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Legal Humour Blog

 

October 2017

Of Judges and Jedis

Oct 3, 2017 9:00 PM
Marcel Strigberger

     A seemingly not too notorious criminal case made its way into the news.   Twenty four year old Lavinia Woodward, a student at Oxford University, stabbed her boyfriend in the leg with a bread knife.  She was apparently angry at him for telling her mom she had been drinking.  She pled guilty to unlawful wounding. The offence carries a max jail time of 5 years.

    The judge however, Ian Pringle, just gave her a short suspended sentence noting there were mitigating factors. These included that she had no previous criminal convictions and that she was, “genuinely remorseful”.  Some British newspapers complained that the sentence was much too lenient and that she received special consideration given her connection to the elite university.  I agree.

    Parsing the decision, the judge is saying, “You have never done anything like this before.  That’s a novel consideration.  And you tell me your are really sorry and you will not do it again.  That’s good enough for me.  Mitigating factors.  Given these circumstances we shall overlook the fact that you attacked your boyfriend with a bread knife, replicating that iconic scene from Psycho”.

    To be fair, Pringle J also found that she had some eating disorder.  Then again she did not plead not guilty by reason of insanity It’s not like the evidence was that she took out that bread knife and approached her boyfriend with intent to slice him up believing that he was a double rye.  This would be a different story.

    I wonder as well, re that eating disorder, if she garnered some sympathy given that the judge’s name was Pringle.  Who knows?  (Personally I prefer Miss Vickie’s).

    This event certainly adds another dimension to Stephen Leacock's  classic humourous essay, “Oxford as I See it.”

    There is another story out of Saudi Arabia, where somehow someway some high school textbooks ended up photo-shopped a bit, containing an image of the late King Faisal signing the U.N. Charter in 1945 BUT sitting next to him is Yoda.

    Naturally a senior official has been fired.  Were this official to start a wrongful dismissal action,  I don’t give him the chance of a snowball in the Sahara.  I am sure there would be a finding of just cause.  In fact it would also not surprise me that there is even some legal precedent where an employee gets canned for allowing infiltration into a school textbook of a photograph of a king sitting next to a Jedi master.  I have not done a Quicklaw search.

    The education minister is totally besides himself saying it was all an “unintended mistake.”   I don’t know what will happen to him.  Given the egg on his face, he might stand a good chance for some leniency if he would appear before judge Pringle.

 

   I am now retired from the practice of law after almost 43 years in the profession. I now have time and leisure to laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour, avoiding trouble or otherwise amuse you at your next event. Please email me at marcel@striglaw.com.

And coming soon, my new book,  Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel  
Stay tuned

 

Marcel's Musings, Judicial Nonsense   Add Comment
  

September 2017


Sitting is the New Smoking-The Government Cares

Sep 25, 2017 11:00 PM
Marcel Strigberger

             It looks like the Ontario government will be in charge of selling legalized marijuana.  Legal weed will be sold just like liquor in special LCBO shops .  The result will now be that just like gambling and booze, the government will have a monopoly and consequent golden goose tax on pot. What is next?

            Since sitting has now been linked to a reduction in life span, ergo dangerous, like smoking and the aforementioned vices, will the government turn its sights to regulating sitting?

            The not too distant future might look like this.

           The government commissions a pricy study which concludes that sitting indeed is the new smoking.  It is therefore harmful to your health.  It must be regulated.   Sitting per se therefore becomes illegal unless the act of sitting complies with government legislation, namely the Hey You, Get Up Act.

            Firstly, most seats are removed from public transit vehicles.  Seats are located in specially designated areas, but riders must be of a certain age to sit.

            Foremost we have to protect the children. To therefore be allowed to sit, you would have to show you are over the age of 19. The government would issue to eligible riders, for a fee of course,  “non student” passes.  Special security non uniformed personnel would patrol the transit  vehicles to ensure nobody under 19 is seated.  Violators would be subject to a fine. As well they would have to take a rehabilitation course, including viewing a film called, “Stop smoking. Rise.”

            Another especially vulnerable group is the elderly.  After all their potential lifespan is less than that of the kids and naturally they too would have to be protected.  Therefore on transit conveyances there would be large signs reading, “Attention seniors. If you are seated stand up immediately and give your seat to a millennial.”

            However given that the sitting scourge is widespread and not only confined to public transportation, and given that the potential for government tax revenue is infinite, seating elsewhere, such as in theaters would also fall under government scrutiny.  These establishments would have to post notices in front of theaters reading, “Caution: Non seniors entertainment.  Theater contains seats.”

            Should any of golden agers still purchase a ticket, they would be herded to a designated standing area.   There, for an extra government issued pass they would be given a grab bar to hold onto. For their convenience, the grab bar would have a receptacle in which they could place their popcorn.

            There will no doubt be violators; those who think they can step around the law. Like with gambling, liquor and pot, the police will be there to ensure nobody breaks the law.  Enforcement officers  will have the right, if they have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that a sitting offense is taking place, to come along and enter such establishment of ill repute.

            The day may not be far where the local police batter down a door to a kindergarten class and arrest the teachers for allowing the kids to be play musical chairs. The police would pin a note for the parents on the shirts of the offending children, warning them of the sitting consequences and admonishing them that next time, they will deem these kids to be in need of protection and they will be reporting the offensive conduct to Children’s Aid.  At least one of the kids, i.e. the one who misses out on landing a chair, will get off scot free.  He loses yet he wins.

            And of course, like with the usual vices, a big concern will be organized crime.  The mob no doubt will try to corner a large section of the sitting market. The last thing the owner of a Tim Hortons will want is for some scar face goon to attend at his outlet and say, “ My boss is waiting for your next order for chairs. I’ll be back tomorrow for your answer. And oh yes, give me a double double.”

            Indeed as sitting may be the new smoking,  it may not be too long before La-Z-Boy becomes a crown corporation.

            Do we want further government interference? Take a stand.

            I am now retired from the practice of law after almost 43 years in the profession. I have time and leisure to laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour, avoiding trouble or otherwise amuse you at your next event. Please email me at marcel@striglaw.com.     

          And coming soon, my new book,  Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel  

         Stay tuned.

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I Tip My Hat for you, Your Honour

Sep 18, 2017 11:00 PM
Marcel Strigberger

             The  Judicial Council has come out with the ruling suspending Justice Zabel for 30 days for briefly wearing a Trump “Make America Great” hat in court the day after the U.S. election.

            The council convened as a result of 81 complaints being filed about the incident.  The judge did apologize for this incident saying it was really a gag, an attempt at injecting some humour into the courtroom.  He was adamant he was not endorsing Trump’s views.

            My concern now is that judges will be terrified to use any humour at all in the courtroom.  There could be a snowball effect whereby judges go out of their way to emasculate and muzzle their sense of humour?  Judges may even bend over backwards to demonstrate they are not kidding or laughing about anything.  For example when the Registrar announces at the beginning of a session, “Oyez, Oyez, Oyez, come forth and ye shall be heard”, I can readily see a judge saying, “Did I hear chuckling? There is nothing funny about the word oyez”.

            To make sure their sense of humour is not cocked and ready to fire, some judges will likely read the morning papers, looking for a depressing news item.  I can see a judge who is chipper and buoyant but just before he heads to the courtroom, he grabs a newspaper, muttering to himself, “Court starts in 3 minutes.  There has to be a story in here about hurricanes. “

            In the unlikely event that he does not find one, he can always look at the sports section to learn the score in the last Blue Jays game. That’s an easy fix.

            There is always the risk of course that while scanning the newspaper the judge’s eyes might notice the comic strip.  Life has its risks.

            If the news does not work, the judge can simply examine his latest hydro bill.  After a minute or so, he can go into his courtroom saying to himself, “Great. Now I feel like crap.  I’m  safe.”

            But what about those judges whose mood is almost always at a high.  I imagine there will no doubt be sharp entrepreneurs who will cater to judges who have trouble losing their sense of humour and becoming depressed and glum.  These motivational speakers will offer seminars to the judiciary, such as, “Tap your inner genius.  Get depressed in 3 easy steps.” Or “Humour is no laughing matter.  Giggling is the new smoking.”

            I am certain if a judge’s mood in the courtroom does not plummet, he or she will get a visit from the chief justice who will likely admonish the happy judge, saying, “Harry, we have had some complaints about you. You were seen smiling several times this week.  It has to stop. Here, read this immediately. I’m leaving you my copy of Hamlet.

            Are we heading in this direction? Better yet, do we want to head there?    

 

I am now retired from the practice of law after almost 43 years in the profession. I now have time and leisure to laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour, avoiding trouble or otherwise amuse you at your next event. Please email me at marcel@striglaw.com.

And coming soon, my new book,  "Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel  "
Stay tuned

 

Judicial Nonsense, zero tolerance   Add Comment
  

A Connecticut Courthouse for Sale by Yankee Arthur King

Sep 14, 2017 8:00 PM
Marcel Strigberger

    George Beckwith of Goodman Missouri, got a surprising phone call recently from a lawyer, informing him that he soon would be an owner of a 19th-century courthouse in Connecticut.

    Seems back in the early 1800s his family owned the property and the deal was that if the structure ever stopped being a courthouse, the building, built in 1889, complete with clock tower, would revert to the family’s descendants. Courthouse activities indeed ceased recently and here we are.

    The lucky beneficiary had no use for a courthouse and he was actually was able to find some non profit preservation trust, that agreed to buy the property at a bargain basement price.

    I ask, had he not located this purchaser, how would he have disposed of this legacy? I imagine he would have had to list it for sale with a real estate agency. Let’s call it Arthur King Realty, a (not too well known) realty company from New York.  I can just envisage the listing specs.


        " Just listed.

        Spectacular property, set in prestigious Litchfield Green, backing onto Jake’s Pond. Nestled amongst the oak trees stretching out of nearby Blackacre  State Park.  Walking distance to parks, churches and Aunt Myrtle’s Diner.

        Contains 4 spacious courtrooms.  Judge’s chambers next to master courtroom has renovated powder room. Courtroom 2 would make a great playroom, easily accommodating a ping pong table and air hockey game.  And the mahogany witness boxes will make a great place for your kids to play hide and seek.

        Fully air controlled with multiple ceiling fans.

        And you can throw your wrist watch away. Building has a Seth Thomas clock tower.

        Historical property. Walk out to back yard where former pillories stood.  One pillory still remaining. Perfect for that guest who comes to your barbecue and complains too much.

        No need to worry anymore about where to lodge relatives you are not crazy about.
        Basement fully finished, with 3 closed concept cells.  Agent has the keys and the handcuffs.
   
        Ideal for lawyers. Your chance to finally sit on the bench.

        Includes all furnishings, appliances and gavels.

       A must see. Won’t stay on the market too long.   Showings by appointment only.  Call Arthur King."


     Maybe next time we get one of those emails from Spain, India or Nigeria saying one of our relatives we never heard of, died without a will and his $10 million estate is there for us for the taking, we should consider it seriously.

     I’ll be watching my emails.

 

I am now retired from the practice of law after almost 43 years in the profession. I now have time and leisure to laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour, avoiding trouble or otherwise amuse you at your next event. Please email me at marcel@striglaw.com.

And coming soon, my new book,  Poutine on the Orient Express: An Irreverent Look at Travel  

Stay tuned.

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PCs or Macs? That is the Question

Sep 3, 2017 10:00 PM
Marcel Strigberger

            Many offices are considering switching their systems to Apple Macs.  I have a vast knowledge on the subject given that I can match anyone on the planet on the frustration meter.  Here are my thoughts.

            Actually I have both at home.  While still in practice I seriously considered switching from PC to Apple. However I relented as my tech guy warned me not to do it given the likely glitches during the learning curve. He did say it was my choice but if I succumbed and I ever needed his help, his assistant would say he is out fishing, indefinitely.

            Apple is not just a computer system; it’s a culture.  You go to an Apple store and what you see are swarms of clerks or “team members” sporting navy blue or red Apple sweatshirts. They are each distinguishable from one another by the tattoos they sport.  That’s not exactly accurate. You can also tell them apart by their body piercings.

             As expected, the staff are 110% tech savvy.  You enter a store and you’ll be greeted by some millennial, usually with a name like Cal.  You tell him you want to ask a question as you have just spent two hours trying to figure out why the delete button does not delete. Cal refers you to a colleague, usually with a name like Rod.  Cal then sends a quick text to Rod describing your issue.  Rod by the way is standing about one meter away from Cal.  I suppose doing a 90 degree turn and talking is passée.

            They also seem to know everything about you.  Last time I attended and gave Cal my name, he said, “And I hope you enjoyed your scrambled eggs and whole wheat toast this morning.” He apparently got this accurate information after clicking a couple of times on his Apple watch.

            You do get the feeling though that the staff gets a bit condescending if you look like you are over 35 years old.  I have salt and pepper hair. (OK, mostly salt.  OK, no pepper.).  The guy at the front of the mall store, this time by the name of Zac, greeted me like I was an Amish.  The look he gave me clearly said, “I trust you found ample parking for your horse and buggy.”

            I tried to hide my scratch pad and pencil, but it was too late. He asked me, “What are those strange things thee art holding.”

            As for the issues I had, my 8 year old granddaughter Laya instantly resolved the “delete” matter showing me that on Apples you put the curser after the word, not before.  After her demo I certainly had an “Ah huh” moment. This makes eminent sense to me.  I have no clue why Microsoft is so primitive.

            And so if anyone wishes more information on whether or not they should toss their PCs and switch to Macs, feel free to get in touch with me. Just give me a call. I implore you however, please, do not to send me a text. 

I am now retired from the practice of law after almost 43 years in the profession. I now have time and leisure to laugh even more. I would be delighted to speak about using humour, avoiding trouble or otherwise amuse you at your next event. Please email me at marcel@striglaw.com.

  

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The Midwest Book Review has referred to Marcel Strigberger as "an irrepressible humorist with a story teller’s flair for spinning a yarn with true (and hysterically funny) insights into the basics of human nature".

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