What began as a dispute over a $1,600 credit-card bill has turned into a Cambridge man's two-year struggle to gain admission to the bar, in which he has now filed federal law suits in two states and the District of Columbia against a panoply of people and agencies he says have wronged him and in several cases conspired to keep him from practicing law.
Over the past two years, Jonathan Mullane has filed suits against against both federal and state judges in Florida and Massachusetts, federal prosecutors in Miami, two Web sites that cover legal issues, the FBI, the Securities and Exchange Commission and, most recently, the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners, all over either the credit-card issue or the impact it's had on his would-be legal career.
He has also found time to file a federal lawsuit against a judge in Vermont and that state's attorney general over a speeding ticket, another suit against two companies involved in a cryptocurrency concern he invested in and the New York State commissioner of labor.
He's lost several of the cases, several of which he's then appealed.
At the heart of it all is what happened in the courtroom of Judge Federico Moreno in US District Court in Miami on April 10, 2018, when Mullane was a second-year law student at the University of Miami and an intern at the Miami US Attorney's office.
Exactly what happened in that courtroom depends on whom you ask, but it involves a federal lawsuit Mullane filed against a bank over a credit-card dispute - and a dressing down the judge gave Mullane over the way he asked for copies of the records in his case. Also undisputed: That after that hearing Mullane was, in short order, terminated from his position as an intern and had his pending internship at the Securities and Exchange Commission rescinded, that he dropped out of the University of Miami Law School and returned to Massachusetts.
According to the Web site Above the Law, Mullane was upset that, after two months, Moreno had not decided his credit-card case, and so one day barged into the judge's chambers - after flashing his US Attorney's office ID - to find out how to file a request to an appeals court to make Moreno hurry it up.
Moreno was not present at the time, but heard about it and called Mullane into court to rebuke him for his actions.
Above the Law is one of the two sites that Mullane sued for allegedly libeling him in writing about the case. He lost in both cases, in US District Court in Boston, and is currently appealing those rulings.
In the Above the Law case, the judge in the case ruled in January that the site was in part protected by a Massachusetts libel exemption that lets reporters describe actions by officials - in this case, the Miami judge - and that, in any case, calling Mullane "a dauphin" and "a little brat" did not rise to the level of libel. In the second case, his father, E. Peter Mullane, a local defense attorney, was denied permission to become part of the case.
Mullane gives his side of the story in a suit he filed in US District Court in Boston in March of this year, against the judge, Benjamin Greenberg, who was the US Attorney in Miami in 2018 and Alison Lehr, who was an assistant US Attorney under Greenberg. In his complaint, Mullane charges they conspired to ruin his life for the way he was legitimately pursuing his claim over the credit-card issue by merely going into the judge's office to legitimately ask for copies of records in the case (he initially named a second Miami judge but later dropped her from his complaint). He denies he barged in anywhere or threw his near clout around.
Mullane's complaint starts with the quotation, typically attributed to Spider-Man but which actually stems from the French Revolution, about great power and responsibility and then dives into a case completely unrelated to his to show what he says is the judge's abuse of power in "terrorizing, humiliating, and denigrating Plaintiff, a mere student at the time in question."
He alleges that at the hearing, the judge "appeared to be intoxicated, erratic, and incoherent," and allegedly attacked Mullane's sexuality, clothing and his father - himself a Cambridge trial lawyer - but that the judge was not so inebriated or out of control that he did not forget to conspire with the US Attorney in subsequent weeks to ruin his life, both emotionally and financially, since his terminations and the libelous leaks to Above the Law meant he could never get the prestigious and ultimately lucrative legal positions he dreamed of. Instead, he says, he was forced back to Massachusetts in a morass of "depression, severe anxiety, and thoughts of suicide."
Mullane led up to this suit with a series of other legal actions.
In March of last year, he sued Ralph Gants, chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey and Cambridge District Court Judge Michele Hogan after Hogan denied his request for a jury trial in his case against Barclays Bank over the credit-card issue, initially filed in Middlesex court, and Gants refused to order Hogan to allow a jury trial. He lost. He appealed. He lost again.
The next month, he took a break from the credit-card issue to sue the New York state labor commissioner and a county judge and the state attorney general in Vermont, the former over an unemployment claim, the latter over the way the judge handled a speeding ticket he got while in Vermont the preceding November. He withdrew the labor case. A federal judge dismissed the Vermont case, saying federal courts have no jurisdiction over state speeding tickets and that Mullane's argument that the case became worthy of federal action because the judge corresponded with him over his court filings via e-mail, which crossed state lines, was, no, come on now.
Meanwhile, he was also involved in a lawsuit against a couple of companies over a cryptocurrency investment he made, which he lost, and appealed. He lost his appeal, in the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston, which cautioned him: "Plaintiff-Appellant is cautioned to exercise professionalism in presenting future arguments to this Court."
Interlude over, in November, he sued the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission under the Freedom of Information Act to obtain documents he said they had related to his Miami issue. The case is still pending. He also filed appeals in the two libel cases.
Last month, he sued the Massachusetts Board of Bar Examiners over its decision to deny him admission to the Massachusetts bar, even after passing the bar exam, allegedly because of the Miami issue, and, more specifically, he charged, as part of the overriding conspiracy. He charges the board won't let him practice law because he had the nerve to sue a federal judge - the one in Miami - and he claims that the law firm it hired to investigate him is based in Miami, where it has numerous cases that come before the judge and has hired a number of his clerks as lawyers.
Complaint against Board of Bar Overseers (1.1M PDF).
Complaint against the Miami judge, et al (1.4M PDF).
Complaint against Mass. SJC chief justice et al (33k PDF).
Ruling in SJC case (77k PDF).
Complaint against Vermont judge (162k PDF).
Ruling in Vermont-judge case (164k PDF).