Truth be told, most people would do a fine job of presiding in a courtroom. Many cases can be sorted with common sense, right? Yet, recent lawsuits and court decisions seem to be a special kind of foolish. Some people just don’t know when to stop; they take the idea of suing and don’t stop until they win the case.
Take the case of the Pennsylvania woman who has sued Walmart five different times. For $100 each time. According to Consumerist, she takes them to court over discrepancies she finds, in prices of products on the shelves. The fifth time was over $0.02.
Or the German man who won a case against his ISP. Their crime? Disconnecting his Internet. According to the German Federal Court of Justice, access to the Internet is crucial to everyday life and economic activity. Therefore, he was awarded $67 for every day of the two months that his service was disconnected.
Now, these are regular Joes like you and I, right? We can be excused for not getting enough sleep, or simply being bonkers. That’s why, when we have grievances, we take them to a court of law to settle. At least, over there, the judges are cut from a different cloth than mere mortals. One that bestows knowledge, fairness and competence on them.
Many people still have a blind and unwavering faith in the “justice system.” Well, prepare to be shocked by what’s deemed acceptable in the face of the law. Some judges here have behaved so badly that you’ll question the fate of humanity as we know it.
10. Love Canal
The 1978 incident at Love Canal, caused by Hooker Chemical’s dumping of toxic waste resulted in the passing of the Clean Water Act. It was supposed to prevent companies dumping waste in lakes, rivers or bays.
Yet in 2002, the Supreme Court amended the Act to allow ‘fill materials’ to be dumped in fresh waterways. On re-opening, the Kensington gold mine in Alaska, subsequently dumped 4.5 million tons of toxic material including lead and mercury into Lower Slate Lake. Legally too.
9. Buck v. Bell
Did you know that in 2012, a judge ordered the sterilization on a pregnant schizophrenic woman?
Surprisingly, this has gone on for decades in the US. In 1927, the law ruled that Claire Buck, her mother and her daughter be sterilized, in order to ‘eliminate defectives from the gene pool and or the protection and health of the state’.
From forceful sterilization in the Buck vs. Bell case to ‘voluntary’ sterilization of female prisoners as reported by the Huffington Post in 2010, the dark cloud of eugenics still hangs over America till this day.
8. The Sexting Judge
You know things are bad when a judge who handles sexual misconduct cases is in trouble himself for sending inappropriate and sexual text messages. Judge Wade McCree had intercourse in his judge’s chambers, with a woman whose case he was presiding over. Needless to say, she got quite a few perks, and also became pregnant.
In a report by the Detroit Free Press, the Judge’s case was seen by the committee, who saw past his claim of having hypomania and suspended him without pay.
7. Man Shocked In Court
In court, under certain grounds, you can have an electric shock device attached to your body. Maybe if the judge feels you’re a violent criminal who may lunge and attack someone. But not when a man is trying to defend himself in a firearms possession case. Maryland Judge Robert Nalley ordered a court security officer to shock a defendant, in court, for no apparent reason.
This esteemed Judge has definitely become well known for this act. A NBC Washington story reports his conviction for deflating the tyres of a car that had been parked ‘in a spot he usually used.’ In this case, the shocker was that the judge simply carried on the case after the defendant had hit the floor screaming, giving him no time to recover.
6. Public Shaming
When a Cleveland woman drove on the pavement to avoid a school bus that was picking up a disabled child, the judge came up with a rather unconventional punishment. Instead of clogging up the system and jails, she was ordered to make a sign and stand at a busy intersection in rush hour. The sign read “Only an idiot would drive on the sidewalk to avoid a school bus.”
More judges in America are handing out weird, but painfully apt sentences. Judge Michael Cicconetti is famous for his brand of ‘creative justice.’ Some of his sentences include having a drunk driver visit a morgue and sentencing a man to ‘homelessness’ for stealing the donation kettle form the Salvation Army.
5. Amazon Against Integrity Staffing
We all love our Amazon Prime, right? Order today, get it tomorrow. Pretty neat, but have you ever spared a thought for the employees who make it happen? In a landmark ruling against the little guy, the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of a firm that supplies staff to an Amazon fulfillment center. Staff are being kept for up to thirty minutes after their shift.
Why? In a bid to reduce thefts, they all have to be screened before leaving. This leads to queues that last for up to an hour. Workers sued to get compensation for the time lost, but alas, the Supreme Court, kicks the little man when he is down.
4. The Case Against Teenagers Who Offered Free Cookies
Two Colorado teens decided to surprise their neighbors and bake them cookies. Since the teens chose to do their good deed anonymously, they left little packages of cookies on neighbors’ front porches, but didn’t consider the fact that some neighbors have wandering dogs who might be just as interested in the cookies.
One neighbor, whose home had been burgled many times, was so freaked out that she called the police. In addition to paying her hospital bills for the anxiety attack she suffered, ABC News reports that she also sued for and won $900 from the girls.
3. Pearson v. Chung
It’s one thing to have consumer protection laws in place. They help protect us from companies’ broken promises. It’s another matter when you start to take advantage of the who situation. Take the case of Roy L. Pearson, a Washington Administrative Law Judge who lost a pair of pants to the local dry cleaners.
Being a judge, he probably wears expensive suits. And what’s a suit without pants? So, asking for a new suit as replacement is reasonable, right?
He sued. For $65 million! And this was one of his more ‘reasonable’ demands. Amongst other things, the Jackson Press reports that he asked the cleaners to “identify by name, address and telephone number, all cleaners in DC, the USA and the world that advertise Satisfaction Guaranteed.”
If it makes you feel better, the court ruled in favor of the defendants and even required judge Pearson to pay them back for all of the court costs, to the amount of $1,000. He was also ordered to pay the Chung’s legal fees as well. The best part is the judge handling the case, Judge Judith Bartnoff had some thoughts on the case; “A reasonable consumer would not interpret ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ to mean that a merchant is required to satisfy a customer’s unreasonable demands,” Bartnoff wrote in her ruling.
2. Breastfeeding Mothers
It ruled that firing a woman for requesting space and time to express breast milk, doesn’t constitute sexism. And how did they arrive at this perspective?
Because apparently men can lactate too. But it’s not as bad as the conditions that many breastfeeding mothers have to express milk under. They have to endure harassment, embarrassment or risk making their baby ill as many workplaces force them to express milk either in public or in a toilet.
Needless to say, such behavior is against the law, but with the Supreme Court having very little to defend the matter, employers are gonna have a field day exploiting this.
1. Monsanto v. Lawmakers
The Supreme Court has once again voted in favor of the huge corporations (score one for lobbying!) A farmer has been sued for violating Monsanto’s patent rights. By purchasing a mix of seeds to plant on his own farm. Let’s get this straight, he didn’t enter Monsanto’s labs, Mission Impossible style. He bought these seeds from a grain elevator.
But under Monsanto’s terms, the seeds can only be harvested once and must not be saved or reused.
Sadly the Supreme Court sides with Monsanto, ruling “By planting and harvesting Monsanto’s patented seeds, Bowman made additional copies of Monsanto’s patented invention, and his conduct thus falls outside the protections of patent exhaustion.”
The law really isn’t always as cut and dried as we like to think it is. These are some of the ‘tamer’ instances we have of judges losing their cool.
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