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Folklaw 12 May 2006

Folklaw 12 May 2006

Oooh, those poor chilly lobsters!Reuters reports that in an innovative application of an anti-cruelty law designed to protect household pets, an Italian restaurant was fined 688 euros ($1,144)…

Oooh, those poor chilly lobsters!

Reuters reports that in an innovative application of an anti-cruelty law designed to protect household pets, an Italian restaurant was fined 688 euros ($1,144) for displaying live lobsters on ice. A court in the north-eastern city of Vicenza ruled the display, which was designed to attract patrons, was a form of abuse, dooming the crustaceans to a slow death by suffocation.

Giuseppe Scalesia, who runs La Conchiglia d’Oro (The Golden Shell) restaurant along with his brother Camillo, declared that the pair would be making an appeal. “They said that the lobsters, laying on the ice, suffer... They compared them in court to other animals, like cats and dogs,” Signore Scalesia lamented.

The case was sparked by Gianpaolo Cecchetto, a former environmental activist, who took his two young children to the Vicenza restaurant in May 2002. “They were shocked by the display,” Cecchetto told Reuters, adding that he immediately got in touch with the Ente Nazionale Protezione Animali (ENPA), an Italian animal protection organisation.” ENPA took care of the legal proceedings.

Italy has some of the world’s toughest animal rights laws: in October, Rome banned goldfish bowls, thought to be cruel, while Turin passed a law last year under which dog owners would be fined 500 euros unless they walked their canine friends at least three times a day.

Spook sheds light on the matter

Internet news site All Headline News reported that a famous murderer could be haunting a courthouse in New Jersey. Some employees at Flemington’s Hunter County Courthouse say that the ghost of Bruno Hauptmann, the man who in 1935 was convicted there of kidnapping and killing the toddler son of American aviator Charles Lindbergh, is flipping on the courthouse’s lights every night. Workers say that the strange happenings started a month ago, when renovators began making the courthouse look as it did in 1935. Spooky! According to a county architect, it could just as likely be the new light system sensors reacting when air currents shift due to a heating or cooling system starting up. But that’s not as interesting, is it?

Captured! Courtroom art

American court artist Mona Shafer Edwards has a book out: Captured! Inside the World of Celebrity Trials. Edwards has had a front seat at the trials of Rodney King and OJ Simpson. The likes of Jennifer Aniston, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Steven Spielberg, Winona Ryder, Dolly Parton, Snoop Dogg, Dustin Hoffman and Clint Eastwood all appear in her book, in court for trials involving alleged stalking, palimony, copyright infringement, shoplifting, wrongful death and divorce.

“The courtroom artist is something of a throwback to a more innocent day when there was more respect for the image in the courtroom,” Edwards told ABC News. “But even when there’s a camera in the courtroom, I think we artists are capturing the real emotion.”

Apparently, lawyers and judges are some of Edwards’ biggest fans. Having defended the likes of Scott Peterson, Michael Jackson and Winona Ryder, celebrity attorney Mark Geragos has a collection of courtroom art in his office on what he calls his “ego wall”.

Edwards told Buck Wolf at the ABC how some lawyers ask her to draw them to look thinner, younger and, frequently, “with more hair.” “No can do,” she says. Of course not. Artists, at least, are committed to the rigorous pursuit of the truth.

Who are you, Jackie Fisher?

Apparently London’s legal activity ground almost to a halt last week as lawyers turned amateur code-breakers, trying to decipher a Dan Brown-inspired code left in a British High Court judge’s ruling. Justice Peter Smith, who handed down the ruling that Brown’s best-seller The Da Vinci Code had not been plagiarised, had embedded his own secret message by italicising letters scattered throughout the 71-page judgment. Finally, the code has been cracked by a London lawyer, Dan Tench, who had nothing to do with the case but was studying the ruling.

It makes you think. If you were about to construct a message in code for the world to agonise over, what would it be? Chances are, Justice Smith is a completely original thinker. Would anyone else have wanted an obscure reference to a Royal Navy admiral? “Jackie Fisher, who are you? Dreadnought,” read the secret message. John (Jackie) Fisher was an eccentric, bellicose British admiral who died in 1920. Instrumental in the escalation of Britain’s naval race with Germany, Fisher was also a keen advocate of submarines. In a statement, the judge said, “The message reveals a significant but now overlooked event that occurred virtually 100 years to the day of the start of the trial.” He said that while he might be prohibited from discussing the case, that did not preclude him from having a “bit of fun.” Jolly good! Folklaw is all for more fun in the law courts.

Like this story? Read more:

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

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Folklaw 12 May 2006
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