January 20, 1977 marked a landmark Appeals Court decision for Colorado; it firmly established that laughter is not a violation of Constitutional rights.
At issue was the case of Filbert G. Maestas, who had been caught outside of a warehouse with boxes stacked in his car. Officers had investigated suspicious activity and, upon discovering Maestas and a partner, had detained the pair.
The warehouse manager was contacted, and he was able to verify for the officers that the material had been improperly taken. The warehouse processed meats, and Maestas and his partner had taken what they believed to be boxes full of fine steaks. The warehouse manager informed the officers that the boxes contained, instead, 1200 rectums, unsuitable for consumption even in sausage.
The boxes had been marked “Rennet”, for the enzymes taken from portions of a cow’s digestive tract which are useful in cheesemaking. The thieves had believed the term was likely an indication of a prime steak cut.
During the trip to jail, one of the arresting officers began laughing. Maestas, perturbed, asked what was so funny. The officer told him what the pair had actually stolen, and Maestas was peeved. He replied to the officer, “If I go to jail for stealing 1200 assholes, I’m really going to be mad.”
The statement was used at the trial, and Maestas was convicted. The case before the Appeals Court was whether being laughed at constituted a breach of his rights, as the activity threw Maestas off his guard and caused him to self-incriminate.
The court found against him. No reports exist about whether the judge was laughing as he did so.
Question of the night: How do you top your hot dog?