The Main Stream

May 20, 2010 1:36 PM

Strange laws observed in wake of new ones

TUCSON - It's the dialogue of our day… new laws.

With the new laws come discussion, questions and a new page written into law books.

“No one is familiar with them for the obvious reason that the dog is not barking.”

University of Arizona Law Professor Marc Miller is referring to the forgotten laws. These laws sit quietly on the books. There are strange ones indeed.

For instance, it's illegal to wear suspenders in Nogales, Arizona.

“Perhaps at the time, small weapons were hid under suspenders,” Miller says. “Perhaps there was a ‘Suspender Strangler’.”

Or in Tombstone, a person can only have one missing tooth showing while smiling.

“Hollywood could only be happy if we not only had the shootout, but we had arrests for too many missing teeth as well,” he says.

A law put on the on books in 1924 states your donkey cannot sleep in your bathtub.

“Fred likes to sleep in my bath,” Miller says, “it's my bath, it's my business and it's Fred’s business.

“I can imagine people got tired of cleaning donkey hair out of bathtubs,” says Nick Klingerman.

Klingerman recently graduated from law school at the U of A. He worked for the legislature recently as well.

But Nick isn't surprised that people are surprised by these old laws.

“Not many people know these laws exist because we're not dealing with them on a daily basis,” he says.

In Prescott, no one is permitted to ride their horse up the stairs of the county courthouse.

“Doesn't that one seem to make some sense?” questions Miller.

No matter how these laws came to be, on a horse or not, they had to start somewhere.

So could someone launch a campaign making it illegal to wear suits during Tucson’s scorching summer months?

“It’d never stand a chance,” Klingerman says, “although I’d appreciate the bill.”

“You'd have to go to the city council first.”

In order to rid these laws from the books, legislation would have to be written, approved and passed. But would legislators be up for it?

“Members would probably look at that...naaahh,” Klingerman says. “Not what I want to do.”

Perhaps in 100 years, the next generation will look back and laugh at strange laws of our time.

As one prominent judge once stated:

“Things that may seem to us sound in our day may seem terribly unwise not too far down the road,” Miller recalls, “he was saying careful how high you sit on that horse. The one that you're riding up those courthouse steps.”

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