Folklaw 20 May

03 March 2012 By Lawyers Weekly

A suitable vehicle?As you would already know, dear readers, it is a common defence in High Court special leave applications for the party resisting the grant of special leave to say that the…

A suitable vehicle?

As you would already know, dear readers, it is a common defence in High Court special leave applications for the party resisting the grant of special leave to say that the case is not “a suitable vehicle for special leave”. That is, it does not present the legal problem in an appropriate way for the Court to resolve the question — usually because the facts were unusual or there were other legal issues intertwined.

In the special leave application for Trenwick v Tanevski, soon to be heard by the full bench of the High Court, there was the following exchange between counsel and Justice Callinan:


Mr Hutley: In our respectful submission, your Honour, this is not an appropriate vehicle for special leave.

Callinan J: You know, I always think that is a very unattractive formula and not a very good submission. I remember unsuccessfully appearing here once and my client saying, with an expletive, “What have I got to do, drive a Cadillac into Court?” It never impresses me, if standing alone.

(Leave was granted)

Ultimate Mothers Day

Some mums know what’s best for them. Maria Brunner, a mother of three, has chosen to spend three months in jail rather than paying a parking fine in order to get a well-deserved rest from her children and husband. Brunner apparently happily waved goodbye to her neighbours when she was arrested in lieu of a $122 parking fine that had increased to $6055 because it had been left unpaid.

Lawyers Weekly Discover

One of the arresting officers, from Poing in Germany, said Brunner seemed “really happy, if not relieved” to see the police and said she’d had enough of trying to eke out a living for her family from her wages as a cleaner, while her “lazy husband sits on his backside doing nothing”.

She said as long as she got food and a hot shower everyday, she wouldn’t mind going to jail and was actually looking forward to not having to cook and clean for everyone. Her holiday might be short lived, however. Apparently her husband has finally gotten off his backside and is madly trying to raise the money to pay off the fine.

Catch of the day

Talk about the luck of the Irish — an Irish fisherman got more than he bargained for when he reeled in $665,000 worth of cannabis resin that had been hidden in the River Liffey, County Wicklow. The poor bloke thought he had the catch of a lifetime after he’d spent a good part of the afternoon dragging the line in. Despite the fisherman’s disappointment, local policemen were thrilled with his catch, which led to the discovery of 12 more boxes containing 20 bars of cannabis.

Money cures all ills

A Seattle woman has been awarded more than $58,000 after her neighbour’s dog mauled her cat to death. The Las Vegas Sun reported on 9 May that retired teacher Paula Roemer’s 12-year-old cat Yofi was attacked in her backyard by her neighbour’s ”pooch”.

Roemer said the incident had left her with sleep disturbances, panic attacks and depression and caused her to smoke heavily. The amount awarded included almost $39,000 for the special value of the pet and close to $20,000 for emotional distress. The verdict, by Judge Barbara L. Linde equalled the record value given to a pet in a previous case, where a veterinarian was ordered to pay a dog owner $30,000 for its “unique” value.

Roemer told the paper she doubted she would see any of the money, but she plans to donate any proceeds to an animal protection group. However, the case has prompted commentators to ponder whether drivers of vehicles of a similar value in Washington state should swerve to avoid any darting pet.

Riding under the influence

It’s just not worth drinking these days unless you’re going to get a taxi. Folklaw reported in issue 238 that authorities in Alabama were charging people with driving under the influence even if they were asleep in their vehicle with the keys in their pocket. Now we hear that a man has been arrested in Kentucky for ‘driving’ his horse while inebriated.

Millard Dywer, from Pulaski County, must have been struggling, as he was pulled over while attempting to steer his horse Prince around a street corner. The 42-year-old was three times over the limit and admitted he had drunk a 12-pack of beer, however, he is determined to fight the charge.

We don’t think he’ll get too far though — a horse is classed as a vehicle under Kentucky state law.

Sound familiar?

Website, Ernie The Attorney — searching for truth and justice (in an unjust world) — has published a diatribe on boilerplate language, which Ernie claims is to a lawyer “as a sidearm is to a gunslinger”. In case you haven’t heard, boilerplate language is that which is intended to “both bore and intimidate the reader”.

The site claims the reader is “supposed to feel like the language is so ‘official and important’ that they have no right to question it”.

“Lawyers love to create boilerplate language. They will spend hours carefully arranging multi-syllable words to achieve the precise balance of confusion and torpor,” the site continues. “Like witches creating magic potions for various types of spells, lawyers have an arsenal of boilerplate language for use in any given situation. … Cover your ass at all costs, that’s the essence of boilerplate language.” Well, we at Folklaw are sure we don’t know any lawyers who employ such tactics. In fact, we’ve never heard the like!

Folklaw 20 May
Intro image
lawyersweekly logo