Puisne Judge

As a puisne judge, Bowen once adjudicated in a memorable case involving a burglar who, having entered a house by the top storey, was accosted downstairs in the process, apparently, of stealing some valuable silverware. Incredibly, the accused puported to be a harmless eccentric, addicted to 'perambulating' on the roofs of adjacent houses -- and occasionally dropping in "permiscuous" through an open skylight. In his instructions to the jury, Bowen caustically declared:

"If, gentlemen, you think it likely that the prisoner was merely indulging in an amiable fancy for midnight exercise on his neighbor's roof; if you think it was kindly consideration for that neighbor which led him to take off his boots and leave them before descending into the house; and if you believe that it was the innocent curiosity of the connoisseur which brought him to the silver pantry and caused him to borrow the teapot, then, gentlemen, you will acquit the prisoner!"

To the incredulous judge's great dismay, the jury obliged -- and immediately acquitted the accused.

[A spate of robberies in the Brazilian city of Curitiba ended in February 2004, after residents began coating their drainpipes with grease.]

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