- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 30, 2002

Noble: British High Court Justice Richard Field, for ordering a bite of common sense in a fast-food fracas.
Dumb people with hot drinks often are the stuff of which a trial lawyer's retirement dreams are made. So when 36 subjects of the Queen of England sued McDonald's after being scalded by the steaming coffee and tea they had ordered, a royal payout seemed inevitable.
It would certainly have happened, given an out-to-lunch judge or a typical American jury. However, this week, Justice Field refused to permit personal irresponsibility to be the key to a corporate cash register.
Justice Field ruled that McDonald's had no obligation to warn customers that they might be burned by hot drinks. He noted that customers probably wouldn't order hot drinks if they were not warm enough to be potential burn hazards, and he pointed out that most of them could probably figure out how to cool down drinks that were too hot by stirring them or blowing on them.
That same idea probably never occurred to Stella Liebeck of Albuquerque, N.M. After being scalded by coffee she had bought at a McDonald's drive-thru window in February 1992, she successfully sued the company for $2.7 million (it was later reduced to $640,000 and settled for an undisclosed amount).

Knaves: Former Mayor Marion Barry's true believers.
Mr. Barry has long had a nose for trouble. That is usually the first part of Mr. Barry's anatomy that law-enforcement officers examine whenever Mr. Barry acquires a certain air.
So when U.S. Park Police officers observed a white, powdery substance on Mr. Barry's nose, and found trace amounts of cocaine and marijuana in his car last week, there was nothing for Mr. Barry's political supporters to do … except blame the police for setting him up.
That's right. This week, a few of Mr. Barry's purblind supporters held a press conference in front of Park Police headquarters, at which they proclaimed that their man had been framed.
Malik Zulu Shabazz, a lawyer for the New Black Panther Party complained, "This is just another example of the Park Police and racial profiling trying to bring down one of our black elected officials." Others suggested that the incident had been "clearly staged" for the sake of the scandal against Mr. Barry, who is considering seeking elective office again.
Unfortunately, Mr. Barry has never needed much help in staging scandals. Indeed, most of his personal and political tragedies have come about because he can't seem to stop taking cues from the wrong places namely, his nose for trouble.


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