Man tries to file suit, despite restriction

March 11, 1998|By Joan Jacobson | Joan Jacobson,SUN STAFF

Keenan Kester Cofield -- dubbed by several judges a relentless abuser of the court system -- was back in Baltimore County Circuit Court yesterday, trying to file a legal motion in a suit that's already been dismissed against McDonald's Corp.

In his latest legal maneuver, Cofield appeared undeterred by an unusual order restricting him from filing suits in the county.

Cofield, 38, has spent most of his adult life seeking damages through dozens of lawsuits that were dismissed and called frivolous by judges in Alabama and Tennessee. He also served five years in prison for fraud after suing a newspaper in which he had placed his obituary.

In January, Harford County Circuit Judge Cypert O. Whitfill ordered the Baltimore County court clerk not to accept a civil suit from Cofield unless a judge screens the suit to see if it is frivolous.

Whitfill made his ruling as he dismissed a lawsuit filed by Co- field and his wife last year against McDonald's after they were refused extra sauce for their chicken nuggets. They sought more than $1 billion in damages in a class action, race-discrimination suit.

Yesterday, Cofield attacked Whitfill in a 10-page motion asking the judge to strike his order dismissing the case. Cofield claimed that the judge's presence in Towson to hear the case was illegal because he should not have been allowed to preside over the suit outside his jurisdiction in Harford County. Whitfill was brought from Harford County because Cofield named all 17 Baltimore County Circuit judges as defendants in the case, disqualifying them from hearing the suit.

Although it is not unusual for a judge from another jurisdiction to hear a case in Circuit Court, Cofield's motion says Whitfill illegally heard the case "through the back door, ambush and conspiracy."

Whitfill, through a secretary, declined to comment yesterday.

Because of the judge's order restricting Cofield from filing lawsuits, clerks in the Towson courthouse did not file the motion yesterday as they normally would.

Cofield's motion also says the restriction placed on him violates his constitutional rights and access to the courts.

He pledged to continue his fight. "No stone shall be unturned," wrote Cofield, who vowed to appeal the case if the judge denies his latest motion.

Pub Date: 3/11/98

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