I can still remember the first time I entered the stoic grey stone halls of my alma mater as a fresh faced law student. It was just as I pictured. The sounds of Vivaldi played in my head as I set upon the hallowed path to a life of law practice. I was in good company. Twenty five founding fathers who signed the Declaration of Independence were lawyers. Thirty two framers of our United States Constitution were lawyers. I would be entering a noble profession on the shoulders of giants. Perhaps, I would someday argue before the Supreme Court. Would I be at the forefront of a landmark decision that would change the lives of Americans?
Well, that Supreme Court caliber case hasn't crossed my desk. Choosing private law practice, I soon discovered I wasn't traversing down the fabled steps of the Supreme Court quite just yet. Instead, I found myself in a humid courtroom defending a client on a minor misdemeanor charge. Waiting for my case to be called, I listened to the lulling click clack of an old fan as we patiently waited for the judge. Fidgeting in my seat, I hoped the lawyer sitting uncomfortably close to me would get the hint to scooch over a bit. The smell of his Axe body spray was starting to make my eyes water.
Pro Tip: If your lawyer smells like Axe Body Spray, you're probably going to jail.
So what landmark crime did my client commit? He stole a full size salmon and tried to make a break for it with the fish hidden in his pants. (I don't know if you've ever attempted to run with a fish in your pants, but apparently it can make it difficult to escape).
The case of the stolen salmon wasn't the weirdest matter I have encountered in my career. I once defended an 87 year old woman who may or may not have stolen 16 porn DVDs. She said her husband was boring and she wanted to spice up her life. I've done divorces where battling couples fought over items like deer antlers, broken screen doors, unicorn paintings and cat visitation. I once had an immigration client proudly declare he was a terrorist. He came to the country on a tourist visa and confused the word "tourist" with "terrorist." I've had clients caught trying to beat drug tests with an item called the Wizinator (Oh, just Google it). I've had real estate closings sour because a fortune teller told my client her prospective home was haunted. I thought I had many lawyers beat. Whoever is getting this next case will be a worthy challenger.
Here in the Nutmeg State, a man by the name of Badr Musaed was arrested on animal cruelty charges following a rather disturbing incident right out of a quirky Quentin Tarantino film. Apparently, a cow escaped from a facility called Saba Live Poultry in Bloomfield, Connecticut. Are you with me so far? Robbing the cow of his Shawshank moment, Badr chased the Houdini hoofer into a Home Depot parking lot. He was joined by a contractor who happened to be in the area. Naturally, the contractor was armed with a bow & arrow to hunt the cow. Still with me? Moo-ving on.
Apparently, the contractor had the shooting skills of a Storm Trooper. He shot an arrow at the cow and missed. To be fair, he did manage to hit the Home Depot. His wayward arrow stuck into the wall. ( I imagine that Home Depot sign will look nice hanging over his mantle fireplace).
This is where it gets ugly. According to the police report, Mr. Musaed then allegedly (as we lawyers like to say) pulled out a foot long knife and cut the cow's throat. In a Home Depot parking lot. After a man shooting an arrow missed the cow......... In a Home Depot parking lot.
Did I mention this all occurred in a Home Depot parking lot. As you can imagine, the shocking display in front of a child did not go over well. Did I forget to mention this happened in front of a kid? And a police officer? In a Home Depot Parking lot? Anyway. Still with me? I don't want to milk this but let's keep moo-vin on.
As you can imagine, the community was outraged over the horrific act. A vigil of about 50 people was held for the cow in the following days. They named the calf "Courage" A man pretending to be a protester pulled out a hamburger and a megaphone and began mocking the vigil goers. Because, of course he did.
Now, I don't want to make light of a serious incident. Animal cruelty is absolutely reprehensible and a serious crime. The defendant has been charged with cruelty to animals and a bond was set at $10,000 (In Connecticut, Cruelty to Animals is a Class A Misdemeanor that can carry up to a year in jail). Saba Poultry is not off the hook either. An investigation by Connecticut's Agriculture Department found fat, feathers and filth on processing tables, a lack of hot water, problems with proper sanitation, unclean surfaces and a band saw chunked up with bones and fat. They have been shut down until they can fix their problems.
Imagine being the lawyer who has to explain this incident to a prosecutor. He or she will be making that argument on August 23rd in Hartford Community Court.