21 Jul 1997
Legal Brief: Tyson-Style Justice in West Virginia; ACLU Works for Free… For $450 Per Hour; Food Industry May Be in Court Next; Do You Want Fries With That Mouse?
Tyson-Style Justice in West Virginia
West Virginia Circuit Judge Joseph Triosi was so hungry for justice, he bit a defendant’s nose. Yes, in this era of ear-biting prizefighters, Judge Triosi came down from his bench, removed his official robe, and took a chunk out of defendant Bill Witten’s nose after Witten cursed at the judge. According to the Charleston Gazette, Witten called the judge a name after Triosi declined to reduce his $40,000 bail after Witten was convicted of grand larceny. The state Supreme Court has removed Triosi from virtually all of his duties until a September 16 misconduct hearing. Happily for the safety of the noses of other judges, this action removes Triosi from a panel overseeing other West Virginia judges.
ACLU Works for Free… For $450 Per Hour
The state of South Carolina has been billed $6.7 million for the “pro bono” work of the American Civil Liberties Union on behalf of female cadet wannabe Shannon Faulkner, which in the end allowed her one more day at The Citadel. According to the Washington Times, included in the outrageous bill to South Carolina taxpayers are 23,533 billed hours at rates up to $450/hour, the cost of a party, $18,052 for taxi rides, $28,872 in faxes (not including long distance fees), $6,836 for lawyers’ meals when the lawyers’ weren’t travelling… and a whopping $105,000 fee just to prepare the bill. The ACLU even included in the bill a premium charge because the lawsuit was unpopular with South Carolina residents — the very folks being presented with the bill!
“In a nutshell,” says Chief Deputy Attorney General Robert Bolcoz, “what this is about is a bunch of big-shot, high-dollar lawyers coming down to South Carolina to tell us what’s wrong with our principles. What’s wrong with lawyers — and being one, I can say this — is that at the bottom line, money is the principle of the matter.”
Food Industry May Be in Court Next
Yale University researchers have taken the first step toward turning unhealthy food production and distribution into the nation’s next pariah industry, calling for federal regulation of unhealthy food, federal subsidies of fruits and vegetables, and punitive excise taxes on high-fat foods. Professor Kelly D. Brownell, director of Yale’s Center for Eating and Weight Disorders, says the U.S. is plagued with an “out-of-control epidemic of obesity and other diseases related to diet, such as diabetes, heart disease and cancer.” He says, “Junk food advertisements should be regulated, and excess taxes imposed on high-fat foods, just as they are on tobacco and alcohol.”
Will producers and vendors of food other than fruits and vegetables soon be paying hundreds of millions to trial lawyers, as the tobacco industry soon may do? Professor Brownell sets the stage for it, telling the Washington Times: “As a culture, we get upset about Joe Camel, yet we tolerate our children seeing 10,000 commercials a year that promote foods that are every bit as unhealthy.”
Tort D’Jour: Do You Want Fries With That Mouse?
Golfing buddies in Walkersville, Maryland, took a practical joke too far when one handed the other a rodent disguised as a hot dog. According to the Frederick Post and Hagerstown Morning Herald, golfer Terry Lee bit into what he thought was a hot dog, given to him by golfing buddy Charles Shawyer, only to discover that it was really a mouse wrapped in a bun. Shawyer, who is a seasonal maintenance employee at the golf club, had played golf with Lee that day and the two had engaged in a series of practical jokes.
Lee is now suing both the Glade Valley Golf Club and Shawyer for $500,000.*
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