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Animals On Trial?



Imagine trying to prosecute someone who could only respond with oinks and grunts. Believe it or not, trials of this type did happen many times in the middle ages and continue to take place in non-Westernized countries. Mental Floss has a great collection of these stories, including a pig who was executed in people clothes, a donkey who escaped a bestiality charge through a number of character witness testimonies, and a lawyer who was able to help fight off the charges against every rat in Autun, France.

If that's not enough animal tails trials for you, then check out Crack's article on the same subject that includes some of the same stories, but also a few different court cases including a cat fighting for its right to free speech and a chicken who was charged with laying an egg without a yolk -which could obviously result in a basilisk baby if it was hatched. In case your wondering, both of the animals named lost and while the cat simply had to stop meowing on the sidewalk for money, the chicken was burned alive on the stake with her egg.

Of course, animals have been known to be on the other end of proceedings as well. There's always Tabby Sal, the cat who was called for jury duty. While the issue was eventually resolved and the cat didn't end up serving on a case, I can only imagine what kind of horrible revenge would be in store for us if animals did start to serve on juries.

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If you are interested in these types of things I would recommend the short story "The Wars of Religion" in the collection "The History of the World in 10 and a Half Chapters" by Julian Barnes which tells the story (through interposing legal briefs) of a trial in which a group (hive?) of bullweavels (sp?) destroy a part of a cathedral and a sacred bishop’s chair. The story is a fictive retelling of an actual trial and it makes several references to: the arguments typically used in trial of this sort, the procedure and reason for these types of trials; the names of some jurist that were renowned for trying these types of cases; and the details of some other animal trials. The story is equal parts whimsy, history, and philosophy. PS- The rest of the stories in the collection are also wonderful.
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I put my cats on trial for being lazy and not contributing to the household, all-the-while eating up our resources, splaying fur all over the furniture, and whining and moaning for various things. Worst of all is that when I get stressed, the cats throw tantrums. Baby, the oldest cat will start wailing something fierce, and the younger one will start attacking the furniture. But every time I try to put them on trial they play dumb and make incomprehensible noises (typical of felines). I've no choice but to accept a plea of insanity. It cannot be proven that the suspect was/is aware of the offense commited.
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