The Prison Inmate Who’s Spent 40 Years Filing Hundreds of Lawsuits
Last year, I wrote about a man who filed more than 1,900 federal lawsuits between February 2006 and March 2016. While John Robert Demos, Jr., a Washington State Penitentiary inmate, has filed fewer lawsuits, all have come while in prison. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court is among the courts entering separate orders to restrict his filings.
The G.O.A.T. of Frivolous Lawsuits?
Inmate’s prison pastime was filing thousands of baseless claims
In 1978, Demos was convicted of attempted rape and first-degree burglary in a Washington state court. He was sentenced to an indeterminate sentence of 240 months to life in prison and is still incarcerated. In 1979 and 1980, the Washington Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, respectively, unanimously affirmed his conviction. He filed his own appellate briefs in addition to those filed by his attorney. Both courts said the issues his brief raised had no merit.
Demos Starts Filing Lawsuits Throughout the Country
Demos kept asking Washington courts to overturn his conviction. By December 22, 1981, the state’s Supreme Court ordered the court’s commissioner or clerk of courts to review any of his future petitions to assess if they should be filed.
Demos happily resorted to federal courts, so much so that one federal court judge says he’s “well-known locally and nationally as an abusive litigant.” The electronic federal court docket system shows Demos filing 335 cases in the federal district courts in Washington alone, seven of them between January 27 and March 5 this year.
But those electronic records only go back to late 1984. As early as December 1982, he’d filed 184 separate actions in the Eastern Division of Washington’s federal district court, according to its chief judge. In 2019, the federal court in Hawaii said Demos had filed at least 920 civil actions or appeals. The Washington state and federal courts and the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have…