So on the eve of the Sabbath (for me), I end my week of guest-blogging offering conceptually loftier reporting of loftier, if heretical, overlawyering of a Central European kind (hat tip to a blog called Religion Clause).
Now, we all remember this popular number from law school — United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and his Staff (“Mayo“), the guy who unsuccessfully sued The Prince of Lies (instead of hiring one) in federal court. Now a court in Timisoara, Western Romania, has dismissed a lawsuit purportedly against God Himself by Mircea Pavel, 40, who is serving 20 years in prison for murder. He has some issues, only not justiciable ones, it seems. The English is Interfax’s, and their regular English-speaking guy seems to be in the Catskills this weekend, so let’s work our way through this together, with Defendant’s help:
Failing to [receive an] answer [to] his prayers, the prisoner sued the [sic] God for “fraud, betrayal of trust, corruption and influence peddling.”
Pavel brought charges against “the defendant God, who lives in the heavens and is represented in Romania by the Orthodox Church,” the Evenimentul Zilei daily reported.
According to the act [lawsuit?], during the baptismal service he “drew a conclusion with [entered into a stipulation with?] the defense” to rescue him from any disaster.
“But the contract’s terms were offended [breached], despite of [sic] my payment in different forms and numerous compellations by way of prayers,” Pavel said in his lawsuit.
Eventually the court dismissed the case, ruling that “God is not subject to law and does not have an address.”
No address?! Now that is heretical; He is, as we know, found everywhere. Well, these folks just recently got rid of Communism, so we can be charitable on the theological training.
But the subject matter jurisdiction point is well taken. There may be other problems with the alleged contract, including most of the grounds for dismissal relied on in Mayo. Also: Pavel’s capacity to enter into a contract (Orthodox baptism is done in infancy); the statute of frauds (or its Soviet-era Romanian equivalent) on several counts; and, of course, in a suit against God, there must always be recourse to the defenses in equity — the plaintiff, the murderer Pavel, comes to court with some very unclean hands.
Give Pavel credit, though, and not just for going after the deep pockets. He believes God had a role in his misfortune, even if, perhaps, he has failed to name an indispensible necessary party — namely Mircea Pavel.