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Wednesday, January 5, 2011

You should see what we don't charge!

People get charged with some pretty strange crimes.  Look at the headlines in your local paper sometime.  You might see some real gems, like these guys:
That is just a small sample of the infinite amount of weirdness that comes with a job in criminal law.  Like I've said before, stuff like this can make you chuckle, and helps me get through moments when my job just sucks.  But make no mistake, even though these crimes are all wildly funny, they are also wildly illegal.  The guy who fled on a lawnmower also led police on a chase, albeit not a high speed one (I'm guessing it was a "bunny speed chase").  The penis pump guy gipped taxpayers out of $27,000.  That's a lot of scratch!

But not all things stupid are also criminal.  Some stupid things are fun.  So there's a lot of people who I come across at work that I don't charge with crimes.  These are their stories.

Legal disclaimer: Please don't whine and complain that I am somehow violating these people's privacy.  Police records are, for the most part, public information.  That's why the news media can run a story about how terrible of a person you are mere minutes after you commit a crime.  Everything in this blog is available to anyone for a small fee at your local police department.  However, I will be redacting any names to protect the stupid. 

The fence 

Sure, as a prosecutor I deal with some high profile cases from time to time.  But the things that make the news don't happen very often in a rural area like my county.  And even if they do happen, they aren't exactly gravitating toward my desk.  My official title at my job is "Special Assistant County Attorney".  Let's just say, the more "specials" in your title, the less special you are.  And "Assistant" here has the standard definition; I do all of the work and take none of the credit.  I'm also a 30 year old attorney in a job where 50 year olds are spring chickens.  I'm not complaining.  I just tend to not get the best slice of the high-profile work pie. 

What I deal with a lot more are cases dealing with livability issues.  I'm talking about crimes that affect the quality of life in a community, like theft, prostitution, and disputes among neighbors.  We get a lot of complaints from neighbors that can't get along.  Neighbors have been feuding with each other since the Hatfields and the McCoys.  But in the old days, these guys settled their scores by shooting a neighbor of their choice with a flintlock musket. 

Nowadays we sue McDonald's when our coffee is too hot.  We are an ultra-litigious culture.  And I think that's great.  I will sue whoever you want.  And then I will remove your arm and your leg, put it in the trunk of my luxury automobile, and drive away.  I'll probably take a bath in the pile of money you gave me when I get home.  Thank you for paying for my boat. 

Anyway, that's civil litigation.  Criminality is quite another story.  In that realm, I am fond of the saying: "You can't legislate against people being an asshole."  If you take away my ability to be an asshole, you take away my last basic human right.  And at that point, I'm moving to France to be with "my kind".  Stupid Americans.  I never liked showering anyhow.   

To illustrate this point, I bring you this picture:

When I first showed this to my friends, they treated it like one of those ink blots at the psychologist's office.  Is it mountain range?  Pinnochio turned sideways?  Maybe this guys is just cross-eyed, and only bought four boards for a fence.  No dipshit...it's a freaking fence shaped like a middle finger!!  That's the only thing it could be!!

Here's the background on this picture.  This is a fence that a guy erected on the edge of his property.  It is pointed right at his neighbor's front door.  The two have been after each other for years. 

When I got this case on my desk, several thoughts came to mind.  For starters, I think this is an incredibly ingenious way to voice your dislike of your fellow man.  Why limit yourself to flicking off your neighbor to when you go outside?  This is a 24-7-365 whirlybird!  It's the 7-11 of "Fuck You"!  Now you can tell that dirtbag next year to stick it where the sun don't shine at any time of the day or night.  Why didn't I think of this before?!

Side note: Just think of the possibilities for the holiday season.  For example...two words: Twinkle Lights.

But the reason why I didn't charge this case has nothing to do with the awesomeness of the fence.  I didn't charge this case out because I believe in our God-given right to say "fuck you" to anybody and everybody.  Our forefathers fought and died so that you can swear at anyone.  Men, women, children, babies, nuns!  It's your First Amendment right! 

Frankly, I don't want to live in a country where erecting a fence like this isn't okay.  I want to live in a country where this guy's neighbor erects a bigger, and even more offensive fence in his yard to counter this rickety piece of shit.  Not only is it free speech, but it serves a bigger purpose.  It lets the whole neighborhood know, without saying a thing, "Stay away from me.  I am a gigantic douche."  So I let it slide. 

"Shit was present"

I would estimate that I read through at least 20 police reports every day.  Cops go into their job to protect and serve.  It's one of the most noble occupations on the planet.  But the police academy isn't out there recruiting Ernest Hemingway. 

These documents give me the facts, and only the facts.  They it in the most efficient way possible.  They use police words and phrases like "dispatched", and "effectuated an arrest", and "assisted to the ground" (which actually means, "we clobbered this guy and sat on top of him when he fell").  They are dull, dry documents. 

But sometimes, if you pay attention, you can find some fun stuff.  I thought I would use the rest of this blog post to share my favorite police report of all time.  Again, police reports are public documents.  Here we go!

"From Dispatch: [Reporting Party] stated that his neighbor's cattle/horses were in his yard again.  He has previously discussed the situation with his neighbor, but they are getting more and more rude about it.  Upon arrival I spoke to [Reporting Party] who stated his neighbor to the north has horses and cows which continously shit all over his yard (shit was present).  I then spoke to the neighbor, [redacted] who stated he was aware his fence was bad on the west side of his property.  [Redacted] said he would fix the fence asap and would clean the shit up out of his neighbors yard."

I was thinking about picking this report apart in this blog post for your comedic pleasure.  I have decided not to do so.  I think this thing is capable of standing on its own as a work of comedy gold.  I hope you agree. 

Side note: Don't read this post as being critical of the officer who responded to this situation.  He was just doing his job.  He is also a friend of mind.  And poop patrol isn't exactly what you sign up for when you put on your badge for the first time.  So I understand he didn't put his passionate muse into writing this report.  Whether or not he meant it to be funny, I have no idea.  Personally, I think he did a hell of a job of recording this bit of police history by doing it in the manner he did.  This report follows me from job to job, and is always on the wall of my desk.  It always brings a smile to my face.  I hope it will to you too.  Thank you officer!


  1. The officer's report reminds me of once when I had a robbery victim write a statement. She was a clerk at a convenience store, and verbatim the first sentence was, "A black man wearing a ski mask came in and did do the Suwannee Swifty." She started off so well and it just went, well, down the shitter. I had to ask her to elaborate because for all I knew, the Suwannee Swifty was a new dance. :)

  2. That fence is awesome!!! Creativity at its best in my opinion.

    I also love graffiti. There's a lot of interesting, but illegal "public art" out there. :-)

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