Friday, December 07, 2007

The Grammar Defense

The Arkansas Democrat Gazette carries an interesting story today about a woman denying her alleged role in a $1 million mail-order scam. This could well be the first criminal defense based on punctuation and capitalization. One wrote a letter to her defense attorney:
In the letter, which is included with the motion, Henningsen denies being the Sharon Jeanette Henningsen listed in the criminal complaint, noting that she now hyphenates Sharon-Jeanette and separates her first name from her last with a semicolon. She also claims that the complaint, which spells her name in all capital letters, does not refer to her.

“I learned in first-grade grammar that proper names have the first letter capitalized and the remaining letters in lower case,” the letter states. “Your DEFENDANT is not me, according to the rules of grammar.” Henningsen claims that Neal shouldn’t represent her because he has a conflict of interest, and she declines any legal representation.

“Based on my research, and as there is no contract between Sharon-Jeannette; Henningsen and Barry Neal, I decline an attorney of any kind,” the letter states.

The rest of the story is here; our only question at this point is how do completely insane people get it together enough to steal a million dollars in the first place? Our grasp of punctuation, capitalization, and which end is up hasn't netted us nearly so much.

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