Book Reviews Corpus Juris Humorous, John B. Mcclay and Wendy L. Matthews, Mae-mat, 1991, 717 Pages (softbound), $28.95

CitationVol. 67 Pg. 426
Publication year2021
Connecticut Bar Journal
Volume 67.

67 CBJ 426. BOOK REVIEWS CORPUS JURIS HUMOROUS, John B. McClay and Wendy L. Matthews, Mae-Mat, 1991, 717 pages (softbound), $28.95


CORPUS JURIS HUMOROUS, John B. McClay and Wendy L Matthews, Mae-Mat, 1991, 717 pages (softbound), $28.95

Corpus Juris Humorous, a collection of verbatim judicial opinions, is designed "to enable the reader to appreciate the fabric of the judicial humor within a meaningful factual and legal context." If the book represents the best of judicial humor, it must be poorly judged. Much within it is simply not funny. It is, instead, often trite and tedious.

Corpus Juris Humorous is organized topically. Thus, the reader may be able to find an allegedly humorous opinion relating to a particularly topic. For example, Chapter 1 is devoted to cases involving animals. It includes United States v. Dowden, (fn1) in which the court decided that shooting a buck does not run afoul of legislation proscribing the taking of a fawn or a doe. Yes, that is the joke.

Chapter 3, "Alcohol, Drugs & Gambling ... Obscenity ... and Other Assorted Prevalent Evils," includes justice Musmanno's misguided dissent in Pennsylvania v. Robin. (fn2) justice Musmanno colorfully describes Henry Miller's Tropic of Cancer as containing "scorpions and vermin of immorality." He rants about "the lice, lizards, maggots and gangrenous roaches scurrying out from beneath [its] covers." Is this humorous?

Chapter 5, which includes crimes of passion, fornication, divorce and similar topics, may, at first glance, appear to have more promise as a source of amusement. That promise is generally unfulfilled. Least mundane of the nineteen opinions is Regina v. Collins, (fn3) which involved a prosecution for burglary with intent to rape. In Collins, the defendant had the good and bad fortune of being mistaken for the victim's boyfriend by the "victim." Because the "victim" invited the defendant and did not resist, there was no rape. Burglary requires entry as a trespasser. Thus, the case turned on whether the defendant was in the victim's bedroom or outside the window when invited in by the victim."

Chapter 6, "Clever Schemes, Bizarre Claims, and Rediculous Contentions," begins with a quotation from William...

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