Compare and contrast: In Michigan, budget cuts have left Wayne County Prosecutor Kym Worth unable to prosecute some felony cases because she doesn't have enough staff to try cases, The Detroit News reports.
In Ohio, district attorneys' offices are flush with funds, so a local attorney has decided to prosecute a groundhog for bad weather advice.
Oh yeah... and he's seeking the death penalty.
Last week, Butler County, Ohio's prosecuting attorney, Michael Gmoser, filed an "indictment" against Punxsutawney Phil for "misrepresentation of early spring," which he categorized as an "unclassified felony." Gmoser is seeking the death penalty "due to aggravating circumstances and misrepresentation," The Washington Post reports.
To my knowledge, Punxsutawney Phil didn't just pop out of his groundhog hole one day to say, "Hey everyone! I'm Phil, and I'm really kind of a weather expert. If you come gawk at me each year -- on February 2, natch -- I'll let you know when spring is coming."
Someone correct me if I'm wrong.
No, this little rodent was just going about his business, and people decided that his appearance was something akin to the image of Elvis or Tupac showing up on a piece of burnt toast. It must be a sign.
Get a clue, people. Your toast is burnt because you don't know how to work a toaster, not because Elvis is trying to communicate with you. And Punxsutawney Phil pops out of his hole because he's a groundhog, and they occasionally like to take a stroll.
Yet Gmoser is peeved because he wanted an early spring, and got a snow storm two days after the equinox.
Before you get riled up about prosecutorial misconduct or malicious prosecution or wasted taxpayer dollars, Gmoser won't get very far with this case because (1) it's a joke and (2) he doesn't have jurisdiction. Anyone who's seen 'Groundhog Day' knows that Punxsutawney Phil is based in Pennsylvania, so an Ohio prosecutor can't charge Phil for an alleged "crime" that occurred in the Keystone State. Civil procedure for the win!
Attorneys from the Nurick Law Group noted this flaw in the indictment, and drafted a letter to Gmoser on behalf of Phil and the groundhog groundswell. The attorneys demanded that Gmoser cease and desist his prosecution, The Washington Post reports.
So kids, if you're looking for work as an attorney, you should probably skip Michigan and head straight to Ohio or Pennsylvania. Detroit may be struggling to find the funds to prosecute actual felonies, but lawyers in other states still have the funds to draft faux felony indictments and responses.
That's worse than 6 more weeks of winter.
- Groundhog Slay: Prosecutor seeks death penalty for Punxsutawney Phil (Fox News)
- Court Rules for Dog-Killing Cop in Judgment in Rule 50 Appeal (FindLaw's Second Circuit Blog)
- Groundhog is a Flag Thief: Caught on Camera at Veterans Cemetery (FindLaw's Legal Grounds)