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Plaintiff: Randy R. Radford Sr.

Defendants: Metropolitan Police Department, former Chief Charles Ramsey

Damages Sought: $300,000, plus legal fees and payment for work missed while Radford prepped for police exams

Complaint: Radford was in good shape for 49. He worked out every day, ate well, didn’t drink, didn’t smoke. He had experience, too: He had worked in federal law enforcement, served in Vietnam, and been a military police officer. He even did a stint in D.C. government. In 2001, he applied to be a police officer. He passed the written and physical tests and began to go through a background check. As he waited on the near-certain hire, he got a call from a police investigator. “I called to ask you to reconsider your decision to be a police officer,” the investigator allegedly said. “If you come aboard, you will be made to look like a fool. There is a big difference between being 22 and 52.” The man started laughing and insulted the veteran before hanging up, Radford alleges. He eventually received a letter that said his application had been withdrawn; he wrote back and told the brass what happened, but no one replied. He took his case to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which found that the police discriminated against him because of his age.

Quality of Representation: Moderate. The EEOC’s letter finding discrimination is gold, and Radford sensibly attaches it to his pro se complaint. The rest consists of only a handwritten cover sheet and two typewritten letters to the EEOC. Radford makes no effort to blend these into one narrative, shorten the leaps between some of his thoughts, or correct misspellings (“ow” for “of”).

Summary Judgment: This court has said it before and must say it again: Lawyer up. To judge from the EEOC letter, Radford has a legitimate complaint. To judge from his words, he has a compelling story. But he does not provide a strong argument. Case remanded to plaintiff to acquire counsel. The police department, meanwhile, is ordered to re-evaluate Radford’s officer application. Defendant Ramsey is ordered to take the physical tests required upon entrance to the police academy.