I saw you smile.

The Judge Says - Help! I've Been Burgled!

I continue to go back and pick up articles I wrote when I was the Staff Judge Advocate at Fort Riley.  Even though they are over thirty years old, they still have some relevance (sometimes very little).

Help! I've Been Burgled
March 5, 1982

I'm going to give you a very quick course in Criminal Law 101. People are always saying they were robbed, when, in fact, they had something stolen from them when they weren't even present.  Or, even worse, they will tell someone they have been robbed, when, in fact, they have been burgled (Help, Help, I've been burgled!).  On second thought, tell them you have been robbed.

The difference will become clear shortly.  The barracks thief who takes someone's stereo and sells it is guilty of larceny (he wrongfully took someone's property with an intent never to return it).  Now the thief who hocks the stereo and holds on to the pawn ticket will tell the court that he was going to get the stereo back on pay day and return it (Hee hee).  Thus, no intent to permanently deprive.  If he can convince the court, then he is only guilty of wrongful appropriation.

The rat who picks up a GI walking down JC Blvd. and takes his wallet at knife point is a robber.  A robber is someone who commits larceny by the threat of or use of force or violence.  The victim who is walking down JC Blvd. late at night is called a dummy, pigeon or mark (or all of the above).  "A fool and his money" - I forgot how it goes, but you get the picture.

The crook who breaks into someone's home at night to commit certain crimes (such as larceny) is a burglar.  He burgles. ("Help, Help ...")  If it is not at night, or, no one lives in the building, then it is not burglary.  We call it housebreaking.

The only test to be given on the above material involves JC Blvd.  If anyone is walking alone at night on that road, they fail the course.

Written be PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com
Posted by PJ Rice at 4/20/2014 11:56 AM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
District of Columbia - A License to Steal

I'm sitting in the waiting room getting my car serviced.  Since I am retired, I can wait for it.  It's a good time to get things done, if you can get far enough away from the blaring TV.  I've noticed a consistent correlation in waiting rooms like this.  The more mindless the TV show, the louder the volume.

Living close to the District of Columbia exposes us to the absolute worst of the worst (and I spent a year in Chicago).  And they want to become a state.  I used to teach types of jurisdiction at The JAG School in Charlottesville, Virginia.  And, the District of Columbia is a Federal Enclave.  Some places, like here in Virginia, are exclusive state jurisdiction and DC is exclusive Federal jurisdiction.  I can't remember much more than that, except that a number of years back, there was a patch of land called Fort Missoula, Montana that nobody claimed.  Montana insisted it was Federal property and the Feds had exclusive jurisdiction.  The Feds insisted that the state had jurisdiction.  This came to a head when an abused wife blew away her soldier husband.  Both sides insisted the other had jurisdiction, and consequently, neither Montana nor the Federal government would prosecute.  Ladies, don't lure your abusive male companions out to Fort Missoula because I think the problem has been fixed.

If you're mad at somebody, take them for a walk in DC.  Medric Cecil Mills, Jr. was walking with his family on Rhode Island Avenue and he collapsed from an apparent heart attack.  The good news was they were right across the street from a fire station with 15 firemen/EMS on duty.  The bad news is that Rhode Island Avenue is in DC.  Members of the family raced over to the fire station to get help.  After an unreasonable delay, they were told to call 911!  It took 15 to 20 minutes to get help and Mr. Mills died.

Generally when the DC EMS takes an hour to get to the location of the emergency, they blame it on broken equipment, bad directions or that they were understaffed.  Kind of hard to do it in the Mill's case.  Of course, they could blame it on stupidity.  And what will happen?  Oh there will be an investigation.  Someone will be suspended.  Someone will retire early and someone will be reassigned.  Of course the family will sue DC and the city will settle the case for millions. And, we, the taxpayers, will pay.  And life in the city bumbles on.

There is hardly a week that goes by when some DC official isn't arrested for stealing money from the city.  It doesn't matter whether then have an important job like awarding DC contracts or whether they just empty the coins out of the parking meters, they have figured out how to supplement their income.  My previous barber's building was torn down and he had to find a different location.  The new location required reconstruction and the only way he could get his permits approved was to pay off all the city inspectors.  There is a DC license plate that says at the top, "Taxation without Representation."  Across the bottom it should say, "Ah, But We Do Have A License To Steal."

Whenever I mention the problems in DC, people immediately mention Marion Barry.  He was the mayor for 12 years, then went to jail, and then was elected again as mayor.  After going to jail for six months, his campaign slogan was, "He may not be perfect, but he's perfect for DC."  I love it and couldn't agree more.  During his second term back in the Eighties, he hired so many DC employees that no DC official could tell Congress how many employees DC had. Congress had to strip DC of its hiring authority and take away budget control.

There were eight years when Barry didn't pay his taxes.  But to revoke his parole, the government had to proved he intentionally didn't pay.  And, he was usually so zonked out, it was hard to prove he did anything intentionally.  He is still the Ward 8 Councilman, because he is still perfect for DC!

In the last three years, three council members have pleaded guilty. Harry Thomas, Jr. from Ward 5, stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from the DC youth sports program.  Kwane Brown lied and fraudulently altered documents to get a loan to buy a boat that he named "Bulletproof!"  And, Michael Brown was caught taking $55,000 in bribes from undercover FBI (probably the same guys that got Barry).  If they were smart like Barry, they would have pleaded not guilty and relied on a DC jury of their peers to set them free.  After all, they too are perfect for DC.

The present mayor, Vincent Gray, is a piece of work.  He was elected in 2010 and the election is still being investigated.  A number of his subordinates have already pleaded guilty to election misconduct.  Now, deep pocketed Jeffery Thompson has pleaded guilty, admitting he provided $668,000 for a shadow campaign for Gray.  Thompson told the judge who accepted his plea that Gray presented him with a budget of over $400,000 that Gray needed for his illegal election activities.  Gray has now called Thompson a liar. Gray, like Barry, may be perfect for DC.  Gray, of course, is running for reelection.  Gray, unlike Barry, looks exactly like Snidely Whiplash.

FLASH - Marion Barry has just come out and endorsed Vincent Gray for mayor.  I rest my case.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com
Posted by PJ Rice at 3/31/2014 1:10 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
What Should I Do With All This Stuff?

Isn't it funny how something that isn't of any importance one day suddenly becomes all consuming the next?  Now I understand that if someone is involved in a serious car accident or discovers an illness, then everything changes.  But, I'm talking about something much milder.  I'm talking about suddenly realizing that you have more stuff than you can handle if you are going to move into smaller quarters.  Like five times the stuff.

In the military where you moved every two to three years, there was a built-in system to control your amount of stuff.  And while we did gather more stuff, we also got rid of stuff.  If we bought a new couch, we sold the old couch.  But, when we retired from the military in 1990, we moved into a house with lots of room and lots of storage space.  So now when we buy a new couch, we move the old couch to the finished basement or out into the gazebo. When we remodeled the kitchen, we hung the old cabinets in our garage so we could fill them up with more stuff.  We were good! We were very efficient and when the name of the game was accumulate, we excelled.  

So in the blink of an eye, the rules changed.  Now we are concentrating on getting rid of stuff.  It was a lot more fun to accumulate.  The first difficult question is where to even start.  If you just wander from room to room looking at everything, it will drive you crazy.  So we decided to start with our files.  I started with my study and then, will move to the basement.  This is serious work.  I was really doing quite well in disposing of files that I would never use.  Then, I pulled out my desk drawer and focused on on a pile of cards I had been keeping forever.  Some of the stuff I found was amazing.

I found a business card advocating the election of Brunson Hollingsworth for prosecuting attorney in the Democratic Primary on August 7, 1962.  He had been a year ahead of me in law school at MIZZOU.  The front had a picture of him with his dark framed glasses and a big, bushy mustache.  On the back, he had printed some lines which included, "A time like this demands strong minds; great hearts, true faith, and ready hands."  I scratched my head over the part about "ready hands."  I've observed too many politicians with "ready hands."  Anyway, Brunson was elected as the prosecuting attorney of Jefferson County.

This wasn't Brunson's first run for office.  In 1961, he ran for president of the University's student body.  Two Greeks were running and Brunson tried to get the votes of the independent students.  He ran on a "do nothing" platform and announced that if he were elected, he would do nothing.  It was great fun.  When you are in law school, any diversion is great fun.  He rented a horse and wagon and had himself driven around campus laying on a bed of straw in the back of the wagon (doing nothing).  He also had a two-foot tree stump that we carried to the center of traffic intersections on campus.  He would then sit on the stump (posing as Rodin's The Thinker) and, of course, do nothing.  It was a riot.  I guess you had to be there.  He came in third in the election, but insisted that the other two candidates had spent more money than was permitted and declared himself the winner.  The University didn't buy it.

Going through these cards was not a productive project towards cleaning out stuff.  Each card I looked at brought back fond memories.  I have a Trial Observer card from the late Sixties (signed by the infamous Lew Shull) when I was stationed in Germany.  Also, a Cook County Sheriff's Correctional Department ID from when I was doing pro bono work toward a Master's Degree at Northwestern.  And, a press pass issued to me by The Fort Riley Post when I started writing The Judge Says.

I also found my receipt for taking the H1N1 Swine Flu shot in 1976. What a fiasco!  One person died of the flu and at least 25 died from taking the flu shot.  That was 38 years ago, so I am probably safe. Whatever doesn't kill you will make you stronger.  I'm thinking of getting a tattoo that says "Swine Flu Shot Survivor - 1976."  I just can't figure out where I should put it.

At this late stage, I have now satisfied myself that I have probably screened this little pile of cards many times, because everyone is a keeper.  I still have my Red Cross blood donor cards, even though I can no longer give blood.  That is because I was stationed in Germany in the 1980's.  Something to do with Mad Cow Disease. Mad Cows and Swine Flu.  I think I will become a vegetarian.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com
Posted by PJ Rice at 3/17/2014 4:32 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Larry Ledbetter's Seventy-Seventh Birthday

This blog is about a friend celebrating his 77th birthday and a poem that I wrote for the occasion.  But the weather has me so annoyed that I just have to vent.  If you don't want to be the recipient of my venting, then just skip down to the poem.

I don't think I mind cold weather.  It makes you feel alive.  But what has gotten to me is this day after day, week after week, MONTH AFTER MONTH!  The understatement of the day is, "It is getting old."

And we have so many more efficient ways to check the weather.  It used to be the paper in the morning and the local TV news.  Then came along the Weather Channel.  Now, I have a smart phone strapped to my hip.  This should be more efficient - but not when you check the weather 20 times a day.  And, I have three weather apps on my IPhone.  One came on the phone and then I downloaded the Weather Channel and the local Fox Accu Weather. Hot Dog!  And then I spend time comparing them.  How dumb.

It's such a convenient way for me to waste time.  Once I pull up the weather app, I can look at the current temperature; or the hourly temperature for the next 24 hours; or a 36 hour outlook; or the ten- day forecast.  That's what has me so upset.  The ten-day forecast looks like ten days ago, which looks like...(You get the idea).

In 2010, I wrote a blog entitled, "My Crepe Myrtle Tree."  It explained how I trim my Crepe Myrtle every February.  Well, February is almost gone and the ten-day forecast shows no sign of relief.  Rest assured, it will be done.

One of the things that made February a little more tolerable was Larry Ledbetter's 77th birthday party.  Larry has three avocations, cabinet making, Mercedes vehicles and golf.  My connection with Larry is through golf.  He's quite a player.  The party, however, gave me a chance to see some of the outstanding furniture he had made and to meet some of his Mercedes club friends.  Just before they cut the cake, I read the poem below.  A number of people came up to me afterwards and told me they appreciated that it was short.


A time to celebrate, a time to cheer,

A time for laughter, a time for a beer.

Ledbetter has a birthday, there's no time to tarry,

David? No not David, it's our good friend Larry.

If Larry's your golf partner, hope for a warm day,

That Bama blood's thin, and he's been know to say Nay.

Don't press him if he's running late, it just makes him churly,

He thinks ten minutes before tee-time is arriving early.

Larry's a golfer of extraordinary skill,

He can crush the ball clean over the hill.

But, when you hit it that far, some things are clear,

When you're directionally challenged, you can't find the sphere.

So when you gather your swing thoughts, here's one additional,

If you're going to swing hard, think about a provisional.

So Happy Birthday Larry, we wish you all the best,

Having you as a friend make us all feel blessed.

You brighten up our lives, you've never been a boor,

So Happy Birthday Larry, we wish you many, many more.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: center; margin: 0in -31.5pt 0.0001pt -22.5pt;">Copyright 2014


Posted by PJ Rice at 2/26/2014 6:40 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Jigsaw Puzzle Therapy for Frigid Days
My goodness it has been a cold winter.  A miserable winter.  We have been in the Washington, DC area for twenty-four years this time and I can't remember a winter this cold.  I keep waiting for Al Gore to explain this phenomenon.  I'm sure he can explain it.  I'm also sure it is just part of the big picture.  I'm just too damn cold to see it.

We stayed in the DC area after we retired because we had been here a long time and the winters really weren't that bad.  I would explain to people how the storms that hit the Midwest usually missed us.  It had to do with the "ski board" effect of the Blue Ridge Mountains.  I was the only one exposing this position and I hoped I would be discovered and receive some kind of an award. There's a lot of stupid people out there giving out awards. However, I think this winter has substantially reduced the chances of my theory catching on.

It was 15 degrees and we still had eight inches of snow on the ground and the bird feeders were almost empty (two were empty and the third was down to the nub).  I gave that a lot of thought.  I could fill the three bird feeders in about 12 minutes.  So I wouldn't be outside too long.  I bundled up layer on top of layer and headed out to the shed where I keep the bird seed.  Nikki loves the snow and was nipping at my heels (a now useless sheep dog skill).  The shed had an 18-inch snow bank around the door.  So back to the house for the shovel. Nip, nip, nip.  Twelve minutes turned into a half an hour.  I've decided in the future to firmly apply a 27 degree wind chill factor rule. To hell with the 12 minute crap.

So what do you do when you are retired and it's too cold and snowy to go outside?  Let's see, you can make an idiot out of yourself on Facebook or you can watch TV.  I got a Facebook account so I would know what the grandchildren were doing.  Let's just say it was a mixed bag.  They don't get on Facebook to communicate with ole Grandpa.  And, do I really need to see You Tube stunts that didn't make it?

Well a week ago I decided to drag out a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle of the castle at the Magic Kingdom.  It's a lovely picture done by Thomas Kinkade.  We have been to Disney World a lot and this puzzle is a picture that Carole has taken over 50 times.  Her pictures have a lot more definition than Kinkade's painting.  Except for part of the castle and the sky, all the pieces were a dark brown (including a lot of the lower castle) or dark green (water in front and the surrounding trees).  After I did the border and the top of the castle, I spent a lot of time wondering why I started the stupid puzzle.

I am now going to set out some basic rules for doing a jigsaw puzzle.  First, you need lots of room.  The puzzle may be less than three feet by two feet, but you need twice that amount of space for laying out the pieces.  You also need good light.  I had to set up in the dining room to have enough space, but the lighting in that room wasn't so great.  So I'm sitting there with a flashlight looking at the pieces.  After five minutes, the pieces started getting darker. The flashlight batteries were heading for the battery graveyard. New batteries and I was good to go, just looking stupid.

Once you get enough of the pieces placed, you can look for odd shapes and then try to locate the piece with that shape.  I found a location with a very distinctive shape and looked through all of the pieces left with absolutely no luck.  I looked again.  Same result. And, of course, all the pieces left were some shade of gray.  My conclusions was that there was a piece missing.  That was crazy because I had broken the plastic seal on the bag with all the pieces tucked inside.  That bag had been approved by Inspector # 4.  He or she was not going to get away with this.

After you have spent twenty minutes looking for one piece, it's time to move on to another part of the puzzle or quit for a few hours.  I quit for the night mumbling about Inspector # 4.

The next day (my sixth), I was down to less than 75 pieces and I knew they would fall into place very soon.  I had eight pieces assembled to each other, but not yet attached to the main puzzle. And quite frankly, I was running out of room.  Something had to give.  While trying to figure out where the eight-piece group fit, I noticed one piece attached to the wrong place.  You're right, it was the piece I had spent 20 minutes looking for the day before!  I rapidly finished the puzzle.

While puzzles are a good way to spend a cold winter day, please remember that jigsaw puzzles, like chess, can become a form of sickness.  Limit your playing time or find a support group.  And, if by chance, you are Inspector # 4, I apologize.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com
Posted by PJ Rice at 2/18/2014 4:54 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Is There a Right Way to Worry?

I think we spend too much time worrying.  And the vast majority of things we worry about are out of our control.  I worry about no peace in the Middle East, but I can't do anything about it.  I worry about John Kerry coming up with some treaty that just make matters worse.  That I can't help worrying about.  But the bottom line is I should probably use my worry time in a more constructive way.  Like my health.  That's closer to home and I can do something about it.

Through the years, I have made some very small life changes to make myself more "healthy."  I switched to skim milk (you can call it "fat free," but it still tastes the same).  I drink a lot of milk, so I figured that would help.  Hey, after 15 or 20 years it no longer tastes watery.  But, if I continue to drink Nestle Quik ice-cream floats, I'm not sure the skim milk is going to save me.

Back in the early Eighties, I quit drinking coffee.  This was no big sacrifice because I probably didn't like coffee.  What I liked was all the sugar I dumped in my cup.  And my hand was shaky and someone told me it was from drinking coffee.  I had trouble holding my sugar spoon steady!  So this little life change eliminated about nine spoonfuls of sugar from my daily diet.

I switched to tea.  I still had to sweeten it, but with tea, I could use artificial sweetener.  Then all I had to worry about was the warning on the pink Sweet'N Low packet.  It advised that the use of Saccharin (the sweetener in Sweet'N Low) had caused cancer in rats.  I couldn't imagine what kind of rat put Sweet'N Low on their cheese.  Anyway, around the year 2000 the warning went away.  I think it had been decided that people were different than rats (at least most people.  I keep getting this picture of former Congressman Weiner nibbling on sweetened cheese.)  But, by then I had moved on to Equal in the blue packet.

The sugar industry was unhappy that the artificial sweetener companies were getting a free ride.  So, The Sugar Association contracted with Duke University to study the impact of Equal and Splenda (the yellow packet) on rats.  The University determined that rats that ate Equal got fatter.  But, even more significant, after 12 weeks of eating Splenda, the rats "exhibited numerous adverse effects."  There was a reduction in beneficial fecal microflora and an increase in fecal PH.  I clearly don't understand what they are talking about, nor do I give a rat's ....  The only thing I took away from this study is don't be upset with your job; you could be spending you day examining rat feces.

Am I concerned that the study said rats eating Equal got fat?  No. Whenever you evaluate a study, the first thing you need to do is see who paid for it.  In this case, The Sugar Association.  And, gee, the study was unfavorable to artificial sweeteners.  And they say you can't trust a lawyer.

I ordered tea at a roadside diner not too long ago. Our table had a bowl containing pink, blue and yellow packets of sweetener.  I fished around and found two blue packets.  After I emptied them into my tea, I noticed that they were not Equal.  It may have been NutraSweet but I'm not sure.  What I am sure is that the blue packets were identical to the pink and yellow packets.  The company had something for everyone.  Then again, if the biggest thing you have to worry about is being duped on your sweetener, life's not half bad.  I am passing this along merely as a public service announcement.

You know, I don't drink beer or spirits (only on special occasions like Friday or Saturday) and now, people are telling me that Coke is bad for me.  What a bummer.  I thought Coke was somewhere up high in the food pyramid.  So now, I try to limit myself to one Coke a day.  I don't drink Coke in the morning, so that helps.  But, if I drink one in the afternoon, I am a goner.  I think I will worry about the Middle East and have another Coke.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com
Posted by PJ Rice at 1/22/2014 6:38 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
The Hapless Redskin Plight

It's OK to kick me.  I'm a Redskin fan.  Bumps and bruises come with the territory.  We have to have a good memory to remember our Super Bowl victories.  The last was the 1991 season.  But, having a good memory just makes it that much worse to suffer through the Danny Snyder era.

Snyder bought the team in 1999 and has made lots of money off the team.  But, marketing the team to make lots of money isn't the best way to build a winning team.  Signing a big name player, like Donovan McNabb in 2010 may be great for selling jerseys, but the team was six and ten that year.  McNabb played 12 games and threw 14 touchdowns and 15 interceptions.  He was a Viking the next season (his last).  While Mike Shanahan was the coach with final authority on all football matters, no one will deny that it was Snyder who caused McNabb to come to Washington.

My frustration is that I don't think we will ever have a successful team as long as Dan Snyder is the owner and I can't see him selling the team.  He's like a kid with a gigantic Tinker Toy set.  He can build whatever he wants and then tear it up just for the hell of it. We have seen him do time after time.

Now that Mike Shanahan has been fired (24 & 40), Bruce Allen, our invisible General Manager, steps forward and states that he will interview and select our next coach.  Does anybody believe that? First of all, I accept that the owner has the right to select his coach. The coach is one of his Tinker Toys.  But why have Allen step forward and announce that he is going to make the selection? More smoke and mirrors. 

I am not going to relive some of the stupid, idiotic things that Snyder has done.  Let's leave it that in 15 years we have won 104 games, while losing 136, and we are now looking for our eighth head coach during the Snyder follies.

Maybe I should find a new team to cheer for.  That's tough when I have been a Redskin fan for so many years and I live in the Greater DC area.  Maybe I should move to someplace like Jacksonville or Oakland.  I picked those places to encourage me to stay.  Our daughter, Missy, lives in Jacksonville and we felt sorry for her cheering for the Jaguars.  But it turned out that they won more games than the Redskins!  When you have a really miserable year, you then are rewarded with a high draft choice for the next year. But our first round draft choice belongs to the St. Louis Rams, just as it did last year and will also in 2015!  We should at least get a thank you card.

Maybe it's the indian curse because of our name.  Maybe it is a conspiracy between Obama and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Then I realized that they are both way to screwed up to come up with a successful plan. And, of course, the dissenting indians were beating their drums outside the stadiums while the Redskins were inside winning Super Bowls.

I think the answer is for me to buy the Redskins.  I will need a lot of money.  Please send me a lot of money.  If I am unsuccessful, I will notify you from my villa in the Bahamas.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com
Posted by PJ Rice at 1/6/2014 7:09 PM | View Comments (2) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Miranda Rights Booby Trap

Life was good.  I had just gone Regular Army (career) and the Army had kept its promise and sent me to Presidio of Monterey to study German.  Each morning I would get up, look out the window of my Fort Ord quarters and see Monterey Bay (or fog).  When I finished the language school, I would be on my way to Germany for a three-year tour.  I was being assigned to the 4th Armored Division in Goeppingen, 30 miles east of Stuttgart.

Then I received my welcoming letter from the 4th AD Staff Judge Advocate, Lieutenant Colonel Robert Cates.  He hated me. Fortunately, at the time, he did not recognize my name.  He would as soon as he saw me.  He had been one of our instructors in the JAG Basic Course in Charlottesville, Virginia.  Colonel Cates had many idiosyncrasies.  And, at our class's final banquet and party, I was part of the entertainment and had been introduced as Colonel Kiss-Me Cates.  I mimicked all of his little quirks.  Afterwards, he sought me out and told me that he enjoyed my performance.  I thanked him, but neither of us was very convincing.  I had never planned on seeing him again.  Duh.

So how did I last 28 years and end up as the Commandant at the school where Colonel Kiss-Me Cates had taught.  I was just lucky. When I arrived at the 4th Armored Division, Colonel Cates had departed three weeks before.  It reminds me of what Brigadier General Ron Holdaway told one of my JAG Graduate Classes many years later.  "To make general officer, you have to be good and lucky.  But, if you can only be one, be lucky."

I arrived in Germany in 1966 about the same time the Miranda decision was being handed down by the Supreme Court. As most of you know, it requires that before law enforcement officials can take a statement from a suspect, they must advise him or her of his or her's right to remain silent and right to an attorney. Practically the first case I was handed was the retrial of a murder case originally tried in 1964.

Back in 1964, Private Mayberry left his barracks in Erlangen and caught a train to Nuernberg.  He partied at his favorite gasthaus and then went with a prostitute back to her trailer.  After a couple of hours, he announced he had to get back to his unit or he would be AWOL.  They argued and she put a cigarette out on the Private's privates.  He then strangled her.  He then took her wallet (she no longer needed it) and caught a cab back to the train station.  The cab driver observed Mayberry going through the wallet, emptying it of money and then throwing it out the window.  A bus driver saw the wallet fly out of the window, stopped, picked it up and turned it into the police.  The cab driver identified Mayberry as the one who threw the wallet.

It didn't take long for the military police to latch onto Mayberry and he confessed that he killed the prostitute (I'm sorry I can't remember her name).  He pleaded guilty to second degree murder and the stipulation of facts laid out that she had burned him with the cigarette.  The Army Court of Military Review, on appeal, determined that Mayberry, being burned by the cigarette could have put him in such a "heat of passion" that the crime committed was only manslaughter.  So they did not approve the conviction, but sent the case back to Germany to be retried.  I think the appellate court could have reduced the case to manslaughter and reduced the sentence and we all would have been fat, dumb and happy.

So, I'm designated the Trial Counsel (prosecutor).  We still have Mayberry's confession, but we don't know if it is admissible.  My position was that it is hard to give a Miranda warning before the Supreme Court decides the Miranda case.  A few years later, the Supreme Court decided that such confessions, as Mayberry's, were valid and admissible.  But I had to try the case in the nether-nether land.  My trial judge decided that Miranda was the law of the land at the time of this retrial and the confession could not be used.

So what did I have (if you think I am going to be the hero and somehow get a conviction, forget it.  Sometimes you play the hand you are dealt)?  I had fiber testimony, testimony from the gasthaus that they left together and the wallet.  The fiber evidence was extensive.  It was taken from Helga (I had to give her a name), Helga's trailer (blanket, etc), and Mayberry's clothes.  The University of Erlangen had used their forensic lab and tied Mayberry and Helga in a knot.  One example should suffice - fibers from his socks were found inside her bra.  Now, just use your imagination.  I had lots and lots of fibers and lots of connections.

The cab driver still remembered Mayberry and him throwing Helga's wallet out the window.  Even though the wallet had been kept in an evidence vault during the intervening years, the bus driver insisted it wasn't the same wallet!?

The defense put on only one witness who lived in Helga's trailer park and testified that someone had been sneaking around the trailer park that night.  Probably the one-armed man from the "Fugitive."  The bottom line was I could put them together in the trailer, but without the confession, I had no evidence that he killed her.  The military court acquitted Mayberry.

Then to add insult to injury, I received a whopping bill for the forensic support from the University of Erlangen.  I talked to my Finance chief and he told me that I should have gotten authority before I authorized the contract.  "Authorized the contract?" Whatever happened to German-American Friendship?  I thought we were walking down this road together.  It really shook me up.  As a young Captain, I couldn't afford to pay the bill.  For about three months in a row, I received the bill.  My friend in Finance had his hands full because his boss was a drunk and he was trying to hide him out.  The good news was that higher headquarters found out about the boss and shipped him home.  They brought a young Lieutenant Colonel over from VII Corps to run the Finance Office. When I asked him about my Erlangen problem, he said, "Oh, we've got funds up at VII Corps to dispose of such matters."  Free at last, free at last (be lucky)!

I later found out that it was none other than Kiss-Me Cates that had insisted that Mayberry plead guilty to murder rather than manslaughter.  So, maybe Cates got me after all.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com
Posted by PJ Rice at 12/27/2013 6:20 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
Christmas the Year After - - 2013
As many of you know, I post a Christmas poem each year.  This is the year after Carole's surgery and it has been a good year.  We take set backs in stride and have for many, many years.  Enjoy.


Christmas the Year After - - 2013


It’s time to report, for the umpty-umpth time,

For a status report, done with a rhyme.

Report on the family and the National scene,

The Country’s screwed up, but we’re peachy keen.

This year’s about recovery, from last year’s bout,

Carole’s surgery had us down, but definitely not out.


We started the year normal with our Disney World trip,

And golf lessons for Jack, maybe this time they’ll stick.

We’ve been there so often, we love it just the same,

But it gets quite embarrassing, when the characters know our name.

(“Hi Carole, Hi Jack” --- “Hi Mickey”)


Jack’s now the President of the Fort Belvoir Golf Fuds,

You can be the President, while not one of the studs.

His scores are a tad better, but the ball has no zing,

But everyone does comment, he has a lovely swing.


We saw this cruise, Osaka to Alaska to Vancouver,

It excited our fancy, such a wide sweeping maneuver.

A great time was had, but April was chilly,

Visiting Adak and Dutch Harbor was downright silly.

The bad news was Carole came down sick,

She was hospitalized in May, ain’t that a kick.

(We missed RAJA)


July brought the girls, Becky early, Missy late,

They’re so sweet to come, with so much on their plate.

We took Becky to Lancaster, for a short break,

Shared Kitchen Kettle Village and some funnel cake.

Took Missy to the Eastern Shore, the day was so drab,

But we stopped at Kent Narrows and ate lots of steamed crab.


Good things happened, things that were fun,

Like Tyler graduating, Summa Cum Done.

Brandon got married on a cold Flagstaff day,

Lovely, with frostbite, but hey, what the hey.

It was beautiful, romantic, it made us feel young,

But to be starting over, I rather bite my tongue.


Paul and Sandy have moved, it’s a great fix,

Much closer to us and away from the sticks.

Still a deputy warden at a very different facility,

With all women “guests,” there’s little to no tranquility.

Jack’s grown up fast, he seems very bright.

An athlete, a diplomat, he’s such a delight.

He’s scary thoughtful, he makes us nervous,

He called Grandpa on Veteran’s Day and thanked him for his service!


A cruise in September and, surprise, a golf theme,

Old friends joined us, it was like a dream.

Boston to Montreal, to see the Autumn splendor,

But how many colors can you see when facing a bartender.


So the year’s wrapping up, but there’s still lots of pressure,

The Christmas Party looms, would you like a refresher?

Our last attempt was 2009, that was the year of the blizzard,

The snow was as high as an elephant’s eye,                                               

We’d have had to be a wizard.


It’s a great time of year, Missy may come to the party,

Then Paul’s family for the holidays, good times will be hardy.

To all of our friends, we wish you love and good cheer,

And a Merry Christmas to all, and a Happy New Year.


                                Carole and Jack

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

class="MsoNormal" style="text-align: left;">Copyright 2013

Posted by PJ Rice at 12/16/2013 1:33 PM | View Comments (1) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)
The Petting Zoo All Over Again!

I really like to watch commercials.  I know that sounds stupid, but I do.  People get paid good money for putting those 30 seconds together.  Once I have seen most of them, I would rather not see them again.  And if they come on again, which they always do, I feel no obligation to watch.

There doesn't seem to be any correlation between whether I like the product and whether I like the commercial.  I don't like beer, but I love Budweiser commercials.  How can you not love horses and dogs?  But the Coors commercial where these guys are climbing all over this frozen mountain to deliver two bottles of Coors is a little flaky.  It's a big bar full of music and people and they deliver two bottles of Coors.  I wonder if everybody else is drinking Bud. 

The Super Bowl makes for an exciting, but difficult day.  I don't want to miss any of the game, nor the commercials.  There is no time for a comfort break.  I guess the problem will solve itself when I can watch it all on my wrist.

One commercial that really gets me going is a group of young parents sitting around and someone inquires whether anyone has done anything regarding setting up a college fund for their children.  Only one couple has and it's the Gerber Life College Plan. And, the wife says, "It's an insurance policy too."  And, I'm thinking, you mean if my child kicks the bucket, I have a pay day? I don't know.  That seems a little cold.

My favorite commercial at the moment has a mother at the mall with her two small children.  She stops to tell them that they only have a short time to find Daddy the perfect gift and they really need to focus.  She tells her son (age 8 or 9) that he is her rock and asks if she can count on him.  He gives her the thumbs up.  Then, she turns to her daughter (age 6 or 7) and says, "Sally, look at me. I need you to step it up.  We don't need the petting zoo all over again."  The little girl looks at her mom and says, "I can't make any promises."  I just love that  We can only guess what happened at the petting zoo.  The bad news is that while I love the little episode, I don't remember which smart phone the commercial is trying to sell.  And I think that is probably important.

I probably don't watch shows that advertise Mr. Clean and Tide, so I guess I have to exclude those commercials from my evaluation. I guess I watch TV shows where they are trying to sell beer and cars and Snickers.  I like the Snickers' commercials where famous actors like Robin Williams and Roseanne Barr are out of control. Then after they eat a Snickers Bar they turn into normal people.  I loved it when Roseanne Barr got whacked by a big log in the lumber yard. Maybe it's because I can't stand Roseanne Barr. Robin Williams is playing a high school football coach and during a time out, he encourages his team to "win the game for Mother Russia." After eating a Snickers Bar, the real coach returns and sends his charges on to the field for victory (but not for Mother Russia).

I said there was no correlation between whether I liked the product and whether I liked the commercial.  But, I guess there is one exception.  If you look under the category called "The Fox," you will find a blog entitled, "Why I Will Never Buy an Audi."  As you will see in the blog, I have nothing against the vehicle, just the executives that run the company.  So every time I see an Audi commercial, I can't observe it impartially.  There's the commercial where the woman with an Audi is getting ready to put diesel in her car and everyone is trying to stop her.  One young man yells, "Hey lady, that's diesel."  She smugly looks at him and says, "I know." Then she and her male companion (probably an Audi executive) nod at each other, silently saying, "We are surrounded by idiots." Then, there's the scene where Santa is ringing the Salvation Army bell outside a department store.  An Audi drives by and everyone who sees it, drops their car fob in the collection kettle.  Most of the donated fobs have a Mercedes symbol on them.  I think the advertising company for Audi is as arrogant as the Audi executives. But, of course, I'm not impartial (and never will be).  If someone asked me what I took away from the commercial, I would say that people who drive Mercedes are very generous people.

While getting gas at the Fort Belvoir Exchange, a woman drove her Audi up to the diesel pump.  I really tried not to say anything, but my impulses got the best of me.  Finally I said, "Hey lady, that's diesel."  She immediately understood, gave me a pleasant smile and said, "I know."

Then there's the erectile dysfunction commercials.  They say it may just be a blood flow problem.  I agree.  I don't think the blood is getting to the brain.  I love what the golf industry has done with this issue.  Polara golf (they make golf balls) says that when the ball doesn't go where you intended it to go, you may have projectile dysfunction.  Their ball can correct projectile dysfunction. There was also a golf company who claimed their driver would cure projectile dysfunction.  I thought the company was Cobra or Cleveland, but I can't find anything on it now.  And believe me, if you go on the internet and can't find anything, it causes grave doubt as to whether it ever existed.

Now, we tape a lot of our shows on TV and we fast forward through the commercials.  I'm afraid that commercials may go the same way as buggy whips, green eye shades and Blockbuster Video.

Written by PJ Rice at www.ricequips.com

Posted by PJ Rice at 12/10/2013 5:58 PM | View Comments (0) | Add Comment | Trackbacks (0)