Thursday, May 1, 2008


Not a legal profession case, but worthy of note, is a decision today from the Wisconsin Supreme Court. The court holds that a person's forehead is an "other bodliy member" for purposes of the criminal mayhem statute. The court explores the common law antecedents of mayhem and applies principles of statutory construction to reach its result:

"The mayhem statute seeks to punish those who intentionally disable or disfigure another person's bodily member. Absurd results would certainly arise if the forehead were excluded.  For example, disabling the nose is mayhem, but disabling the forehead, which protects one of the most important organs of the body, would not constitute mayhem.  A statute must be interpreted in light of its manifest object; therefore, we conclude that the forehead qualifies as an 'other bodily member.' "

(Mike Frisch)

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