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The Lighter Side of the Law – Part I Print E-mail
by John Browning    Sun, Mar 9, 2014, 07:46 pm

          As I make my way through the day to day drudgery that usually characterizes the legal system, it is easy to overlook the humorous moments that happen—and believe me, they do happen.  Just consider the following incidents:


I’m Not Dead Yet


          Remember the “bring out your dead” scene in the movie “Monty Python and the Holy Grail,” where one unfortunate—but still very much alive—peasant tries to convince his overeager relative that he hadn’t yet died from the plague?  He might identify with Kimberly Haman of St. Louis, who in February actually filed a lawsuit to prove that she is still very much alive!  It seems that Heartland Bank declared her dead nearly a year ago, and passed the word of her “demise” to credit reporting giant Equifax.  As a result, says the alive and kicking Haman, she’s been refused credit cards and blocked from refinancing her mortgage twice after potential lenders noted her “deceased” status (those dead people are such poor credit risks, aren’t they?).  Although she says she repeatedly complained to both the bank and the credit bureau about the grave error, Haman got no results—hence the lawsuit.  According to the suit, the credit reporting error has been a nightmare for Haman, and “rendered [her] hopeless as to her ability to regain her good name and the credit rating that she deserves and has worked hard to earn.”  Heartland Bank claims it has taken “steps to correct this issue” and blames the continued error on Equifax.  Although the Fair Credit Reporting Act requires credit reporting agencies to conduct reasonable investigations into claims of inaccurate information and report back to consumers, one study by the Federal Trade Commission in 2013 found that 26% of consumers find at least one “potentially material” error on credit bureau reports.


Some People Take You Just as Seriously When You Are Dead


          Perhaps Ms. Haman should have lived in Turkey, where even death provides no escape from the legal system.  According to Turkish media, Turkish postal officers (who double as a kind of process servers) entrusted with providing court notifications to individuals have been known to make an unusual stop—at the cemetery.  The Turkish Radio and Television Corporation did a report on postal officers who, upon learning that an individual addressee has deceased, actually posted notifications on the recipient’s gravestone.  The accompanying note reads “Under Article 35 of the Notification Law, notification was posted on the recipient’s gravestone because he is deceased.”  Apparently, the cemetery is treated as a kind of “last known address,” since forwarding notices can be a bit tricky when it comes to different planes of existence.


Bringing Sexy Back, Part 1


          With all due apologies to Justin Timberlake, the real person bringing “sexy” back may be the former Sheila Ranea Crabtree of Pataskala, Ohio.  It seems she’s always hated her given name, calling it “the ugliest one out there.”  So Ms. Crabtree filed a petition with an Ohio court to have her name legally changed to “Sexy,” since she says she’s “fun and free-spirited.”  The judge granted her request, so now the fun can really start with things like restaurant reservations (“Sexy, party of two, your table is ready”) to routine introductions (“Hi, I’m Sexy.”  Response: “You really think highly of yourself, don’t you?”).


Bringing Sexy Back, Part 2


          A young female judge serving on Bosnia’s High Court has lost her job.  According to published reports in Sarajevo, the judge was in the habit of working out in the nude in her office, and then sunbathing while lying on a table (the office has large windows).  But apparently, the ample opportunity for sunning oneself also was an opportunity for early risers at government offices across the street to catch the judge’s impromptu peepshow.  After the newspapers ran a report—complete with photos—on “the naked judge,” the judicial disciplinary commission fired her for “damaging the image” of the High Court.  Disrobing in one context, it seems, can lead to a very different kind of disrobing.


And Nothing Sexy About This


          And finally for something decidedly unsexy, in January, a British judge had to admonish a jury presiding over the trial of a man charged with bestiality.  It seems that the jury heard testimony from witnesses discussing how 61 year-old Paul Lovell had tried unsuccessfully to have sex with a cow, and then “tried his luck” with a sheep.  According to Court News UK, the members of the jury burst into uncontrollable laughter at the description of the incident.  Judge James Patrick was not so amused, telling the jury “I well understand that there are aspects of it that are unusual and amusing.  If you do find the case particularly funny, if you can try to get over your laughter over lunch that would be great.”

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