If a chicken were to lay a yolkless egg today, the shell would probably end up in some kitschy roadside museum beside the largest ball of pubes south of the Appalachians. But in 1474 Switzerland, it was a national crisis that demanded immediate attention lest the world be engulfed by the fiery rage of Satan.
Image courtesy Liz Carlson
Shortly after a cock from Basel laid a yolkless egg, legal proceedings were put in to motion that would charge the cock "for the heinous and unnatural crime of laying an egg" that if hatched could yield a basilisk. In line with the law of the time, the cock was appointed an attorney. They pled not guilty.
The prosecutor argued that such eggs were much sought after by those in league with Satan due to how well they mixed with other magic potion ingredients such as "eye of newt and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog." Also stating that one of magical persuasion would much rather prefer a yolkless egg laid by a demon cock over a philosopher's stone, and that Satan would employ such witches to create such eggs for the sole purpose of causing injury to those of the Christian faith. The cock's lawyer, like most modern court appointed attorneys, proved himself utterly useless by pretty much agreeing to everything stated by the prosecutor. His argument, though, was that laying an egg was an involuntary act. Therefore, if the cock was possessed by Satan and did lay an evil egg, it was through no fault of his own. None of the law books of the time contained a record of Satan making such a compact with one of brute creation; he felt good about his case. So, what does a prosecutor do if such a case has never been recorded within a book of law? Reference the other book of law, the Bible.
He argued that although the Devil did not make compacts with those of brute creation, he did sometimes possess them, as stated in Matthew 8:28-34. It was at this point where the cock's attorney essentially threw his arms in to the air proclaiming, "Aw, fuck!" knowing the case was lost. And it was. The cock was convicted and burned at the stake... along with his egg.
In 1519, the small northern Italy commune of Stelvio found their crops trashed and torn asunder. Their culprits were none other than a roving gang of dastardly moles (or field mice, depending on your translation from Old German). Rather than taking the shorter, more logical route of just getting rid of them, they brought them before the court "in order that the said mice may be able to show cause for their conduct by pleading their exigencies and distress." The moles were appointed a defense lawyer named Hans Grinebner "to end that they may have nothing to complain of in these proceedings." In other words, these fucking people thought these moles were going to talk. As in vocalize.
The prosecutor, Shwarts Mining, brought many of the townsfolk to the stand as witnesses to the destruction, professing that it made it difficult to pay their rents. The defense argued back with a simple "Circle of Life" argument, stating that had it not been for the moles the town would be plagued by various insects and larva. He demanded that if the moles are to be sentenced to depart that they be sent to a designated area for protection from "dog, cat, or other foe."
The judge ruled that the moles be banished to a new area immediately with an extra 14 day respite "granted to all those which are with young, and to such as are yet in their infancy." If they weren't out by the end of the 14 days, pregnant or not, they were excommunicated and damned. That's it. No mole murder. Just a stern "Get the fuck out."
Similarly, in 1734, a group of Franciscan friars in Brazil took termites to court for eating away the walls of their hallowed monastery. The big difference here was the termites' lawyer who took it upon himself to tear some ass by telling the friars they were lesser beings than the bugs for having encroached on their lands, then having the balls to kick them out. The termites would have won the case if it weren't for the monks deciding to compromise instead. Their compromise? Strangely, the same as the moles: excommunicated to another land. The sentence was read aloud to a termite hill.
It was 1981 in Augusta, Georgia when resident Carl Miles took to the streets to show off his incredible cat, Blackie. Unlike some other animals on this list that inept humans expected to speak, Blackie actually could. Carl and his wife Elaine made a pretty good living off of Blackie and her two catchphrases, "I love you" and "I want my momma," by accepting cash on street corners and making television and radio appearances. They made such a good living, in fact, that the state informed them that they needed to file for a business license in order to continue pimping their horrifically meowing cat or face jail time. The Mileses eventually caved, but not before they took the case to court in an effort to challenge the constitutional validity of the Augusta city ordinance as they believed it infringed on Blackie's freedom of speech.
As a footnote in the district court opinion, the judge recounted a very special day in which he witnessed Blackie speaking first hand on the Mileses usual street corner.
"Knowing the matter to be in litigation, and suspecting that the cat was Blackie, I thought twice before stopping."
"I asked him if his cat could talk... if I would pull over on the side street he would show me. I did, and he did... Blackie said 'I love you' and 'I want my Mama.'"
"... requested a donation which was provided. I felt that my dollar was well spent."
The judge ends his rather long footnote by stating, "I do not know if the man whom I saw with the cat was the plaintiff Mr. Miles." Which is reasonable seeing as Augusta is the land where talking cats from all over the country go to get their big break in to the glamorous world of nothing.
But even with the judge going fanboy over Blackie it couldn't stop the law from using simple logic to settle the matter.
"... he cannot be considered a "person" and is therefore not protected by the Bill of Rights."
And it all ended with one of the more spectacular "Oh, Snap!" moments in legal history as the court stated that even if Blackie had the right to free speech, he wouldn't need his owners to speak for him seeing as "Blackie can clearly speak for himself."
And here, at the :27 second mark, you too can experience Blackie's hellish and terrifyingly adorable words...
For more retarded stories from the courtroom, check out 7 (Stupid) People Who Sued the Scientific Method. Or find out about some animals that should be taken to court, in 7 Species That Get High More Than We Do.
Or visit Cracked.com's Top Picks to see how we sued the Internet... and won.