Objects on trial

Wikipedia’s article on

In Rem Jurisdiction

is a thing of beauty. It’s about the situation where the defendant in a court case is an object rather than a person. Some of the case names are poetically bizarre:

  • United States v. Approximately 64,695 Pounds of Shark Fins

  • United States v. Thirty-seven Photographs

    , one of many obscenity cases prosecuted in this way

  • United States v. Forty Barrels and Twenty Kegs of Coca-Cola

    , one of my favourites. The prosecutor tried to argue that Coca-cola was ‘poisonous or deleterious’ because of the added caffeine, and that it was misbrande because it didn’t contain cocaine. This case is likely part of the reason that coke still includes coca leaf extract, to avoid charges of misbranding

  • United States v. One Package of Japanese Pessaries

    , in which the US tried to seize birth control from the mail on the grounds of it being “

    obscene matter

  • United States v. Article Consisting of 50,000 Cardboard Boxes More or Less, Each Containing One Pair of Clacker Balls

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