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Archive for December 26th, 2017

Brain-damaged lawyer in Iowa continues to fight — and fight roughly — for dogs

mcclearyA Des Moines attorney known as “the dog lawyer” has been creating some major headaches since unleashing himself on the judicial system.

Jaysen McCleary, who has a mental disability linked to a trash can falling from a garbage truck onto his head, won a $2.1 million settlement from the city of Des Moines.

And he has gone on to fight for dogs in the area, often challenging local ordinances that regulate pit bulls. In the process, though, his critics say, he has filed frivolous claims, made a “farce” of the judicial process and offended countless judges and fellow attorneys.

He was profiled last week in the Des Moines Register — in an article whose publication he sought to block through a lawsuit.

The Register portrayed the 47-year-old former investment adviser as a man of above average intellect, with a law degree, 10 years of legal experience and the support of many of his clients — including the 10 whose dogs whose lives he helped save.

To do that, though, he has resorted to dragging his cases out, filing numerous ethics complaints against judges and demanding extra time and support because of his disability. He has made criminal allegations against another lawyer, and once told a Polk County judge he was “no better than the scum” sitting in the county jail.

McCleary has tied up his opponents with litigation and overlapping lawsuits that have cost taxpayers thousands of dollars in legal fees, the article said.

He blames his outbursts on attention deficit disorder and an acute working-memory deficiency, both a result of the brain injury that was caused when a trash can full of frozen dog feces fell off a truck and landed on his head.

“My disability has caused me to be extremely misunderstood and, as a result, less effective,” McCleary told the Register in November.

Over the past six years, he has filed at least 34 lawsuits, many of which include overlapping claims. In 26 lawsuits in which he has been involved, a city, county or their animal-control unit is named as a defendant.

Des Moines officials say that over the past 16 months, the city’s legal department has devoted at least 500 hours of staff time, all at taxpayers’ expense, to litigation involving McCleary.

In September, the chief judge of Iowa’s 5th Judicial District sanctioned McCleary for using the courts to harass Des Moines city officials and needlessly increase the city’s legal expenses.

In the past five years, McCleary or his co-counsel, Cami Eslick, have asked at least 18 judges to recuse themselves from cases in which McCleary is involved, in some cases citing the judges’ alleged bias, “personal animosity” or “deep hatred” of McCleary. The two attorneys also have filed ethics complaints against 10 judges.

Eslick said McCleary believes the city isn’t following its own laws and policies when it comes to euthanizing dogs it considers dangerous.

“These animals don’t have a voice,” she said. “He wants the court to take these cases seriously, and sometimes they don’t. … He’s incredibly smart, and he has a passion to help these animals.”

(Photo: Jaysen McCleary)