Mock Trial

There are two sorts of people in the world: people who are not involved in a legal proceedings, who think that the law is somewhat ridiculous; and people who are involved in legal proceedings, who think that the law is of the utmost seriousness. However, it can’t be denied that there are sometimes cases that tickle my fancy; although not always for the reasons they please most.

Earlier today, I came across Mayo vs. Satan (UNITED STATES ex rel. Gerald MAYO v. SATAN AND HIS STAFF, 54 F.R.D. 282 (1971)) in which the plaintiff sought to sue the Christian Devil for various affronts, but didn’t want to pay any court fees to do it. For most people, the idea of suing Satan or the language District Judge Weber uses is the amusing part.

However, my favourite aspect is Weber’s provision of a series of valid legal reasons to dismiss the application that make no comment on whether or not the Christian Devil exists – a ruling entirely avoiding any issue of conflating Church and State or granting one faith preferential treatment. Because the best law is both absurd and deeply serious at the same time.

Of course, some cases truly are absurd even to lawyers: such as the driver who claimed a former client of mine was at fault for a collision by not displaying adequate lights on his parked vehicle, who maintained the claim even after I referred to our claim for replacement of the garage door he had passed through before striking my client’s vehicle.


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