By Chuck Strouse
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By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
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Like any other profession, law is practiced by both zealots and goof-offs, overachievers and slackers, crusty experts and inexperienced novices. But it is safe to say that within the diverse legal circles of South Florida there are no practitioners who come close to the relentless fecundity of pro se litigant Alfredo F. de Castro. Plaintiff par excellence, de Castro lifts the mundane act of filing a lawsuit to the level of performance art.
According to court records, de Castro has filed at least 117 lawsuits in federal court since 1993. By his own count, he has filed more than 180 legal actions in both federal and state court. He has sued various government agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Central Intelligence Agency, the Pentagon, Dade County, the City of Los Angeles, the City of New York, the City of San Francisco, the Florida Highway Patrol, the Hialeah Police Department, the Dade County Public Defender, and the Dade State Attorney.
He has sued his parents six times, the president of the United States twice, the governor of Florida, a U.S. district judge, and his psychiatrist. He has requested legal action against musicians: the Rolling Stones, Prince, Guns N' Roses, Rod Stewart, Metallica, Smashing Pumpkins, and Alanis Morissette. He has energetically sought damages from celebrities: Steven Spielberg, Michael Jackson, Andy Garcia, Sharon Stone, Al Pacino, and Madonna. And he has repeatedly filed against New York developer Donald Trump and former professional basketball stars Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Julius Erving. De Castro has also sued United Artists, Paramount Pictures, 20th Century Fox, MGM Studios, and Warner Bros. Other targets include New Times and the Miami Herald, along with most local television stations.
A tall, medium-proportioned man who makes periodic appearances in the first-floor offices of the U.S. District Court on North Miami Avenue, de Castro is described by clerks as neat, clean, and balding, his longish hair gathered in a ponytail and topped by a baseball cap. Clerks say he usually wears sneakers and a sport shirt and politely engages in coherent conversation while filing his multitudinous actions.
The 41-year-old man has not worked since 1992 and, according to his own court filings, survives on $555 monthly disbursements from Social Security. His address is unknown. The Miami Beach apartment listed as his home in court papers traces back to a post office box at a Laundromat.
De Castro did not respond to New Times's written request for an interview. But a spate of more than 50 handwritten lawsuits filed in October painstakingly details his perceived victimization by the rich and the celebrated, as well as by faceless representatives of municipal and state government.
Not one to meekly submit to disrespect, de Castro fired his opening salvo of ten lawsuits on October 23, seeking punitive damages ranging from one to three million dollars, criminal investigations, and polygraph examinations. The suits stand out from others in district court for their unorthodox spelling and innovative legal theories. For example, in his effort to expose wanton abuse, de Castro cites the "Federal Torcher Act," cleverly punning on the existence of torture and the need to shine a light on the alleged misdeeds of the cultural and governmental elite. He also refers to the federal RICO statute, which prohibits racketeering and other cirrupt activities, as "Ricoh," which is an international electronics firm.
His lawsuits include:
*Alfredo F. de Castro v. Miami Beach Visitor and Convention Authority. "Plaintiff pro-se states that above organization has been using tourists by the thousands on the streets of Miami Beach to try to heat plaintiff into a heart seizure or suicide knowing that he has both a heart condition and a psychological condition. They also know that in combination with this that the U.S. government is using electrical warfare on plaintiff to create heart problems. Violation of 1st and 8th ammendments & Ricoh Act & Federal Torcher Act which under new federal guidelines is one of 60 new punishable by death offenses."
*Alfredo F. de Castro v. Lawton Chiles, Governor. "Plaintiff pro-se states that Governor Chiles knows and has allowed for thousands of armies to be thrown on the streets of Miami against plaintiff as part of a political extermination plot with and including violation of every aspect of the Constitution of the United States including mental and physical torcher."
*Alfredo F. de Castro v. State of Florida Dept. of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. "Plaintiff pro-se states that director and staff of above department are participating in a conspiracy against plaintiff in which thousands of cars are thrown at plaintiff to block his way and induce tension and they are being bribed while knowing that HAARP Electro Magnetic radio waves are zeroing in on plaintiff from an air force facility in Alaska. Violation of 8th Ammendment & Ricoh Act & Federal Torcher Act."
*Alfredo F. de Castro v. City of Miami Beach Police Dept. "Plaintiff pro-se states that despite repeated attempts to inform this police department about violations against his freedom of movement (United Nations Article) by thousands of armies on foot and on car they refuse to take control of the streets and do their appointed duty to maintain order equally because they are being bribed not to [in] violation of the Ricoh Act & Federal Torcher Act."