An American once said to me, “What do you call a million lawyers at the bottom of the sea? A good start.”
A piece in today’s Times:
A man from Kansas facing mounting legal problems after his divorce has demanded the right to trial by combat to settle the matter in a sword fight.
David Ostrom, 40, asked a court in Iowa to grant his motion for a duel so that he could confront either his ex-wife, Bridgette Ostrom, 38, or her lawyer, Matthew Hudson, “on the field of battle where [he] will rend their souls from their corporal (sic) bodies”.
The Ostroms have been entangled in disputes over visitation and custody rights and property tax payments.
In documents filed with the court in Harlan, where his former wife lives, Mr Ostrom claimed that she and Mr Hudson had “destroyed [him] legally”.
He proposed a solution that dates back to the earliest years of the American colonies. “To this day, trial by combat has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States,” Mr Ostrom argued. The right was inherited from British common law, where it was upheld “as recently as 1818 in a British court”.
Mr Ostrom, who has no experience of sword fighting, asked the Iowa district court in Shelby County to give him 12 weeks “lead time” so that he could source or forge his own swords.
He told The Des Moines Register this week that he had hatched the plan after learning of a 2016 case in which Justice Philip Minardo of the New York supreme court refused to grant a request for a duel from a Game of Thrones-obsessed lawyer but acknowledged that trials by combat had never been outlawed in America.
Mr Ostrom said that he had become frustrated by his ex-wife’s lawyer’s legal tactics and had now “met Mr Hudson’s absurdity with my own absurdity”. Mrs Ostrom could nominate the lawyer as her “champion”, he added. “If Mr Hudson is willing to do it, I will meet him. I don’t think he has the guts to do it.”
Mr Hudson responded to the challenge by correcting Mr Ostrom’s spelling. “Surely [Mr Ostrom] meant ‘corporeal bodies’ which Merriam Webster defines as having, consisting of, or relating to, a physical material body,” he wrote. “Although [Mr Ostrom] and potential combatant do have souls to be rended, they respectfully request that the court not order this done.”
The lawyer added that a duel could be fatal. “Such ramifications likely outweigh those of property tax and custody issues.”
He also proposed a court-ordered psychological evaluation for his client’s former husband. Judge Craig Dreismeier, has issued no decision yet, citing irregularities with both sides’ motions and responses.
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