Recently in Sydney, Australia, a mob of at least 20 female bingo players beat up a woman who had won her 14th straight game. Said a priest overseeing the game, the woman next to her threw her bingo chips in the winner's face, and then "at least a dozen other women were on her like hungry dogs after a steak." When the priest and several nuns tried to rescue the woman, the crowd bloodied the priest's nose and gave cuts and black eyes to the nuns.
Saint Louis juror Frederick Pinkins was sentenced to three days in jail and a $700 fine for contempt of court in April after he missed final deliberations in a murder trial. He told the judge that the jury's discussion (in a lovers'-triangle case) depressed him so much that he got drunk and overslept.
Irene Marsh, 68, was arrested in April for tampering with public records after she allegedly posed as a federal judge and placed in court records a judgment previously issued on her own behalf in a 1988 case. The real judge had changed his mind after writing the original judgment and thrown out her lawsuit, in which she claimed her unleashed dog was unconstitutionally detained.
Evidence introduced in the murder trial of Robert Peter Russell of Alexandria, Virginia, in April included a computer diskette of his that had on it a file named "Murder." Russell had been accused of the 1989 murder of his wife, whose body has not been found, and among the entries in the file were "How do I kill her?" "What to do with the body," "Make it look as if she left," and "Plastic bags over feet." Russell claimed that the entries were part of the plot of a novel he was writing.
In January, responding to a challenge by Louisiana death-row inmate Robert Wayne Sawyer, federal judge Henry Mentz ruled that the state electric chair does not mete out "cruel and unusual" punishment just because it burns and mutilates the convict's body. Sawyer is on death row for beating and raping a woman and using lighter fluid to scald her and burn her alive.
Janet Lewis, mother of a 16-year-old boy who was strip-searched for drugs at his high school in Orland Park, Illinois, filed a lawsuit in April challenging the constitutionality of the search. Lewis claims her son was singled out only because he "appeared to be well-endowed in the crotch area," which is not a reasonable basis for a search according to his attorney. (No drugs were found, but the boy said he was embarrassed.)
In April a judge in Rome, by ruling that the hammer-and-sickle is an identifying symbol of the PDL party (the new "traditional communist" party) and thus is entitled to the same trademark protection as other commercial logos, blocked hard-line Italian communists from using the symbol in their own campaigns.
Melissa McElroy, 18, on a field trip to a courthouse trial with her high school government class in San Antonio, Texas, in April, recognized a prosecution witness who was a former coworker of hers. She therefore knew the woman was lying on the stand when she said she hadn't worked since 1985, and during a recess she told the defense lawyer, who put McElroy on the stand to challenge the witness's credibility.
A Montana court ruled in June that Michael Keedy's ex-wife is entitled to half the value of Keedy's baseball card collection because it was a "marital asset." The court said the wife helped safeguard and maintain the collection and that the family budget suffered at times so that Keedy could accumulate cards. (There are 100,000 of them, worth as much as $200,000.) Keedy maintained that the cards he had bought before the marriage should be exempt from the ruling.
During spring training, Cleveland Indians prospect Flavio Gomez, suffering from a sore hand that dimmed his chances of making the team this year, visited a witch doctor in his native Dominican Republic. The doctor, convinced Gomez had evil spirits in his hand, pounded it with a hammer, breaking it.
Former major leaguer Mario Mendoza, whose five seasons batting under .200 caused players to term the last line of the weekly league batting average listing the "Mendoza Line," was named batting coach in June for a California Angels farm team in Palm Springs.
In May, Texas Rangers catcher Gino Petralli was called twice during an eight-day period for one of baseball's rarest infractions, catcher interference (with the batter's swing). He was also called for it once during spring training. The batter all three times was the Minnesota Twins' Chuck Knoblauch.
San Diego Padres manager Greg Riddoch was injured during a July game when catcher Benito Santiago threw a batting helmet to the ground after making an out. The helmet bounced up to the dugout roof and hit Riddoch in the head, leaving him with a mild concussion.
Three teams were disqualified from the world worm-charming championship in Devon, England, in April. They were accused of pouring illegal substances into the ground to lure worms to the surface.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Shawn Belschwender.