Lowering the Bar is a legal-humor website that provides and comments on weird news with some relationship to civil or criminal law. It also provides an archive of the many legal opinions, pleadings, and other legal documents that are funnier (intentionally or not) than they have any right to be.
You know how they keep asking you in the airport security line whether you’re absolutely sure you got everything out of your pockets?
There might be more than one reason for that.
According to recent reports (such as this one by NBC), the Department of Homeland Security—apparently just scraping by on the $50 billion or so we pay it every year—is desperate for even more cash. Specifically, it has asked Congress to give it another $1.1 billion so it can, as the slide below put it, “support the humanitarian crisis at the Southern Border [sic] that is increasingly threatening to become a full-blown emergency.”
Leaked PowerPoint slide posted by NBC
That’s an interesting statement for three reasons: (1) the Freudian slip suggesting DHS needs money to “support the crisis,” not to help the people stuck in it; (2) the admission that, although the president declared this to be a national emergency three months ago, it still isn’t one; and (3) the evidence that maybe No One in this administration can capitalize Words correctly. What is up with That?
Anyway, the slide above was actually created by our old friends at the Transportation “Security” Administration, which is of course part of DHS. And as you can see, the TSA is concerned because its big brother told it that if Congress doesn’t come through with the extra cash, DHS will have to find it somewhere, and if that happens TSA’s share of the total is expected to be $232 million.
Well, TSA itself is barely scraping by on the $7 billion or so we pay it, hence the concern. Where is TSA going to come up with $232 million to help support the border crisis that is threatening to become a full-blown emergency? Good question. Other leaked slides show that it’s considering a number of options, including $64 million in (deferred?) workers’ compensation payments, $50 million sitting in an “aviation security capital fund,” $9 million in “hurricane supplemental” funds it apparently didn’t find a way to spend, and $3 million in “loose change balances.”
Hold on—what was that last one?
Yes. “Loose change balances.”
It turns out—and this isn’t new, but it was new to me and so I assume to at least some of you—that TSA is legally allowed to keep all the loose change travelers leave behind in airport-security bins. Though I think most people do a pretty good job of cleaning out their bins, enough people apparently do not that TSA currently has $3 million in loose change sitting in its piggy bank(s). I understand that it’s not going to be able to reunite travelers with the loose change they may leave behind, but I guess I’d have expected the money to be donated to some good cause.
Nope. TSA keeps it.
The problem of what to do with the traveling public’s loose change seems to have arisen not long after the agency was created. In 2004, Congress passed Pub. L. 108-334, which provided that “unclaimed money recovered at any airport security checkpoint shall be retained” by the TSA and spent on “civil aviation security” operations. See 49 U.S.C. § 44945. Before that, the money was most likely retained by whichever TSA employee “recovered” it, and then spent on things that were, perhaps, less than mission-critical. But since 2004 they’ve had to turn it over to the agency, and I for one am confident that they all do so very, very diligently.
It’s not clear exactly how much the TSA collects this way, but there is some evidence that in 2013, TSA was scrounging about half a million dollars a year from security bins. The $3 million mentioned above presumably represents a fund that has built up over time and, for whatever reason, has not been spent on civil aviation security operations. (If it instead represented only last year’s total, which would mean TSA has somehow managed to increase its loose-change collections by 600 percent since 2013, somebody should look into that.)
This is not a huge amount in the context of the national-security-boondoggle budget, of course, but still we’re talking about millions of dollars that travelers have been unknowingly providing to the TSA. And at least some people think TSA shouldn’t be keeping it.
In 2013, U.S. Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) introduced a bill that was actually called the “TSA Loose Change Act,” which would have required the agency to give the money to nonprofits that provide benefits for members of the armed forces and their families. That bill easily passed the House (the half-million dollar figure above was mentioned during the debate), but then quietly died in the Senate Commerce Committee. The law was amended instead to say that TSA is required to make “reasonable efforts” to donate any clothing left behind to charity, but for whatever reason, the Senate decided it was fine with letting the TSA keep the coins it can scrounge.
So make sure you get everything out of your pockets before you go through the scanner, I guess, but if you had any change in there you might want to keep an eye on your bins.
This seems to have flown under my radar (finely tuned though that radar is), but on February 19 a committee of the Montana Legislature voted to draft a resolution opposing a proposed sale of that state to Canada for $1 trillion:
It dropped that idea the following day, but a sale still does not appear to be imminent.
According to the Great Falls Tribune, the vote followed its report that thousands of people had signed a petition on Change.org calling for the U.S. to sell Montana to Canada for $1 trillion “to eliminate the national debt.” The petition didn’t really get into the details. “We have too much debt and Montana is useless,” wrote the organizer, Ian Hammond. “Just tell them it has beavers or something.” At the time of the Tribune report linked above, 8,500 people had signed the petition (the number currently stands at 18,501).
Another problem with the proposal, at least from the U.S. point of view, is that even assuming Canada would pay us $1 trillion for Montana that wouldn’t come close to “eliminating the national debt.” It wouldn’t even eliminate the national deficit—the amount by which we’re over budget—for a single year. (In January the CBO estimated that the national deficit will average $1.2 trillion per year for the next decade.) The national debt—the total amount we owe—is more than $22 trillion. Every little bit helps, I guess, but we only have so many states to sell off. (See also this 2012 analysis of the possibility of selling Alaska.)
Montana’s House State Administration Committee wasn’t seriously concerned that the state would be sold to Canada without its consent (the sponsor admitted the measure was just for “fun”), nor did it need to be. Setting aside that Change.org petitions aren’t legally binding, the U.S. Constitution prohibits any change in state borders without the approval of Congress and the state legislature(s) involved. That, among other provisions, would preclude a forced sale. The Constitution doesn’t say this specifically—as you may recall, it discusses how states get into the Union, but not how or if they can get out, and there is some reason to believe getting out would be difficult—but I think my conclusion is fair.
When confirming that the no-sale-to-Canada measure failed on February 20, I also noticed that the first item taken up that day was HB 392, which would have made “Hippy Hippy Shake” by Robert Romero the official rock and roll song for the state of Montana. (It has an official state song already, the much more boring “Montana.”) According to the bill, Romero was a student at Billings Senior High School when he wrote the song in 1959, and the original demo tape was recorded in Billings. The Beatles recorded it for BBC Radio and “played the song regularly” early in their careers. “WHEREAS,” the bill continues, “Montanans shake it to the left and shake it to the right, and do everything with all of their might,” the bill proposed making the song official. HB 392 easily made it out of committee, 18-2, but ran into trouble in the full House, where it eventually failed 37-63.
I think the part about Montanans shaking it to left and right and doing things with all of their might is taken from the song and not a study on the habits of Montanans, but I don’t really remember the lyrics. I think it would also apply to beavers, but can’t be sure until the government declassifies that information.
I am informed that an effort to add a third official state song and an official state dance to Louisiana’s roster has failed. The sponsor of SB 192 evidently believed that “Give Me Louisiana” and “You Are My Sunshine” were insufficient to fully describe the glory that is Louisiana, and proposed adding “Jambalaya (On the Bayou).” The bill would also have designated something called “the Cajun waltz” as the official state dance, but that too appears to have fallen victim to what some describe as a need to actually get something useful done by the end of the session on June 6.
Remember the national emergency on the southern border? Great news: the government is preparing to deploy members of that elite security force, the TSA, to help with the continuing crisis. CNN reports that hundreds of TSA workers from various parts of that agency will be retasked, thus diverting them from whatever useless task they are performing now to one for which they are even more poorly trained. Will they be able to surpass their historical detection-failure rate of nearly 96 percent? Stay tuned.
According to CNN, the email it obtained indicates that “[o]fficials expect the contingent to ultimately include federal air marshals who typically fly in plain clothes on commercial flights to prevent terror attacks,” because it makes perfect sense to have those people go walk around in the desert instead.
The BBC reports that a man in China’s Anhui Province was sentenced to 10 days in jail for naming his dogs “Chengguan” and “Xiequan,” which are types of local officials, apparently. He made the mistake of announcing the names on social media, which led to his conviction for issuing “insulting information … against law enforcement personnel.” I’m glad to live in a country where that kind of thing is legal, and will remain so for the next 12 to 15 months or so, anyway.
Meanwhile in Perth, Australia, previously mentioned here in connection with some alleged cyborgs and people riding around on motorized picnic tables, and I should clarify that those were two different groups of people, a man has reportedly appealed a $50 jaywalking fine to Western Australia’s Supreme Court. He seems to have claimed the trial judge “interfered” with his effort to cross-examine a witness as to whether the police commissioner had tampered with the pedestrian signal at the crosswalk, a claim that surprisingly did not prevail.
I should also clarify that I once met some people from Perth, Australia, and they seemed perfectly normal to me.
Police in Florida said a chase ended last Thursday when the driver of a stolen Cadillac crashed into a home. Police didn’t actually see this happen, though, because the police car involved in the chase had also been stolen. According to the report, whoever stole the police car was trying to pose as an officer to pull over and presumably rob other drivers, but it looks like the only one he fooled was the fellow criminal in the Cadillac. Not sure why he went in hot pursuit rather than just trying another victim, but his commitment to the role I suppose is quasi-admirable.
Not the lawsuit—those don’t disturb me at this point—but the realization after all these years that “Guns N’ Roses” only has one apostrophe. Well, I guess they have always been outlaws.
But having the correct number of apostrophes seems unlikely to protect the brewer of “Guns ‘N’ Rosé” beer from allegations of trademark infringement leveled against it by the band, which filed the complaint below on May 9. According to CNN, the Colorado brewery tried to register its logo last year, but abandoned the application when the band opposed it. The lawsuit alleges GNR then asked the brewery to cease and desist, and while it seems to have agreed in general, it allegedly said it would continue to sell Guns ‘N’ Rosé beer and merchandise until March 2020. Presumably it has an existing inventory of that stuff that it’d like to sell through rather than just discard, but GNR’s position is likely that it should have thought about that before it started using the similar name.
The complaint also tells us that GNR is a partnership organized under California law, its general partners currently being “W. Axl Rose (“Axl Rose”), Saul Hudson, pka Slash, and Michael McKagan.” Thankfully, the lawyers carefully defined the term “Axl Rose” to ensure that a reader would not confuse this Axl Rose with some other Axl Rose who might pertain to this lawsuit in some way, though no other Axl Rose is ever mentioned; but they somehow did not take the opportunity to write “Saul Hudson (‘Slash’).” Slash is never mentioned again by name, either, but if you’re going to insist on doing this kind of thing, how do you pass up an opportunity like that one? Baffling.
You are probably more interested in the fact that Slash’s real name is “Saul Hudson,” and I can certainly understand that.
The complaint also alleges a variety of facts about the band’s history and great commercial success (though it understandably doesn’t say a lot about Chinese Democracy). It also points out that GNR has produced not only music but a wide variety of merchandise, with which the defendant’s own merchandise is allegedly competing. GNR does not have its own brand of beer, though, or at least I infer that from the complaint’s failure to mention any such beer in this paragraph:
27. Defendant’s professed ignorance of “any instances of a musical artist or group using its name as the name of a beer was belied by GNR’s December 21, 2018 assertion [in its letter] that “many musical artists and entertainers have expanded or intend to expand in alcoholic beverages” including GNR contemporaries Metallica, AC/DC, Deftones, Anthrax, Iron Maiden, Motörhead, and Mastodon.
This was news to me, but the complaint reproduces an Instagram post purporting to show examples of “Metallica-branded, Sex Pistols-branded, [and] Grateful Dead-branded” beers, which the poster had juxtaposed with a can of “Guns ‘N’ Rosé” ale. (He said he was looking forward to what he called “[his] own beerchella.”) Again, I infer that GNR has not yet entered this marketing space itself, but my guess is that it can stop others from doing so.
Great news—I remembered to wear pants to my argument before the California Supreme Court on Tuesday. My record before the appellate courts of this nation therefore remains at 100%, in terms of public decency if not actual appellate success. (My record on that score is also good, though admittedly not 100%.)
I’m sure you’d all love to hear about the intricacies of the governmental-interest analysis California applies to conflict-of-law questions, but it is more important right now that we address what appears to be a sudden surge in the number of DSUWI (Driving Something Unusual While Intoxicated) cases worldwide. Reports I’ve received recently show this continues to be a problem, and one in which the public is significantly more interested than the governmental-interest analysis California applies to conflict-of-law questions, judging by the fact that I have received not a single report or question from any of you during the last <checks notes> 14 years regarding the latter issue.
By “appears to be,” of course, I mean “probably isn’t.” Almost certainly, the number of DSUWI cases has in fact remained relatively constant (and relatively low) over the years, with any apparent “spikes” being due to mere coincidence. And since it seems extremely unlikely that there are any other experts (sorry, “experts”) in this field, or any real collection of data regarding it except for this website right here, my conclusion on this will probably go unchallenged.
On the other hand, any glance at a U.S. newspaper these days will show that weirder things can happen than a sudden surge in DSUWI cases worldwide attributable to some as-yet-unknown single underlying cause.
In any event, the last time we addressed this topic was two years ago, when the Canadian parliament took up the issue of whether canoes, kayaks, inflatable rafts, and so forth, should come within the definition of “conveyance” for purposes of that country’s impaired-driving laws. See “Canada May Legalize Drunken Canoeing” (Sept. 29, 2017). I, of course, have been on record for years in defense of the proposition that floating while drunk should not be a crime, or at least that floating down the river on a raft should not constitute the “operation of a watercraft” for purposes of Alaska’s DUI statute. But certainly not all legal questions in this field will have such a clear-cut answer.
On Saturday, May 4, an officer apprehended a 68-year-old Florida man he suspected of operating a riding lawnmower while intoxicated. And by “apprehended,” I mean “noticed when the man drove a riding lawnmower into the side of his police car.” The impact made “a loud noise,” according to the officer, who was inside a nearby business at the time. The report says the officer suspected the man was drunk because of his unusual demeanor, his “extremely bloodshot watery eyes,” and also his utterance of the words “F*ck it, I’m drunk, take me to jail,” which taken together do seem to constitute probable cause.
On top of this, the man also allegedly had cocaine in his system (though he insisted the police had “poisoned” him with it, so I guess the jury will have to decide that one) and, as the Tampa Bay Times put it, his “driver’s license [has] been suspended since the Carter Administration.” The lawnmower was towing a trailer carrying a cooler at the time of the incident, but the cooler was presumably empty since the reports don’t mention its contents. The suspect’s contents, though, were found to be .241 percent alcohol, three times the legal limit.
Unfortunately for him, a riding lawnmower would almost certainly be considered a “vehicle” under Florida law, which defines that term pretty broadly. Not broadly enough to cover horses, as we have seen, but I think riding lawnmowers count.
According to the New Zealand report, on May 7 a judge held that while he would indeed treat the motorized chilly bin as a “motor vehicle,” the risk posed by the 24-year-old offender caught riding it was “at the lower end of the spectrum,” as its top speed is just 12 km/hr. Lime scooters have not been treated as motor vehicles there, the court was told, though they can go almost twice as fast, but this does not seem to have swayed the judge. He did not take the chilly-bin operator’s license, but did convict him, fining him $700. He noted that this result was similar to the “two other cases in New Zealand of a person being convicted of drink-driving on a motorised chilly bin,” so there have appparently been two other cases that the New Zealand office has somehow failed to report.
Finally, Norway has detained “the country’s first drink-driving Segway user,” according to the BBC. This was just one month after the things were made legal in the first place … which I only now see, hundreds of words into this post, was back in 2014. Well, this just proves the point I made earlier: what appears to be a sudden surge in something is very often explained by mere coincidence or just stupidity (or possibly light inebriation) on the part of the observer.
Let that (and the part about pants) be a lesson to you.
I would like to thank the Parliament of New Zealand for offering something that I could post here without too much effort, given the insanity of my schedule over the past few days and up until about 3:30 on Tuesday. It is greatly appreciated.
The New Zealand Herald reports that Simon Bridges, leader of the country’s opposition party, was kicked out of the chamber today (or at least May 7, New Zealand time, whenever that is here) for arguing with the Speaker during Question Time. This argument followed a claim by the Speaker, Trevor Mallard, that Bridges had uttered a “barnyard noise” during comments by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern.
Bridges strenuously denied the allegation, stating, “I made no such noise and it is entirely unfair for you as a Speaker to say that sort of unprofessional comment.” The Speaker then exercised his prerogative to direct the member to leave the chamber (temporarily).
It’s worth 1:30 of your time (and mine, apparently) to watch the clip posted by the Herald. It begins with the Prime Minister speaking, and at the :03 mark, a noise can plainly be heard emanating from someone or something in the chamber and lasting for approximately two to three seconds. There seems to have been little doubt that it emanated from Bridges, and so his assertion that “I made no such noise” is presumably his way of disputing the classification of this as a “barnyard noise.” But, as the Herald put it, “it is clear Bridges makes a loud sound of sad disapproval in response to an answer given by” the prime minister, so the precise classification of it does not seem that relevant.
It does sound to this reporter like he was mooing, however.
Bridges first argued that the Speaker was showing favoritism to the other side, claiming that their points of order were frequently “ridiculous” but when he took issue with something they said, he suddenly became “the naughty boy of this Parliament.” The “barnyard noise” allegation followed, and thence the argument that resulted in Bridges’ expulsion.
Searching Parliament’s website for the word “barnyard” revealed that this is not the first time such an allegation and/or noise have been heard within that chamber. In May 2018, this happened:
SPEAKER: Yes, and—[Interruption] No, the member will resume his seat. What I’m saying is making noises which are not words in English but noises that might be more commonly heard in a barnyard are not appropriate.
Hon Gerry Brownlee: I raise a point of order, Mr Speaker. How is, effectively, accusing a member of this House of making a barnyard noise not a personal reflection?
SPEAKER: Well, I should probably have called it a loud guffaw of the type certainly not heard normally in this place.
Emphasis added. Whether the Speaker will in future similarly reclassify Bridges’ conduct as the mere utterance of a “loud guffaw” remains to be seen.
And while no one would like having their lawsuit described as a “pile of papers,” in this case it seems to have been literally true, according to Snell:
Snell redacted the case number and the petitioner’s identifying information, and I can think of a couple of good reasons for doing that, which is why I haven’t looked harder to find the original. Based on the excerpts of the text that he did post, it seems likely that this is another “sovereign citizen” at work, though it could be a more generic kind of nut job.
As you likely know, sovereign citizens generally ascribe an almost magical significance to punctuation, as this person seems to, and claim the federal government is an illegitimate criminal enterprise. (Not saying I entirely disagree with that, but they should at least leave the Post Office out of it.) These people also generally contend that the law does not apply to them unless they specifically consent, that they are only subject to jurisdiction in special courts, that they don’t need to pay taxes, and they can create their very own currency and financial documents, just to name a few of their greatest hits.
On the other hand, at least one of them has apparently qualified for a Discover card, although that doesn’t seem to have impressed Judge Friedman.
Well, this category of posts needs some serious reorganization, which is something I just realized I’ve been promising to do since 2007 and yet none should doubt the continuing seriousness of my commitment to doing just that.
Like all other citizens (including presidents), judges are generally eligible for jury duty unless some statute exempts them. But as you might expect, there are many statutes of that kind, at least in the United States. Under federal law, for example, the names of judges and other state or federal public officers don’t go into the hopper at all, so long as they are “actively engaged in the performance of official duties.” Some states have similar laws, although some do not. So judges do sometimes have to report for jury duty just like everyone else. This is not to say they will actually be chosen to serve, something that is probably very rare just because most lawyers probably don’t want other lawyers—much less judges—on a jury panel.
Just FYI for lawyers, if you can honestly say, and also somehow manage to bring up during voir dire, that one of the tasks you regularly perform is drafting and arguing about jury instructions, you are likely to be excused almost immediately. I didn’t do this intentionally, you understand, I was just describing what I do, and I’m just telling you what happened.
They may be summoned but will very rarely be chosen to serve. It must be extremely rare, however, for a judge to be summoned for jury duty in a case over which he or she will be presiding. But that happened in the UK not long ago—and the judge then had trouble getting out of it.
In England and Wales, at least, judges are not exempt from jury duty (only diplomats are). So Judge Keith Cutler presumably wasn’t too surprised to get a summons. But he did notice that the case involved was one over which he personally would be presiding. And yet he still had some trouble getting himself excused, according to The Guardian:
Cutler, the resident judge of Winchester and Salisbury since 2009, told a jury [during voir dire in a different case] he had to make several attempts before he managed to excuse himself from his public duty….
“I was selected for jury service here at Salisbury crown court for a trial starting 23 April,” he said. “I told the jury central summoning bureau that I thought I would be inappropriate, seeing I happened to be the judge and knew all the papers.”
“They wrote back to me. They picked up on the fact I was the judge but said ‘Your appeal for refusal has been rejected but you could apply to the resident judge’, but I told them, ‘I am the resident judge.’ I had to phone them up and they [eventually] realised it was a mistake.”
Judge Cutler said he would have been happy to serve on the jury had the circumstances been different. I would say the same. Although, to be completely honest, this is something that’s easy to say for someone who’s legally or as a practical matter exempt from serving on a jury. Not because such a person would want to be excused, you understand. I’m just telling you what could happen.
A comedian with no political experience who stars in a sitcom in which he plays someone with no political experience who is elected president of Ukraine was elected president of Ukraine on Sunday. He got 73 percent of the vote, in fact, according to exit polls.
How do leaders who had popular TV shows but no political experience fare against Vladimir Putin? I guess we’ll find out!
Grease thefts are a “gigantic problem” in this country, according to the lawyer for a company that gets paid to dispose of grease. He was responding to a report that on April 4, police in Annandale, Virginia, caught a guy in the process of stealing hundreds of gallons of the stuff, for which he said he got paid 25 cents a gallon by the head of the grease-stealing ring. (It can apparently be recycled into bio-fuel.) The lawyer told ABC7 News he’s “seen several hundred grease thefts” in the northern Virginia area alone, although he probably didn’t mean that literally.
Olivia Jade Gianulli, who is a “product influencer” on Instagram and the daughter of Lori Laughlin, who allegedly paid half a million dollars to make sure her product-influencing daughter could get into USC, had a trademark application rejected last month partly because of improper punctuation. The problem involved those pesky commas and semicolons, according to the examiner. To be fair, Olivia Jade almost certainly didn’t do her own work on the trademark application, either.
Speaking of product influencers, people keep saying that Kim Kardashian is planning on becoming a lawyer, as she told Vogue magazine in a recent interview. She’s not going to law school, but says she’s doing a four-year apprenticeship with a San Francisco firm, after which she would take the bar in 2022. You don’t have to have a law degree to take the California bar, or even a college degree, which is good because she doesn’t have one of those either. But almost no one who doesn’t have those things passes. Will she be one of the extremely tiny percentage who does? “The reading is what really gets me. It’s so time-consuming,” she told Vogue, so no.
Brevard County, Florida, was within an hour of being destroyed by an army of turtles recently, according to the man who claimed to be their leader. Local media reported that the man was arrested a couple of weeks ago for disturbing the peace after citizens called to say he was making threats and yelling obscenities. The man, who called himself “the saint,” told citizens and then police that his “turtle army” would “destroy them” within the hour for unspecified transgressions. “Leave now,” he told police, “or you will all be sorry you f***ed with the saint!” The turtle army has apparently been delayed, but you can probably expect it about the same time Kim Kardashian passes the California bar.
As Matt Levine pointed out (writing for Bloomberg, citing this Law360 report), you should not destroy evidence, but if you do, you shouldn’t do it in a way that others might find amusing. And if you do destroy evidence in a way that others might find amusing, you shouldn’t tell anyone about it. Because they might later testify that you, for example, claimed to have thrown a cellphone off the side of a mountain during a ski trip in order to destroy the evidence it contained, and internet jokesters who find that amusing would make sure others knew about it.
That was just one of several bizarre revelations during the Insys Therapeutics trial, in which several executives are charged with allegedly bribing doctors to prescribe opioids. (A former VP’s appearance in a music video that sales reps made about “getting patients on the highest dose possible” was another one, so that’s another lesson right there.) After 10 weeks of testimony, jury deliberations are set to begin Monday.
Based on my data—and I’m fairly confident I have the most comprehensive data available on cases in which a man has been beaten with his own prosthetic leg by an angry girlfriend—this happens approximately once every seven years.
This phenomenon first came to my attention way back in 2005, when it happened in Michigan. See “Man Beaten With Own Leg by Leg-Wielding Girlfriend” (Aug. 17, 2005). I was then, as I am today, sensitive to the fact that despite the alignment of the parties, this sort of thing is still domestic violence, something that is not funny except in extremely limited circumstances. In that case, I listed one of the required criteria as “the leg is a spare one, so he can still flee and thus avoid serious injury.” As you will see, I later decided that one isn’t absolutely required, but the circumstances are still pretty limited.
Almost exactly seven years later, a second case occurred in Florida. See “Second Man Beaten With Own Leg by Leg-Wielding Girlfriend” (Sept. 12, 2012). In that one, the gentleman’s ex-girlfriend (still counts) showed up at his home demanding custody of their two-year-old son, of whom he likely had custody because she was a convicted felon. And she plainly had not become less felonious since their relationship ended. She grabbed the boy out of a window and put him in her car, and when the man leapt into the back seat to recover the child, he unwisely left his legs sticking out of the door. This allowed his ex to seize the weapon thus presented and commence beating him with it.
He really should have known better, because as he told reporters, this was not the first time she had beaten him with his own leg. “Probably two or three times she’s done it,” he said. “Just a way to get the upper hand,” he continued, apparently in all seriousness.
Unlike the previous victim, this gentleman managed to recover his leg from the assailant, but she then escalated the matter significantly by producing a shotgun. Consistent with the criteria mentioned above, the humorous part of the incident ends at that point. But happily, no one was seriously injured, and police quickly located and returned the boy.
The most recent incident is a few months ahead of schedule, which I’m going to attribute to global warming rather than some flaw in my seven-year-cycle theory.
This one takes us to Louisiana, where last week a 58-year-old woman was charged with aggravated battery of a boyfriend with the boyfriend’s prosthetic leg, or maybe those are the aggravating circumstances rather than a definition of the offense. According to the report, the two had been engaged in an “off-and-on” relationship for several years, and it appeared to be “on” for the evening of February 11. The couple went to the woman’s home, where they began drinking gin. At some point, police said, the man told her that he wanted to end their relationship and date another woman. He then decided—and this decision can only be explained by gin—to go to sleep in a bedroom of the home belonging to the angry, intoxicated woman with whom he had just broken up, presumably after removing a roughly club-shaped prosthetic appendage and leaving it next to the bed where someone who came in to glare at his unconscious form could easily see it.
Did he later wake up with injuries? Yes he did. But he woke up, which to be honest is probably more than a man who has made such a poor decision has any right to expect.
I was a little concerned for my seven-year theory upon finding this article, in which the author lists 10 other incidents between 1998 and 2014 in which prosthetic limbs had been used as weapons. But after reviewing them, I was relieved to find that none of them meet my criteria. In fact, most of them involved someone using his or her own prosthetic limb as a weapon, or at least trying to. And while one of the incidents sounds pretty funny—at least if you think a drunken Scottish woman angrily swinging her artificial leg around in the cabin of a plane after the crew refused to give her a parachute is funny, and I do—that’s still a different category.
We will discuss this subject again in 2026, assuming I am still the official chronicler of such incidents at that time.