Voodoo and the First Amendment
Stanley M. Morris
smmorris at RMII.COM
Fri Aug 14 14:47:38 PDT 1998
Don't be too sure you would want to find an excuse to not rent. Several
years ago, while waiting for a case to be called, in the Ute Mountain Ute
Tribal Court, I got to hear a trial of "assault by witchcraft". The victim
complained of various pains after a dispute with the Defendant over a
rental house. both clamed. The judge dismissed the complaint after deciding
that witchcraft was not covered by the ordinance. However, the Housing
Director, who testified for the prosecution, died of a heart attack
several weeks after the trial.
At 05:51 PM 8/13/98 EST, Jim Maule wrote:
>Highlights from an article in this morning's paper about a local
>incident -- this may or may not have received wider coverage:
>An elderly woman's lawsuit against a voodoo priestess, alleging
>that she was bilked of her life savings after having been promised
>that the evil cabbage-head spirits multiplying in the elderly
>woman's back yard, was dismissed by the state court trial judge
>because "there was no way to prove legally that the evil cabbage
>heads did not exist and that the voodoo did not work." The judge
>said, "I don't find intent to deceive because there's no way to prove
>whether the spirits were there or not."
>The DA argued that the priestess told the woman that the woman's dead
>husband supported voodoo. The DA also argued that the priestess told
>the woman that if she didn't keep paying money to her then she would
>be suffocated and killed by the cabbage head spirits.
>The report then says this (and its nonsequitur quality suggests a
>paragraph is missing....): "In fact, when the ... woman was writing
>.. checks last summer, she and her maid believed the voodoo was
>working. The mysterious white powder in the house was gone. [JEM:
>WHAT white powder???] And so were the stomach pains the maid
>experienced after a Haitian nurse allegedly placed a hex on the
>The woman testified, after looking at the checks she wrote, "It's the
>most ridiculous thin I've ever seen in my life. But I did it... I was
>led to believe in the spirits."
>The priestess' lawyer argued the voodoo was protected under the First
>Amendment guarantees of religious freedom.
>JEM somewhat smart-aleck comments: If I were the landlord of a
>triplex, and the Haitian nurse, the elderly woman, and the priestess
>each wanted to rent a unit, I might just start arguing SOMETHING so
>that I could refuse to rent..... White powder? Hex? Better yet,
>imagine when the elderly woman decides to rent to the priestess and
>not the nurse and then gets sued.....
>Professor of Law
>Villanova University School of Law
>Villanova, PA 19085
>maule at law.vill.edu
>(610) 519 - 7135
>"government big enough to give you everything you want is also big
>enough to take away from you everything you have"
> -- George Herbert Walker Bush
Stan Morris, Atty
Cortez, CO 81321
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