Category:
Law

Breaks Will

A great moment in the history of 'oops': Back in 1911, a lawyer accidentally tripped and smashed the phonograph record on which Hodson Burton had recorded his final will, revealing where he had hidden his fortune. (If this lawyer was true to form, I'd guess he still made sure to submit a bill for his services.)

I wonder if Hodson Burton's fortune has ever been found.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Feb 01, 2015 - Comments (6)
Category: Law, 1910s

A Singular Will

Source: Notes and Queries, Nov 6, 1858.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Sep 13, 2014 - Comments (4)
Category: Death, Law, Nineteenth Century

Okay-Doke!

This was a great moment in American law. From the New York Times - Feb 7, 1935:

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jun 11, 2014 - Comments (6)
Category: Law, Judges, 1930s

Having a child in a stagecoach

In 1709, the German legal scholar Dr. Heinrich Klüver published the following important work (which, amazingly, is available in its entirety on Google books): Kurtzes Bedencken über die juristische Frage: Ob eine schwangere Frau wenn sie wärender Reise auf dem Wagen eines Kindes genesen, für selbiges Fuhr-Lohn zu geben gehalten sey?

Translation: Brief consideration of the judicial question: whether a pregnant woman, bearing a child while traveling in a stagecoach, is obliged to pay a fare for it or not.


Substitute Greyhound bus for stagecoach, and you have a question still relevant for present-day weird news scenarios.

Dr. Klüver's answer was: No, the woman doesn't have to pay an extra fare for the newly arrived baby.

His reasoning was that: 1) the baby wouldn't take up an extra seat if the mother held it in her lap.

And 2) The driver must have seen that the woman was pregnant when she boarded the coach, so he should have been aware of the possibility of her giving birth and charged her extra at that time, if he felt it was necessary.

Posted By: Alex - Fri Aug 09, 2013 - Comments (3)
Category: Babies, Law, Eighteenth Century

Why Riots Happen

The Zimmerman verdict which, whether you agree or disagree with it, is racially highly charged. Then this story comes out of the same state at the same time. Apparently only certain races and one gender are allowed to stand their ground in the wonderful F-state.

Posted By: patty - Sun Jul 14, 2013 - Comments (14)
Category: Law

The Coal Mining Daughter

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I would have been proud to shake Ida Mae Stull's hand--except that she might have crushed mine!

Original article here.

Posted By: Paul - Thu Mar 07, 2013 - Comments (7)
Category: Feminism, Law, 1930s, Women, Mining

How often are barrister’s wigs washed?


In the UK, and in some countries formerly part of the British Empire, they maintain the strange habit of making barristers (attorneys) wear wigs. Apparently these wigs, traditionally made out of horsehair, are very expensive, so barristers often own only one. And according to the South China Morning Post, barristers rarely wash them, so over time the wigs start to smell bad:

Tong said he had never washed or dry-cleaned the wig before, for fear that it would fall apart. "It is made of horsehair that is glued together and is not very strong."
In fact, few lawyers would have their wigs cleaned as there is an odd perception that an old and discoloured wig is a better symbol of seniority. But the rows of white curls can become stale and smelly as they absorb sweat and oil from the scalp. A court dress shop in Admiralty charges HK$760 to wash it.

This info is seconded by thelawyer.com:

The aim of most barristers is to achieve a wig with a worn and matured look to create the impression of experience when standing before a judge.

"None of them likes to look the new boy," says David John Harris, manager of the legal department at Ede and Ravenscroft, which has been manufacturing wigs for barristers, judges and royalty since 1726. "If it is really grubby looking, it looks like they've been around," he says.

Barristers will go to great lengths to make their wigs look fashionably old. There are a number of tried and tested ways to age one, including stamping on it, kicking it in the dirt, giving it to kids, letting the dog at it, or shaking it in a Hoover bag...

Wigs should last for 100 years but are often damaged by perspiration. Ede and Ravenscroft suggests cleaning wigs every four to five years, while Thresher and Glenny recommends every 25 to 30 years. "The longer you leave it, the better it is," says Hill.

The sweet smell of tradition!

Posted By: Alex - Wed Jan 23, 2013 - Comments (8)
Category: Fashion, Headgear, Law

Squatter Rights

Heidi Peterson left her Detroit home empty for a year, and when she returned, she says, she found a woman, Missionary-Tracey Elaine Blair, squatting there. The woman refuses to leave, and apparently you can't just kick someone out who's squatting. You have to go to court, prove you own the property, and then get an eviction order. So now both women are living there together.

Missionary-Tracey Elaine Blair, for her part, says she's not squatting. She insists she has a lease. [Yahoo! News]

Whatever the case may be, the experience certainly qualifies Missionary-Tracey Elaine Blair to occupy the highest office in the land and squat in the White House for four years. So she's campaigning as a write-in candidate for President, and wants your vote. That's her below, posing with George Washington. Remember her name on election day!

Posted By: Alex - Tue Oct 16, 2012 - Comments (9)
Category: Law, Politics, Strange Candidates

Judge Parker’s Gallows

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Here you see the main attraction at Fort Smith National Park. A recreation of the gallows where Hanging Judge Isaac Parker sent 79 criminals to their death.

And people say kids will get bored at such historical monuments! This makes history come alive! Er, come dead...?

Posted By: Paul - Sat May 19, 2012 - Comments (12)
Category: Death, Law, Judges, Recreation, Regionalism, Monuments

Charles Walker’s Will

When Texas resident Charles Walker died on March 13, 2000, he left this handwritten will:

I hereby direct my Executor to sell tract 3 of the V.M. Donigan 456.80 Partition for cash and to invest the proceeds in safe and secure tax-free U.S. government bonds or insured tax-free municipal bonds. This trust is to be called the James Madison Fund to honor our fourth President, the Father of the Constitution. The ultimate purpose of this fund is to provide a million dollar trust fund for every American 18 years or older. At 6% compound interest and a starting figure of $1,000,000.00, it would take approximately 346 years to provide enough money to do this. My executor will head the Board of Trustees . . . . When the Fund reaches $15,000,000 my Executor's function will cease, and the money will be turned over to the Sec. of the Treasury for management by the federal government. The President of the U.S., the Vice-President of the U.S., and the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives shall be permanent Trustees of the Fund. The Congress of the United States shall make the final rules and regulations as to how the money will be distributed. No one shall be denied their share because of race, religion, marital status, sexual preference, or the amount of their wealth or lack thereof. . . .

The Texas courts ruled the will invalid because it didn't meet the criteria for a charitable bequest. That is, it served no social purpose beyond the mere "financial enrichment" of the American public. So it's okay to help the poor. Just make sure you keep 'em poor.

Posted By: Alex - Mon Feb 06, 2012 - Comments (6)
Category: Death, Law

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Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

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Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

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