State v. Lychwick, CA1 10/22/09

The other day we said that “Courts and lawyers have trouble counting.” We thought that case interesting because, despite our sarcasm, lawyers surely don’t trip over such basic principles too often. Do they? But here is another one,  this one with a bit of weird lawyering thrown in.

Lychwick was convicted of, basically, violating an injunction against harassment. Having been served with a one-year injunction on January 17, 2006, he waited until January 17, 2007 to harass again. He presumably thought this quite clever until he found out how lawyers count. He raised some hilarious alibis but primarily argued that the injunction had expired. The Court of Appeals pointed out, as we did the other day, that the first day is excluded.  January 17, 2007 was the last day of the injunction, not the first day after it.

The weird thing is that the State had made that argument in the trial court but changed its mind on appeal. It argued to the Court of Appeals that the injunction ran from 11:00 a.m. on 1/17/06 to 11:00 a.m. on 1/17/07. The court gently pointed out that the law measures time “by the calendar, not by the clock,” ignoring fractions of a day.

This is one of those (extremely rare) times when we have to admit ignorance – ignorance, this time, of whatever criminal or obscure-law analogue inspired the “11:00” argument. We have to assume that there is one; otherwise, making that argument about an injunction was just plain, well, weird. This counting stuff just ain’t that complicated.