but also about how the legal system should respond when lawyers start lying, and then won’t stop.

Sure enough, the Washington Supreme Court accepted review. Oral argument is set for June 9, 2020.

Back to Lagoon. 

One of the two times last year when I omitted my customary “Let me know if you have any questions” happened right after I filed my Answer to Defendants’ Petition for Review. When I forwarded a copy of my Answer to another experienced civil rights lawyer, I accidentally ended my email with “Have fun” instead. Must have been a Freudian slip.

My other omission came at the end of a letter I sent to Defendants’ lawyers earlier that week. Before filing my Answer with the Washington Supreme Court, I provided a copy to Defendants, together with a letter extending my final – and damned reasonable – offer to settle all of my claims against Ogden Murphy Wallace PLLC and Patrick Pearce. As with each of my other settlement overtures during the last four years, Defendants and their lawyers ignored my letter.

Here’s how I concluded my letter to Defendants’ previous “Great Lawyer” before their insurance company hired a new attorney in February 2020 to handle the rest of the appeal, because of the unanticipated success of Defendants’ petition for review by the Washington Supreme Court:

“Thank you for handing me the megaphone I could never afford myself.” 

Click here for more information about my lawsuit against Ogden Murphy Wallace PLLC and Patrick Pearce

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