Folklaw April 15

03 March 2012 By Lawyers Weekly

Who throws a shoe? HonestlyAn Indian judge was not to be outdone when a man hurled a slipper at him in court. He promptly threw a paperweight back. Nazir Mohammad had been charged with…

Who throws a shoe? Honestly

An Indian judge was not to be outdone when a man hurled a slipper at him in court. He promptly threw a paperweight back.

Nazir Mohammad had been charged with housebreaking and theft and was sitting in the witness stand when he began to be frustrated with the slow pace of the case, being held in a Baroda court. Clearly unable to tackle his rising annoyance, he became increasingly angry. It affected him so much, in fact, that he leapt from the witness box and charged towards the judge, taking off his slipper and throwing it at his Honour.


Judge Vaghela, apparently not petrified by this odd behaviour, retaliated by picking up the paperweight from his desk, which he then threw at his attacker.

Mohammad has attacked two other judges in a similar way in recent years, and has now been sent back to prison with this extra offence marring his name even further.

The local Bar Association took this story another step recently when it went on strike to protest against the lack of security for judges, lawyers and witnesses.

Nothings sacred

It’s a perennial catch-cry, but it seems that just about anything is deemed potential advertising space these days. We at Folklaw were amused this week to receive an email with a signature that didn’t reveal the status and contact details of the sender, but the exciting information: ‘Sent from my BlackBerry Wireless Handheld’. We are all wondering whether the users of the aforementioned gadget have the option of removing the line or if they are stuck with it.

Lawyers Weekly Discover

Now, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, and it’s true that we at Folklaw are currently utilising our own signatures to shamelessly promote voting in the Fuji Xerox 2005 Australian Law Awards (vote now, vote now — but that is entirely our own choice, not something being thrust upon us by the manufacturer of a device that we just happened to have bought. After the Law Awards, we will all be changing our email signatures to: ‘Sent from my crummy old Dell’.

Cool Britannia press

British newspapers have all the fun. Assuming its populace could take a joke well, the UK press had quite the field day on April 1 with April Fool jokes. The Sun, for example, said gypsies had set up camp on the Queen’s lawn at Windsor Castle, using a 650 year old law to justify themselves.

Apparently, well, according to The Sun anyway, these particular gypsies claim to be descended from the original builders of the castle, who were given permission to pitch their tents on the lawn by Kind Edward III. The Queen is quoted as saying it’s a disaster, but according to Gypsy head Ralph, “We could do her a good deal on tarmac”.

Pity it was all a farce…

Quote of the week

When Chief Justice Gleeson was recently asked by an ABC reporter, “Wouldn’t you prefer to see some women sitting alongside you?” he replied “Instead of whom?”

Dodgy, dodgy, dodgy

Folklaw feels for those lawyers who spend their days trying to polish the tarnished reputation of the profession, when they have so many dodgy colleagues to contend with. In the United States the growing ‘legal finance’ industry is generously lending money to injury claimants who need funds while they await the outcome of their case. In a further show of kindness, the firms don’t require you to pay the money back if your claim is unsuccessful (which must create some sort of conflict of interest). However, if you win your case, they want the money back in full — plus interest, which can exceed 100 per cent per year.

The New York Times reports that the charges are legal because in most states the money provided isn’t considered a loan, and thus not covered by usury laws.

However, that could be changing. New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer has reached settlements calling for clearer disclosure of fees from at least 10 litigation cash-advance firms, including one firm which billed a client $19,000 for a $3,000 cash advance taken out two and a half years earlier. Apparently details of the fees had previously only been provided in such technical legal language that clients would require multiple degrees to understand them.

I feel pretty

The San Francisco Chronicle has reported that a library assistant who claimed she was overlooked for several promotions because she was too pretty and wore sexy clothes has lost her discrimination case against Harvard University.

Desiree Goodwin, who has worked as a library assistant at Harvard since 1994, and has a bachelor’s degree and two master’s degrees, claimed she had been rejected for seven promotions. Her supervisor allegedly told her that she was “a joke” in the library, where she was seen simply as a pretty girl who wore “low-cut blouses and tight pants”. But aren’t women generally accused of working their way to the top by doing just that? Folklaw wonders.

However, Harvard attorney Richard Riley argued that the university had received applications from dozens of qualified applicants for each position Goodwin went for. After her claims were dismissed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, Goodwin told the media she had no immediate plans to leave the university, but was looking for library jobs elsewhere. In that case, Folklaw hopes for Goodwin’s sake that media coverage of her court case wasn’t too wide spread.

Bee keeping bandit

In another Fool’s Day story, our New Zealand friends leave us with something to be wary of — taking it just too far, even if not deliberately. Beekeeper John William Bushnell, the NZ Herald reports, has been labelled April Fool of Hokitika by Judge David Saunders after he spent the day brandishing about a metal bar usually used to scrape his beehives.

Bushnell was fined $800 after admitting to threatening behaviour as well as possessing a offensive weapon. He had been in good spirits, he said, until two musicians started rehearsing, which evidently got on his nerves. He abused the players then moved on to a female bar manager, making lewd comments and waving about his beehive scraping apparatus.

To finish of his day of foolishness, he agreed to a breath test, though he was not driving. Having produced a reading of 1001, two and a half times over the limit, Judge Saunders told him “Someone should have told you April Fool’s Day finishes at noon. You were a drunken bore and can be rightly termed April Fool of Hokitika”.

Folklaw April 15
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