Lead Story

During May and June the following animals were spotted in public: four pigs roaming through Queens and Staten Island; a five-month-old kangaroo running loose in Minneapolis; a deer sauntering through the Kansas City airport; a monkey meandering through a neighborhood in Hollidaysburg, Pennsylvania; two elephants strolling freely on zoo grounds in Toledo; and a goose snatching a golfer’s club at Pebble Creek Golf Course in Cincinnati.

Courtroom Antics

In May in Kansas City, Missouri, Leon Taylor, who was convicted of murdering a man during a 1994 robbery, was sentenced to the death penalty, plus life in prison, plus an additional 315 years.

In an April interview with the Vancouver Sun, lawyer Russ Stanton complained about winning only $53,000 in damages for a client whose ovary was mistakenly removed during surgery. He cited a case in which a man received $80,000 for a testicle removed by surgical error and said, “In my view, one ovary has got to be worth one testicle.”

In April a judge in Montreal acquitted Henri Daviault of charges that he raped a 65-year-old wheelchair-bound woman while he was drunk. Daviault, who’d previously been convicted, was granted a new trial in 1993, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that drunkenness could be used as a defense for rape. (Parliament is expected soon to take up legislation that would limit the high court’s decision.)

In January a District of Columbia judge awarded 54-year-old James Breiner $400,000 in damages in his age-discrimination lawsuit against his former employer, a firm that operates cafeterias. According to Breiner, his supervisor continually made references to his age, including addressing him as an “old fart.”

In Castle Rock, Colorado, in December, Michael Monahan, who was charged with first-degree murder, stood during his lawyer’s opening statement and said, “[The jury] needs to know that [my lawyer’s] rendition is just as much bullshit as [the prosecutor’s].”

In a February court hearing in Norristown, Pennsylvania, attorney Charles Peruto Jr. was arguing for a low bail for his client, who he said was not likely to flee before his trial, when the client, Howard “Wing Ding” Jones, who was accused of selling drugs, bolted from the courtroom, leading deputies on a one-hour chase before he was recaptured.

In Dublin, Virginia, in April, Judge Colin Gibb declared that Marshall Lineberry was entitled to unemployment benefits even though he’d been suspended from his job for fighting. The Volvo plant that employed Lineberry had a tradition in which a man dressed as a rooster would playfully hassle employees reporting late to work. When the rooster approached Lineberry and cock-a-doodle-doed, Lineberry leaped at the “rooster” and began choking him. Judge Gibb found that employees so hated the tradition that someone else would soon have attacked the rooster if Lineberry hadn’t.

In February the Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct reprimanded a Houston judge, J.R. Musslewhite, for various indiscretions, including drinking on duty and fondling female lawyers. The commission found that in early 1993 Musslewhite consumed liquor in his office that had been admitted into evidence in a DUI case, telling the prosecutor, “I’m glad you lost so I don’t have to preserve the evidence.”

The Arkansas Supreme Court ruled in March that a kitten is not a “domesticated animal” under state law. State law permits shooting animals that attack domesticated animals, but the court ruled against a man who’d shot a dog that was menacing two kittens.


In January police in Lower Makefield Township, Pennsylvania, filed several charges against self-employed plumber Michael Lasch for using the phone company call-forwarding service to have calls to his competitors automatically directed to him. One rival plumber said he had probably lost “thousands” of dollars in business to Lasch during the monthlong practice.

According to a news report in the March issue of Spin, artist H.R. Giger, who’s suing the band Danzig for using his artwork on their T-shirts without authorization, needed to serve the complaint papers to bandleader Glenn Danzig in person. Giger hired someone to body surf through the mosh pit during a New York City concert to get the job done.

In February a spokesman for taxi drivers in Prague admitted that some drivers had installed electrical wires in the backseat that could be activated by a button on the dashboard to shock passengers who refused to pay the cabdrivers’ notoriously high fares.

I Don’t Think So

In June George Washington University, which was vying to recruit New York City high school basketball star Richie Phillips even though he’d pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting a classmate, announced that it would award a four-year $100,000 scholarship to the girl Phillips assaulted, even though she hadn’t applied for it and is only a sophomore. GWU official Bob Chernak told reporters that the scholarship “is in no way related to” the Phillips situation.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.