If you thought last week’s assemblage of the bizarre and ridiculous from the legal system was as strange as it gets, then as Al Jolson would say “You ain’t seen nothing yet.”Here are some more of the weirdest happenings in our courts recently.
Henry Wolf of California has filed a lawsuit against BMW North America and Corbin-Pacific, a manufacturer of aftermarket motorcycle seats.Wolf claims that long rides on the ridge-like seat of his 1993 BMW motorcycle have resulted in an unusual medical condition: a nonstop erection that has persisted for the past 20 months.According to the lawsuit, Wolf has suffered serious pain, mental anguish, and an inability to engage in sexual activity, and consequently he is seeking an unspecified amount of damages.Urologist experts say that riders can experience numbness when the neurovascular supply to that part of the body is compressed for prolonged periods of time, although they know of no medical data to support the severity of Wolf’s claim.BMW North America denies any liability.
Judges and attorneys frequently have to contend with all kinds of juror misconduct—jurors venturing to “research” a case, jurors engaging in improper communications about their deliberations, and even jurors conducting impromptu “experiments” recreating key scenarios in a case.But Delray Beach, Florida juror Dennis DeMartin may have taken his job in considering drunk driving/manslaughter charges a little seriously.According to DeMartin, a juror in the high-profile intoxication manslaughter case against Florida polo mogul John Goodman, he conducted an experiment the night before voting to convict Goodman by getting drunk.DeMartin self-published a book, “Believing the Truth,” in which he describes drinking 3 vodka and tonics the night before the verdict.DeMartin writes how his “experiment,” which left him “confused” about his surroundings, convinced him that Goodman was “not fit to drive.”Now, Goodman’s defense attorneys are seeking to have the conviction thrown out based on juror misconduct, saying that DeMartin’s drinking experiment violated the judge’s instructions and that DeMartin’s profit motives for his book are also troubling, turning deliberations “from deciding guilt or innocence into a platform for a book that he is going to publish.”
Yale law student Eric Parrie recently donated a kidney after reading an article about organ donors, giving recipient Laura Cheaney (whose kidneys failed after giving birth in 2007) a new lease on life.The unusual part of this altruistic act is that Parrie named the kidney “Dick Posner” (after famed federal appellate judge Richard Posner) before giving it away; he’s even written a series of letters “to” the organ.Parrie emailed the real Posner to tell the judge about his naming decision, a move that apparently pleased the judge because, up until now, “the only thing named after him was a house cat.”
In countless Westerns we’ve seen outlaws make an innocent bystander “dance” by shooting at his feet.In the 1980s movie “Blind Date,” Bruce Willis takes it a step further, making his nemesis dance and ultimately “moonwalk” (a lá Michael Jackson) at gunpoint.In Idaho, 30 year-old John Cross has been charged with felony assault for allegedly ordering another man to perform the moonwalk dance move at gunpoint.Hopefully, this won’t spark a trend, and we won’t see gunmen forcing innocent folks to “Cabbage Patch,” perform “The Running Man,” do “The Sprinkler,” do “The Robot,” or engage in any number of dance moves that are best left forgotten.
I’ve written about people taking steps to legally change their names to strange appellations before, but this latest one proves that some little boys never grow out of that “love of dinosaurs” phase.23 year-old Tyler Gold of York County, Nebraska recently received a judge’s permission to legally change his name to “Tyrannosaurus Rex Joseph Gold.”Gold says that he wanted to change his name to that of the mighty dinosaur because T-Rex is “cooler,” and because “as an entrepreneur, name recognition is important and the new name is more recognizable.”
As a Star Wars fan, seeing the headline “Obiwan Kenobi Arrested in Hit and Run” took me a bit by surprise.Had the Jedi master run over a Tusken Raider on Tatooine, or perhaps had a little fender-bender with a Jawa sandcrawler?As it turns out, police in Roseville, California recently arrested “Obiwan Kenobi” on suspicion of causing a 5 vehicle crash on March 19 and then fleeing the scene. The 37 year-old formerly known as Benjamin Calefeit had legally changed his name to the Star Wars character as part of a 1999 radio station contest.Police have charged Kenobi (who was already wanted on misdemeanor theft) with a felony.As master Yoda put it in describing another rogue Jedi, “Reckless is he.Now matters are worse.”I hope the Jedi mind tricks work better with the judge and jury, or else “Obiwan” is looking at some jail time, and I’m not talking about the Death Star detention block.Turn away from the Dark Side, Obiwan.
With all apologies to Shakespeare, just as a rose would smell as sweet if we called it by another name, one would think that it shouldn’t matter what business owners name their companies.However, as corporate lawyers will attest, sometimes a good deal of thought goes into naming a corporate entity.For one thing, the very idea of creating an entity like, say, a limited liability company (LLC) is about insulating oneself from legal exposures and, in many cases, shielding one’s identity.While Donald Trump may like putting his name on everything, celebrities and others interested in keeping a measure of privacy feel differently when it comes to public transactions like purchasing real estate.
Look at some of the deed records in virtually any state, and chances are you will see a few odd names.“Bubble & Squeak, LLC,” for example, is a New York real estate company that rehabs and gentrifies older buildings.Appropriately enough, it takes its name from a traditional English dish made from fried leftovers of things like potatoes and cabbage.Other LLCs in New York that have somewhat unexpected names are “Worm in the Big Apple,” “Hot Potato,” “Rabbit Properties,” “Song for My Father,” and “Shabbos Goy LLC” (“shabbos goy” is a Yiddish term for a non-Jew employed by Orthodox Jews to perform chores on the Sabbath, when working is forbidden).Sometimes, the names chosen spring from either a sense of whimsy or a nod to pop culture.Cogswell Realty, LLC, for example, takes its name from Cogswell’s Cosmic Cogs, the chief competitor of Spacely Sprockets in the beloved cartoon “The Jetsons.”And when it came time for Cogswell to set up separate LLCs for some of the properties it owns, it chose names that George Jetson himself could appreciate: “Elroy, L.L.C.,” “Judy, L.L.C.,” and “Astro LLC” (what, nothing named after Jane, his wife?).
Look at some of the lesser known publicly-traded companies on some stock exchanges, and you will see more odd names.For instance, there may be a story behind the name of the holding company for Wyoming’s Buffalo Federal Savings Bank—it’s called Crazy Woman Creek Bancorp, Inc.You may not want to keep Foley Dog Show Organ and Bull Dog Sauce Company in the same stock portfolio as Big Cat Energy Corporation or Mad Catz Interactive, Inc. (which makes videogame accessories)—dogs and cats don’t mix.And while you might expect Coda Octopus Group, Inc. to have something to do with underwater technologies, you’d probably be surprised to learn that Snake Eyes, Inc. has nothing to do with gambling and everything to do with golf clubs.
Of course, the names that are chosen for a corporate entity can sometimes come back to haunt it.Remember Enron, which referred to its special purpose entities as “raptors”?Another company that was burdened with a division overrun by product liability claims decided to create two spinoff entities—one that would emerge fresh and clean and the other that would contend with all the claims and lawsuits.Guess which one they named “GoodCo” and which they named “CrapCo”?Another corporation spun off a separate investment vehicle that was risky.How risky?It turns out that its name SNP, Inc. stood for “Should Not Participate, Inc.”And yet another corporation had a shell company with the mysterious-sounding acronym LHIW, Inc.During litigation involving that entity, it was revealed that LHIW, Inc. stood for “Let’s Hope It Works”—hardly the sort of thing to inspire investor confidence.When lawsuits come along, a lot of dirty laundry winds up being aired.Shadow corporate entities and shell companies or projects with names like “death star” or “piranha” tend to leave a bad impression with jurors.
The National Day of Prayer is an annual event passed by joint resolution of Congress in 1952 and signed into law by President Truman. Of course the tradition of calling for special days set aside for prayer goes back much further, indeed to the American Revolution and to the First Continental Congress in 1775. The National Day of Prayer is observed on the first Thursday of May each year. Because our nation continues to navigate through extremely challenging days, the National Day of Prayer Task Force chose “One Nation Under God” as this year’s theme. It is perhaps something to remember moreover, that this year is a pivotal election year. The inspiration for the 2012 theme is found in Psalm 33:12, which offers this important reminder: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord...”
Another verse worth referencing is Nahum 1:7 which states, “The Lord is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him.” Indeed, the Book of Nahum is interesting, in that, it is actually a warning to Israel about God’s wrath and the destruction of the wicked, and a prophecy about the downfall of the city of Nineveh. There may be some allusion here to these United States! But then there are the words “for such a time as this,” taken from the Book of Esther. It is in Esther we find a message of hope and also of deliverance, and one may at least pray there’s an allusion to us in that Book as well.
Esther was a beautiful Jewish maiden. She was orphaned and brought up by her cousin Mordecai, who held office and served Xerxes the king of Persia. After dethroning his very difficult wife Vashti, the king chose Esther to take her place as queen. Mordecai and Esther did not reveal their relationship, however, probably because they did not want her Jewish parentage to enter in and become a point of contention or prejudice. Meanwhile another officer named Haman hated Jews almost pathologically, so much that he actually presumed upon the king’s authority and ordered their persecution throughout the kingdom. It is upon that occasion that Mordecai approaches Esther and asks her to intervene on their people’s behalf. At first she does not appreciate her influence, and she does not quite know the limits of her position. She is cautious at least, even afraid to broach the king on this subject knowing how hot tempered he could be. She might be viewed as being difficult like Vashti. She might blow her political capital so to speak, her query dismissed as mere nuisance or worse as a bald imposition.
Mordecai nevertheless persuades her to find courage and to persevere, by reminding her of the gravity of the situation and of greater purpose beyond her mortal self. He references the unlikely series of events that brought her to the throne and suggests to Esther that she may have come into her position just “for such a time as this.” It is a peculiarity of the Book of Esther that the name of God does not once occur in it, but the reality of God is clearly present. Esther obtains permission from the king to arrange a banquet and to invite Haman. She petitions the king at the banquet to stop all the outrages being committed against Jews in the kingdom. When asked by the king who is responsible for the terrible things she describes, she fingers none other than Haman who is there present. In an amazing turnabout, Haman is hung on the very gallows he had built and prepared for Mordecai. Talk about poetic justice! As for the Jews, they “rested from their enemies” and were allowed to take revenge—their desperate situation having turned in an instant “from sorrow to joy, and from mourning into a good day” (Esther 9:22).
Today these United States of America face a desperate situation economically and politically, and the nation is in dire need of prayer. The people need Mordecai’s encouragement, in order to weather unemployment and a rapidly approaching debt crisis, taxes and overregulation; they need to be reminded like Esther, of their exalted position in the Republic. Americans have enemies around the world to be sure. They also have enemies within and our own share of officers in the government who presume upon the authority of the people and who subvert the written Constitution and intent of the Founders. It behooves us to remember, however, that turnabouts come quickly. Exposing evildoers in public can have a dramatic effect as it did with ACORN, and one single election can reverse four years of very bad policy practically in an instant.
________________________Wesley Allen Riddle is a retired military officer with degrees and honors from West Point and Oxford. Widely published in the academic and opinion press, he serves as State Director of the Republican freedom Coalition (RFC) and is currently running for U. S. Congress (TX-District 25 in the Republican Primary. He is also author of two books, Horse Sense for the New Millennium (2011), and The Nexus of Faith and Freedom (2012). Both books are available on-line at http://www.wesriddle,net/ and from fine bookstores everywhere. Email:
I almost died laughing when Democrats started distancing themselves on many Sunday morning talk shows from CNN’s Democrat Hit Woman Hilary Rosen’s inflammatory comments on Ann Romney, wife of Republican front-runner Mitt Romney. Even President Obama and many of his henchmen jumped in the fray and tried to distance themselves by stating that Ms. Rosen works for CNN and is not a spokesperson for the White House. Though trying hard to distance their hides from this unleashed attack dog, Hilary Rose, from CNN, White House visitor logs show that Hilary Rosen visited 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. at least 35 times, while Gen. David Petraeus, head of our efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the current CIA director has been a visitor only nine times.
Here in a nutshell are CNN Hilary Rosen’s comments on Ann Romney: "What you have is Mitt Romney running around the country, saying, 'Well, you know, my wife tells me that what women really care about are economic issues, and when I listen to my wife, that's what I'm hearing.' Guess what? His wife has actually never worked a day in her life!" What Rosen failed to mention in her unsavory comments is that under Obama’s watch, women have a higher number as being unemployed and many are unable to find work.
Rosen further stated that Ann Romney never really dealt with the kinds of economic issues that a majority of the women in this country are facing in terms of how do we feed our kids, how do we send them to school, and why do we worry about their future. She added that the Romney’s “just seem old fashioned when it comes to women.” I guess she meant that rich moms don’t have the same cares for their families than poor or working moms have, which to me is ridiculous!
Days later when bipartisan critics unleashed a barrage of verbal assaults on her comments, Rosen sheepishly apologized to Mrs. Romney. The spineless liberal hack said, “I apologize to Ann Romney and anyone else who was offended. Let’s declare peace in this phony war and go back to focus on the substance.
What I find so disingenuous about most liberal Democrats trying to portray themselves as poor and for the poor is that according to the Center for Responsive Politics, there are 237 millionaires serving in Congress. Which reflects the fact that the average lawmaker is far wealthier that his or her typical constituent. Simply stating, one percent of Americans are millionaires, while 44 percent of those serving in Congress can claim as much. In the Senate’s 25 wealthiest lawmakers, 14 are Democrats and 11 are Republicans.
The richest member of Congress is Rep. Darrell Issa–R – CA ($250 million), followed by four Democrats, Jane Harman–D – CA – ($245 million), Herb Kohl–D – WI ($215 million), Mark Warner–D – VA ($210 million) and John Kerry–D – MA ($209 million). By the way, Mitt Romney’s net worth is estimated at $200 million. I now wonder if CNN’s Hilary Rosen despises and scorns the supposedly rich wives of those rich Democrats as she did Mrs. Romney who raised 5 sons and was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in 1998 and has battled breast cancer.
Unlike Ms. Rosen, I have the utmost respect for mothers of all stripes: rich, poor, middle income, black, white, brown, etc. Most moms in my view are the central figure of most families. Growing up poor, I remember my mom having to go work to help my dad with his meager wage. Yet, she washed our clothes in a No. 8 washtub outside with a scrub board, hung the wash, iron, cook 3 meals, and go buy groceries on foot being that we never owned a car. Other moms in my poor neighborhood who had husbands that earned a good wage also worked hard raising their kids. As I stated in my heading, their work was never done.
As for rich moms not having it hard raising their children as poor ones, I wonder what ugly words Ms. Rosen would have written about Rose Kennedy, the wife of Joe Kennedy, an extremely wealthy man and mother of 9 children with two sons, both Democrats, who suffered tragic endings. Probably unbeknown to Ms. Rosen, Rose Kennedy give birth to a mentally ill girl, her oldest son, Joe was killed in World War II and her two sons, Robert and President John Kennedy were assassinated. Could Ms. Rosen honestly believe that a rich mother like Rose Kennedy could not related to the hardships a poor mother would have endured if they, like her, had children who underwent similar tragic and heartbreaking events in their family?
Folks, I personally know several wealthy women. One such wealthy woman never seems to end to amaze me. Her name is Hope Garcia Lancarte. Hope, along with her sons, own and operate Joe T. Garcia’s, one of the most successful Mexican restaurants, in Fort Worth. There’s not a day that goes by that Joe T. Garcia’s is not packed in their widespread and famous Mexican eatery. Diners of all stripes and backgrounds (politicians, movie stars, religious figures, world known musicians) dine there. What amazes me about Hope is that for years she worked hard in the kitchen cooking meals for her famous restaurant. Up in years, today I often find Hope busing tables and sweeping the floor. I once asked her, “Hope, you should retire, enjoy life, travel, and take it easy.” She said, “James, I love to work. Making money is secondary to me, I love working with my sons and enjoy visiting with my customers. That James is what I love to do!”
Ms. Rosen could learn a lot from rich women like: Rose Kennedy, Hope Lancarte and yes, even Mrs. Ann Romney. But, I seriously doubt it!