Sunday, September 30, 2007

Who Serves the Papers?

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Well, I suppose it was bound to happen eventually. A lawsuit has been filed in Nebraska. The defendant is God.

According to The Associated Press, State Sen. Ernie Chambers of Omaha sued God a few weeks ago, seeking a permanent injunction against the Almighty for "making terroristic threats, inspiring fear and causing widespread death, destruction and terrorization of millions upon millions of the Earth's inhabitants."

There was, apparently, no claim for money damages, which speaks of a true failure of vision on the senator's part. God may not be the deepest of deep-pocket defendants, but He's right up there, so to speak. After all, He's the benchmark for measuring wealth. Think about it. How many times has an obscenely wealthy person been described as "richer than God"?

The senator, however, claims he's not in it for the money. He doesn't even really want the injunction. He says that he's only making a point. The idea, he says, is to show the absurdity of frivolous lawsuits. In specific, he's cheesed off about a lawsuit filed against an Omaha judge. Apparently, Sen. Ernie thinks the best way to make the point that there are too many frivolous lawsuits is by filing one of his own. Yeah. That'll show 'em.
way: The "frivolous" lawsuit Sen. Grandstand is protesting? It was brought in federal court by the alleged victim in a rape case against a judge who banned her or anyone in the courtroom from describing the act as a "rape" or even an "assault." Other banned words: "victim," "assailant," "sexual assault kit" and "sexual assault nurse examiner." Basically, this judge made it impossible for anyone to say in court, in a rape trial, that a rape occurred.

Sure, it's absurd, but if a judge can do that, you can bet your briefs that defense lawyers all over the country will be filing motions for judges to do the same in every criminal case. It sure as heck would make my job as a defense lawyer easier, though I'm betting the idea won't get a lot of sympathy among Pilot readers. But I digress.

I suppose it's only fair that the Creator gets hauled into court. A few years ago, we had a fellow who tried to sue the devil. In the famous case of United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, the plaintiff, a prisoner in Pennsylvania, claimed the Evil One had "placed deliberate obstacles in his path and caused Plaintiff's downfall," thereby "depriving the Plaintiff of his constitutional rights."

The judge's order dismissing the case is a classic: The Prince of Darkness, he said, wasn't even a resident of Pennsylvania. Further, the judge went on, the plaintiff had not included the requisite instructions to the U.S. marshal to serve the defendant with the suit papers. (And good luck finding a marshal who'd be willing to serve them, too.)

Sen. Chambers tried to finesse the question of serving the papers by noting that, since God is omnipresent, He already has notice of the lawsuit and therefore, unlike the devil, He can be served anywhere.

Well, he may be right, because not too long after, the Lord of Hosts seems to have actually filed an answer to the lawsuit. On Sept. 21, 2007, a court clerk named John Friend claims a document "miraculously appeared" on the counter. "It just all of a sudden was here -- poof!" Friend said. In said document, God claimed, predictably, that He was immune from lawsuits and earthly laws in general and asserted the court lacked jurisdiction.

Whoa. God apparently thinks he's George W. Bush.

The answer also listed St. Michael the archangel, general of the Heavenly Armies, as a witness. Now, that's a hearing I'd like to see, especially when Big Mike tries to carry that flaming sword through the courthouse metal detectors.

Later, a second response was filed by God, which listed a telephone number for a Corpus Christi law office. If you think for a minute about what "Corpus Christi" means, you'll realize that those Omahanians really know how to bring the funny. At least there's a chance now that we can put to rest the old joke about God wanting to sue Satan, but being unable to locate a lawyer in heaven.

While this all may seem like good fun and games, I can't help but think that it's a bad idea to start suing celestial beings. I mean, what are they going to do if God actually shows up? For one thing, how do you swear Him in? "Do You swear that the evidence You give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help you uh, You?"


"Heh-heh. Sorry, sir. Hey, why do all the lawyers look so nervous?"

I think Sen. Chambers has failed to think this thing through.

1 comment:

Patrick Shawn Bagley said...

"Whoa. God apparently thinks he's George W. Bush." Kind of a relief to have it the other way around for a change, I think.

There was a guy in Pennsylvania who tried to sue God about ten years ago. I don't recall how far he got before a judge laughed him out of court, but the grounds for his lawsuit were that he was in his thirties and still living with his mom, and was unable to play guitar like Clapton.