My Favorite Martian Sues CIA, President — Loses

An alleged alien from outer space—a Martian, to be precise—was outsmarted by good old terrestial law.

The plaintiff claimed to be a Martian. He filed three lawsuits in Canada against numerous defendants, including the CIA and then-President Bill Clinton, alleging the defendants had taken various steps that interfered with his ability to live freely as a Martian. He asserted the only reason he could not prove his Martian status was because the CIA tinkered with his DNA test. (This is actually starting to sound like a good action movie plot …)

Ironically, and perhaps unfairly, the essence of the plaintiff’s claim did him in. Judge Epstein explained:

Rule 1.03 defines plaintiff as “a person who commences an action”. The New Shorter Oxford English Dictionary defines person as “an individual human being”. Section 29 of the Interpretation Act provides that a person includes a corporation. It follows that if the plaintiff is not a person in that he is neither a human being nor a corporation, he cannot be a plaintiff as contemplated by the Rules of Civil Procedure. The entire basis of Mr. Joly’s actions is that he is a martian, not a human being. There is certainly no suggestion that he is a corporation. I conclude therefore, that Mr. Joly, on his pleading as drafted, has no status before the Court.

Judge Epstein also found the claims to be frivolous, vexatious and “patently ridiculous.” However, the court did not find plaintiff to be mentally incompetent. To the contrary, Judge Epstein wrote that Joly “presented himself as polite, articulate, intelligent and appeared to understand completely the issues before the Court and the consequences should I grant the relief sought.”

Joly v. Pelletier, [1999] O.J. No. 1728 (Ont. Super. Ct. 1999). Thanks to David Cheifetz, one of the lawyers involved in this interesting case.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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