Loco Lawsuits: God in Court

Not surprisingly, one of the things taught first-year law students is how to actually get someone into court. Two of the most fundamental principles are that the court has to have jurisdiction over the defendant and the defendant has to be served with notice of the suit.  These can be stumbling blocks when a deity, God, say, is a party to a lawsuit.

One of the more publicized lawsuits against God was filed in Nebraska in 2007. Then-State Senator Ernie Chambers asked a state court for a permanent injunction against God. Among other things, Chambers alleged God had caused and would continue to cause “calamitous catastrophes resulting in the widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth’s inhabitants including innocent babes, infants, children, the aged and infirm without mercy or distinction.” These events included “fearsome floods, egregious earthquakes, horrendous hurricanes, terrifying tornados [sic], pestilential plagues, ferocious famines, devastating drouths [sic], genocidal wars, birth defects, and the like.”

Chambers admitted that, “despite reasonable efforts,” to serve God with the lawsuit he had been unable to do so. That shouldn’t matter, he alleged, because God “in addition to being Omnipresent, also is all-knowing (‘Omniscient’).”

Chambers wasn’t actually mad at God. He told an Omaha television station that his lawsuit was filed in response to bills introduced in the Nebraska legislature to try and stop certain lawsuits from being filed. “The Constitution requires that the courthouse doors be open, so you cannot prohibit the filing of suits,” Chambers said. “Anyone can sue anyone they choose, even God.” Others reported the suit was to illustrate how easy it was to file frivolous lawsuits.

Regardless of the reason, the lawsuit didn’t go far. It was dismissed the following year on the rationale Chambers could never serve God. His reaction was much like his complaint. “Since God knows everything, God has notice of this lawsuit,’’ Chambers said.

Shortly before the Chambers lawsuit, a Romanian prison inmate took a different tack. Serving 20 years for murder, Pavel Mircea sued God for not protecting him against the devil. Mircea argued that his baptism was a contract with God to keep the devil away and keep him out of trouble. “He was supposed to protect me from all evils and instead he gave me to Satan who encouraged me to kill,” he claimed.

This lawsuit didn’t go far either. It was dismissed on the basis God isn’t a person in the eyes of the law and has no legal residence.

Other litigants have invoked deities in their cases. In a federal lawsuit in Pennsylvania Lester Raymond Doss sued on his own behalf and on behalf of “Jehovah,” as well as the “the Hebrews and Wissdom” [sic]. He claimed he was the ” Sun of the Lordd of Godd [sic],” that “citizens of the earth try to apprehend and maim and kill [him],” and that “Americans (all of them) try to maim — put [him] in chains — injury — irons and attempt to kill [him] because [he is] righteous and virtuous[.]” He also claimed that the United States and U.S. Postal Service were not giving his correspondence to others. Therefore, “y’all owe me $3,000,000,000,000,000,000 dollars for your crime and murder and lies and mercer [sic] that y’all have done against me.”

The court recognized that poor pro se litigants cannot be denied a day in court simply because their allegations are unlikely. “When allegations rise to the level of the irrational or the wholly incredible, however,” the court said, a complaint is frivolous as a matter of law. Therefore, the lawsuit was dismissed.

Last year, “Creator Lord God, aka Royal Clark Robertson” sued the Texas Department of Criminal Justice in federal court in Hawaii. I guess if you’re an inmate in Texas suing in Hawaii might give hope of a vacation there. But all Robertson claimed was “Let me endangers exists of all states T.D.C.J. and others gangs inmates and all gangs employees civils rights toward all my enemys [sic] gangs on deaths exists by my my [sic] majicals [sic] psychos powers amendments is to produces results 1st to 29th!” Not surprisingly, in December the suit was dismissed although Robertson could bring it again — if he filed it in Texas.

Litigants don’t discriminate among deities. Although less rare than God, Satan also appears in lawsuits in the United States, as the next Loco Lawsuits will explore.

To you I’m an atheist; to God, I’m the Loyal Opposition.

Woody Allen, Stardust Memories

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