Jackass Justice – Donkey In Court

 Donkey Has His Day In Court


The star witness paced outside the courthouse Wednesday, breathing hard, his head down, an American flag bandanna around his neck.

 He said nothing to the media swarming around him. He just twitched his huge ears and swatted flies with his tail.

People had accused him of all sorts of things: He was loud.

He was aggressive. 

He smelled bad, too.

He was there to show the men and woman of the jury that he was none of those things.

“Call your first witness,” Judge Steven Seider said.

“Your honor, we call Buddy,” attorney Jeff Sandberg replied. “The donkey.”

With that, Buddy the donkey came clip-clopping down the black-and-white tile hallway of the North Dallas Government Center, where two neighbors were fighting about his presence in a back yard just west of Preston Hollow.

“Bringing a jackass into the courtroom? Don’t y’all see enough of them?” an onlooker asked.

Buddy was led down a hallway at the

North Dallas Government Center for his court appearance.

As he got to the courtroom, the 3-year-old, 300-pound donkey paused. But with a quick shove from his owner and a tug on his red rope, Buddy walked slowly to the bench. He stared at the jury.

For several minutes, Buddy held his own. He remained calm. He was polite. He didn’t crack under cross-examination and confess. If he had to go, he held it in.

And when defense attorneys challenged whether he was in fact the real donkey in question, he didn’t blink an eye.

“Your honor, I have no questions,” Mr. Sandberg said.

“Nothing from me, your honor,” said defense attorney Quinn Chandler.

“The witness is excused,” Judge Seider said.

 Buddy went outside. The proceedings continued.

According to the defendant, oilman John Cantrell, his neighbor – high-profile attorney Gregory Shamoun – started a shoving match with him in March 2006 after he complained to the city about a storage shed Mr. Shamoun was building.

To retaliate, Mr. Shamoun brought Buddy from his ranch in Midlothian to the back yard of his 5,300-square-foot stone-veneer home, he said.

“They’re noisy,” Mr. Cantrell testified. “They bray a lot any time day or night. You never know when they’re going to cut loose.”

There was also the manure.

“It appeared that it was scraped up and piled on the fence line between his property and mine,” he said.

Mr. Shamoun denied that.

“One of my heifers had twins,” he testified. “When a heifer has twins, when that happens, the second calf will usually die because the mama doesn’t have enough milk.”

So he had to bottle-feed the calf named Lucy – four times a day.

Buddy – who is used on the ranch to scare off coyotes – came along to serve as a surrogate mother so that Lucy wouldn’t have issues when she was old enough to return to the herd. The land is large enough that the city allows certain animals not allowed elsewhere.

“As far as the poop, yeah, they’re going to poop,” Mr. Shamoun said, adding that his ranch hand cleaned it up three times a week. “It wasn’t stacked up next to my fence line.”

Mr. Shamoun sued Mr. Cantrell for assault. Mr. Cantrell countersued him for being a nuisance.

The trial lasted three hours. But as the jury went to deliberate, the neighbors settled their dispute.

Mr. Shamoun agreed to buy part of Mr. Cantrell’s property. And Mr. Cantrell agreed to withdraw his complaint with the city.

As for the donkey, he can come any time he wants.

“The donkey has visiting privileges,” Mr. Cantrell said. “I love animals.”

Buddy left the courtroom with his head held high.

“Well, you’ve had your day in court,” said his handler, Etienne Grimmett. “Let’s go get some coyotes.”

The Dallas Morning News – Michael Grabell,  April 2007 – Photo: Rick Gershon

Wait! Hold On To Your Trash

The old adage “one man’s trash is another man’s treasure” took on new meaning — and a sick feeling of regret — for a couple who donated a rolled-up parchment document to a Nashville thrift store last year, only to find out this week that it was a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence, likely to be worth six figures.

“I bought it at a yard sale … about 10 years, ago, in Donelson Hills (Tenn.), I think,” said Stan Caffy, a pipe fitter who described himself as “the idiot who donated that Declaration you wrote about.”

Caffey read in Thursday’s Tennessean that Michael Sparks bought the Declaration from the thrift store for $2.48 and is ready to auction it off for $250,000 or more. 

When Caffy heard the story, he knew it was the document he gave away.

I look for odd and old things at sales and probably paid about what he did for it, two dollars and something,” he said, adding that he hung it in his garage, where he works on bicycles as a hobby, just as a decorative piece for most of the 10 years he had it.

Caffy and his wife, Linda, married a little over a year ago, and as part of the ritual of combining households, she pushed him to clean out the garage, which had filled up with all sorts of extraneous things.

“I used to be a packrat but now I am trying to get rid of things. The best I can recall, we had a little debate about whether to keep it (the Declaration) or donate it, and she won.”

And so it was that Linda took the Declaration along with a pile of other stuff — an antique table, a massaging shower head, and a faucet — to donate to the thrift store last March.

“When I took it, I told them that it was probably worth something and that they should check it out,” said Linda.

That was the end of it until this week.“I had shown it (the Declaration) to my friend Jill back last year and told her I was going to donate it,” said Linda.

“When we got to Bible study (Thursday night), she said, ‘you know that Declaration I saw, it’s worth $200,000 to $300,000,’ ” Linda recalled.

“I’m happy for the Sparks guy,” Stan said. “If I still had it, it would still be hanging here in the garage and I still wouldn’t know it was worth all that.”

Mary Hance, The Tennessean –  2/23/2007

Miss America Gets Her Gun

 She shoots out tires, captures intruder


 WAYNESBURG, Ky. – Miss America 1944 has a talent that likely has never appeared on a beauty pageant stage: She fired a handgun to shoot out a vehicle’s tires and stop an intruder.

Venus Ramey, 82, confronted a man on her farm in south-central Kentucky last week after she saw her dog run into a storage building where thieves had previously made off with old farm equipment.

Ramey said the man told her he would leave.“I said, ‘Oh, no you won’t,’ and I shot their tires so they couldn’t leave,” Ramey said.

She had to balance on her walker as she pulled out a snub-nosed .38-caliber handgun.“I didn’t even think twice. I just went and did it,” she said.

“If they’d even dared come close to me, they’d be 6 feet under by now.”

Ramey then flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911.Curtis Parrish of Ohio was charged with misdemeanor trespassing, Deputy Dan Gilliam said.

The man’s hometown wasn’t immediately available. Three other people were questioned but were not arrested.

After winning the pageant with her singing, dancing and comedic talents, Ramey sold war bonds and her picture was adorned on a B-17 that flew missions over Germany in World War II, according to the Miss America Web site.

Ramey lived in Cincinnati for several years and was instrumental in helping rejuvenate Over-the-Rhine historic buildings.

She returned to Kentucky in 1990 to live on her farm.“I’m trying to live a quiet, peaceful life and stay out of trouble, and all it is is one thing after another,” she said.

Associated Press – April 21, 2007 – Getty Images 

Firefighters Pay Tribute To Own

Firefighters Answer A Final Call For One Of Their Own


The plight of retiree Robert Murray, who had no next of kin to arrange burial, raised an alarm for his colleagues in uniform.

For much of the latter years of his life, Robert Murray lived out of the back of his Ford station wagon.

And when the former Los Angeles County firefighter died recently, there were no loved ones at his side or to claim his body. He was about to become a statistic, and end up at the cemetery in Boyle Heights where the cremated remains of thousands of unclaimed bodies are buried each year, when fate intervened.

A group of Los Angeles County firefighters heard about Murray, who died last month at the age of 81 in a Covina hospital, and set out to give the story a different ending, one with a fireman’s proper burial.

On Friday, about 50 working and retired firefighters gathered in Rosemead to bury Murray, a 31-year veteran of the department, though only a handful had ever met him.

The story began more than a month ago, when Carol Moore, a registered nurse and the patient care coordinator for the firefighters union, found out that Murray was languishing in a hospital without any family at his side.

Her first move was to notify Los Angeles County Firefighters Local 1014.

Paul Rusin, one of the union directors, was intrigued and wanted to know more about him.

But concern over violating medical privacy laws made him reluctant to step in.

On Jan. 11, Murray died at Citrus Valley Medical Center, Inter-Community Campus, in Covina.

An investigation by the county public administrator’s office found no next of kin and gave custody of the body to the firefighters union earlier this month.

Described as quiet and thin with jet-black hair, Murray was a mystery to most of those he worked with.

He spent most of his 31 years in the department at Fire Station 82 in La Cañada Flintridge.

After retiring in 1980, he collected a pension, but no one knew where he lived. He carried a suitcase wrapped in masking tape, and for part of his working and retired life, lived out of the station wagon.

Lyle Burkhart, a retired firefighter who occasionally worked overtime with Murray in the 1970s, described him as someone few really got to know.

Murray went by “Bob” and earned the nickname “The Crow” for winning a golf tournament in which the prize was both a stuffed crow and the right to “crow” about the win, said Rich Zimmer, a now-retired firefighter who worked with him.

Many described the service and the burial, which involved no close friends or family of Murray, as a product of camaraderie that exists among firefighters.

“It’s a family-oriented job,” said John Smolin, treasurer for the union. “It’s unusual that this guy slipped through the cracks.”

During the funeral, Chaplain Elvin Miranda said: “There is a feeling of grief, because there would be no one to grieve for him. There was a big piece missing.”

The service was held Friday morning at Calvary Chapel Golden Springs in Diamond Bar.

For the Friday afternoon burial at Savannah Memorial Park, a five-acre cemetery in Rosemead, a procession of two firetrucks and a white, eight-posted horse-drawn hearse carried Murray’s flag-draped casket to the donated plot.

A bagpiper played “Amazing Grace” as men and women — many in uniform — stood in a semicircle around the grave, heads bowed.

“It’s kind of bittersweet,” said Rusin, standing next to firefighter and union director Will Pryor after the funeral.

“We saved him from a difficult fate,” Pryor said.  

Los  Angeles Times, By Tony Barboza, Times Staff Writer
February 2007


Snowballs sold on Ebay …

 If the Associated Press says so … then it must be true.

Three snowballs from Loveland have sold on the eBay Internet auction site for $200.

Chris Hansen, a firefighter from Milford, Conn., said he bought the snow for his daughters, ages 12, 14, and 16. With the East experiencing unseasonably warm weather, Hansen said his daughters got everything they wanted for Christmas except snow.Hansen went online and found the listing by Mary Walker of Loveland, who auctioned off snow from two monster storms that dumped more than 4 feet along the Front Range.

Hansen said he plans to freeze the snowballs until his family decides what to do with them. Walker, who said her listing was meant as a joke, initially refused to accept Hansen’s money, but he insisted. Hansen was a winner among 100 people following three days of bidding.Now Walker is trying to figure out how to ship the snowballs 2,000 miles to Connecticut, without melting. Walker said the money will help buy a snowblower.

Further news bulletin. 

The Loveland, Colorado couple who sold three snowballs on eBay for $200 are getting a free trip to the East Coast so they can hand-deliver the snow.

Still Further  news bulletin:   

Ebay now has more people offering Colorado snow. Not to be outdone … there are fine folk now offering Nebraska ice.

 Just wondering:

Are there any takers for California sand or some authentic, genuine Southern California dirt from my backyard?                     Not on Ebay, yet.