Lead Story

In suburban Seattle in July a 33-year-old state trooper allegedly stopped a 20-year-old man who was rushing his girlfriend to an abortion clinic, then attempted to talk the couple out of the abortion, detaining them for 90 minutes so they would miss their appointment. They were forced to follow the trooper to a church, where a woman continued to exhort them not to go through with their plan.

New Civil Rights

Responding to a California law requiring that low-income housing be located outside traditionally poor neighborhoods, the city of San Diego gave final approval in August to a 28-unit project that will be sandwiched between the Pacific Ocean and a ritzy golf course in La Jolla. The market value of the apartments, which offer panoramic ocean views, is between $300,000 and $500,000, but public-housing tenants will typically pay only $323 a month, though some will pay up to $675 a month, depending on their income.

Ben Thomas, a Largo, Florida, man with muscular dystrophy, announced in January that he would file a formal complaint against next year’s Walt Disney World Marathon. Thomas was denied entry in the wheelchair division because he uses a motorized wheelchair; the USA Track and Field organization specifies that only manual wheelchairs can be used by wheelchair entrants, because motorized ones don’t present a sufficient competitive challenge. Thomas claims that the Americans With Disabilities Act requires Disney to admit him.

Last fall the Utah court of appeals dismissed an appeal from state prison officials, who’d wanted prisoner Nick Paul, 28, who was charged with spitting on a guard, punished under a 1992 law designed to protect guards. The court ruled that only the “throwing” of fecal matter and other bodily fluids was punishable under the law.

A state administrative law judge ruled in May that University of North Carolina housekeeping employee Eric Browning, 37, had to be reinstated in his job. Browning had been fired for threatening to kill his boss, but the judge said the punishment was too severe.

In April Clara Kizer filed a lawsuit against the city of Helena, Alabama, and three of her neighbors, claiming that because the state possesses “right of way” rights to the strip of property along the street, her dogs ought to be able to legally relieve themselves in that space without neighbors harassing her.

Last February a 17-year-old boy drove to school in San Diego and left a handgun in his car, which he parked in the school lot. School rules called for his expulsion, but his lawyers successfully claimed that he suffers from attention deficit disorder, which caused him to forget the gun was in the car, and therefore he couldn’t be expelled. School officials said it was the first they’d heard of the boy’s disability.

Latest Bites

Tongues: In July in Phoenix Javier Salinas, 23, had part of his bitten off by a 35-year-old woman who was allegedly defending herself as he sexually assaulted her. In August in Kingsport, Tennessee, Helen Carson bit off part of her husband’s as she pretended to make up after a domestic quarrel.

Noses: Michael Hetherington, 18, had part of his bitten off during a scuffle in Huntington Beach, California, in June. Hetherington was part of a group of pit-bull owners who were brawling with the owner of a rottweiler and his friends.

Ears: A Tel Aviv man was accused of biting off the earlobes of his estranged wife and her mother last fall during a family quarrel. A pastor in Libungan, Philippines, accused another pastor of biting off his ear and spitting it out during a fight last spring over which of the two would be in charge of their church.

Lips: Walter Martell’s lower lip was bitten off in a street fight in Central Falls, Rhode Island, in May; police located it too late to have it surgically reattached. Chris Burk, a fullback at California State University at Fresno, was charged with biting off the lower lip of another man in a fight in August.

Private parts: In May a 35-year-old man in Saginaw, Michigan, needed 65 stitches to repair his penis after his girlfriend bit him in a quarrel over whether he was seeing another woman. In January in Anchorage, Alaska, Sarah Achayok, 36, also confronting her boyfriend about alleged infidelities, bit his penis so severely that part of the tissue was shredded. In neither case was the organ severed.

I Don’t Think So

Testifying on behalf of a colleague in a murder trial in Hillsboro, Oregon, in July, Hell’s Angels leader Ralph “Sonny” Barger said the government’s theory that Michael McClure killed four former Angels in retribution for testifying against another Angels leader was wrong. “We really don’t care for [turncoats],” Barger admitted, but he said they wouldn’t kill them. Asked what the typical punishment would be, Barger answered, “They get voted out of the club.”

Least Justifiable Homicide

In Chicago last December Curtis Shields, 29, was convicted of stabbing a 20-year-old neighbor after the two men argued over who knew more about black history.

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