In a Newspaper Days blog post last month, I talked about a fellow who got busted for fleeing from the cops and how he proved just how dumb he was when he got to court. Several readers thought that was funny, and someone who watches the TV show Court Cam asked if I had any other tales like that from courtrooms. Oh, yeah!
I was covering a case once where a fellow was accused of shoplifting a number of frozen TV dinners. The manager of the grocery store became suspicious when he saw the person, who had been a regular customer, walking strangely and noticed that he seemed to have put on a considerable amount of weight since he had been there two days earlier. It turned out he had something like 10 or 12 of the frozen dinners crammed down the front of his sweatpants. He was detained and police were called, and he insisted that the large rectangular shapes inside of his clothing were just his abs from working out. When the officers finally got him to pull them out, he swore he didn’t know how they got there. After the prosecuting attorney explained the charges against the defendant, his defense attorney got up and said that was impossible, how could someone even do that without getting frostbite or something? The defendant quickly piped up and said, “It wasn’t that bad, I had thermal long johns on.”
Another time I was in court when they were selecting jurors, and there were the typical questions about whether any of the jurors knew the defendant, victim, or arresting officers. One woman said she had known the defendant all of his life, he grew up next door to her house and played with her kids. She was asked if that would influence her opinion of any testimony. She replied with words to the effect of “Nope, he was a lying, sneaky little shit growing up, and he still is.” She was dismissed from the jury pool.
One guy had a good explanation for his crime when he testified in court that he did not set out to steal the Ford pickup truck police found him in, and it wasn’t his fault. He had planned to steal a Camaro from the same used car lot, but once he got the door open, he discovered it was a standard shift and he didn’t know how to operate the clutch. I guess it was a good thing the pickup had an automatic transmission.
You have to appreciate the efforts of those who think they know the law. When I had my newspapers on the Pacific Northwest coast, I covered the case of a man who had robbed a business a year earlier and was finally caught and arrested. Against the judge’s advice, he insisted he would represent himself and sat with a smug look on his face as the prosecutor explained the charges against him to the jury. When it was his turn to talk, the defendant got up and said there was no case because it had been 369 days since he robbed the store and the “statute of elimination” in Oregon was one year. As it turned out, not only was his knowledge of the law not all that great, since the statute of limitations was six years, but his grasp of the English language wasn’t anything to brag about, either.
And finally, this was not in criminal court, but it was hilarious. My first wife took me to court to get child support for our son, who we had shared custody of, and who had always lived with me. I guess her feeling was that even if he did not live with her, she gave birth to him and was owed something for that. This was twelve years after the divorce was final, and he was 18. In the meantime, she may have been involved in some shady stuff that she was afraid my attorney would bring out in court. After my son and I both testified that he had always lived with me, not her, my attorney started to question her, and she said, “I can’t answer any of your questions because I have amnesia.” The attorney asked her how she got amnesia and she said it was from post-traumatic stress from Vietnam. My attorney then asked when she had been in Vietnam or in the Army and the ex said she never had been. When asked to explain how she had PTSD from Vietnam if she was never there, she pointed a finger at me and said, “He was in Vietnam and I caught it from him!” The judge was laughing so hard he had to take off his glasses and wipe his eyes before telling her that PTSD was not like a sexually transmitted disease and she could not “catch it” from me. Needless to say, her case was dismissed.
Thought For The Day – My emotional support animal is a fried chicken.