Bail Granted On Condition Defendant Wear Underwear

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Ben Hana, a homeless resident of Wellington, New Zealand, is known locally (although not very creatively) as "Blanket Man" because he goes around wrapped in a blanket.  Hana was arrested on December 23 on allegations of cannabis possession and indecent exposure, but was granted bail this week after he agreed to wear underpants.

Hana appeared in court wearing his blanket and accompanied by his lawyer, Maxine Dixon.  Dixon argued that bail was appropriate partly because, she said, Hana had not intentionally exposed himself.  Rather, she argued that the incident had been due to intoxication combined with Mr. Hana's unique choice of attire.  "He wears high-risk clothing," Dixon said.  "It's a way of life rather than a deliberate attempt at lewdness."  The judge was skeptical, having apparently seen Hana in action himself.  "It's just not something the public should have to tolerate," he said.

Especially in court.  It appeared that Hana also wanted to argue in the alternative that the risk was not as high as everyone believed.  According to the report, "At one point [Hana] sought to show the court the adequacy of his loincloth, but the [bailiff] gestured that he should keep the blanket wrapped tightly around him."

Hana will still face a hearing on the charges, but was released on bail after Dixon suggested that new underwear might be an appropriate "precautionary measure."  She even offered to do the shopping at a local department store.  "I'm happy to pop along to Kirks" and buy them, Dixon said.  (We are a full-service firm here at Shook, Hardy and Bacon, but we would probably draw the line at buying underwear for our clients.  Although I suppose it might depend on the billable rate we could get.)  Prosecutors did not object to the precautionary measure, and a few hours later, Hana was back on the street.

It's not clear, though, that the measure is having the intended effect, given that the article includes a picture of Hana happily showing off his stylish new briefs, and not wearing his blanket at all.

Link: Dominion Post (Wellington)
Link: Legal Juice