Obiter Dicta

Bare-Ly Boating

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“Look, Timmy, there’s Santa.” “Look, Timmy, there’s an elf.” “Don’t look, Timmy!” Spectators at the 2004 Christmas Parade of Boats near Syracuse, N.Y., —promoted as a visually stimulating feast of holiday family fun—were subjected to a decidedly nonfamily-oriented spectacle.

The annual event, which raises funds for the Special Olympics, took place in September and traveled a 13-mile route down the Seneca and Oneida rivers.

But nestled between a gingerbread houseboat and a paddlewheeler was a nonregistered vessel. Aboard were a man and a woman whose attire—or lack thereof—was more fitting for Mardi Gras.

The woman was topless, except for a string of Christmas lights, and was spanking the bare bottom of a male companion. The R-rated antics were captured on videotape by a spectator.

Police say the culprits are Ricky Setzer, 34, and Cindy Cramer, 29, both of Brewerton, N.Y. They were charged with a misdemeanor count of public lewdness and scheduled to appear in Clay (N.Y.) Town Court.

An appalled Patti White, who organized the event, said that not even in her wildest dreams did it occur to her that something like this would happen. “It’s like Hustler putting a float in a Disney parade,” she says. “There was nothing pretty about this.”

In These Shoes?

Attorney’s Well-Heeled Argument Allows Female Motorist to Walk

They’re impractical, not easy to get around in, and if they break, serious injury can result. Despite the downsides, some women insist on wearing stiletto heels for the sexy look. Now they’ve got another reason.

A North Carolina woman was stopped in September for speeding. After refusing to take a Breathalyzer test, she was given a number of field sobriety tests, which the officer said she failed. She was charged with driving while intoxicated.

In court, her attorney, Bill Thomas, caused quite a stir when he claimed that the tests were “fundamentally unfair” because his client had been wearing shoes with 31⁄2-inch stiletto heels at the time the tests were administered.

To pass one of the tests, the woman was told to walk a straight line and then quickly pivot. Another required her to stand on one foot for 30 seconds.

Thomas said his client, perched precariously on one heel, did darn well by making it to 16 seconds. Despite the reactions of disbelievers in the courtroom, Judge Wade Barber took Thomas’ argument seriously.

“It is my responsibility to consider each case based on the law and the facts,” he said, adding that “the officer had not given the prescribed instructions for the test and had the wrong standard for measuring performance.”

Barber suppressed the results of the sobriety tests and dismissed the case.

Thomas insisted he was not trying to pull a stunt. “The constitutional protections that follow us in our daily lives,” he was quoted as saying, “also apply to DWI cases.”

Written by Brian Sullivan; Stories by The (N.Y.) Post-Standard,; Research by Wendell LaGrand.

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