Trouble at Northern New England School of Law

In this strangest of political seasons, my foreign readers will be forgiven for thinking that America is a strange place indeed. And the American legal world is no exception. Just recently, in a reprise of Ashford v. Thornton, a lawyer from Staten Island demanded trial by battle in an action against him for aiding a client’s fraudulent transfers. I don’t know whether he actually threw down his gauntlet of if he even knows what a gauntlet was, but anyway, there you have it. To take another example, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut recently rejected an attempt by Penny Lee Gilly (who calls herself :Penny-Lee Gilly:, for reasons that are very difficult to understand) to register a multi-million dollar judgment of the “Federal Postal Court” against her mortgage servicing company, finding that the “Postal Court” was a sham created by “Judge” David Wynn Miller (“David-Wynn: Miller”), who created the court, as well as his own unintelligible legal language (you can read a sample here) apparently out of whole cloth. Here is a sample of his stuff: “This document is to serve as a translation summary of the Final Default Judgment by the Federal Postal Court. The original language of the Final Default Judgment was written in Correct Sentence Structure Communication Parse Syntax Grammar. The language has been translated to English pursuant to the Uniform Foreign-Money Claims Act.” So you see, it’s a weird country we live in.

Unfortunately, the insanity has begun to infect the world of international judicial assistance here in the US. A professor from France, Bernard-Henri Zemmour, had been invited to give a speech at the Northern New England School of Law in Grover’s Corner, New Hampshire. The speech was to be on the topic of methods of statutory interpretation in France and the United States. Zemmour is a well-known proponent of the French approach. As you can imagine, the talk was highly controversial even before Professor Zemmour arrived on campus. Students calling themselves “Reclaim NNESL” occupied several building on campus and refused to leave for days, outraged that their school would invite a speaker who espoused such views. Reclaim NNESL prevented Zemmour from speaking, and pressured NNESL, successfully, to refuse to pay Zemmour’s honorarium. Zemmour, after returning to France, sued the school. The suit was pending in a first instance court in Paris. Zemmour sent a request for service to the US central authority via the Hague Service Convention. The central authority passed the papers on to a process server for service. But Reclaim NNESL blocked the process server from entering the school’s main building, Edwina Hall, to deliver the papers to the dean. “Edwina Hall has been reclaimed by Reclaim NNESL for the purpose of creating a safe environment for good old-fashioned American approaches to statutory construction, accordingly, and it has a new governing body to protect that cause in a way that the institution’s existing structure has not. Anything that violates our statutory construction values has no place in Edwina Hall.”

The process server, unsure what to do, left the building. Zemmour asked an American colleague to visit the protesting students to try to persuade them to let the process server in, but to no avail. And so the lawsuit is at a standstill. Zemmour says he considered asking the French court to authorize service by email as a way out of the impasse, but he couldn’t bear the thought of doing such violence to the Service Convention.

I will keep you posted on this most interesting new case.

About Ted Folkman

Ted Folkman is a shareholder with Murphy & King, a Boston law firm, where he has a complex business litigation practice. He is the author of International Judicial Assistance (MCLE 2d ed. 2016), a nuts-and-bolts guide to international judicial assistance issues, and of the chapter on service of process in the ABA's forthcoming treatise on International Aspects of US Litigation, and he is the publisher of Letters Blogatory, the Web's first blog devoted to international judicial assistance, which the ABA recognized as one of the best 100 legal blogs in 2012, 2014, and 2015.

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