Much commotion occurred in the East Wallingford Magistrates Court last Thursday when Mr. Justice Frederick Coombes heard the first case against a dog in three hundred and fifty-one years.
The statute invoked to try the dog has been on the law books for over five hundred years and a number of prominent solicitors practising in East Wallingford opined that the length of time since the last case suggested that the law had been rescinded by disuse.
"I would never think of presenting that law to our judge myself," said Gertrude Coombes, "if only because I'd be ridiculed every morning over breakfast."
However, the recently elected mayor, Jason Eisenherz, has a life-long phobia of dogs and has demanded that the law be applied, "to its very letter!" he shouted, little flecks of white spittle flying from his jowls. Mr. Justice F. Coombes apparantly attempted to reason with the mayor for a little more than five minutes earlier in the day, and attended court sporting a fresh black-eye.
The case was brief, with the dog, a yappy, vicious Jack Russell terrier called Bitey, declining to speak in his own defence. The prosecution put forward the case that Bitey had pursued and bitten one Mamie Halal-Butcher, a member of the St. Teuthis Archaeologically-inclined Geology Society, while she was walking to a party being held by the Society in East Wallingford's public baths. The judge found the dog guilty so fast that there was some doubt that he'd even listened to the evidence. Donning a black silk square, he gazed sternly at the dog, and pronounced sentence: the dog was to be taken from the court to the gallows tree in the courtyard outside and then be hanged by the neck until dead. Thereafter, continued the judge, the dog would be skinned and turned into a pair of dogskin gloves to be given to Mamie Halal-Butcher as compensation.
At this point a clamour and commotion arose in the court, with many feeling that the judge had overstepped the bounds of his authority.