I've had a few giggles reading about some interesting court cases this week.
First, from Macedonia, we hear of a bear convicted for stealing honey and damaging a bee-keeper's hives.
"I tried to distract the bear with lights and music because I heard bears are afraid of that," Zoran Kiseloski told top-selling daily Dnevnik after the year-long case of the bear vs. the beekeeper ended in the beekeeper's favour.
"So I bought a generator, lit up the area and put on songs of (Serbian 'turbo-folk' star) Ceca."
Unfortunately, the generator ran out of fuel, and the bear came back once peace and quiet was restored. The sympathetic court duly convicted the nameless bear and fined him 140,000 denars (about $3,500) in compensation for the damage he'd caused. No word on the bear's reaction . . . and since he wasn't in court and (presumably) can't read about his conviction, I daresay he won't be paying the damages!
Next, we have The Case Of The Bulletproof Amulet. A court in the United Arab Emirates sentenced a man to six months in prison after he tried to sell a piece of onyx for $500 million.
The 52-year-old Yemeni had advertised the “magic stone” in an Arabic newspaper, telling of its unique bulletproof properties. He claimed he had put the onyx on sheep as a test and the stone’s superpowers had allowed the animals to live.
At this point I'd have been suggesting to the defendant that poor marksmanship, rather than his amulet, was responsible for the sheep's good fortune . . . but wait, there's more.
In a lively court case, the guilty man’s lawyer asked the judge to allow a test to be carried out, where the defendant would have worn the onyx and been shot at to test its powers. The judge refused.
What a spoilsport that judge was! They could have put that on reality TV and made a fortune!
Finally, I'm sure you've heard of Ali Baba And The Forty Thieves . . . but what about Chrysler And The Forty Thousand Coat-Hangers? (Hat-tip to the Mad Rocket Scientist for spotting this one first.)
This trial has produced some of the finest repartee I've ever read about (in a court-room, at any rate). It's nice to meet a criminal with a sense of humor. Let the courtroom record show what I mean.
Counsel: What is your name?
Chrysler: Chrysler. Arnold Chrysler.
Counsel: Is that your own name?
Chrysler: Whose name do you think it is?
Counsel: I am just asking if it is your name.
Chrysler: And I have just told you it is. Why do you doubt it?
Counsel: It is not unknown for people to give a false name in court.
Chrysler: Which court?
Counsel: This court.
Chrysler: What is the name of this court?
Counsel: This is No 5 Court.
Chrysler: No, that is the number of this court. What is the name of this court?
Counsel: It is quite immaterial what the name of this court is!
Chrysler: Then perhaps it is immaterial if Chrysler is really my name.
Counsel: No, not really, you see because...
Judge: Mr Lovelace?
Counsel: Yes, m'lud?
Judge: I think Mr Chrysler is running rings round you already. I would try a new line of attack if I were you.
Counsel: Thank you, m'lud.
Chrysler: And thank you from ME, m'lud. It's nice to be appreciated.
Judge: Shut up, witness.
Chrysler: Willingly, m'lud. It is a pleasure to be told to shut up by you. For you, I would...
Judge: Shut up, witness. Carry on, Mr Lovelace.
Counsel: Now, Mr Chrysler – for let us assume that that is your name – you are accused of purloining in excess of 40,000 hotel coat hangers.
Chrysler: I am.
Counsel: Can you explain how this came about?
Chrysler: Yes. I had 40,000 coats which I needed to hang up.
Counsel: Is that true?
Counsel: Then why did you say it?
Chrysler: To attempt to throw you off balance.
Counsel: Off balance?
Chrysler: Certainly. As you know, all barristers seek to undermine the confidence of any hostile witness, or defendant. Therefore it must be equally open to the witness, or defendant, to try to shake the confidence of a hostile barrister.
Counsel: On the contrary, you are not here to indulge in cut and thrust with me. You are only here to answer my questions.
Chrysler: Was that a question?
Chrysler: Then I can't answer it.
Judge: Come on, Mr Lovelace! I think you are still being given the run-around here. You can do better than that. At least, for the sake of the English bar, I hope you can.
Counsel: Yes, m'lud. Now, Mr Chrysler, perhaps you will describe what reason you had to steal 40,000 coat hangers?
Chrysler: Is that a question?
Chrysler: It doesn't sound like one. It sounds like a proposition which doesn't believe in itself. You know – "Perhaps I will describe the reason I had to steal 40,000 coat hangers... Perhaps I won't... Perhaps I'll sing a little song instead..."
Judge: In fairness to Mr Lovelace, Mr Chrysler, I should remind you that barristers have an innate reluctance to frame a question as a question. Where you and I would say, "Where were you on Tuesday?", they are more likely to say, "Perhaps you could now inform the court of your precise whereabouts on the day after that Monday?". It isn't, strictly, a question, and it is not graceful English but you must pretend that it is a question and then answer it, otherwise we will be here for ever. Do you understand?
Chrysler: Yes, m'lud.
Judge: Carry on, Mr Lovelace.
Counsel: Mr Chrysler, why did you steal 40,000 hotel coat hangers, knowing as you must have that hotel coat hangers are designed to be useless outside hotel wardrobes?
Chrysler: Because I build and sell wardrobes which are specially designed to take nothing but hotel coat hangers.
I have a feeling the case was only going to go downhill from there . . .