Obiter Dicta

Urine Trouble Now

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In the ongoing quest to party hearty but come up clean for the sample cup, people resort to all manner of subterfuge–enlisting the aid of friends, pulling the old switcheroo, etc.

But the hardcore contingent has upped the ante with the latest method of cheating on those pesky court-ordered urine tests.

Enter the Whizzinator.

The anatomically correct prosthetic device that dispenses synthetic, warmed, drug-free urine has been turning up more and more frequently in probation offices across the country.

In Texas alone, at least five men were caught using the realistic-looking contraption in a six-month span. The Whizzinator is designed to fool those who are appointed to observe male subjects as they provide urine samples. The device is even available in various fleshtones.

This catch-me-if-you-can attitude has some probation departments re-examining their procedures for monitoring drug tests. The Bexar County (Texas) Probation Depart­ment, for instance, may soon require probationers to drop their pants before giving samples. Oth­ers may follow suit.

Dennis Catalano, a co-owner of Puck Technology, which manufactures and markets the Whizzinator, is unapologetic about its use.

Catalano says the device “is sold to protect personal privacy,” and that in the almost four years the product has been on the market, the company has suffered no legal ramifications in connection with the manufacture and distribution of it.

“We pretty much ship in California,” he says, where “there are no specific laws, to our knowledge.”

Now, if all that ingenuity could be directed toward keeping people off drugs in the first place … .

Maxi-Mum Sentence?

Vandal Who Couldn’t Be Bothered Finds Himself Planted in Prison

A Tennessee man earned himself a stretch in the slammer that he could have avoided simply by planting 10 mums in the front yard of an elderly woman.

Minnie Becton, 99, of Bartlett, Tenn., was at home last January when rocks came crashing through the windows and screen door. Then some of the windows of her car were shattered, followed by some­one driving on her lawn, leaving deep ruts. David Alan Waters, 20, and a juvenile were charged with felony vandalism. Waters had no explanation for his actions when he stood in front of Criminal Court Judge Carolyn Wade Blackett, who imposed a two-year suspended sentence and two years’ probation.

Waters was ordered to pay restitution and was given seven other conditions of probation, one of which was planting mums at the victim’s home.

But apparently, having his freedom at stake was not sufficient motivation for Waters to get his hands dirty. Becton said that Wat­ers’ mother got someone else to plant the mums, and that Waters was not pres­ent at the time. “I do not remember seeing him in my yard,” she said.

Judge Blackett was not pleased.

Despite his protestations that he was, indeed, present at the time the mums were planted, Waters had his probation revoked and was shipped to the Shelby County Penal Farm, where he is scheduled to stay until he completes the sentence or makes parole.


‘Wheel’ Winner Weighted Down as High-Spirited Host Jumps for Joy

Given the choice of having one of the two stars of Wheel of Fortune jump into his arms, the no-brainer pick for the average male contestant would have to be Vanna White.

Will Wright got the other one.

In October 2000, Wright won more than $48,000 on the popular TV game show and was acknowledging the cheers of the studio audience.

Then, says the 38-year-old computer circuit design­er from Lorton, Va., host Pat Sajak, in a fit of exuber­ance, leapt at him, wrapping his arms and legs around him. “I stick out my hand thinking he’s going to shake it,” Wright told a reporter. “Instead, he jumps onto me with his legs and arms. … All I remember thinking was, ‘This is Pat Sajak. Don’t drop Pat Sajak.’ ”

Following the alleged full-body embrace (it did not appear in the broadcast of the program), Wright says he began to experience sharp pains in his back. He says he required back surgery, followed by months of rehabilitation and pain. He filed a lawsuit against the show’s producers in U.S. district court in October 2003.

Wright’s attorney, Greg­ory Lattimer of Washing­ton, D.C., says Wright suffered a ruptured disk and seeks damages of $20,000 for medical expenses, $15,000 for lost wages, and “no less than $1 million” for pain and suffering.

A spokesperson for Sony Pictures Entertainment de­clined to answer questions regarding the case.

Research by Wendell LaGrand.

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