Yes, I consider myself a leader in the disability rights movement, and it’s not just me who thinks so. The federal government found me to be “qualified” to the general counsel of the U.S. Access Board in 2014. This is the agency which writes regulations to implement the Americans with Disabilities Act.
Further, the American Bar Association made me its January 2014 “Spotlight” attorney with disabilities: “a political advocate for persons with disabilities.” I founded Disability Party on February 5, 2013 and in 2018 we have thousands of followers in over 40 countries.
When I sued a newspaper for libeling me (attacking my work to obtain about 150 handicap spaces missing in Streamwood, Illinois, by printing that I was an extortionist), the Illinois Court of Appeals in Chicago said instead that I am, “a public figure who works on disability rights.” (at p. 2)
TRICKS, NOT TREATS
I have been struggling against two courts in particular and the first one owes me a debt of gratitude. The Indiana Supreme Court was my employer and I was hired by the Chief Justice of Indiana to provide all the statistics for over 400 courts, and my job description included working with every judge and justice in the State of Indiana. I invented the Indiana protective order database in a White House and Harvard University contest in 2001.
When a reckless driver crossed the centerline and hit me at 60 mph, my life was changed forever. The Court started attacking me. Before the accident, I was offered a promotion. After the accident that broke both my legs and my pelvis, I was told that I don’t walk fast enough anymore. My handicap parking was removed so that I would have to walk much farther each day. Despite the fact that I invented the protective order inventory used by the Court and law enforcement in all 92 counties, the court administrator lied that I was never a good employee. All mention of the promotion was absent.
But this is just background information. I complained about the vicious manner in which I was treated both at work and in my law licensing in Indiana, where my mental disability from the U.S. Marine Corps was revealed to the people with whom I worked at the Court. I had that mental disability because I was poisoned at birth in the base hospital. When I made my ADA complaint in 2014, it unleashed the Court ADA coordinator, who attacked my mental disabilities again, like in 2002, especially those I got from being poisoned at Camp LeJeune, where I was born.
She attacked cases as “frivolous” when no case and no filing I have ever made was frivolous. This is just a fact. If I had won, there would be more disabled law students and lawyers because law schools would track their numbers. Harvard Law School now does what I asked. If I had won, there would be more protection for disabled parents who simply want time with their children. If I had won, there would be greater health insurance claims privacy and no newspaper could extort a disabled person into providing access. I had to put up with abuse because I protected my own privacy. The Illinois Department of Insurance said that lawyer who escaped punishment violated my HIPAA rights. Finally, no ADA coordinator would be allowed to retaliate against a complaint.
But I lost. My Indiana license, so hard-fought in 2002-2006, was suspended forever despite the lie that the suspension was for 180 days. As a practical matter, that license will never come back. In re Straw, 68 N.E.3d 1070, 1071, 1073 (Ind. 2017), cert. denied sub nom. Straw v. Indiana Supreme Court, 137 S. Ct. 2309 (2017), reh’g denied, No. 16-1346, 2017 WL 4506877 (U.S. Oct. 10, 2017).
Fortunately, the Virginia State Bar said this was a “drive-by shooting” and held that I met the clear and convincing standard to show I should not be disciplined. In Virginia I was not disciplined, not even a private reprimand.
This did not matter to 4 Midwest U.S. District Courts in the 7th Circuit, which imposed the identical discipline as Indiana imposed even when those federal courts did not impose discipline in their own cases which Indiana used against me. Virginia’s exoneration of myself did not sway the American Bar Association, which terminated my membership based on these courts suspending me over nothing but a couple federal judges stating I filed something “frivolous,” something I said was wrong. The 11th Circuit refused me a bar membership because of what Indiana and these district courts did to me. The Indiana Lawyer covered my suspension with errors, such as the fact that the discipline started with the Court’s ADA Coordinator retaliating against my ADA complaint just days after I made it.
TACTICS OF JUDICIAL DISABILITY DISCRIMINATION
Obviously, from the above it is easy to see that the word “frivolous” is the weapon of choice of judges who discriminate. I received an indefinite suspension that has now gone on for over 660 days and it was derived from two federal courts saying the word “frivolous” in my ADA cases with no sanction. How can someone get no sanction, not even a private reprimand, then a former employer state court blows that up in retaliation to nearly 2 years now of suspension?
The answer is retaliation. None of that Indiana disciplinary process existed at all until I made an ADA complaint in 2014. The Indiana Supreme Court has a new ADA Coordinator and she told me that retaliation is not possible after an ADA complaint. But she would not explain why her predecessor did it. I had a long list of ADA complaints in 2014 since I was an employee from 2000-2002, and the Court and its disciplinary agency stomped on me like a raging fire that needed to be put out.
Other states don’t assume that justices are right. Other states impeach them when they go too far.
The term frivolous is so amorphous, one court can say it casually while another thinks it means ethical bankruptcy. Nobody can properly define it. “I know it when I see it” is not enough to suspend a law license forever. That is why it is a critical weapon in the arsenal of fear that judges use against disabled lawyers and litigants. Federal judges don’t like new ADA arguments or broad expansion of disability rights. (see ADA Amendments Act of 2008, where Congress blasted the federal courts for limiting the scope of the ADA). My proposed expansions were supported by Harvard Law School, the ABA, the National Council on Disability, the Great Lakes ADA Center, the Illinois Department of Insurance, the Illinois Office of Inspector General, Medicare, and others.
Even worse for courts is a former court employee like me at a very high level who accuses the Indiana Supreme Court of discrimination. Court employees can expose corruption and sometimes do. See, West Virginia’s impeachment of its entire state supreme court. It is absolutely imperative to show that such an employee is crazy and incompetent using cases like Lee v. Clinton, 209 F.3d 1025 (7th Cir. 2000). That case is very easily abused and it serves as a kind of signal for other judges not to take the person seriously and to “gear up” for libel and rejection of the case, no matter how much merit it has.
It is revealing that the Indiana Supreme Court ADA coordinator would use the same “incompetent” language, mirroring Lee v. Clinton. This was the strategy against me: showing that my poisoning and mental illness caused by the U.S. Marine Corps at birth made me incompetent to complain or use the ADA.In fact, having those disabilities and my broken legs and pelvis (from driving to the Indiana Supreme Court to work) made me more competent to identify discrimination on that basis.
Lee v. Clinton should in fact be a defense against the word frivolous because when someone is in fact incompetent, they did not file something deliberately with an improper intent. Lee v. Clinton was about someone who was obviously mentally ill and not treated for it. It’s easy to pick on someone like that and laugh (if you have a mean streak, like many judges do), but the way 7th Circuit district and circuit judges use it is hate speech. It is not frivolous to be unwell and speak and make court filings while unwell. Judges who disrespect people who are unwell exhibit disability discrimination. This discrimination violates obligations in the judicial ethics canons.
Libel is the next engine of warfare against a disabled lawyer or litigant. I decided to fight against my 5 suspensions with no hearings at first, to no avail. After I had opposed all 5 at the Seventh Circuit, the court was hell-bent on punishing me, likely because I created a record of the abuses and exposed the 7th Circuit hiring my Indiana hearing officer and making him a federal judge.
After I lost a case I should have won about municipal sidewalks in Northern Illinois being full of ice and snow piles, Chief Judge Diane Wood appeared to threaten to take away my right to use the federal courts in the 7th Circuit. Straw v. Village of Streamwood, et. al., 17-1867 (7th Cir. 2018). The opinion said I had no chance of success in opposing discipline even when neither Indiana nor any of the four U.S. District Courts gave me a hearing, as required by due process and U.S. Supreme Court precedent. In Re Ruffalo, 390 U.S. 544 (1968).
This was Wood’s retaliation after I made a complaint to the Administrative Office of U.S. Courts about her long list of ethical violations, including hiring my appellee (the dishonest Indiana hearing officer) during my appeal against him. Diane Wood also said in 2017 that I could not file any further complaints (after my first) about the ethics violations she was involved in without first paying a $1,000 bond she knew I could not pay.
And that’s how the banning of me happened. I reached the end of my appeals to have my licenses reinstated, then decided that I did not want any further licenses in the Midwest. I asked all four of the U.S. District Courts to rescind, and two did: Western District of Wisconsin and Northern District of Illinois. When I asked the federal courts in Indiana to rescind, they would not. They gave no sound reason for rejecting my First Amendment right not to associate with them, but I know the real reason is their desire to always have my license suspended so that it would cause me trouble like what happened at the 11th Circuit, where I was denied a license.
I appealed and lost, as usual. The 7th Circuit stated that my appeal was frivolous and this was untrue. Even the Chief Judge of the Northern District of Indiana allowed my appeal in forma pauperis, and that means the appeal was not frivolous. But the 7th Circuit likes to abuse me and did again here. Despite the fact that two districts in the same circuit agreed with me, the 7th Circuit appears to want me to have suspended licenses in its district courts for what can only be abusive reasons. Straw v. U.S. District Court (INND), 18-2192 (7th Cir.) Judge William T. Lawrence stated that I could not make any motions in my suspension case anymore.In Re Andrew U. D. Straw, 1:17-mc-00013-WTL-TAB (S.D. Ind.) (Dkt. 40) No motion to reinstate and no motion to rescind was allowed. This made it very obvious that the Midwest abusers wish to keep on damaging me for the rest of my life. I cannot get that license removed or reinstated.
This is part of why I sued the United States to get damages for all of this and more and have the legislation creating the 7th Circuit abolished as a 5th Amendment violation. Straw v. United States, 18-5247 (D.C. Cir.)
The 7th Circuit used a case against me to deny the rescission that was outrageous. In Re Wick, 628 F.3d 379 (2010). This was a case about an attorney who overbilled (stole) money from his clients to the tune of over $1 million. Wick wanted to rescind his license and the 7th Circuit said no. To accuse me of being like Wick was libel. I am not a criminal like Wick. Wick was disbarred. I was never disbarred, only falsely suspended with no bona fide hearing in 5 courts.
My last appeal that I will ever take to the 7th Circuit was a slam dunk for me, but I lost again because of the dishonesty of the 7th Circuit panel. I sued Indiana. Its counsel from the Indiana Attorney General lied to the trial court that 29 days was still “timely” when the actual time limit was 21 days after service and everyone knows this under FRCP Rule 12(a). Instead of rejecting an obvious liar, the trial court granted her motion for more time, then granted the motion to dismiss made possible by the lies in the motion for more time. I appealed and was banned from using the federal courts of the 7th Circuit. Straw v. Indiana, 18-2878 (7th Cir.).
The Court of Appeals did not even force the appellee to submit a brief, but just laid into me with all the dishonesty of the underlying lies at Dkt. 17 of Straw v. Indiana, 1:17-cv-4158-WTL (S.D. Ind.). The ORDER denying me justice and launching into a diatribe against me for using the courts to defend my ADA and constitutional rights did not spend one word analyzing the material falsehoods that were so obviously, painfully in the record. I was punished merely for using the Court of Appeals, and it did not matter how much I deserved justice.
Those judges just did not want me there and so took away my right to use all of the courts in the 7th Circuit area. I cannot and will not pay the $500 fine imposed on me. I will not accept a punishment for losing a case they unlawfully made me lose, rewarding a crime in the trial court. The ORDER of sanction invoked more cases about criminals and compared with them. See In re: City of Chi., 500 F.3d 582, 585-86 (7th Cir. 2007); Support Sys. Intl, Inc. v. Mack, 45 F.3d 185, 186(7th Cir. 1995) (per curiam).
So, what have the past 4 years of interacting with these courts taught me as a disability rights lawyer and leader? Courts can be deceptive, malicious, and discriminate at will with no one to stop them. They use the word frivolous when they just want to hurt you and can’t think of any other way. They will imply that you are incompetent or “crazy” by comparing you with people who were unwell and obviously untreated. Then they will switch to libel, so glibly comparing you to someone who violated criminal laws and was disbarred. They did this to me knowing full well that I have no criminal record and was suspended without any hearing. I never received any hearing before the 7th Circuit when my own right to use the federal courts was removed. All I got was a response to a show cause ORDER and my pleading was completely ignored.
The 7th Circuit is a court that needs to be abolished and all the judges removed from office for violating the 5th Amendment. This is possible because the Bill of Rights and the 5th Amendment amended Article III and those Article III judges are subject to the Bill of Rights. I have had enough of the bitter fruit of the 7th Circuit and I will never go there again or even try to use those courts when they are liars and vicious disability bigots.
But what can you expect from an evil tree?
Matthew 7:16-20 King James Version (KJV)
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.