News of the Weird
Compelling explanations How ironic! The litigious society Our suspicions confirmed By Chuck Shepherd, Universal Press
nRichard Blake took the witness stand in Ottawa, Ontario, in January to deny that it was he who had invaded a home and stabbed two people numerous times. With a straight face, he had an answer for all of the incriminating evidence. He had the perp's car because "a stranger" had just handed him the keys; he didn't recall what the stranger looked like (but guessed that he probably resembled Blake, because for some reason Blake got picked out of the lineup); he donned the stranger's bloody knit cap (abandoning his own cap); he handled the stranger's knife and bloody glove, and that's why his DNA was on them; he fled at the first sight of police, ramming a cruiser to escape (even though he had "done nothing wrong"); he fled on foot after the collision and hid in a tree (but only to get away from a swarm of black flies). After deliberating politely for a day, the jury found him guilty.
nA 61-year-old man in southern Sweden beat a DUI charge in February even though his blood-alcohol was five times over the legal limit. The man told the judge he is a hearty drinker and normally starts in even before work every day, with "no effect" on his performance. According to the Skanskan newspaper, that must have impressed the judge, who was so awed that he tossed out the charge.
nA longtime high school teacher of French and Spanish is suing the Mariemont, Ohio, school district for having pressured her to resign in the face of what she calls her phobia, a "fear of kids" disorder, which she says should be protected by disability-discrimination law. Maria Waltherr-Willard, 61, had been reassigned to teach some junior high students, but doctors said she suffered hypertension, nightmares, chest pains and vomiting when around the younger-age children.
nLisa Biron's recent biography shows her to be a licensed lawyer in two states, practicing in Manchester, N.H., and also affiliated with a group of volunteer lawyers that advocates "religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family," and issues warnings about the "homosexual agenda." She recently represented a church in Concord, N.H., and served on the board of directors of a Christian school in Manchester. In January, Biron was convicted in federal court in Concord on nine counts involving taking her teenage daughter to Canada and creating child pornography.
nIn September 2010, a speeding, intoxicated driver ran a stop sign near Dade City, Fla., careened off a highway, and rammed two trees along a private road, instantly killing himself and his passenger. In January, the estate of the passenger filed a lawsuit for wrongful death, charging the residents along the private road with letting the trees grow in a dangerous location where they could be easily hit, especially since the residents had failed to light the area adequately. "How it's our fault, I have no idea," said one surprised resident, who noted that the entire neighborhood had mourned the strangers at the time of the sad, traumatic collision.
nKeith Brown and four other inmates at Idaho's Kuna prison filed a lawsuit in December against eight major beer and liquor manufacturers for having sold them alcohol at an early age without warning of its addictiveness -- and are thus responsible for the men's subsequent lives of crime. Brown, 52, said he personally has been locked up a total of 30 years and is now serving time for manslaughter. The Oglala Sioux tribe has sued beer distributors and the state of Nebraska for enabling easy access to nearby beer even though it was banned on the reservation. The lawsuit was dismissed on jurisdictional issues, but the tribe may refile soon.
nA 53-year-old Rosenheim, Germany, postal worker was relieved of criminal charges in January when a judge ruled him innocent of discarding mail (as jealous "whistle-blowers" had charged) after concluding that the carrier finished routes early simply because he worked faster. Although the charge was dropped, he was reprimanded for taking unauthorized (i.e., simpler) routes.
nAfter a 400-pound woman broke both arms accidentally falling through a sidewalk in New York City in January, doctors told her that a thinner woman might have died from the same fall. "Thank God, they said that my size was the only thing that saved me."n