*Family values: In March the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported that a local woman, age 66, and her husband are searching for a surrogate mother for their deceased son's sperm so that they can fulfill their longing to be grandparents. And three days earlier, a Milan, Italy, newspaper reported that a 35-year-old woman was three months' pregnant with the fetuses of two couples, whose children she agreed to bear because of a shortage of surrogate mothers. Blood tests after birth will determine which baby is which.
*Life imitates Monty Python: The Salem Evening News in Massachusetts reported in March about an incident in which Carmen LaBrecque, age 51, had to outrun a rabid skunk, which was literally snapping at her heels for fifteen minutes before an animal control officer arrived to shoot it. Unable to slow down enough even to open her front door and get inside, LaBrecque circled her yard twelve times, a foot or two in front of the skunk. On one pass by her front door, LaBrecque's mother handed her a cell phone, which LaBrecque pantingly used to call 911.
News of the Judgment-Impaired
*The public-service goal of an advertising campaign by England's Children's Society was to enlighten people that child sex abuse could occur in anyone's town and not just in notorious sex-tourist spots in the Far East. Unfortunately its slogan, announced on billboards in February, came out this way: "Why travel 6000 miles to have sex with children when you can do it in [the English town of] Bournemouth?" When questioned by a reporter, a society spokesman expressed pride in the campaign and said it would be extended to Manchester and Leeds.
*In November Washington, D.C., holding-cell inmates Antwan Hudson (drug charges) and Kingsley Ellis (a Texas credit-card fraud suspect) each apparently thought he was in less trouble than the other and so agreed to swap identities for an upcoming court appearance. Ellis was shocked to learn in court that Hudson was also wanted on several more drug charges and for threatening his wife. Hudson was even more shocked to find that Ellis was facing deportation to Jamaica and thus blew the whistle on the scheme.
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*In a Virginia case reported in the December Mental Health Law News, Susanna Van de Castle was awarded $350,000 in her lawsuit against her psychiatrist-husband Robert, for malpractice. According to the suit, after having diagnosed her as suffering from multiple personality disorder, he then married her and continued the therapy but also sought deals for a book and movie about her, in addition to staging public lectures (charging admission) in which she was showcased as his subject.
*Early New Year's morning a sixteen-year-old girl in Kalamazoo, Michigan, was arrested for erratic driving in a car she allegedly stole from Patricia Conlon. The girl was unaware that the next day Conlon would begin a term as county juvenile court judge. Also in Kalamazoo, on New Year's Eve, Derrick Demones Gunn was sentenced to one to five years in prison for attempting to escape from a halfway house one day before his original sentence was up.
*North Carolina State Rep. Henry Aldridge made "News of the Weird" in 1995 when he denounced state funding for abortions for rape victims as unnecessary considering that a woman who is "truly raped" doesn't get pregnant because "the juices don't flow, the body functions don't work." In March 1996 North Carolina House Speaker Harold Brubaker appointed Aldridge co-chair of the Committee on Human Resources, which oversees abortion funding.
-- By Chuck Shepherd