Judge Fred Yeatts

When I first started bringing anti-spam cases in Bellevue District Court in 2001, Judge Yeatts took the position that plaintiffs could sue out-of-state spammers in Small Claims court, and I got several judgments against spammers for $1,000 apiece in cases that he heard. In 2002, after Judge Linda Jacke had ruled on several occasions that I could not sue out-of-state spammers, Judge Yeatts acknowledged that other judges had been discussing whether or not that was true, but he was still of the position that it was permitted. Then on August 26 2002, in hearing case Y20251 that I had brought against an out-of-state spammer named Robert Perrault, he said that he had decided his original position was incorrect, and that he would no longer allow Small Claims suits against out-of-state spammers.

I have ordered a copy of the recording of the hearing from that day and it hasn't arrived yet, but my recollection of the conversation was roughly:

Judge Yeatts: So, based on further discussion in conferences with other judges in this district, I have decided my original conclusion was erroneous. So this case is dismissed for lack of jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants.
Bennett Haselton: But what law is that based on?
Judge Yeatts: That's the ruling of this court.
Bennett Haselton: If my case is being dismissed, am I not even entitled to know the law that's being used as the grounds for the dismissal?
Judge Yeatts: I believe you heard me.

So, add points for deciding that his earlier ruling was in error and admitting that up front, but subtract points for not actually citing a law as the basis for dismissing the case.

(Despite all the times I've complained about inconsistent results from the courts, I think that if a judge changes their position but admits that's what they're doing, then that earns points, not least for admitting that they're fallible. It only looks bad if a judge changes their position seemingly at random without giving any explanation, or apparently out of revenge.)