ContractsProf Blog

Editor: Myanna Dellinger
University of South Dakota School of Law

Friday, September 16, 2011

Breaking: Stuffed Bear Removed from Upstate New York Courthouse

This story is barely (get it?) contract law related, but I just renewed my promise to Jeremy to post to the blog once a week and he did not specify any requirement that the posts be contract related.  And, in any event, this New York Law Journal story is written for the blogs:

Months before the onset of winter, the Office of Court Administration has sent into hibernation a 7-foot-tall stuffed bear that briefly made the lobby of the Sullivan County Courthouse in Monticello its lair.

"My position was it takes away from the decorum of the facility," Judge Michael V. Coccoma, the deputy chief administrator for courts outside of New York City, said in an interview yesterday. "It's not that I have anything against taxidermy. But given the seriousness of the business we do in our courts, I felt it was a distraction."

The bear now prowls the private chambers of Acting Supreme Court Justice Frank LaBuda (See Profile), who says it is "beautiful" and "magnificent.

Where did the bear come from?

The bear was killed in October 2006 with a bow by local hunter David Purdy in nearby White Lake. Mr. Purdy asked Justice LaBuda in August if the judge had room for the creature, one of the largest ever taken in the county, in his home.

The judge said he did not, but the bear might find quarters, at least temporarily, in the courthouse where it could serve as a tribute to the area's ecology and love for hunting. By Sept. 2, it was stationed near the post of court officers who quickly dubbed it "Smokey."

A stuffed bear as a symbol of conservation? Justice LaBuda thought so:

"People want to see the bear," Justice LaBuda said. "Actually, it is a tribute to conservation in our state. As you know, black bears were almost extinct in the state except in the Adirondacks. Now, they are actually so plentiful that some people think they are a nuisance here."

You can read the rest of Joel Stashenko's reporting on the bear's eviction here, including a picture of Smokey, Justice LaBuda and Mr. Purdy.

It just so happens that this week's viral video is a commercial for Chuck Testa's taxidermy service.  Wonder if he stuffed the bear:

[Meredith R. Miller]

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