During my small town newspaper publishing days I covered a lot of crimes and the follow-up when the perpetrators were arrested. Sometimes it was very hard to keep a straight face with the things I heard said in courtrooms. Here are a few examples.
In Show Low, Arizona a young man was brought into court for a DUI and the breathalyzer results said he was nearly 2½ times over the legal limit. His defense was that he was not actually driving the car, his identical twin brother was, and the defendant was in the passenger seat. He said when the lights of the police car came on behind them, his brother jumped out of the car and ran away, so he slid over behind the wheel to stop the vehicle from hitting something. Besides the fact that it was a preposterous story, the police officer testified that no one got out of the car at any point after he turned on his lights and that it was only occupied by the driver. When the judge asked him what his identical twin’s name was, the defendant said he couldn’t reveal that information because he was a secret agent and his identity had to be protected due to national security. He also said that his brother used his secret agent skills to manage to get out of the car without the police officer seeing him. Being a small town where almost everybody knows everybody else, the judge had his clerk call the man’s mother to ask if the defendant had a twin. She said no, he was an only child. I guess if you had a kid like that, you sure wouldn’t want any more like him, would you?
I was in the same courtroom in Show Low, having just covered the trial of someone charged with auto theft, and was getting ready to leave when one of the police officers I knew told me to hang around because he thought I might enjoy the next case. A gentleman was brought in for having 24 marijuana plants growing in his garage. But he had a simple explanation; at one time, he had a roommate living with him and the roommate had planted them before he was evicted for not paying his share of the rent. The defendant said he thought they were marijuana plants but he wasn’t sure, so he watered them and tended them carefully until they grew to full size because then he would call the police and report his former roommate and be able to use them for evidence. In fact, he insisted he was just getting ready to call the police the very morning they showed up and arrested him. When he sentenced him, the judge commented that if he were a teacher and the defendant was a student, he would at least give him an A for effort for coming up with a story like that.
Many years ago, in Astoria, Oregon, a man was arrested for shoplifting at a grocery store. He had concealed a frozen turkey under his sweatshirt and was stopped by store security going out the door and arrested. When the case got to court, he chose to represent himself instead of having an attorney (something you should never do), and he told the judge he wanted the case thrown out on the grounds of illegal search and seizure. When the judge asked him what was illegal about the whole thing, he said that store security had no idea he had a turkey under his shirt. For all they knew, he was just overweight, and it’s not illegal to be overweight, so the security officer had no right to stop him. That didn’t work out so well for him, and he was found guilty.
Another case in the same courtroom reminded me of the old Get Smart television series. A man was charged with having several salmon over the limit, caught in the Columbia River. He, too, decided to represent himself (do you see a pattern here?), and after the wildlife agent testified about the number of fish he had over the limit and provided photographs, the judge asked the accused to tell his side of the story. He responded by asking, “Would you believe I only caught one fish and the others all jumped in the boat?” The judge told him he wasn’t buying that story, so then he asked, “Would you believe it’s not even my boat? I just found it floating in the river and got on it?” Since the boat was registered to him, the judge wasn’t going to take that excuse either. Giving it one last shot, because he was persistent if nothing else, he asked, “Would you believe I have amnesia and I forgot what the limit was?” Everybody in the courtroom laughed when the judge found him guilty and then asked, “Would you believe I’m giving you the maximum fine and ordering that your boat and fishing gear, which were all seized when you were arrested, will be sold and the money from their sale will go to the state?”
And finally, here’s a chuckle to start your day from the collection of funny signs we see in our travels and that our readers share with us.
Today is your last chance to enter our Free Drawing for an audiobook of Dog’s Run, my mystery set in a small Ohio town in 1951. Of all the novels and nonfiction books I have out, I have to say that Dog’s Run is probably my favorite. It’s a gritty tale that is loosely based upon an actual crime that took place in that part of the country when my father was a young police officer there, and I warn you in advance that there’s some rough language, but it’s appropriate to the time and place. This is also the last audiobook code I have for this title, and I don’t know that I will be getting any more, so enter now because if you snooze, you lose.
To enter, click this free drawing link Free Drawing link or the tab at the top of this page and enter your name (first and last) in the comments section at the bottom of that page (not this one). Only one entry per person per drawing please, and you must enter with your real name. To prevent spam or multiple entries, the names of cartoon or movie characters are not allowed. The winner will be drawn this evening. Note: Due to the high shipping cost of printed books and Amazon restrictions on e-books to foreign countries, only entries with US addresses and e-mail addresses are allowed.
Thought For The Day – Never miss a good chance to shut up.