Let's return to the story of Ralph Allen Fisk IV, the 24-year-old south Alabama man who was convicted of animal torture but managed to escape an 18-month prison sentence.
A kitten belonging to Fisk's common-law wife scratched him, and Fisk responded by cutting off all four of the kitten's pads to the bone and then burning its belly and genitalia. The kitten lived briefly, but eventually died.
I've done some more research on the case since our original post and discovered that the jury needed only 15 minutes to determine that Fisk was guilty. Some family members had to be restrained from attacking Fisk in the wake of the mutilation.
An article about the conviction said Fisk faced a sentence of one to 10 years in prison, and the judge sentenced him to 18 months.
But in a hearing to reconsider the sentence, Fisk's attorney argued that his client had anger issues that blinded him to the reality of what was happening, causing him to harm the kitten in a way he did not intend.
An Alabama judge actually bought that argument and reduced Fisk's sentence to 18 months of reporting to the Mobile Community Corrections Center. An AP story says the center generally requires participants to report daily and undergo intense rehabilitation programs.
Here at Legal Schnauzer, we had a little trouble swallowing the argument from Fisk's lawyer. So I decided to conduct some research, and I started by going to the best sources I know of on all issues related to kitty kats--and that's our own brother-and-sister Tonkinese tandem, Baxter and Chloe.
I found Baxter in our kitchen, admiring his reflection in the oven door.
"Excuse me, B-Boy," I said, using one of about 87 nicknames we have for him. "Can I have a word with you?"
"Just a sec," he said. "I'm checking my best side."
Given Baxter's stunning manliness, I understood that he needed more time to scope out his visage.
"OK," he finally said. "I'm done--for now. What do you need."
"How many pads do you have?" I said.
He shot me a look like the one Eddie Murphy gave in Trading Places after being instructed by the old dudes about the ingredients for a bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich.
"Humor me a little; it's for my blog."
"Oh, I didn't know I had a massive international audience," he said, with the hint of a smirk. "I've got four pads."
"And I notice you clean them regularly."
"Girls like a guy with clean pads."
"Come on, girls like you regardless."
"You have a point."
"But here's my question: Could you accidentally clean one of your pads?"
"That's a strange question, even for you. But yes, I guess I could accidentally clean one of my pads."
"But if you clean all four pads, it would be intentional?"
"Pad cleaning is serious business. To do all four requires major concentration. If you see me doing all four, you know I've got my game face on."
"That's what I needed. Thanks for your time."
"Can I go back to admiring my reflection?"
I found Chloe in the living room, spread-eagled on her favorite chair, calmly licking her . . . well, let's say she was grooming herself.
"Chloe, can I interrupt you for a moment," I said.
"Can't a girl have any privacy around here?" she said.
"I'm sorry, baby, but this is important. I need to know how many pads you have."
Chloe's face never changes expression, except when we're late with her supper and when she wants to rub back and forth against our legs. She didn't bat an eye at my question, just calmly counted each pad.
"I've got four," she said.
When I asked about cleaning all four pads, she agreed that could only be done intentionally.
"I bet Baxter fired that Eddie Murphy look when you asked him those question, didn't he?"
"Yep," I said. "I appreciate your understanding."
"No problem. Can I tend to my business now."
"By all means."
So there you have it, straight from the experts' mouths. You do something to all four kitty-kat pads--whether it's something helpful like cleaning or something evil like cutting--it's intentional.
Fisk's attorney had a bogus argument, but I suspect he knew that already.
As for Judge James Wood, one can only wonder why he went along with this crock. I've learned from hard-earned experience that one can never be surprised when an Alabama judge acts contrary to law, fact, or rational thought--or, in some cases, all three.
In this instance, based on news reports, it appears that Wood sentenced Fisk to less than the minimum required by law--unless reporting daily to a corrections center is considered the equivalent of time in prison.
Thanks to the miracle of e-mail, citizens can contact the judge and ask him to explain his cockamamie ruling. Judge Wood can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.