Pro Se: Lifting the Court’s Veil – Introduction

Welcome to the premier of our exclusive series on lawsuits filed and defended by Pro Se Litigants.
In the series first case, Torres v. Torres, we will examine why the lawsuits were filed, the parties of the lawsuit, the Courts and Judges presiding over the case, the Defendants attorneys, and rarely seen, an Appeal won by Pro Se Appellants. The case is currently being sent back to the lower court and we will bring you updates as they occur.

Pro Se

Pro Se Litigants are second class citizens in our Courts

The case: Torres v. Torres. If ever there was a Pro Se case that screamed to be told, it has to be this one. Documented International crimes, death threats, Hell’s Angles, over $1.6 million at stake and a family that conjures up memories of Ma Barker’s family, complete with Ma. There’s also the impeachment of a judge, judicial bias and high-level politics, right up to the election of the President of the United States.

The following are highlights of the case.

I. Winning an Appeal Pro Se: Yes, an Appeal actually won by Pro Se Litigants. Their appeal openly accused Judge Christopher J. Muse of bias against Pro Se Litigants. It was hard for us to believe that a Massachusetts Superior Court Judge, in open court, would actually make comments like; “my family life is irrelevant, my law life is very important to me”. It appears that his comments were so damaging that the tapes of the hearings, tapes ordered to be turned over to the Plaintiffs by the Court, were never delivered, even after multiple requests were filed. The Plaintiffs believed that the Court Stenographers were prevented from turning over the tapes as they feared that they “would have been made available on the Plaintiffs’ website for all to hear”. Are we missing something here? These are part of the “public record”, right?

II. Impeachment: It would be impossible to understand this case without knowing of the “The Committee to Impeach Judge Shirley R. Lewis, an effort that actually got the Judge removed, and also opened the doors of the Judicial Conduct commission, forever stopping their secret closed door hearings that almost never decided against a judge.

III. R.I.C.O. Charges: The complaint included Federal Civil Rico Charges against three of the Defendants. The charges were brought to a head when extortion attempts escalated and death threats were made by James Kimberly Torres, a twice convicted and incarcerated felon, whose death threats were to be carried out by his prison buddies, Hell’s Angels. It was claimed in the Complaint that these bad acts were orchestrated by the Defendant Donald F. Torres, an expatriate living in Baja Mexico. James Kimberly Torres is deceased, from a self inflicted gun shot wound to the head, allegedly while under investigation by the California D.E.A.

IV. Good Old Boy Network: There was a major battle between the Plaintiffs and the Attorney for the Defendants, Jeremy Carter of Wilkins, DeYoung & Carter, that appears to have affected this case. Mr. Carter is allegedly a very politically connected Attorney. He lists himself as the Town Moderator for Mashpee, a former FBI agent, and a former Mashpee Police Officer. The battle began when he issued both an eviction notice and a no-trespass notice on the same day to the Plaintiffs. One allows a 90 day right to respond and a hearing, the other would have kept the Plaintiffs from entering their home that same day. The Contract signed by the Defendant Sophie J. Torres, had permanently transferred the property rights to Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III on this same property. Jeremy Carter is accused of using his connections to enforce the illegal no-trespass order. After the story was published on the New England Watchdogs website (reprinted here), Mr. Carter filed an emergency ex-parte motion to have the site taken down, which solely benefited himself. In the motion, he refers to himself as being harmed by the New England Watchdogs’ story on cronyism, at least three times. The motion not allowed as he was not a party to the litigation.

This is how the 1st Amendment arguments became part of this case. Be sure to read the article on this battle here at U.S. Watchdogs. While researching Attorney Carter, a question did come up, a red flag so to speak, about Attorney Carter; why did he leave the FBI to become a Mashpee Cop? He doesn’t talk about it on his law firm’s website. We are considering a Freedom of Information Act request. More on that later.

The Questions

The Clerks Office: Why did the Superior Court Clerk not schedule hearings of the Pro Se Litigants’ motions, yet the Defendants were expeditiously heard. Why did the Clerk over-charge the Plaintiffs for four Summons when only two were required? If an innocent mistake, why did they refuse to refund the several hundred dollars charged for the extra Summons? Why during a motion hearing, did they blatantly not present the Plaintiffs’ duly filed motions specific to that hearing?  Was this simply coincidence? We doubt it, do you?

Was Judge Muse Biased? The transcripts of the hearings showcase Judge Christopher J. Muse’s arrogance and fearlessness of retribution with his making statements on the record that no one could defend. We concluded that the Courts held back the tapes of the hearings, tapes they themselves ordered be produced, because after the tapes were reviewed by someone within or associated with the Court, they were just too embarrassing to the court. Was the Court fearful that the Plaintiffs would have made them available on their website? Were there concerns that another Committee to Impeach a Judge was on the horizon?

Pesky 1st Amendment: After the Plaintiffs used their 1st Amendment rights to protect themselves in the exact manner for which it was intended, Judge Christopher J. Muse stated (paraphrasing):“you can take this as a victory I guess…”,  but “this is going to be an unnecessary cloud on the litigation…”, and “you’re going to answer to someone in a robe …”. It appears to us that Judge Christopher J. Muse may have made his decision to dismiss the case right then and there.

The Impeachment

Let there be light: “The Committee to Impeach Shirley R. Lewis” is said to have placed over 40 full front page newspaper advertisements, to have run commercials on radio and to have been constantly in the news, including the national news on networks that included CNN. To say that lifting the Court’s veil for all to see what’s underneath is not their favorite experience, would be a gross understatement. It seems that when a plane flies a banner over the Courts that says “Impeach Judge Shirley R. Lewis”, we are guessing it really PO’d a lot of people in the Courts.

Inside the Impeachment: The now deceased Frederic P. Claussen, the then Register of Probate for the Barnstable Probate Court, was considered a strong ally of “The Committee to Impeach Judge Shirly R. Lewis”. Register Claussen, at the start of the Impeachment effort, filed a complaint against Judge Shirly R. Lewis with the Massachusetts Judicial Conduct Commission for abuse of her office in the administration of the Court. Register Claussen and Plaintiff Torres became very good friends during the two years during the impeachment effort.

The man who would be President: Michael Dukakis was alleged to have been embarrassed by this Impeachment as Judge Lewis was his appointee. The question often surfaced if then divorce attorney Shirly R. Lewis was retained by Kitty Dukakis, the wife of then Governor Michael Dukakis; and did that have anything to do with Judge Lewis’ appointment by Governor Dukakis? It as alleged that the Governor believed the Impeachment effort was all a political plot by Republicans to embarrass him. Fred and Jesse were Republicans.

Appointment of a First Justice: While certainly qualified, there appear to be questions of why Paul J. Liacos was appointed First Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Dukakis. There was one item of note: The 97 complaints filed with the S.J.C. were challenged on the grounds of whether the jurisdiction of Judges and their actions resided with the Supreme Judicial Court. During oral arguments, Jesse E. Torres III, who was appointed by the Court to be the“Spokes Person” for all 97 complainants. Mr. Torres quoted from Justice Liacos own opinion on record, that he had stated that the S.J.C. was the final authority on Judges, empowered with the authority to hear complaints, discipline and remove Massachusetts Judges.  It is said that Justice Liacos smiled when Mr. Torres made the argument stating words to the effect it’s pretty hard to argue with your own words”. Yet a few months later, Justice Liacos did go against his own words, and did order that the complaints be turned over to the Judicial Conduct Commission for closed door hearings. Shortly thereafter, Justice Liacos was appointed First Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court by Governor Michael Dukakis. A coincidence?

Rumors of Secret Tapes: It is rumored that a meeting took place in the office of the Cape Cod Times and in attendance were senior reporter, now retired, Peggy Eastman who covered much of the Impeachment effort, and her Editor. It is alleged that the Times felt it was just too hot to handle in the middle of a Presidential Election when Massachusetts Governor Michael Dukakis was leading the race. The tapes were supposedly verified that the Massachusetts Judicial Conduct Commission dismissed complaints before they ever saw them, as the S.J.C. Clerk stated that they hadn’t even sent them to the Judicial Conduct Commission when they announced their decision to dismiss the complaints.

Were there secret deals? Former Massachusetts state representative Richard Kendall, whose district represented Falmouth, was a high ranking politician in the Dukakis administration. It seems to be very well known that the father of Plaintiff Torres was highly politically connected. It is also known that when the Plaintiff Torres received his draft notice, that Richard Kendall personally picked him up the next day at his residence, and got him in the Massachusetts Air National Guard that same day. He managed to accomplish this at the height of the Viet Nam War. This was no small feat, as it was virtually impossible to get into the Air National Guard which had a two year waiting list.

You Decide: While there is no evidence of a deal being struck, a new Judge took over the divorce case of the Plaintiff Jesse E. Torres III and Joanne L. Torres, Judge Sheila McGovern, and one of the most bitter divorces in Massachusetts history settled; the Committee to Impeach Judge Shirly R. Lewis disbanded, and all within 48 hours of Torres receiving Joint custody of his twin sons. It is rumored that when it was know that these above mentioned tapes existed, that Judge McGovern was assigned to the case and the retirement of Judge Lewis was announced shortly thereafter.

Divorce & Impeachment: We have done in-depth research on all of the parties, not just the parties of the case, but the parties who were a part of what led to the case. Including the divorce of Jesse E. Torres and Joanne Torres (A.K.A. Joanne L. Torres, Joanne Stockwell-Torres, Joanne Stockwell) and how it led to the only citizen Impeachment effort ever, resulting in the removal of a Judge.

The Decisions: More Questions

Three Blind Mice? It appears that state courts, or at least Judge Christopher J. Muse, are unfamiliar with Federal Civil R.I.C.O. Laws. We questioned Plaintiff Torres’ decision on why he filed the R.I.C.O. charges, as they could wrongfully be interpreted by the Court that he was out for vengeance. Then when reading the Appeal, we found the answer. After the Defendants’ Attorney tried to minimize the Plaintiffs’ claims, they responded with:

“having Hell’s Angles show up outside your home in the desolate desert of Baja Mexico, after your life has been threatened by a convinced [sic] Felon, son of and influenced by, the Defendant Donald F. Torres, is much more terrifying in reality than in the comfortable confines of a Civil Court, we can say that these counts qualify as egregious to the Plaintiffs, rather than “extraneous” claims made by the Plaintiffs. We can also note from the Record that the Mexican Federal Attorneys office and the California D.E.A. and state Police agreed”

Documents on record with the Complaint regarding James Kimberly Torres included the equivalent of an Arrest Warrant for him which was issued by the Mexico Federal Attorney’s Office, as well as investigations into him by the California D.E.A. and State Police. In other words, overwhelming evidence that this was not a nice guy.

Decision to Dismiss: Judge Christopher J. Muse, when deciding on the Defendants’ 12 b(6) Motions to Dismiss for failure to state a claim, apparently just wanted to make the Plaintiffs’ Complaint disappear, and he did:

  1. He dismissed the Plaintiffs’ Complaint based on a non-existent Motion for Summary Judgement. As the conditions for the Defendants’ motion couldn’t be won, Judge Christopher J. Muse decided to convert the Defendants’ 12 b(6) motions to a Motion for Summary Judgement, neglecting to even inform the Plaintiffs, or to allow them to defend against a totally different set of standards.
  2. He then based his decision on unnamed case law believed to be Johnson v. Starr, but who knows for sure, and it appears Muse didn’t care either.
  3. He failed to consider the long held standards which legally define a contract.
  4. His own words make it clear that he didn’t have any idea that “Will Contracts” existed. They are defined in the “Legal Dictionary” used by attorneys, law schools and Judges across the country. As he stated, “I’ve never heard of that”.
  5. Judge Muse was reversed by the Massachusetts Court of Appeals.

Circling the Wagons: We will analyze the rare victory of Pro Se Litigants winning their appeal. We will also look in-depth at how the Court of Appeals appears to have agreed with the Pro Se Appellants’ argument, but side-stepped having to take the Pro Se Litigants arguments of law and accusations of bias over that of a Judge. They actually say the Plaintiffs were right, but also say they don’t want to act on it. From the decision:

“However, because we conclude that it is unnecessary to decide them in this case, as a matter of judicial prudence we decline to do so.”

You just can’t make this stuff up.

A Note about the use of R.I.C.O.
Our research shows the the life threats and over $500,000 in lost real estate happened in Mexico. The Federal Civil R.I.C.O. statutes allow actions that happened in another country to be litigated in a U.S. Court, if it was part of an ongoing criminal organization’s activities. It was clear after our review, (and to be transparent, Plaintiff Torres pointed us in the right direction), that there was, and currently is, more than enough evidence supporting the existence of a criminal organization and its extortion efforts against the Plaintiffs. The question here is, if these same arguments were made by an attorney, would they have been considered by Judge Christopher J, Muse? Or, was Judge Muse just oblivious to the Federal R.I.C.O. laws?

Plaintiff Torres is currently preparing a separate lawsuit to be filed in the California Federal District Court where they are more familiar with R.I.C.O. laws and crimes across the border with Mexico.

Outbreak of Complaints Against Judge Christopher J. Muse
There has been a recent outbreak of complaints against Judge Christopher J. Muse, by attorneys with very strong claims of bias. While the Plaintiffs in their Appeal claimed bias against Judge Muse, they specifically stated it didn’t rise to the level of Impeachment. Perhaps they should look again. Will there be a “Committee to Impeach Judge Christopher J. Muse” in the near future? Be sure to see our in-depth coverage of “Who is Judge Christopher J. Muse?

We organized the story in the following groups:

  1. The Parties: To understand the charges, get to know the parties.
  2. History: How each of the factors came together.
  3. Appeal: The decision that deserves discussion.

Side Bar: The Pro Se Plaintiffs in the case of Torres v. Torres won a 1st Amendment Argument to post all of the Court Records of this case online at The Plaintiffs have made these documents available and claim no copyright on any of their documents.

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