The Wolff Who Laid An Egg

March 22, 2016

Charles Wolff had problems (beyond being incarcerated in the New Hampshire Correctional System).  Wolff was a prisoner who felt his dietary restrictions - as an orthodox jew diabetic with high cholesterol problems -were not being respected.  The kosher prison cuisine, according to Woolf, was physically intolerable to him resulting in extreme abdominal cramping whenever he ate them. In addition, Wolff complained that he was denied adequate snacks to regulate his blood sugar level, while at the same time being provided with food that was excessively high in fat and cholesterol - in particular hard boiled eggs.  Wolff filed a motion with the Court for emergency relief.  When the motion was presented to the Court for hearing, Wolff offered into evidence a hard boiled egg.  Not a picture of an egg.  The actual egg.  So the question comes, “what to do with Wolff’s Egg?”  

As is common in federal court, issues regarding evidence - what is permitted and what is not - are addressed by a magistrate, rather than the trial judge.  So the question of Wolff’s Egg came before Magistrate Judge James R. Muirhead who determined that the egg had to go.  An evidentiary ruling from a magistrate judge in a nondescript district court case from nearly a decade ago may seem like an unusual (even dubious) selection for your consideration.  But I bet that you’ll read the entire opinion.  So, in honor of the March birthday of Theodor Geisel, aka “Dr. Seuss,” I present for your enjoyment, Judge Muirhead’s Ode to An Egg:

   No fan I am
   Of the egg at hand.
   Just like no ham
   On the kosher plan.
   This egg will rot
   I kid you not.
   And stink it can
   This egg at hand.
   There will be no eggs at court
   To prove a clog in your aort.
   There will be no eggs accepted.
   Objections all will be rejected.
   From this day forth
   This court will ban
   Hard-boiled eggs of any brand.
   And if you should not understand
   The meaning of the ban at hand
   Then you should contact either Dan,
   the Deputy Clerk, or my clerk Jan.
   I do not like eggs in the file.
   I do not like them in any style.
   I will not take them fried or boiled.
   I will not take them poached or broiled.
   I will not take them soft or scrambled
   Despite an argument well-rambled.
   No fan I am
   Of the egg at hand.
   Destroy that egg!
   Today! Today!
   Today I say! Without delay!

Wolff v. New Hampshire Dep't of Corrections, 06-cv-321-PB (D.N.H. 2007).  

For those of you who want to know how the story ended, here is the rest of the story:  

With or without the egg, Wolff’s motions were denied.

Randy Merritt

Randy Merritt has practiced law for nearly twenty years in Los Angeles and now in Elk Grove.  Always searching for new opportunities to learn, Randy spends much of his free time reading about a  broad variety of subjects, including history, communication, public policy, and anything written by Stephen King and Neil Gaiman.  When he isn't reading, writing, or spending time with his family, Randy enjoys another of his passions - baseball.  Click on the picture for more information about Randy.

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