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Litigant rapper gets poetic justice in Wis. court

•  State Bar News     updated  2009/01/25 14:29


Justice might be blind, but apparently it likes good rhythm.

A Wisconsin appellate court ruled in favor of a trombone player who filed his legal brief partially written in the form of a rap to argue he shouldn't have to pay $3,750 in fees.

Gregory Royal, 47, is not an attorney but represented himself in a dispute with La Crosse County officials stemming from his divorce. He filed a federal lawsuit against county officials who recommended their two children spend most of their time with his ex-wife, but the case was thrown out because the federal courts do not intervene in such domestic disputes.

A county lawyer then asked a circuit court judge to order Royal to pay fees for bringing the case, which the judge later found frivolous.

But Royal, who lived in Wisconsin and now resides in Washington, said he wanted to convince the appeals court in a creative way that he was being treated unfairly.

"Imagine a real attorney who can actually capitalize and perfect that expression and throw some heavy stuff in there," he said. "It's like Einstein's theory of relativity. It's so short but so perfect there's nothing you can say about it."

Among several lines of lyrics in the six-page brief, Royal wrote: "A domestic relations exception, I was supposed to know. Appellee would know too, so why did he spend so much doe?"

The District 4 Court of Appeals ruled Jan. 13 that the judge did not have the authority to order Royal to pay fees, thereby allowing Royal to now seek costs from the lawyer who brought the lawsuit.


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