Obiter Dicta

Cat Calls

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Viewed through the eyes of a cat, Alexandria Carasia’s well-tended flower garden was nothing more than a giant litterbox. The 78-year-old Jeannette, Pa., woman notified her neighbors in 2003 that their cat had been doing its business in her garden. Carasia says Sally Loughner, the lady of the house, “ignored the situation.”

In June, Carasia finally called the police. “For three years I put up with the nonsense about the cat,” she says.

The Loughners ended up giving the cat to a relative. Problem solved. Well, that problem, anyway.

Shortly thereafter, Carasia alleges, Michael Loughner, 14, fell into the habit of meowing at her whenever she was within ear shot. Carasia says that the conduct continued even after she threatened to call the police again, which she did in July. Michael was charged with harassment.

In August, the boy reportedly testified in court that he has meowed at Carasia only twice. Defense attorney David Martin Jr. says it was merely “his way of expressing he did not like losing the cat.” Martin calls the case “a ridiculous waste of the court’s time.” Jeannette District Judge Joseph DeMarchis decided to wait 90 days before ruling in the case, giving the parties a chance to make peace on their own.

Carasia says that the whole experience has been “very nerve-racking.” “I’m saying a prayer and hoping that the truth will set me free,” Carasia says. “I don’t bother these people.”

Unfair Use

Potential Juror Ducks Duty, Avoids Writer’s Cramp by Pulling Schoolkid Stunt on Judge

A Michigan man put on a clinic recently on how to get on the bad side of a judge.

Brandon K. Dickens, 20, formerly of Tyrone Township, reported for jury duty in June and sat through voir dire. Dick­ens took a lunch break along with the rest of the potential jurors, but–unlike the rest–he did not come back.

Unfortunately for Dickens, his was the first name called after lunch to sit on the jury for a trial of a man accused of a sex offense. Judge David Reader of the 44th Circuit says he denied the defense attorney’s request for a mistrial and dispatched deputies to locate Dickens.

When he appeared in front of the judge on a charge of contempt of court, Dickens claimed a faulty spark plug had kept him from returning.

The judge had the option of jailing him, fining him or both. Reader, however, opted to have Dickens observe court proceedings for three full days, and then write a five-page paper on the importance of jury service and the history of juries in the United States. So Dickens dodged a bullet but still managed to shoot himself in the foot.

In August, he submitted the paper to the court, where it was vetted by a research attorney. It was determined that Dickens had written the first sentence and the last. The rest had been lifted from a Seattle writer’s jury experiences that had been posted on the Internet. The con job earned Dickens another day of observing the proceedings in Judge Reader’s court.

Written by Brian Sullivan; Stories by Livingston County Daily Press & Argus, Pittsburgh Tribune-Review; Research by Wendell LaGrand.

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