James Fuqua's Law Jokes

Dumb Legal Systems

In 1993 in Bangladesh, Falu Mia, 60, was released from prison after 21 years. He had been locked up until his trial for theft in 1972, then found not guilty, but a lethargic bureaucracy failed to release him. He recently filed a lawsuit against the government for 21 years' back wages (about $26,000).

The U.S. Attorney in Miami declined to prosecute a drug smuggling case in which the Customs Service had confiscated a half ton of marijuana because the office is overworked and won't touch cases under the 2.5 ton minimum.

A Swedish chainsaw manufacturer began marketing their product in the US, with an English language manual noticeably larger than the Swedish or Norwegian versions. News commentators explained with great humor in a report that this was because of all the additional warnings, including (they pointed out specifically) "Do not attempt to stop the chainsaw with your hand."

This was made even more humorous a couple of years later, when they were saved a pile of money in a lawsuit brought by a U.S. citizen who was injured stopping the chainsaw with his hand. He was unable to collect, since the manual specifically warned against it.

Rune surmised that the warnings were legally unnecessary in the Scandinavian manuals, since no Scandinavian would publicly admit to doing anything that stupid.

I've always thought the problem could be solved if all products had a label on them stating:

Warning: This product not intended for use by stupid people.

Let this guy try to prove in court that, although he propped the ladder up on a manure heap, he is *not* stupid and didn't violate the instructions.

Columbia, S.C. (AP) - A retired judge drew 1 1/2 years in prison for awarding a woman child support and custody of her child in exchange for sex.

The woman's lawyer, who arranged the trysts, got a two-year sentence and a $1,500 fine from by Circuit Judge Thomas Cooper. Former Family Court Judge Sam Mendenhall, who retired in 1992, pleaded guilty Monday to misconduct. The lawyer, Samuel Fewell, pleaded guilty to conspiracy. Mendenhall, 54, and Fewell, 58, are former state legislators.

Dorothy Carpenter said Mendenhall awarded her custody and child support in 1983 and 1984 in exchange for sex. Carpenter said she also had sex with Fewell in exchange for legal services but fired him in 1985 after he and the judge grew too demanding.

Carpenter, who is facing unrelated arson charges, filed a complaint against Mendenhall and Fewell in 1991 with the state Supreme Court, which oversees the judicial system. She said her lawyer in the arson case urged her to file the complaint.

Carpenter is charged with conspiracy in connection with a 1991 fire in her Clover home that killed two people. The case is pending.

Fewell's sentence will run concurrently with a 2 1/2-year federal sentence he received in March for cocaine possession and tax evasion.

In June 1994 in London, lawyers for convicted murderer Stephen Young filed an appeal after learning from one juror that three other jurors had conducted a Ouija board seance during jury deliberations and "contacted" the dead man, who named Young as the killer.

One of my favorites, but perhaps I'm a little baised....

During the 1994 sweep of the Republicans into office, Steve Mansfield was elected to Texas' highest court that handles criminal appeals. Among Mansfield's pre-election lies or exaggerations (freely admitted in a post-election interview in the publication "Texas Lawyer"), that he was born in Texas (he was actually born in Massachusetts), that he dated a woman "who died" (she is still alive), and that he "appeared" in courts in Illinois (never) and Florida (advised a friend of his, but not as a lawyer).

During the interview, Mansfield said that he lived in Houston as a kid, but when the reporter asked if that was a lie, Mansfield called those and other instances "puffery" and "exaggerations," and said he would stop doing that now he is one of the highest ranking judges in Texas.

Marlene T. Sipes, a Columbia S.C. lawyer, was suspended for a year in March by the state supreme court on charges that she pocketed $1,819 in 1986 from her daughter's Girl Scout troop cookie fund.

DNA Patents

Patent Yourself

Manfred deLisle, a London patent attorney, is offering to file patent claims for the complete genome of any individual who wishes to "preserve his or her commercial options." Several hundred people have signed up for deLisle's services. However, it is anticipated that patent officials will impose extensive documentation demands that will render the scheme impractical.

Amici Curiae

Another London attorney, A. C. Pomeroy, is working with representatives of several major religions to file patent claims for the genetic substance deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA), "on behalf of an unspecified deity." Pomeroy's clients will claim that (a) DNA is a patentable invention and (b) the inventor is unable to file a claim personally and so must have his rights protected by a consortium of interested parties. The parties reportedly have agreed to share any royalties that accrue from the patent, on an equal basis.

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Last Updated 8 September 1997