Orange County Man Seeks $2 Million For False Arrest; Federal Judge Says Not So Fast
Okay, okay. Say it, don't spray it
Santa Ana's Jose Manuel Lopez is angry about what he sees as his 2012 false arrest resulting in 67 days of wrongful confinement, but he chose to serve as his own lawyer while suing law enforcement officials and the move wasn't wise.
A self-described astonished, U.S. Magistrate Judge Ralph Zarefsky this week ruled that Lopez's rambling, 55-page complaint wasn't just "overlong, speechifying and confusing," but also failed to clearly state a "short and plain" entitlement for legal relief.
The lawsuit filed inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse is "wasting paper, ink and time," though it alleges "a conspiracy of government agents" that Lopez claims landed him "in a Dickensian jail," Zarefsky stated.
To proceed, the 38-year-old Lopez "must eliminate from his pleading all preambles, introductions, argument, speeches, explanations, stories, griping, vouching, evidence, attempts to negate possible defenses, summaries and the like," the judge announced.
Zarefsky also supplied Lopez with examples of how to file a coherent federal lawsuit and, though Lopez never stated the reason for his arrest, wondered if he is the man with the same name who "admittedly engaged in a sexual encounter with a woman he had picked up at a bus stop," according to California Court of Appeal records in Santa Ana. "He claimed it was consensual; she denied consent."
The judge, who noted the the Orange County district attorney's office declined to file charges in the bus stop incident, told Lopez to properly amend his claim within 30 days or face its automatic dismissal.
"Plaintiff must only assert legal claims for which he can allege sufficient factual support, rather than venting using quasi-legal terminology," he ordered.
Lopez inexplicably sought damages of $2,093,696 plus "further relief as the court may deem just and proper" as well as entrance into the Federal Witness Protection Program, where he says he can be protected by U.S. marshals.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss OC Weekly's biggest stories. Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts