, Derry, New Hampshire

March 28, 2012

Court can really be foolish

About the Law
Andrew Myers

This Sunday is April Fool's Day, time for my annual "Fools in the Law" column.

A law was proposed this year requiring all new legislation introduced in New Hampshire "shall include a direct quote from the Magna Carta." House Bill 1580 had three sponsors, one of whom admitted he "wasn't terribly familiar" with the document, written in 1215. The bill was killed on Feb. 1.

A Pontiac, Mich., drug-possession suspect claimed he had been searched without a warrant. Prosecutors argued that no warrant was required because a bulge in the man's jacket could have been a gun.

The defendant happened to be wearing the same jacket in court. When he handed it to the judge, a bag of cocaine fell out. The judge is reported to have laughed so hard, court had to recess for five minutes while the justice regained composure.

A Providence, R.I., suspect allegedly overpowered an armored car driver, then grabbed the four money sacks nearest the door and ran. Unfortunately for him, the bags contained $800 in pennies. Each bag weighed 30 pounds, slowing him down so much as he struggled to get away that police officers easily jumped him from behind.

In March, Emerson College banned bottled water on campus. Emerson (in the interest of full disclosure, my alma mater) joins a growing list of schools including Dartmouth, Harvard and Brown which have restricted plastic water bottles.

But, sugary soda and juice are still allowed at Emerson. On April 7, 2011, Boston Mayor Tom Menino signed an executive order banning the sale of sugary soda, juice, sports drinks and the like at City Hall and all city property, including schools. Bottled water wasn't included. So, can people at those two institutions simply walk back and forth for the beverages of their choice?

"Not every ailment afflicting society may be redressed by a lawsuit." Those are the words of a New York Superior Court decision dismissing a lawsuit by unemployed recent law school graduates suing their law school. They claimed the school exaggerated the likelihood of gaining work after getting their degrees.

"Do jumping jacks or whatever else you have to do ..." a Massachusetts Superior Court judge told jurors in order to stay awake during jury instructions.

Unfortunately, it didn't work. After one juror was caught dozing, the judge made the jury stand for the remainder of the jury charge, saying "I haven't found a juror who falls asleep standing up."

A fellow who filed bankruptcy walks into his creditors meeting wearing a Rolex watch. The problem is that the flashy timepiece wasn't listed on his bankruptcy schedules of all personal property owned.

Anyone who knows anything about bankruptcy will tell you that the three rules are "disclose, disclose, disclose." So, the bankruptcy trustee demanded that the debtor turn over the watch.

The debtor's appeals failed. The kicker to the story is that the debtor was an attorney. For people thinking I make this stuff up the citation is In re: Sullivan, 455 B.R. 829 (2011).

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Andrew Myers of Derry has law offices in Derry and North Andover. He is a member of the American Association for Justice and the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association. Send questions to