Monday, December 12, 2011
Court Declares Attorney Kinney a Vexatious Litigant
Boren Rebukes Lawyer for ‘Campaign of Litigation Terror’
By SHERRI M. OKAMOTO, Staff Writer
The Court of Appeal for this district has issued a sharply worded opinion rebuking attorney Charles G. Kinney, formerly of Silver Lake, for using a client as a proxy in order to further a long-running sequence of vexation litigation.
Kinney, who was admitted to practice in 1975 and has no public record of discipline according to State Bar records, did not return a call seeking comment on Friday. He had represented himself in the appeal.
Div. Two, in an opinion by Presiding Justice Roger W. Boren on Thursday, noted that Kinney was adjudged a vexatious litigant in 2008 but still continued to pursue “a persistent and obsessive campaign of litigation terror against his neighbors and the City of Los Angeles” since then, having “evaded the effect of the 2008 prefiling order by enlisting a cohort, Kimberly Jean Kempton, to stand in his stead as plaintiff and appellant.”
He said that Kempton has pursued six lawsuits in Los Angeles Superior Court over the last five years, all relating to property owned by Kinney and Kempton—whom Boren collectively dubbed “the K’s”—on Fernwood Avenue in Silver Lake.
“The K’s have continually—and resoundingly—lost their cases in the trial courts,” Boren wrote, and he said one trial judge even described Kinney as “a relentless bully” who displays “terrifying arrogance” by filing “baseless litigation against the City and its citizens” in the statement of decision from one of these cases.
Kinney and Kempton have not been deterred by their losses in the trial courts, Boren added, as they have filed—and lost—16 appeals since 2007. The most recent of these, Boren said “exemplify [Kinney’s] abuse of the judicial system.”
These arose after the City of Los Angeles gave Kinney a permit to widen his driveway entrance at the Fernwood property. Boren said that photographic evidence showed the newly-widened entrance “could accommodate a school bus,” but Kinney sued the city to force it to permit him to put an additional six feet of concrete in the public right-of-way in front of his neighbor‘s home in order to harass that neighbor.
The justice further noted that “[b]efore becoming a Los Angeles courtroom menace, Kinney was an Orange County courtroom menace, engaging in incessant, litigious conduct stemming from his ownership of a house in Laguna Beach.”
Kinney has also been repeatedly sanctioned for filing frivolous or unmeritorious papers, motions or other papers, Boren said.
He explained that the purpose of the vexatious litigant statutes is to alleviate the burden placed on the court system by a perpetual litigant who is clogging court calendars with unmeritorious cases.
“The vexatious litigant statutes do not apply solely to the trial courts,” and have “also been applied when hired counsel ‘acts as a mere puppet or conduit’ for abusive litigation,” Boren said. He reasoned that the statutes are also applicable in the inverse, and concluded that Kempton is serving as a “strawman” plaintiff for Kinney’s abusive litigation practices.
Hr suggested Kinney acknowledged as much when he told a trial court that the only reason he was not the named party “is because ‘I’m a vexatious litigant and it takes too long to get approval’ to sue.”
In each appeal, Boren said, Kinney is effectively ‘the litigant’ because he owns the real property that spawns all of this litigation and stands to benefit personally from the outcome of the litigation.”
By pursuing “obsessive, meritless litigation against the hapless residents of this state who have the misfortune to be his neighbors,” Boren opined that “Kinney has demonstrated a pattern of using the judicial system as a weapon in an unrelenting quest to get advantages that he does not deserve, imposing onerous litigation costs on his opponents that he does not incur himself because he is a lawyer.”
All of the rulings against him “represent a lamentable waste of judicial resources,” Boren said, and so “Kinney’s conduct must be stopped, immediately.”
Joined by Justices Kathryn Doi Todd and Victoria M. Chavez, Boren declared Kinney a vexatious litigant subject to a prefiling order prohibiting Kinney from filing any new claim—either in his own name or in Kempton’s—in any of the courts of this state without first obtaining leave of the presiding judge.
He also directed that a copy of the decision be sent to the State Bar.
The case is In re Finding of Kinney, 11 S.O.S. 6649.
Copyright 2011, Metropolitan News Company