Assorted Stupidity #113

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  • Here’s yet another example of why escape attempts involving bodies of water are virtually always doomed to fail (see, e.g., “Pond Ruins Yet Another Getaway” (May 24, 2016); “Sinking Pedal Boat Ends Ridiculous Escape Attempt” (Jan 28, 2010)). Last Friday, a man reportedly tried to rob a coffee shop in Halifax, Nova Scotia, and then tried to get away by boarding a ferry. Of course, ferries don’t move all that quickly, and it’s not hard for police to find out where they’re headed because typically, they always go to the same place. But in this case the suspect didn’t even get to the end of the line, because “the vessel returned to the dock at the request of police.” Well, at least he wasn’t pedaling this one himself.
  • Speaking of Canada, I’m told the Quebec Bar Association is seeking a declaratory judgment that “all of the province’s laws, regulations and decrees” are unconstitutional because they have not been adopted in both French and English. An English translation is typically provided, it appears, but the Bar appears to be complaining because that’s only a translation and not “official.” The report is not entirely clear on this, possibly because it was translated from French. I guess the sentence “there is no requirement that Quebec government laws speak French” is what leads me to believe that.
  • Hey, the magician David Copperfield is being sued in Las Vegas by a British tourist who claims he was hurt in a fall while taking part in one of Copperfield’s “signature illusions” in 2013. The trial, which is continuing, was in the news to some extent after the judge denied Copperfield’s request to close the courtroom while he testified about how the illusion works. So, if you want to learn how it works, you can apparently do that. According to the plaintiff, it involves being hustled by stagehands down a back alley coated with a “powdery residue” that makes it slippery, so to that extent, at least, the secret is out.
  • If I get an email with the subject line “Spa Bandit,” I’m gonna open it, because it almost certainly has to do with Marshall G. Wolbers. As I’m sure you recall, Wolbers was the criminal mastermind who preyed on unsuspecting salons and spas in the upper Midwest in 2006 and 2007, visiting under an assumed name, ordering expensive services, and then running away without paying. See Wisconsin Spa Bandit Strikes for Sixth Time” (Oct. 24, 2006); “Illinois Spa Bandit Seized” (Feb. 9, 2007) (he worked both states); and “Spa Bandit Update” (Mar. 16, 2016) (discussing his later turn to armed robbery). This email was not from the Spa Bandit, who probably won’t be able to send email until about 2024, but from someone who knew him in 2008. No new details, really, it’s just that I’m just two degrees of separation from the Spa Bandit now, which seemed worth mentioning.
  • According to this report, a plaintiffs’ firm in West Virginia that accused Dish Network of making unsolicited telephone calls won a $60 million verdict in that case, but now claims it’s having trouble notifying class members because they don’t want to take the lawyers’ calls, either. “The clients are hanging up before the lawyers or a paralegal can explain,” the report says, “or they are hanging up in disbelief after hearing the figures.” Personal phone calls are an odd way to provide class notice; here the firm says it started calling people after fewer than eight percent of class members returned claim forms they were sent. Because that’s about four times the usual rate, I’m guessing the fee award may be linked somehow to the number of class members who claim a share of the verdict, but that’s just speculation on my part.
  • About two weeks ago, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a petition for cert filed by former Illinois governor and frequent Lowering the Bar honoree Rod Blagojevich, who was convicted on corruption charges a while back. This means that (barring a presidential pardon, which is entirely possible), Blagojevich won’t be released until 2024. Which, coincidentally, is about the same time that the Spa Bandit will be getting out. Unless he gets pardoned, which of course is also entirely possible.