Now that 2008 is over, we can finally close the books on it and maybe try to evaluate some of the nonsense spawned during it.
The following are my selections for those people and/or events that may have Lowered the Bar the furthest during 2008. Certainly there are other candidates (and other entire categories) out there, so these are just my personal nominations from among those that I wrote about during the year. The items below are listed in no particular order.
Please note that each of the links below will open in a new browser window, so you should close each one out after reading unless you want to be up to your ass in windows.
Again, thanks for reading. Your generous mouse-click donations during 2008 added up to almost half a million page views for this site, each one of them carefully noted and deeply treasured by me or a member of my staff to whom I may have delegated treasuring authority. Seriously (and this is the only time I will be serious in 2009), thanks for your support, and to those who contributed news items, thanks for your contributions.
Now back to the nonsense.
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Lawsuit of the Year
- Sarkozy v. K&B Editions: President of France sues company for making voodoo doll in his image; he wins and is awarded one euro
- Worthy v. Bank of America: action for unspecified breach relating to plaintiff's iPod playlist; $1 trillion demanded
- Feeney v. L’Oreal: plaintiff alleges hair dye was mislabeled; claims emotional distress resulting from no longer being able to live life as a blonde
- Gomez v. Colorado Department of Corrections: inmate sues after falling during an escape attempt; claims state failed to make jail "reasonably escape-proof"
- Lincoln v. Lakewind Church: man who fell when "taken by the spirit" sues his church for failing to properly supervise the people he thought would catch him
- Goodman v. O’Brien: woman who delivers junk mail for a living threatens to sue homeowner after getting her finger caught in his mail slot
- Knights Templar v. Pope Benedict XVI, et al.: Group claiming to be heirs of the order of Knights Templar sues the Catholic Church for illegally seizing the order's assets (Bonus points: statute of limitations ran out 700 years ago)
Legal Argument of the Year
- Testimony before Britain's parliament that lap dancing is "not stimulating," offered (in an effort to avoid certain regulations) by the chairman of the British Lap Dancing Association
- A German woman's claim that she was unable to respond on time to a benefit agency's request for information because she suffers from a "phobia of official correspondence"
- The claim in an IRS proceeding that the defendant had been unable to pay taxes or file returns for five years because he suffers from "Late-Filing Syndrome"
- The declaration by a couple in Florida that they are "sovereigns" not subject to U.S. laws, so that they do not have to pay taxes and in fact can print their own money
- A multi-millionaire's claim that he defaulted on a 3.6-million-pound mortgage because after he moved in he discovered the estate was haunted
- The claim, by a police officer suspended for having sex with prostitutes while on duty, that he did so only as part of a sting operation and did not enjoy the sex ("If you are asking if I had an orgasm, yes. It was a job, sir. I didn't have pleasure doing this")
- A claim of tribal immunity by the members of the "Wampanoag Nation," a tribe that turned out to have three members and was founded in an Arby's in Provo, Utah, in 2003
- An argument, in the trial of a man accused of killing his stepdaughter, by defense attorneys who cross-examined a detective partly by pointing out that the defendant had been given a coffee mug labeled "WORLD'S GREATEST DAD"
Lawyer of the Year
- Judge Elizabeth Halverson, a Las Vegas judge who was suspended after her staff and others complained about bizarre and abusive treatment, including the demanding of foot rubs and showing up for work accompanied by armed bodyguards. Halverson lost an election in August.
- Adam "Bulletproof" Reposa, who was jailed for contempt of court after making a wanking gesture in response to an argument by opposing counsel. Bonus points: "DWI Stud" ads in which he is depicted having sex with a female police officer.
- The partners at the Cohen Milstein firm, who fired the firm's managing partner by leaving a note on his chair while he was at a meeting. Oh, the camaraderie.
- Ted Olson and Joe Larisa, both of whom represented petitioners in a Supreme Court case and both of whom refused to let the other guy argue the case. They actually asked the Supreme Court to decide the issue, but it refused. (Larisa backed down at the last minute, but only after being promised he could sit at counsel table.) Major bonus points: an attempt to break the impasse by coin toss failed because they were unable to agree on the rules for the coin toss.
- Roy Pearson, legendary filer of the $65 Million Pants Case, who was back again this year with a new lawsuit as well as the continuing appeal of the Pants Case. You can read all about that if you want by Googling "pearson" in the Official Lowering the Bar Google Search Box (top right of the page) but the end of the story is that the D.C. Court of Appeals punted him on Dec. 18.
Homeland Security Department of the Year
- The Department of Homeland Security, which during 2008 (1) implemented (along with the Pentagon) a hand-held lie detector likely to be even less reliable than the polygraph; (2) announced plans for a walk-through airport "scanner" that would similarly try to detect persons having "malintent"; (3) came up with and actually used the horrible word "malintent," and (4) continued to pretend that the TSA, which based on the government's own testing can detect bomb parts approximately no percent of the time, is making us safer. The Department did finally get around to taking Nelson Mandela off the terrorist watch list this year, but that was not enough to get DHS off my list.
Legislature of the Year
- The South Korean legislature, which erupted into a brawl over a proposed free-trade agreement. Supporters barricaded themselves in a room to work on the bill while opponents attacked the door with sledgehammers and an electric saw.
- The Australian parliament, certain members of which behaved so badly that the possibility of requiring breath tests prior to voting on bills was under serious discussion.
- The Swiss legislature, which issued a report this year finding it unconstitutional to cause arbitrary harm to plants, such as the "decapitation of wildflowers . . . without rational reason."
- The U.S. Congress, for reasons well known to you all.
- The German parliament, which debated a bill that would have lowered the voting age to zero. Supporters say it is unfair to deny infants the right to vote "purely because of their age."
- The European Union, which issued regulations this year limiting the weekly average noise levels permitted for bagpipes.
- And last but not least, Connecticut's General Assembly, which failed again this year to pass a resolution clearing the names of those prosecuted in that state for witchcraft. It marked the 361st year in a row that the Assembly has refused to address the issue.