SPENCER LAW FIRM LEGAL PRATTLE
“Superfluity Does Not Vitiate!”
"She was not quite what you would call refined. She was not quite what
you would call unrefined. She was the kind of person that keeps a parrot."
“But you have retired, Holmes. We heard of you as living the life of a hermit among your bees and your books in a small farm upon the South Downs.” “Exactly, Watson. Here is the fruit of my leisured ease, the magnum opus of my latter years!” He picked up the volume from the table and read out the whole title, Practical Handbook of Bee Culture, with Some Observations upon the Segregation of the Queen.
“His Last Bow” (The Complete Sherlock Holmes)
BIRDS & BEES have on occasion winged their way onto the jurisprudential landscape. Casanova, a loquacious parrot, starred as the key witness in “The Case of the Perjured Parrot” from the (original) Perry Mason TV Series based on Erle Stanley Gardner’s 1939 murder mystery of the same name. (Yes, Perry won.) Murder victim’s pet African Gray parrot yclept Max played a similar role in a true life California homicide. Jane Gill (age 36) was found smothered to death in her bedroom. Her business partner (and beneficiary of three life insurance policies for the deceased totaling Two Million Dollars) Gary Rasp was charged with murder. However, Max the parrot caste some doubt on things as, post mortem, he kept repeating, Richard, no, no, no. Richard, no, no, no.” Defense counsel jumped all over this but the judge didn’t want the jury “poisoned” by such bird brained chatter. Gary Rasp was convicted. (Where’s Perry when you need him?)
AN UNNAMED PARROT played a minor role in People v. Paul (1957) 147 Cal.App.2d 609 (disapproved by In re Culver (1968) 69 Cal.2d 898). Just after 1:00 a.m. on January 3, 1956 Ruston Paul entered a Los Angeles liquor store. The clerk said Paul had a “fierce” look on his face as he walked to the very back of the store which housed the owner’s living quarters. “You can’t go back there,” said the clerk. Cops were summoned. One of them said that Paul “looked like a fairly good robbery suspect.” When questioned Paul answered incoherently. So, the deputy decided—though the logic of his decision is unexplained—the deputy decided to try “slang.” He told Paul, “There is no use shucking and jiving. We know what has been happening around here. Let’s see what’s shaking.” Paul replied, “Let’s dance!” and volunteered, “I was looking for a preacher in a C-47 Cadillac.” Deputies informed Paul that he was under arrest for suspicion of robbery and narcotics. They tried to handcuff him. There was a scuffle. Shots rang out. Paul was wounded. When asked what he had been doing in the back of the store, he answered, “Looking at the parrot” (which the owner kept on the premises). Unclear whether the parrot saw the events at hand, but the bird didn’t testify at Paul’s trial for “escaping from the lawful custody of a deputy.” Guilty as charged.
AS TO BEES. Not exactly the Bates Motel but this Louisiana case is nonetheless right out of a horror movie. Innkeeper held liable for injury caused when a guest slipped and fell in a shower while trying to avoid being stung by bees coming out of a shower head! (Liability based on facts that defendant knew bees were outside motel, had hired beekeeper to remove bees, and failed to warn plaintiff of bees near his room. Brasseaux v. Stand-By Corp. (La.App.1981) 402 So.2d 140, cert. den. (La.1981) 409 So.2d 617. (For some California insect attack law see Brunelle v. Signore (1989) 215 Cal.App.3d 122.)
All Nature seems at work. Slugs leave their lair –
The bees are stirring – birds are on the wing –
And I, the while, the sole unbusy thing,
Nor honey make, nor pair, nor build, nor sing.
(Samuel Taylor Coleridge “Work Without Hope”)
John S, Spencer
SPENCER LAW FIRM
217 Second St. Sausalito CA 94965
PO Box 2300 Sausalito CA 94966 (mail)
877-999-5200 (toll free)