Day 11 - weird cases - a dish best served cold


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Day 11 - weird cases - a dish best served cold

  1. 1. WEIRD CASESFor some, resignation is a dish best served hot.Steven Slater, a flight attendant for the American airline Jet Blue, recently tendered hisresignation as his plane from Pittsburgh was taxiing to a halt at JFK airport in New York.He had advised a passenger to stop trying to get luggage down from an overheadcompartment while the plane was still moving but he’d been ignored and then abused by thepassenger.Mr Slater picked up the intercom announcement phone, and said “to the passenger whocalled me a mother ****er, f*** you. I’ve been in the business 28 years. I’ve had it. That’s it.”The exasperated attendant then snatched two cans of beer from the beverage trolley,activated the emergency door and slid down to the tarmac on the inflatable chute.He has since slid both into significant public support – more than 20,000 people have joined asympathetic Facebook site – and the criminal justice system as he’s been charged withreckless endangerment, criminal mischief, and criminal trespass.The deployment of the emergency evacuation slide will have significant cost implications forairline. The deployed slide must be deflated, detached, sent for maintenance at a specialistcompany, reinflated, checked for leaks, carefully deflated and refolded, then reattached.Those activities plus the plane’s out-of-service time will usually run to a cost of over £25,000.The charges pressed against Mr Slater could result in a sentence of up to seven years.Mr Slater is currently on bail. He is also being courted by a television company to present ashow that would follow workers who quit their employment in dramatic circumstances.The oddest resignation in the field of law was that of Alfred Tristram Lawrence.In 1921 Lawrence, a High Court judge, was appointed Lord Chief Justice.Gordon Hewart, the Attorney-General, had desperately wanted that post for himself but thePrime Minister couldn’t let him stop being the Attorney-General for political reasons.So, a deal was struck and the Prime Minister assured Hewart he’d get to be Lord ChiefJustice as soon as it was politically expedient.In 1922, Lawrence – by then ennobled as Lord Trevethin – was enjoying his responsibilities rdas Lord Chief Justice when he picked up a copy of The Times at breakfast on 3 March andspluttered out a mouthful of tea as he read with astonishment of his own resignation.Gary Slapper is Professor of Law at The Open University. His new book Weird Cases ispublished by Wildy, Simmonds & HillThese articles were published by The Times Online as part of the weekly column written byGary Slapper