Courtroom Humor

Dallas Morning News

From the Dallas Morning News:
A prospective juror in a Dallas District Court was surprised by the definition of voluntary manslaughter given the panel:
“an intentional killing that occurs while the defendant is under the immediate influence of sudden passion arising from an adequate cause, such as when a spouse’s mate is found in a ‘compromising position.'”
“See, I have a problem with that passion business,” responded the jurycandidate. “During my first marriage, I came in and found my husband in bed with my neighbor. All I did was divorce him. I had no idea that I could have shot him.”
She wasn’t selected for the jury.

Columbia, S.C. (AP) – A retired judge drew 1 1/2 years in prison forawarding a woman child support and custody of her child in exchange for sex.
The woman’s lawyer, who arranged the trysts, got a two-year sentence and a$1,500 fine from by Circuit Judge Thomas Cooper. Former Family Court Judge SamMendenhall, who retired in 1992, pleaded guilty Monday to misconduct. Thelawyer, Samuel Fewell, pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Mendenhall, 54, and Fewell,58, are former state legislators.
Dorothy Carpenter said Mendenhall awarded her custody and child support in1983 and 1984 in exchange for sex. Carpenter said she also had sex with Fewellin exchange for legal services but fired him in 1985 after he and the judge grewtoo demanding.
Carpenter, who is facing unrelated arson charges, filed a complaint againstMendenhall and Fewell in 1991 with the state Supreme Court, which oversees thejudicial system. She said her lawyer in the arson case urged her to file the complaint.
Carpenter is charged with conspiracy in connection with a 1991 fire in herClover home that killed two people. The case is pending.
Fewell’s sentence will run concurrently with a 2 1/2-year federal sentence hereceived in March for cocaine possession and tax evasion.

Skin for book cover

Rachel Barton-Russell petitioned a court in Springfield, Ore., in February 1994for a ruling on the meaning of the state’s law against corpse abuse. Her deceased husband, Donal Eugene Russell, had declared in his will that he wanted his skin used to make book covers for a collection of his poetry, but the state Mortuary and Cemetery Board claims that carrying out that request would subject a funeral home to liability for corpse abuse.

Three Strikes

Heard through friends:Rumor has it that the state of California, which recently enacted a “ThreeStrikes” crime bill (three felonies and you’re jailed for life), was considering the following amendment:
Three strikes and you’re out, unless the judge drops the gavel on the third strike and you can run out of the courtroom before the bailiff grabs you.


In February 1994, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., accused murderer Donald Leroy Evans,38, filed a pre-trial motion asking permission to wear a Ku Klux Klan robe in the courtroom and to be referred to in legal documents by “the honorable and respected name of Hi Hitler.” According to the courthouse employees interviewed by the Associated Press, Evans thought Adolf Hitler’s followers were saying “HiHitler” rather than “Heil, Hitler.”

Don’t do it in the car.

From the Chicago Tribune, 6/8/90:
Naples, Italy(AP): …the claim (for damages) involves an accident in March involving a medium-sized Regata and a tiny Panda car. The young man claimed he and his girlfriend were engaged in amorous activity in their car when the large car hit it from behind. The impact momentarily made them lose control, resulting in pregnancy. The suit demands compensation for the cost of repairing the Panda and the cost of the wedding the couple decided to have after discovering the woman was pregnant.

Know your client

In December 1993, Atlanta attorney Dennis Scheib stopped by the prosecutor’s office on his way to court to represent a new client in a criminal case. Just outside the office, he saw two officers chasing a man down the hall, and he joined in to help. After the three men caught the escapee and handcuffed him,Scheib learned the man was the client he had been on his way to court to represent.

Bird has changed identity.

From “The Houston Chronicle”
A defense attorney in a Northern California murder case says he believes Max the parrot may hold the answer to who smothered Jane Gill to death in her bedroom two years ago. But an attempt to get the African gray parrot’s testimony into evidence last week was blocked by the judge.
Max was found dehydrated and hungry in his cage two days after Gill’s murder.After the parrot was coaxed back to health at a pet shop, the shop’s owner said the bird began to cry out, “Richard, no, no, no!” The man charged in the case is Gill’s business partner, and his name is not Richard. He says he is innocent.
Gary Dixon, a private investigator working on the case, surmised that the bird is now in a witness-protection program. “Max’s identity has been changed,and he is now a macaw,” he said.

Speedster got caught.

There once was a young fellow who fell prey to a speed trap in a small southern town. The cop wrote him a ticket and then hauled him before the local Justice of the Peace.
The Justice fined the young man $200 and collected the money on the spot.The young fellow turned to go but was called back by the Justice and handed the old ticket.
The speedster said, “Just what am I supposed to do with this? I paid my fine!” Whereupon the old J. P. replied, “Keep it, when you get three, you get a bicycle!”

Can’t fool any woman.

A man on trial in the Fourth Judicial district of Tennessee had previously pleaded “not guilty.” However, once the jury, eight women and four men, had been seated and the trial was under way, the defendant switched his plea.
“Why the change?” asked the judge, “Were you persuaded to plead ‘guilty’?”
“No Sir,” the man replied, “When I pleaded ‘not guilty’, I didn’t know women would be on the jury. I can’t fool one woman, so I know I can’t fool eight of them.”

Drunk Driver Case

Matthew P. Dukes, 26, sentenced to 30 days in jail in 1989 following his sixth drunken-driving conviction, tried for 15 months (through December 1990) to get into jail in Ravenna, Ohio, but each time was turned away because the jail was full. In December, Dukes filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming that his constitutional rights are being violated by the jail’s refusal to admit him.

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