Brickbats July 2010


When Sal Esposito of Boston got a jury summons, his family filed to have him excused, on the grounds that Sal is a cat. The jury commissioner refused the request.

Georgia requires anyone convicted of kidnapping or false imprisonment of a minor to register as a sex offender even if the crime didn't involve a sexual offense. As a result, there are dozens of people on the sex offender registry who have never been convicted of a sex crime.

In Wiltshire, England, a 5-year-old boy climbed into a tree during playtime at the local primary school. So the staff did exactly what they were trained to do: They left him there, lest their efforts to get him down distract him and cause him to fall. When Kim Barrett passed by the school about 45 minutes later, she saw the boy was alone in a tree, so she helped him down and took him inside. The school then reported her to the police for trespassing.

When Brandon Hyles arrived at his public high school in Maypearl, Texas, one day, a drug-sniffing dog reacted to his truck, so a security guard searched it. He didn't find any drugs, but he did find an unloaded handgun under the seat. Hyles told school officials he had no idea how it got there, and his father backed him up, saying he accidentally left the gun in his son's truck after borrowing the vehicle to go hunting. School officials said that made no difference: Brandon violated their zero-tolerance policy on firearms and is suspended indefinitely.

The Utah legislature may finally make it legal to collect rainwater. Under current law, all rainwater is considered property of the state. The state Senate is considering a bill that would allow people to collect rainwater in underground tanks or above-ground barrels. They would still have to register with the state and tell it how much water they've collected.

Sacramento car wash owner Aaron Zeff says the two Internal Revenue Service agents who showed up at his business demanding back taxes were "deadly serious, very aggressive, very condescending." Apparently, Zeff owes 4 cents in back taxes from 2006. All told, with penalties, the government wants $202.35 from him. According to Zeff, the visit was the first time the IRS had mentioned any problems.

Camden police officer Bob Thomas was flying to Orlando with his family to take his son Ryan to Walt Disney World for his fourth birthday. When they went through security at the airport in Philadelphia, Ryan's leg braces triggered the metal detector. That's when a Transportation Security Administration screener demanded that the boy take the braces off and walk through again. Bob protested that the boy couldn't walk without them. Ryan's mother offered to take them off and help him walk through. The screener said that wouldn't do. Eventually, the boy's mother went ahead of him, and his father followed close behind to catch him if he fell.