John McCaslin

It's time once again for the American Tort Reform Foundation's annual "Judicial Hellholes" report, with counties in Nevada and New Jersey joining perennial parts of Florida, Texas, Illinois and West Virginia as the nation's most unfair civil court jurisdictions.

And while our own nation's capital did not make this year's list, it did earn a dishonorable mention for its "infamous pants suit" case, says Washington-based ATRF president Sherman "Tiger" Joyce.

Who will ever forget D.C. Judge Roy Pearson's $10 dry-cleaning bill for a pair of missing trousers that mushroomed into a $67 million civil lawsuit, "his honor" arguing in court papers that he endured "mental suffering" because he could not wear his favorite pants for his first day on the bench.

Fortunately, Judge Pearson not only lost his pants, he lost his suit.

Never peaked

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill this week have been bidding a fond farewell to retiring former Republican Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi.

Among the well-wishers was Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, a fellow Republican, who recalled "when Trent was a young congressman, a constituent called his office to have his trash removed."

"When Trent asked why he hadn't called the town supervisor first, the man replied that he didn't want to start that high."

Mississippi Sound

Among the keepsakes that retiring Republican Sen. Trent Lott is packing up and taking home to Mississippi is a plaque on his office wall titled "Trent's Rules."

The rule he has always considered most important: "You can never have a national view if you forget the view from Pascagoula."

Elf in disguise

Speaking of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, "The man is just begging for a lump of coal."

Or so Democratic strategist and Santa's helper look-alike James Carville remarked yesterday, charging that the Kentucky Republican has delayed "true ethics reform" and stood in the way of Democratic efforts to "set a new course" in Iraq.

No asparagus roots

A letter sent to Inside the Beltway earlier this week by Robert F. Kennedy Jr., expressed concern because "where I live in upstate New York, I've recently seen robins and bluebirds show up in the middle of winter. And this past January, a friend of mine ate asparagus he harvested in the Catskills, which are normally frozen this time of year."

Now, everybody short of the state's junior Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is writing to us from upstate New York and beyond, including Matt Amodeo, who sent us a picture he took this week of his house near Saratoga surrounded by snow. "I can tell you there are no robins, no veggies," he writes.

John McCaslin

John McCaslin is a contributing columnist on and author of Inside The Beltway: Offbeat Stories, Scoops, and Shenanigans from around the Nation's Capital .

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