Ahh, so it’s Christmas and we can start to relax. Instead of being all serious, here are a few little stories about things that went wrong around the world in the legal arena this year (these are from Week on the Web on which are all the original links to the international sources):
- A mistake by a bailiff in a Houston, USA, courtroom led to a murder trial being declared a mistrial. It was only after all the testimony had been heard, the jury had deliberated and the verdict was being given that the judge noticed there was one jury member too many.
- A man in the public gallery of an Australian courtroom was lucky not to be charged with contempt after his mobile phone went off in court. The problem was exacerbated by his ringtone – the sounds of a woman in the throes of pleasure echoed around the silent courtroom until he finally managed to turn his phone off.
- A 25-year-old man from Oregon, USA, wandered off from jury service after only half a day in court. The judge issued an arrest warrant for the missing juror on charges of contempt. When the police finally caught up with him, the juror said he had been “extremely bored.”
- I hope no-one gets any ideas from this one…… A 38-year-old man who was on trial for burglary in San Diego, USA, took drastic steps to ensure his request for a mistrial was granted. After his initial request was rejected by the judge, the Defendant brought a bag of his own faeces to the courtroom, which he proceeded to rub on his defence attorney and throw at the jury. The judge declared a mistrial and the Defendant was assigned a new lawyer.
- I can think of many times when this would have been a good idea….. A judge in Ohio, USA, frustrated with constant interruptions from a defendant, warned him that if the disruption continued, he would have his mouth taped up. The defendant didn’t take the judge’s warning too seriously, and after yet another interruption the bailiff taped up his mouth with duct tape.
- It was never this interesting when I went to the Central Criminal Court….. A trial at the Old Bailey, London, England, had to be temporarily suspended after a female juror became inadvertently distracted. Sitting opposite the juror in the raised public gallery was a transsexual who had dressed in a skirt, but forgotten that women generally wear underwear and cross their legs when seated…..
- An American man, desperate to avoid jury duty, tried to make himself as undesirable as possible for jury selection. In his pre-selection questionnaire and interview, the gentleman declared himself to be racist, homophobic and a liar. Unfortunately, the judge saw through his tactics and he found himself facing possible perjury charges.
- Can you imagine this?!?! A judge in Colorado, USA, has come up with an unusual punishment for people who break noise pollution laws by playing loud music. The guilty party, who is usually a young adult, has to sit for one hour and listen to music such as Dolly Parton and Karen Carpenter being played loudly in the courtroom.
- Defendants must give some thought to what they wear before appearing before Florida judge Daniel Perry. The judge has a very strong objection to men wearing loose and saggy trousers, and any defendants who enter his court room ‘with their rear ends hanging out their pants’ are immediately sent back to jail to find more suitable clothing.