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Doug Clark: Compulsive litigation must be a cry for help

I’ve always been a fan of the practical joke.

How could I not be?

I once secreted a walkie-talkie inside my friend Hoover’s acoustic guitar.

Then about 3 a.m., I stood in the dark outside his house, whispering “Hoooover…” into the other walkie-talkie.

Poor guy thought the ghost of Elvis had come for him.

That said, there’s nothing artful or funny in the costly courts-clogging hobby of a clown named Jonathan Lee Riches.

Hobby is a poor choice of verbiage.

This is full-blown loony obsession.

Over the past 10 years or so, the man also known as “Johnny Sue-nami” has flooded the courts of America with some 5,000 phony filings.

He wrote many of them from various lockups where, according to Riches, he was doing time for identity theft and misuse of other people’s money.

Out of prison and now living in Brooklyn, Riches last week decided to bless us with his warped idea of fun.

Here’s a sample from Case No. CV-12-406-TOR, filed last week in Spokane’s federal court.

Riches requested a restraining order under the plaintiff sobriquet Gino Romano. The defendants, well, they don’t need any introductions.

“On 6/2/12 I was on vacation in Spokane Washington and that morning went to Riverfront Park to sight see,” he wrote.

“And I saw something I would not wish upon anyone, in the bushes I saw defendant Kim Kardashian making love to Jerry Sandusky both wearing Woodstock T-shirts and …”

This odd coupling is total fiction, of course.

Besides, Sandusky is a now-convicted serial pedophile.

A Kardashian coupling defies the willful suspension of disbelief.

Not to mention that if the creep ever did turn up at Riverfront it would most likely be in the shower sculpture.

This isn’t the first time Riches has acted out in Eastern Washington.

He made headlines a few years back when he used the federal court office in Richland in an attempt to stop Guinness World Records from naming him the planet’s most litigious person.

The record-keepers, he argued, had “no right to publish my work, my legal masterpieces.”

At least that outburst had an ironic amusement factor.

From what I’ve seen, however, Riches’ writings are unpolished ramblings based on someone or something in the public eye.

“Any news event, believe you me, I will jump in,” he told me during a phone call. “I will twist myself in that plot someway, somehow.”

Filing in court isn’t free, naturally. Riches, alas, has no intention of paying the freight.

“I have so many fines and judgments against me all over the place,” he said. “My credit is laughable.”

As is with many jailhouse lawyers, Riches learned the language of law and how to manipulate it to his ends.

He knows how to file the proper form requesting delayed payments. Other courts go by the “file now, pay later” plan.

His frivolous filings have got him barred in a number of jurisdictions, including ours.

No problem, said Riches. He can always move to a friendlier venue or change his plaintiff name ala Romano or Irving Picard.

Why does he persist in this?

Ego. Boredom. Obsession. Mental problems.

Take your pick.

Riches still claims to love his country, as well he should.

Pull this Johnny Sue-nami crap in Syria, say, and you’d soon be missing some major appendages.

We suffer a lot of fools here in the good ol’ US of A.

That’s one of the minuses about life in a free society.

“I’m gonna keep going,” vowed Riches. “Five thousand suits is going to turn into 10,000.”


You know, we really don’t need this. Our sad system of justice is already bogged down with cutthroats, sleazebags and liars.

And those are just the lawyers.


The finale of this year’s Spokane Street Music Week is worthy of a 21-cannon salute.

Last Sunday, I announced that we had beaten our goal of $10,000 for the 10th anniversary by a slim 18 dollars.

Much to my shock and awe, however, donations for the 2nd Harvest food bank kept rolling in.

As a result, I’m excited to give you a new and improved figure:


The generosity of everyone who helped us reach this unprecedented mark boggles the mind.

Speaking of which …

In last week’s kudos, I failed to thank the Bing theater’s Michael Smith and Tony Kacalek. The two worked hard to help us debut “Sing for Their Supper,” a documentary film on Spokane Street Music Week.

The evening was a blast, adding $843 to the cause.

And the beat goes on.

Doug Clark is a columnist for The Spokesman-Review. He can be reached at (509) 459-5432 or by email at

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