U.S. Supreme Court
"Vexatious Litigant" Statute
Information Center
ABOUT THE STATUTE

Under California's novel  "vexatious litigant" statute (California Civil Procedure Code section 391.7), the name of any litigant who fails to hire a lawyer (i.e., any pro se litigant) may be put on an official blacklist distributed by Judicial Council of California (Administrative Office of the Courts) for the purpose of being barred for life (see sec. 391(b)(4)) from filing any litigation in California (except in small claims court) and to be stigmatized for life as a "vexatious litigant". This can result from conduct which is not at all blameworthy - something as inconsequential as having filed one or two motion papers in a single litigation which a judge deems to be unmeritorious (see 391(b)(3)) - or having been unsuccessful in five litigations in a seven year period (see 391(b)(1)) - regardless of the merit of those litigations.
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ONE Strike and You're Out -
One technical slip and you're out of Court for life under the
"Vexatious Litigant" Statute
The statute which punishes those who do NOTHING MORE BLAMEWORTHY than  FAIL TO HIRE A LAWYER
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CONTACT YOUR LEGISLATIVE REPRESENTATIVE TO REPEAL THIS OPPRESSIVE STATUTE - FREEDOM FROM THE LAWYEROCRACY!

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NEW! MESSAGE BOARD FOR PUBLIC DISCUSSION OF THIS STATUTE!
Some Facts About California's
 "Vexatious Litigant" Statute

The penalties of the statute apply only to those who fail to hire a lawyer
The statute was sponsored by the Los Angeles County Bar Association (a trade union for lawyers)
The statute may apply to someone who has had only one lawsuit in his entire life (if a judge deems any one of his court papers to be "without merit")
The statute also applies to those who have lost 5 lawsuits in a 7 year period even if those lawsuits were completely meritorious

Victims of the Statute:
The phrase "vexatious litigant" conjurs up an image of someone filing zillions of groundless lawsuits. In a few isolated cases that may have been true. Those are the cases that were published. Those are the cases held up by the bar associations to lend  dignity to the statute. [Note that the bar associations originally sponsored this statute which applies only to those who fail to hire a lawyer.]
The reality however is very different.
In the vast majority of the cases (at least based on our initial research of court records) it is simple, ordinary people who are victims of the "vexatious litigant"statute. Unscrupulous lawyers use it as a tactical weapon. Most of those on the Judicial Council's blacklist did nothing "vexatious"at all. Most of them are too poor to hire a lawyer. Some of them had never before been involved in any litigation. Some of them were the Defendants in the action (contrary to the letter and spirit of the statute intended to protect defendants not plaintiffs).

 Actual Case Studies of Injustices
Under the "Vexatious Litigant" Statute
"Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants" (Justice Louis D. Brandeis, 1914)
The Legislature Amended the Statute in 1990to Defeat Mr. Coutin's Lawsuit against Judicial Corruption
Involved in only one litigation. Now suing against federal Local Rule 27a.
In Family Law Matter, Based on Actions taken by His Lawyer
Had been in Business-Related Litigation,Settled Cases Counted as Losses, Right of Appeal Denied
Wife was blacklisted AFTER dismissed from lawsuit
Blacklisting Order was vacated but his Name remains on Judicial Council's Blacklist
She was Defendant (Not Plaintiff): No Motion was Made: No Hearing: No Judge (unapproved Commissioner made the order)
Case Had been Settled. Blaclisting based on Small Claims Cases.
--Type Summary Here--
 CONSTITUTIONAL ANALYSIS
 OF THE STATUTE

The Wolfgram Case is far from Conclusive
The threat of being blacklisted chills the right to petition for all California pro se litigants. In addition, regarding those already blacklisted, the prefiling order sets up a lifetime threat of punishment for exercising their First Amendment right to file a lawsuit
TALIAFERRO WAS DECIDED BEFORE THE 1990 AMENDMENTS TO THE STATUTE AND BEFORE BODDIE V. CONNECTICUT QUALIFIED COHEN V. BENEFICIAL LOAN CORP
WOLFGRAM’S DUE PROCESS ANALYSIS OVERLOOKS THAT EVEN A TEMPORARY DEPRIVATION OF A PROTECTED RIGHT (THE RIGHT TO FILE A LITIGATION) IS CONSTITUTIONALLY PROHIBITED (AS IN FUENTES V. SHEVIN)
THE EXCLUSION OF BLAMEWORTHINESS FROM CONSIDERATION AT THE §391.2-, OR §391.7-, HEARING IS CONTRARY TO THE RULE OF BELL V. BURSON
THE STATUTE’S PRESUMPTIONS REGARDING THE BLAMEWORTHINESS OF PRO SE LITIGANTS IS CONTRARY TO STANLEY V. ILLINOIS
THE PAINS AND PENALTIES OF SECTION 391 ET SEQ APPLY ONLY TO LITIGANTS WHO FAIL TO HIRE A LAWYER (ATTORNEY-REPRESENTED LITIGANTS ARE EXEMPT) THEREFORE IT DENIES EQUAL PROTECTION UNDER THE 14TH AMENDMENT TO ALL CALIFORNIA PRO SE LITIGANTS
THE STRICT SCRUTINY STANDARD OF REVIEW IS APPLICABLE BECAUSE: A) THE FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT OF ACCESS TO THE COURTS IS AFFECTED; B) THE DISCRIMINATION AGAINST PRO SE LITIGANTS IS INVIDIOUS; C) THE PRO SE CLASSIFICATION IS ITSELF A PROTECTED CLASS; D) SPEECH IS BEING REGULATED IN A PUBLIC FORUM; AND, E) §391 ET SEQ DISCRIMINATES AGAINST A SUSPECT CLASSIFICATION (THOSE TOO POOR TO AFFORD ATTORNEYS’ FEES)
SEC. 391 ET SEQ IS NOT NECESSARY FOR THE FURTHERANCE OF A COMPELLING STATE INTEREST
EVEN UNDER A LENIENT STANDARD OF REVIEW THE CLASSIFICATION FAILS THE PRESUMPTION THAT A LAWYER-REPRESENTED LITIGANT IS LESS LIKELY TO FILE GROUNDLESS LITIGATION IS IRRATIONAL
SECTION 391.7 VIOLATES DUE PROCESS BY OFFENDING THE GUARANTEE OF THE MAGNA CHARTA THAT JUSTICE IS NOT FOR SALE LITIGANTS CANNOT BE REQUIRED TO PAY TRIBUTE TO OFFICERS OF THE COURT IN ORDER TO BE HEARD
THE BLACKLISTING SCHEME OF SEC. 391.7 CONSTITUTES GOVERNMENT CENSORSHIP BY AN UNLAWFUL PRIOR RESTRAINT ON THE RIGHT TO PETITION IMPERMISSIBLE UNDER THE FIRST AMENDMENT - WOLFGRAM’S LICENSING SCHEME PARADIGM IS FLAWED
SECTION 391.7 CIRCUMVENTS THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURAL PROTECTIONS OF CALIFORNIA’S BARRATRY STATUTES
LIFETIME LOSS OF A FUNDAMENTAL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT IS PUNISHMENT UNCONSTITUTIONALLY DISPROPORTIONATE TO THE OFFENSE OF LOSING FIVE LITIGATIONS IN A SEVEN-YEAR PERIOD
--Type Summary Here--
§391(b)(4) denies due process by applying a mere finding made in one action as res judicata for all future actions
SECTION §391.7 DENIES DUE PROCESS BY REQUIRING AN ACTION TO BE TAKEN WITHOUT SPECIFYING THE PROCEDURE FOR ACCOMPLISHING THAT ACTION
SECTION 391 ET SEQ CONSTITUTES A BILL OF ATTAINDER -- PROHIBITED BY ARTICLE I, §10, UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION
"Vexatious Litigant" Statute Information Center