Page One

News of the Weird

- The Associated Press
Wednesday May 22, 2002

Desperate jury search 


SUNBURY, Pa. — Bread, milk, eggs ... and a court summons? 

Northumberland County was so desperate for female jurors that sheriff deputies subpoenaed dozens of women in grocery stores, gas stations and a high school. The sheriff even ordered his own wife and daughters to appear for jury duty. 

President Judge Robert Sacavage ordered Sheriff Charles Berkoski to round up 50 more women after a jury pool last week included some 140 men but only 10 women. 

Although there is no specific quota, court rules say juries must be representative of the community they serve. A predominantly male jury could open the door for defendants to appeal convictions, Sacavage said. 

So deputies approached women at stores, a fund-raiser and even Shikellamy High School, where mothers and daughters were preparing for the prom. Reluctant would-be jurors asked Wal-Mart employees if there was a back exit so they could avoid deputies, Berkoski said. 

The sheriff even looked to the women in his family. 

“I just said to my wife, ‘Congratulations! You’re on jury duty Monday.’ Hey, you have to be fair,” Berkoski said. “Of course, I’m probably not going to get any supper for two months.” 

Court administrator Larry Diorio said the gender imbalance was caused by a glitch in a computer program that generates random jury pools. He said the glitch will be corrected this week. 


Tossing the octopus  


DETROIT — Octopus tossing is a hallowed, if illicit, part of the playoff ritual for hockey’s Detroit Red Wings. 

On Tuesday night, the Wings’ sister team — the Detroit Tigers, which have the same owner — revived the custom in a promotion for the Red Wings. 

Before the Tigers’ baseball game against Cleveland at Comerica Park, the club staged a competition to see who could hurl an octopus the farthest. 

The winner, Tim Fogarty, won a limo ride to Joe Louis Arena, two tickets for Monday’s game between the Red Wings and the Colorado Avalanche and a Zamboni ride, the Detroit Free Press and The Detroit News said. 

The octopus has symbolized the Wings’ playoff runs since 1952, when a fan threw one on the ice during a game against Montreal. It used to take eight wins to capture the Stanley Cup; each of the octopus’s eight tentacles symbolized one victory. 

Today’s road to the Stanley Cup requires two octopuses — 16 victories. 

While the NHL officially frowns on tossing octopuses during games, the Red Wings have not been penalized for the practice. 

“Wings fans want to support their team in any way possible,” said Kevin Dean, an owner of Superior Fish in Royal Oak, Mich. He said the store normally sells three octopuses a day, “but during hockey season and especially now as the playoffs are getting deeper, we’re up to like 10 to 12.”