Obiter Dicta

Justice Delayed?

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The life of a mother of three is filled with schedules, driving and seemingly endless sporting events. There just isn’t time for much else.

But Florida resident Stephanie Hollingsworth had to make time in March when her past came calling. An Orange County sheriff’s deputy stood at her Orlando doorstep and informed her that she was about to take a ride with him to the local jail.

So you figure she had 100 unpaid parking tickets or something, right? But no, she had been cited for operating a water scooter without a fire extinguisher on board—in 1995. A water scooter is a type of watercraft that looks like a snowmobile. Hollingsworth and her boyfriend—now her husband—had borrowed his dad’s water scooter and she received the citation. Dad said he’d take care of it, but he missed the court date. Subsequently, a warrant was issued for Hollingsworth’s arrest.

Hollingsworth was handcuffed and taken to the central booking office, where she was locked up with other women for, she says, a total of seven hours. She says she got no advance notice about the outstanding warrant, and background checks she underwent for a job at Florida’s Department of Children & Families never revealed the warrant. Orange County Sheriff’s Cpl. Carlos Torres says a misdemeanor warrant remains in effect indefinitely. “We afford people the opportunity to look up their names [on a Web site],” he says, “to see if there is a warrant.”

Hollingsworth, who was to appear in court in April, remains indignant. “It was a completely unjust process,” she says. “They show up at my door 11 years later and haul my butt to jail. It’s nuts. It’s ludicrous.”

Dance ’Til You Drop

Woman’s ‘Grand’ Performance Hits Sour Note After She Takes Tipsy Tumble

In most piano lounges, all you’re going to find on top of the piano is the tip jar—OK, and the occasional torch singer.

But at Michael’s On East in Sarasota, Fla., you’re likely to find a patron or two doing some piano-top hoofing while the pianist plays. Or at least that used to be the case. According to a complaint filed in March in the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in Sarasota County, Theodora Picard was at Michael’s in January 2005 attending a party in the restaurant. Co-owner Michael Klauber then, the complaint says, invited the guests into the lounge area, where Klauber urged women from the party to stand on the piano and dance.

With encouragement from Klauber, Picard, 57, accepted the invitation, and Klauber allegedly helped her onto the piano. The combination of alcohol and height turned out to be a bad one, and Picard fell to the floor, injuring her neck and back, according to her attorney, Richard Filson of Sarasota. Klauber created “a zone of risk,” Filson says, adding that “this was not the first time” this type of injury occurred at Michael’s. Klauber’s attorney, James Hutchens of Sarasota, believes his client is being sued “because of his prominence and success.” And as for the allegation that Klauber helped Picard onto the piano, Hutchens calls it “a fact that is in dispute.”

Picard’s suit targets the restaurant and Klauber. She is seeking damages in excess of $15,000.


Stories by Sarasota Herald Tribune and; research by Wendell LaGrand

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