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Folklaw 8 September 2006

Folklaw 8 September 2006

Take Your Honour down to the ball gameThe California Commission on Judicial Performance has publicly criticised a judge for deliberately delaying a murder trial so he could enjoy a baseball…

Take Your Honour down to the ball game

The California Commission on Judicial Performance has publicly criticised a judge for deliberately delaying a murder trial so he could enjoy a baseball game.

The Commission held that in October 2004, Superior Court Judge Paul Zellerbach of Riverside County “failed to give his judicial duties preference” when he left a jury hanging to watch the Boston Red Sox meet the Anaheim Angels in a playoff series game.

When Zellerbach was phoned by his clerk and told that the jury had reached a decision in the double homicide case after only a day, he declined to interrupt his viewing of the game, or permit another judge to receive the verdict. Instead, the baseball enthusiast ordered the case be delayed until the following morning.

Zellerbach told the Commission he had not anticipated that the jury would return so quickly. He was also reluctant to burden a non-baseball watching judge with the complex legal issues in the case.

Besides, his colleagues had in the past delayed verdicts by a day as well, Zellerbach said. Unsurprisingly, the Commission was not convinced.

“There likely are instances where good cause exists for such delay. A judge attending a baseball game is not such an instance, however,” the Commission ruled.

The Commission vote of six to four against Zellerbach was one of the few occasions when it had not reached a unanimous, or almost-unanimous, decision.

The bare necessities of Chinese funerals

Authorities in China are cracking down on the use of strippers to attract numbers to private funerals.

Police arrested five individuals responsible for organising strip shows in Jiangsu Province, eastern China. The alarm was raised at a funeral at which “obscene performances” were underway, according to reports by the Xinhua government agency.

The offence occurred as mourners farewelled a villager by the name of Liang in mid-August. Two troupes of strippers had reportedly attracted around 200 villagers when the arrest occurred.

Apparently it is the belief of local villagers in the Donghai region that the honour attributed to the deceased was directly proportional to the number of mourners in attendance, the Xinhua agency said. And as a recent ‘Boobs on Bikes’ parade in New Zealand demonstrated, nudity is sure to draw a crowd.

Following the arrests, police placed a ban on strippers at funerals and established a “funeral misdeeds” hotline for concerned locals to call in the event of further “obscene performances”, the agency said.

Katrinas selfish saviour gets sued

A US man who claims to have rescued over 200 victims of Hurricane Katrina by boat is being sued by the craft’s owner for taking it “without permission”.

Broadmoor man, Mark Morice, found the boat unattended after the hurricane struck with the keys in the ignition, The Times-Picayune newspaper said. He then proceeded to rescue stranded residents, including 93-year-old dialysis patient Irving Gordon, before leaving the craft for other rescuers to use.

“I don't know where we would be today if it weren’t for him,” Gordon’s elderly wife, Molly, told the newspaper.

“He pulled the boat up to our house, came in, carried my husband out to the boat; brought us to Memorial Hospital,” Gordon said.

Morice said that at one point he “couldn’t get more than a block or two without people screaming to me for help”.

Aggrieved boat owner John M Lyons Jr is suing for distress, in the form of “grief, mental anguish, embarrassment and suffering … due to the removal of the boat,” on top of the replacement costs, the newspaper said. He is demanding US$12,000 ($15,740), which is the amount the insurance won’t cover.

“This man should be so grateful he had a boat that saved lives,” Gordon said in relation to Lyons’ alleged mental anguish, the paper reported.

Lyons’ lawyer, E Ronald Mills, accused Morice of “hubris” when he filed the suit in the 24th Judicial District Court in Jefferson Parish, the newspaper said.

Mills said that Morice made no effort to return the vessel and it still remains missing. The lawsuit goes as far as accusing the man of stealing the boat “solely to promote himself and his law practice”, the newspaper said.

“If I felt I had to take the boat I would have at least left a note,” Mills said.

In response, Morice said that “next time there’s a major storm or natural disaster and I’m called to save lives, I’ll try to remember to bring a pen and paper”.

The battle over Barbies sexuality

Manufacturer of the world famous Barbie doll, Mattel, has threatened to sue an artist in Brazil for portraying the toy as a lesbian.

According to the Jornal de Sao Paulo newspaper, the exhibit of photographs by artist Karen Schwarz portrays Barbie in suggestive sapphic poses.

The exhibition, entitled Amazing Girls, is on display in a bar in Curitiba, although Mattel has given Schwarz a day to close it down or the company will sue, the newspaper reported.

Schwarz told the newspaper she was not concerned by Mattel’s demands.

“Barbie is exploited by Mattel. She wears a bikini, she shows off her belly, has big breasts, and even has a boyfriend,” Schwarz said.

A spokesperson from the company, who seems to be on speaking terms with the doll, said: “Barbie is a very proper lady and she is not happy about being portrayed as something that she isn’t”.

“We are going to sue and we hope that this teaches people a lesson. Also, Barbie is 46 years old, she should be respected,” the spokesperson said.

Beyond repair Hidden costs at Argentine garage

Ever felt powerless at the hands of the local mechanic? Spare a thought for Jose Orono of Argentina, who is suing his local mechanic for taking six years, and counting, to repair his car.

The pensioner, Orono, took his 1970 model Fiat 600 to the garage in 2000, the Terras Noticias Populares reported.

“It needed painting and some minor mechanical work,” Orono told the newspaper.

After a week, the owner of the garage told him he would need an extra fortnight to repair the car. But then the floodgates opened, and a string of excuses poured out.

“He kept making up excuses, one time he said his aunt had died and the other that his shop had been broken into,” Orono told the paper.

“I wanted to be patient because I know his wife and kids, but enough is enough.”

Chillax Get to it

Junior employees considering leaving their firms for greener pastures might want to take a leaf out of former summer clerk Shanaz’s book and circulate a list of grievances in a handwritten letter.

Quitting from Edinburgh firm Anderson Strathern after only two weeks, Shanaz sent her letter to half of the firm, which included around 15 partners and the chairman, website RollOnFriday reported.

She began by pointing out some of the lesser features of the office, which she colourfully dubbed “the morgue”.

“It’s unnaturally quiet on this floor and the lack of atmosphere would make any angst-ridden teenager cut their wrists,” she said.

The work ethic of her colleagues was not to her liking either.

“Everyone’s always working. I’m not saying that you should stop doing your job, but sometimes you should just stop, kick back and chillax [sic] for a minute and take a step back from the evil desk.”

Wisely, she advised that “you can be doing the world’s crappiest job but if you can have a laugh and a bit of banter then it won’t seem so boring and you’ll feel less stressed and under pressure”.

To support her argument, she stressed that “Superman would have quit ages ago if he didn’t get to rescue a grateful kid or a hottie from time to time”.

In what obviously foreshadows a successful career in management, Shanaz went on to suggest that “if these measures don’t work then somebody should be employed to make sure that a certain amount of opium is passed through the air via the ventilation system, [either] that or…‘happy cakes’”.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

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Folklaw 8 September 2006
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