In celebration of National Library Week (April 11-17) we have a contest for our readers. Try to pick the fake case from the 5 cases described below. All five cases were published but one was later discovered to have never taken place!
Search for Answer - How to search for these cases? Use Google Scholar! Make sure to select the Legal Opinion option. Search by the parties' name or enter in the citation. Read the short opinions online and see if you can spot the fake. Post your answer in the comments area.
Prize- Winners have the satisfaction of polishing their legal research skills.
1. People v. Gleghorn, 193 Cal. App. 3d 196 (1987).
Watch out when the judge starts quoting Shakespeare. The issue from the case: 'May a person who enters the habitat of another at 3 o'clock in the morning for the announced purpose of killing him, and who commences to beat the startled sleeper's bed with a stick and set fires under him, be entitled to use deadly force in self defense after the intended victim shoots him in the back with an arrow? Upon the basis of these bizarre facts, we hold that he may not, and instead, must suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune (with apologies to William Shakespeare and Hamlet, Act III, sc. 1).'
2. McDonald v. John P. Scripps Newspaper, 210 Cal. App. 3d 100 (1989).
If you lose a spelling bee, just sue. The abstract of the case: 'Master Gavin L. McDonald did not win the Ventura County Spelling Bee. Therefore, through his guardian ad litem, he sued. We affirm because two things are missing here causation and common sense. Gavin lost the spelling bee because he spelled a word wrong In our puzzlement as to how this case even found its way into court, we are reminded of the words of a romantic poet. "The [law] is too much with us; late and soon, Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers: Little we see in Nature that is ours; We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!" (The World Is Too Much With Us (1807) with apologies to William Wordsworth, who we feel, if he were here, would approve.)
3. Oil and Gas Futures, Inc. of Texas v. Andrus, 610 F.2d 287 (5th Cir. 1980).
Are you smarter than an eighth grader? 'In this appeal we are asked to determine whether ".82" is the equivalent of "82%." Having successfully completed grammar school, we are able to answer in the affirmative.' Later in the case, the judge refers to an eighth grade math book. 'To change a decimal to a per cent, move the decimal point two places to the right, and write the per cent sign after the number. And so, with this rule in mind, any eighth grader can tell that .82165 = 82.165% (the decimal has been moved two places to the right, and a per cent sign placed after the number).'
4. Kilkenney Catt and Gallico Catt v. State, 285 Ark. 334 (1985).
Which twin committed the crime? 'The appellants are Kilkenny and Gallico Catt, twin brothers who sought to use their remarkable resemblance to avoid justice. At trial each brother testified that he himself had not committed the offense and did not know whether or not his brother had done so. The State had succeeded in identifying the twins by name, by comparing their fingerprints and at trial their identities were kept straight by I.D. tags securely fastened to their wrists. That effort failed, for each was found guilty of a drug offense.'
5. Henderson v. State, 445 So. 2d 1364 (Miss. 1984)
The defendant used an English teacher as an expert witness in court to try and make sense out of his criminal indictment. Issue from the case: 'This case presents the question of whether the rules of English grammar are a part of the positive law of this state. If they are, Jacob Henderson's burglary conviction must surely be reversed, for the indictment in which he has been charged would receive an "F" from every English teacher in the land. Though grammatically unintelligible, we find that the indictment is legally sufficient.'
Contest source: Bowman and Brooke LLP