Working at a law firm can fun in more than one way. One of things I enjoy the most is all the funny personal stories I hear from the clients. Unfortuately, I can’t write about them here due to my firm’s confidentiality rules. However, the precedent cases I have to read to do research for my firm can be just as hilarious and amusing. These are some of them I came across:
1. While research on contempt of court (i.e. in layman’s terms: to say something which brings the court into disrespect like insulting a judge or his decision etc)
In September, 2004, Judge A K M Patabendige, in Walasmulla, Sri Lanka (my home country), jailed a man for a year for yawning in court. N V P Ajith, a defendant in a criminal case, stretched out and yawned in a way that so infuriated the judge, the punishment for contempt was immediate
2. Most law students know the quality of Australian decisions. They are very very loong (with over 5 different judgments dragging over 100 pages) and emotional. The judges get caught up in the moment and say the weirdiest stuff:
Sentencing a young woman at the Magistrate’s Court in Port Adelaide, Australia, in 2003, a magistrate Michael Frederick said:
“You’re a druggie and you’ll die in the gutter. That’s your choice… I don’t believe in that social worker crap. You abuse your mother and cause her pain. You can choose to be who you are. You can go to work. Seven million of us do it whilst fourteen million like you sit at home watching Days of Our Lives smoking your crack pipes and using needles and I’m sick of you sucking us dry”.
He then concluded: “It’s your choice to be a junkie and die in the gutter. No one gives a shit, but you’re going to kill that woman who is your mother, damn you to death.”
The funny thing is that after he gave the woman a prison sentence, unaware that that was unlawful in the type of case in question. Later, she appealled which was successful and Chief Justice condenmed the judge’s behavior and he had to make a public apology.
3. While handling some research on appeal cases for murder I came across this case which was quite popular even in the papers.
In 2005, Pavel M., a Romanian prisoner serving 20 years for murder, sued God, founding his claim in contract. He argued that his baptism was an agreement between him and God under which, in exchange for value such as prayer, God would keep him out of trouble.
The amusing thing about this that he had precedent with regards to this matter. There was previous ruling from Italy where Italian atheist Luigi Cascioli was ordered to pay a $1,900 judgment after a court ruled he had filed a fraudulent suit against an Italian priest for saying Jesus Christ existed. Cascioli contended the cleric violated a law that forbids deceiving the public. The atheist said the priest, who had publicly criticized him for casting doubt on the truth of the gospels, had no evidence Jesus ever existed. Specifically, he claimed two Italian laws had been broken: the “abuse of popular belief” – which amounts to intentionally deceiving someone – and “impersonation” – meaning one gains by giving a false name to someone.
However, this guy lost the case because firstly, civil law jurisidctions like Ilaty does have have stare decisis and secondly the prosecutor main defence which was:
“God is not a person in the eyes of the law and does not have a legal address where he could be served with court papers”. So due to technical issues with the requirements under the Rules of Court, God got away from being sued.
4. Finally, my favorite was this case in India where it all came down to definitions. It must be noted that I didn’t come across this while I was doing research rather I was googling ‘law against contraceptives’ and came across this:
In 2007, a court in India was asked to decide whether a vibrating condom is a contraceptive or a sex toy. The condoms contain a battery-operated device, and, for the avoidance of doubt, are marketed as “Crezendo”. Opponents argue it’s a sex toy and thus unlawful in India, whereas the manufacturer says it’s a contraceptive and promotional of public health