Obiter Dicta

The Blame Game

Illustration by Francisco Caceres

We learn early on that life is much more pleasant when we’re not being excoriated for seemingly innocuous transgressions like tracking mud into the house or breaking a lamp or dangling a sibling out a window.

The best way to sidestep a “situation” is to offer up an innocent party, and before you know it, the four words that spring forth most readily from your lips are “It’s not my fault.”

This is a habit that becomes ex­ceedingly hard to break, though there is a point at which the universe responds with four words of its own: “Sorry, not this time.”

Michelle Cawthra of Denver, testifying at the trial of her ex-boyfriend, for whom she stole $11 million in unclaimed state tax refunds, said she did it for love.

Oh, sure, the 33-year-old former Colorado Department of Revenue supervisor got some nice jewelry and trips and stuff, but she really just wanted to make him happy.

If that was her explanation at her own trial, though, it doesn’t seem to have tugged at many heartstrings be­cause she’s currently doing 24 years.

Then there are those who know they’re busted, but figure they have nothing to lose and uncork a Hail Mary pass, hoping for the best.

(You can file this one under “That darn cat!” with our apologies, Dean Jones.) A Jensen Beach, Fla., man was found to have more than 1,000 images on his computer of a particularly odious variety. But Keith Griffin, 48, told police he could clear up the whole misunderstanding.

You see, when he downloads music he tends to leave the room. And while he’s gone his cat jumps on the keyboard and manages to find a secretive, underground website that offers kiddie (not kitty) porn. And then the cat hits the right combination of keys, and when he returns there’s another one of those strange pictures on the screen.

Yeah, that’s it, and the blasted cat’s done that, like, 1,000 times now.

Griffin was being held in Martin County jail on $250,000 bond. The cat has not yet been charged.

For some people, it seems that if life hands them anything but a bowl of cherries, someone had better get out the checkbook.

A 27-year-old graduate of Monroe College in New York City, who studied information technology and earned a bachelor’s degree in April, sued the college in July after failing to find a job during a recession.

Trina Thompson’s lawsuit—filed in Bronx Supreme Court—reportedly says she’s entitled to reimbursement of the 70 grand she spent on tuition be­cause she didn’t fall into a job im­me­diately upon the cessation of “Pomp and Circum­­stance.” (OK, it doesn’t say that, ex­actly, but for anyone pounding the pavement in search of a gig right now it probably sounds like that.)

“She’s very angry at her situation,” Trina’s mom told the New York Post. “This is not what we planned.”

What Mom and Trina seem to be overlooking here is that 9 percent of our workforce is unemployed, and they’re angry, too. But here’s the difference: They’re not suing anyone for their hard luck.

So, Ms. Thompson, go ahead and blame whomever you wish. As others have found out, the universe just might have something to say about it.

We welcome your comments, but please adhere to our comment policy and the ABA Code of Conduct.

Commenting is not available in this channel entry.