The Importance of the Dictionary: When Donald Williams was publicly sworn in as a judge in Ulster County, N.Y., on Jan. 2, offices were closed, and no one could find a Bible. Since holy books are not legally required, Williams took the oath with his hand on a dictionary.
Merriam Webster's 10th edition dictionary is so influential that the Menifee Union School District in Southern California removed all copies from its elementary schools' shelves in January in response to a parent's complaint that the book contains a reference to "oral sex."
"Texting" While Driving Is Not the Problem: Briton Rachel Curtis, 23, was sentenced to 12 months in prison by Bristol Crown Court in October for leading police on a high-speed chase while injecting heroin.
Authorities in Scottsboro, Ala., in December arrested a man after a high-speed chase during which he allegedly had methamphetamine cooking in the front seat.
Long-haul trucker Thomas Wallace was charged with manslaughter in Buffalo, N.Y., in January after his rig struck a parked car, killing the occupant, while Wallace was distracted watching pornography on his laptop computer.
Too-Swift Justice: It is not unheard of for someone to commit a crime and then immediately surrender, usually for safety or for the comfort of a warm jail cell (such as Timmy Porter, 41, did in Anchorage, Alaska, in October immediately after robbing the First National Bank Alaska).
However, Gerard Cellette Jr., 44, tried to be even more helpful. Knowing that he would soon be arrested (and probably convicted) for running a $53 million Ponzi scheme in the Minneapolis area, he walked into a county judge's chambers in December and offered to begin serving time. The judge explained that Cellette would have to wait until charges were filed and a plea recorded.
Timing Is Everything: Guido Boldini (and his mother Constance Boldini) pleaded guilty last April to soliciting a hit man to take out Guido's ex-wife, Michelle Hudon, after a contentious child-custody battle in Keene, N.H. The "hit man" was, of course, an undercover cop, and the son and mother are now serving a combined 12 to 35 years in prison. However, unknown to the Boldinis, Michelle Hudon had been diagnosed with cancer, and in September, she died.