News of the Weird by the Editors at Andrews McMeel Syndication

Week of January 5, 1997

-- The township supervisors in East Marlborough, Pa., proposed an ordinance in November to ban offensive smells within the town, requiring that a panel of people who possess "ordinary and reasonable sensibility" be convened to determine which odors are not acceptable. The issue arose when one supervisor complained about the smell from a Chinese restaurant.

-- On Dec. 5, for the 17th consecutive year, hundreds of Thai men underwent free vasectomies to honor King Bhumibol Adulyadej, 69, on his birthday. The day-long festivities included free food and drink and a condom-inflating championship. The king has been praised by family-planning organizations for cutting Thailand's population growth rate by two-thirds over the last 25 years.

-- The Sanctity of Heterosexual Marriage: In September, Painesville, Ohio, judge Fred V. Skok issued a marriage license to Paul Smith and Debi Easterly, even though he was aware that Paul describes himself as a lesbian, usually dresses in women's clothes, and is on a three-year regimen toward a complete gender change. Judge Skok, mindful that he could not under Ohio law approve a female-female marriage, merely required a doctor's certificate that Paul currently still has male sex organs.

COURTROOM ANTICS

-- In the Tasmanian Supreme Court in November, Martin Bryant pleaded guilty to the April murders of 35 people at a tourist attraction in Port Arthur, Australia, but he couldn't stop laughing. Wrote the Associated Press, "Bryant laughed so much he had trouble saying the word 'guilty' and had to be hushed by his own lawyer." And convicted child molester Francis Robinson, 76, at a September bail hearing on a charge of sexual abuse of an infant in Markham, Ill., had to be admonished by the judge because he chuckled while prosecutors described how Robinson allegedly fondled the girl.

-- In October, a court in Kerrville, Texas, granted Darlie Router's request (she's on trial for the Susan Smith-like murder of her two small children) to have her hair done in jail at taxpayer expense. Router had convinced the judge that if she arrived for her trial with dark roots, the jurors might infer that the reason she hadn't taken care of her hair was because she is locked up, and thus they might not give her the presumption of innocence.

-- At an October retrial in Leeds, England, jurors took about an hour to acquit police officer Andrew Whitfield, 30, of stealing a calculator worth about $4. The cost of the trial, plus the original mistrial, plus keeping Whitfield on paid suspension for 14 months as required by law, was about $158,000.

-- In September, Barbara Monsky filed a federal civil rights lawsuit in Danbury, Conn., against local Superior Court Judge Howard J. Moraghan for permitting his dog to roam the courthouse, especially since Moraghan should know that the dog habitually sticks his snout under women's skirts and allegedly did so to Monsky. Monsky's attorney, Nancy Burton, said the dog had sniffed her, also. Burton analogized to the traditional "one free bite" rule for determining whether a dog is legally "vicious," arguing that Moraghan long ago knew that the dog had had his one free sniff.

-- Rodney L. Turner, 55, called his office on Oct. 2 in Kansas City, Kan., and said he wouldn't make it to work that day as a result of his 2 a.m. arrest for DUI that resulted in his detention until 5 a.m. Turner, a lawyer, is a part-time municipal judge and on Oct. 2 had been scheduled to hear a full day's docket of DUI cases.

COMPELLING EXPLANATIONS

-- At the trial in his racial harassment lawsuit against Pitney Bowes in Los Angeles in September, black salesman Akintunde I. Ogunleye testified that he had been addressed by one co-worker as "Akintunde, ooga-booga, jungle-jungle." The co-worker, who is of French-Canadian ancestry, later testified that he was misunderstood, that what he said was "Bonjour, bonjour." The jury awarded Akintunde $11.1 million.

-- In September, Roy T. Moore was convicted of exposing himself while seated in his car at a gas station in Goderich, Ontario, despite his explanation that what a witness saw was actually only a half-eaten cookie from a bag he was holding in his lap. The judge refused to admit the cookie as evidence but did allow Moore's lawyer to wield a tape measure to illustrate to the jury the size of the alleged cookie.

-- Philippines army logistics officer Brig. Gen. Rolando Espejo told a senate hearing in Manila in September that the 4,500 weapons captured in coups against then-President Corazon Aquino have been stolen from two armories and can never be recovered because all documents referring to them are missing. The general said the documents were all eaten by termites.

-- Orlando, Fla., Juvenile Court Judge Walter Komanski was caught by office workers making printouts of pornography in the courthouse in October and of keeping pornographic videos and magazines in an office cabinet. He said he kept them at work only because he had teen-age boys at home and that, as a responsible parent, he didn't want them to find his stash. Also, he said he had surfed Internet sex sites only to research how to restrict them from his kids. (He was reassigned to finance cases.)

-- According to a report in the Wilmington (N.C.) Morning Star in November, a dog was briefly, though improperly, admitted to the local Kenan Auditorium with its owner to take in a performance of the opera The Barber of Seville. (The owner took the dog away after it started to bark.) Manager Don Hawley said one of his staff members had allowed the woman to bring the dog in after she said she was hearing-impaired and that the dog was a "hearing-ear dog." In retrospect, said Hawley, "That was silly."

-- Singer Stevie Nicks' lawyer told the Internal Revenue Service in November that the reason she spent (and tax-deducted) so much for clothing in 1991 was that she had to throw away each outfit after one use because of "the energy levels of her performances and the heat generated on stage from lights and physical exertion."

UPDATE

Imprisoned Kentucky child molester Lou Torok announced in July 1995 that he had persuaded the governors of six states to proclaim Oct. 7 of that year as "Love Day." Despite the attention that Torok's petition drew from News of the Weird and other news outlets at that time, Kentucky Gov. Paul Patton OK'd the "Love Day" designation again for Oct. 7, 1996 (though he later said he should not have). Torok complained that America is "not a forgiving country" and said that he is "in a cesspool of negativism" (in prison) and is just "trying to make the world a little better."

(Send your Weird News to Chuck Shepherd, P.O. Box 8306, St. Petersburg, Fla. 33738, or 74777.3206@compuserve.com. Chuck Shepherd's latest paperback, "The Concrete Enema and Other News of the Weird Classics," is now available at bookstores everywhere. To order it direct, call 1-800-642-6480 and mention this newspaper. The price is $6.95 plus $2 shipping.)

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