I think it’s only fair to warn you: I am in possession of a shod foot and I’m not afraid to use it.
Forgive my surliness. I’ve been reading through the latest list of criminal indictments, where court folks take exciting local crimes and twist them into confusing, dull and overly long paragraphs of legalese.
A local man, for instance, was caught skulking around the neighborhood in the middle of the night with a crowbar, a glass cutter and a set of lock-picks. Ooh, baby. A cat burglar with all the tools of the trade — that’s pretty exciting, right?
Well, it was. Then prosecutors got around to indicting our black-clad skulkmeister by declaring that the fellow did possess a tool, implement, instrument or other article that was adapted, designed or commonly used for advancing or facilitating crimes involving unlawful entry into property or crimes involving forcible breaking of safes or other containers or depositories of property with the intent to use such tool, implement, instrument or article to commit a criminal offense.
By the time the judge was done reading the charge, the accused had confessed, served his sentence, turned his life around and died of natural causes.
Caught writing a bunch of bad checks? Congratulations. Now you can brag to your cellmate that you, pursuant to one scheme or course of conduct, with the intent to defraud or deceive another, did falsely make, complete, endorse or alter or knowingly utter or possess checks, written instruments with an aggregate face value exceeding $1,000.
Bad dude — that’s what you are.
Court indictments are written with ultra-precise wording because they have to be in order to blah blah blah legal definition something blah blah. Occasionally the wordy nature of an indictment can, in spite of itself, be a beautiful thing, providing a compelling glimpse into the nature of the accused. Such as the Lewiston man who, according to the court, did display in a threatening manner a firearm, slingshot, knuckles, Bowie knife, dirk, stiletto or other dangerous weapon in a manner that knowingly placed another person in fear of imminent bodily injury.
I don’t even know what a dirk is, but I’m pretty scared right now. And if the fellow described above wasn’t wearing a leather coat and sporting slicked-back hair and a jagged scar down the side of his face, I’ll smear whipped cream on that stiletto and eat it.
The same dude, incidentally, did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly damage or destroy a door, so you know he meant business.
And speaking of weapons, there is a deliciously diverse variety being used out there to knowingly place people in fear of bodily injury and such. IMMINENT bodily injury.
It can occasionally get confusing.
Here’s a guy who did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person with the use of a dangerous weapon, namely a bat. Are we talking a typical fruit bat here or one of the gargantuan flying foxes they have down in Africa? Was the bat dead or alive? Was it in any way connected to bagged salad offerings?
Three indictments down the road, you have a 52-year-old Lewiston man who did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person with the use of a dangerous weapon, namely a bat with razor blades attached to it. Which is an absolute zoological marvel, when you get right down to it. How do you get the bat to stay still long enough to attach the blades?
Another guy was written up because he did intentionally, knowingly or recklessly cause bodily injury to another person with the use of a dangerous weapon, namely a foot. What I want to know is, was it his own foot or did he use someone else’s? Was it a shod foot or a naked one?
And thievery — the indictments are fat with all forms of thievery, which our court professionals refuse to simply call “stealing.” Oh, no! In court speak, it’s all about “exercising unauthorized control,” whether we’re talking about a purloined stick of gum or some real estate mogul’s Mercedes-Benz.
Here’s a guy accused of exercising unauthorized control over some other guy’s wood splitter. Here’s a fellow who exercised unauthorized control over a belt sander, knee pads, drill bits, telephone wire, sander belts, gloves and wet saw. Say what you want about these thieves, but they’re an industrious lot.
Here’s a woman charged with exercising unauthorized control over razors, toothbrushes, deodorant, soap and eyeliner from Hannaford. And another accused of exercising unauthorized control over toothpaste, corn pads and shampoo from Family Dollar. Say what you want about these folks, but they’re a hygienic lot.
And how about the guy indicted for breaking into a house and exercising control over a VCR, Sony Walkman and a collection of record albums up to and including “Meet the Knack.” I mean, why don’t court officials just come right out and charge the man — likely mulleted — with failing to move out of the 1980s?
We see shoplifting cases in which unauthorized control was exercised over loot from the Lewiston store Victor News. It’s always a hoot because, since Victor News is not only a great place to pick up lunch but the home of one gorzillion items, the inventory of stolen goods always seems to include obscure products like the “SpongeBob SquarePants key chain with tiny compartment for holding medication,” or “small, round doohickey whose express function is to aid in the scratching of lottery tickets.”
In the land of the grand jury indictments, one doesn’t merely sell dope. One knowingly possesses said dope with the intent to sell, barter, trade, exchange or otherwise furnish it for consideration.
One doesn’t bribe a witness. One offers to give a pecuniary benefit to induce a victim to refrain from attending a criminal proceeding or criminal investigation.
I could go on, but clearly I am already guilty of knowingly or intentionally exceeding column length, a newsroom felony likely to get me — to put it in layman’s terms — some editor’s shod foot.
Mark LaFlamme is a Sun Journal staff writer and no stranger to the shod, booted or stilettoed feet of editors. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.