Saturday, July 26, 2008
Bubba May Have Shot The Juke Box; But Keith Walendowski Blasted His Lawn Mower ~by Legal Pub
Yesterday we shared the passing of Randy Pausch. LINK For the friends and family that kept Legal Pub as one of the top sources as to Randy's accomplishments and struggle against pancreatic cancer, thank you. Today we bring you the levity out of Milwaukee that Randy would have advocated. Keith Walendowski is a 56 year old man who may have a point despite making a mistake. He got upset that his lawn mower would not start, so he shot it. No one was hurt, the lawn mower was not hospitalized, and it did not file charges. Yet Keith finds himself charged with felony possession of a short-barreled shotgun (or perhaps a rifle.) Furthermore, Keith is charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct while armed. At first blush, a misdemeanor may be in order, but a felony?
Pleadings reveal Walendowski was upset because his Lawn Boy wouldn't start. So he blasted it. Who has not had such a thought cross their mind when a machine frustrates its owner? Who among us has not hit a malfunctioning machine with our hand or tool? Explained Walendowski, "I can do that, it's my lawn mower and my yard so I can shoot it if I want." Apparently not.
Here is the worst part of the story. Who complained? A woman who lives at Walendowski's residence reported the incident to police. Why? She apparently was intoxicated. As a result of her drunken judgment and Walendowski's apparent temper tantrum, Keith may be fined up to $11,000 and imprisoned for more than six years if convicted. That is a heck of a penalty for one moment of bad judgment associated with machine rage.
Now before Legal Pub is inundated with emails about being too soft on crime, consider the following: One, possessing illegal firearms is never to be condoned. Yet how short the barrel was is not known. Furthermore, it is not clear Keith knew the barrel was too short. Do you know the minimum length of a barrel in your state? Second, Keith apparently does not have a criminal record that has been made public. Thus, a felony charge seems harsh. Third, does the crime require mens rea (intent?) From Keith's comments to the press, it is clear he did not intend to violate any law. While ignorance may not be an excuse, in this case it is pretty clear that Keith felt this was his property and he should be able to do with it what he pleases as long as he does not hurt any one else. Keep in mind. It's Keith's yard, Keith' mower and no one was endangered by his actions.
More facts need to be discovered. However, if Keith does not have a prior record, a felony conviction seems excessive. Probation and anger management may be in order, but abuse of a machine should not be treated the same as abuse of a person or animal in our limited view peering into the window of Wisconsin justice. Have a great weekend and remember, treat your machines well. It is hot out there and they deserve our love and affection.