Was Judge Christopher J. Muse Unhappy When Overturned By Pro Se Appellant
This article is part of our Pro Se Litigant series, case: Torres v. Torres – A Win, but for Who?
On October 30, 2013, The Massachusetts Court of Appeals, Appeal Case #2012-P-0524, overturned Judge Christopher J. Muse’s decision and the case was remanded to the trial court. What was unique in this case is that the Appellants were Pro Se, and that Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III was the founder of, and co-chairman of, the Committee to Impeach Judge Shirley R. Lewis.
Although extremely rare, this story goes far beyond the Massachusetts Court of Appeals overturning Judge Muse on arguments made by a Pro Se Appellant. This story has spanned decades, the Impeachment of Judge Shirley R. Lewis, which involved protests on the Courts and Statehouse doorsteps by thousands of Massachusetts residents, 97 complaints filed against her in the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, questions on the appointment of a First Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, the Register of Probates complaint against Judge Lewis, and a Massachusetts Governor who nearly became President. This story begs the question, is revenge by the Massachusetts Court System at the heart of it all, and what was the impact of the rumored tapes of Massachusetts Government high-corruption?
History is once again repeating itself; government officials blatantly lying, absolute power corrupting absolutely, our Courts truly believing that they answer only to themselves. This story is about how once, citizens fought back and saw a corrupt Judge removed from office behind their rallying cry for “Impeachment”.
This was a battle that lasted over 2 years, across most Massachusetts Eastern Counties. Between the 30 – 40 full front page advertisements calling for Judge Lewis’ Impeachment, and the hundreds of news stories published in newspapers, herd daily on radio and seen weekly on television, even nationally broadcast on CNN. Hundreds of protesters in front of the courts and at and in the Massachusetts Capital. Even a plane that flew over the Barnstable Courts with a banner shouting the war cry of the committee, “Impeach Judge Shirley R. Lewis”.
It is believed by most, the truth believed known by only a few, was that Judge Lewis was forced into early retirement by these efforts? Were there deals made to stop the most embarrassing challenge to the integrity of the Massachusetts Courts in its history? To say the least, Mr. Torres has been, and is well known to the Massachusetts Courts as a Court Reform activist. One who is rumored to have crossed state lines to record conversations, conversations with the highest authorities in the then Massachusetts Courts, and that those interstate recordings were admissible in Federal Court, if it affects a parties person, property or character. When asked if these tapes ever did, or do existed, Mr. Torres answered “no comment”.
It gets even more interesting. What most people forget is that then Governor Michael Dukakis had a strong lead in the 1988 race for President of the United States. It was Michael Dukakis who appointed Judge Shirley R. Lewis and it was rumored that prior to the judicial appointment of Judge Lewis, Mrs. Dukakis had hired then divorce attorney Shirley R. Lewis as her attorney.
That impeachment effort, was against over reaching government, Courts that thought themselves above being answerable to anyone but themselves, a judge that thought she was above the law, a government that believed they knew what was best for us. If this sounds all to familiar today, then you too can see why this story is once again so important, this was the only citizen Impeachment effort that actually got the judge removed.
Now we take it for granted that hearings of complaints against a Judge are open to the public. The Judicial Conduct Commission is no longer made up of just Judges. It is highly unlikely that these reforms, which happened in many states shortly after the Judge Lewis was removed, would have happened had there not been this uprising by citizens of good conscience against the tyranny of an overzealous government.
In the case of Plaintiffs Jesse E. Torres III, Jennifer J. Adams vs. Defendants: Sophie J. Torres, Jesse E. Torres IV (aka Jesse Stockwell, Jesse E. Stockwell), Debtmerica, LLC, Donald F. Torres, Massachusetts Civil Docket # BACV2011-00433 (Court Documents) the Plaintiffs appeal argued six (6) major points, 1) bias by Judge Christopher J. Muse toward Pro Se Litigants, 2) that Judge Muse wrongfully interpreted the law, 3) that an old (1947), long standing case of Johnson v. Star was long outdated and not relevant to the case, 4) that Judge Muse wrongfully, and solely on his own initiative, converted a “Failure to State a Claim” motion, to a motion for “Summary Judgement” , and 5) that the Barnstable County Clerks office knowingly overcharged the Plaintiffs hundreds of dollars for Summonses, failed to markup their motions for hearing, and went so far as not to make available to the Court the Plaintiffs duly filed motions for an active hearing, and 6) Judge Muse would not allow the Plaintiffs to argue their case while he argued the Defendants case for them.
The appeal contained charges of bias by Judge Christopher J. Muse against Pro Se Litigants with numerous quotes and reference s to the court transcripts such as Judge Muse stating [Trans C, 7, 4-5] :
“My family life is irrelevant. My judge and law life is very important. I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve never heard of an addendum to a will that’s a contract. I’ve never heard of it.”
It would be hard to argue that the first part of Judge Muse’s statement that “My family life is irrelevant. My judge and law life is very important”, had any thing to do with whether the a contract could be served from a will. Why did he add such a statement? Why no one knows what he was thinking, there are two things I would bet on, 1) Judge Muse didn’t like a Pro Se litigant having the audacity of arguing the law to him, and 2) he is less than happy that the Massachusetts Court of Appeals overturned his decision based on that same Pro Se litigants legal arguments, and sent the case back for trial.
On the second part of Judge Muse’s statement “I’ve never seen anything like this. I’ve never heard of an addendum to a will that’s a contract. I’ve never heard of it.” While the Appeal quoted numerous cases that showed that Judge Muse was in error, and that the identical facts of the case before him, are the ones quoted in the Legal Dictionary, a publication relied on by Courts, Judges and Attorneys throughout the United States, which defines these as “Will Contracts“, .
By our review of the case, their is no question that Judge Christopher J. Muse was biased, that he was wrong on Will Contracts, that he was wrong when he converted the Plaintiffs 12 b(6) motions to a Summary Judgement Motion and he was wrong on how the legal definition of a contract is determined. Argument on all these facts were clearly stated in the Appeal, as were countless cases in support, and the transcripts with Judge Muse’s own words.
Appeals Court Agrees? Sometimes you have to shake your head, we just can’t make this stuff up. This is from the Massachusetts Court of Appeals ruling:
These are significant questions that may have broad implications. However, because we conclude that it is unnecessary to decide them in this case, as a matter of judicial prudence we decline to do so.”
Stay tuned for part 2 of this story, get ready to shake your head.