Case That Inspired A Request For Trial By Combat

In a bizarre divorce case from the States, a story has come to light that conjures images from Game of Thrones rather than a family court.

A 40 year old man from Kansas, David Ostrom, had been left so “destroyed” by his ex-wife and her divorce lawyer in a legal dispute regarding property tac and visitation rights; that he had wanted to “confront the duo on the field of battle where [he] will rend their souls from their corporal [sic] bodies”.

Mr Ostrom also requested that the court allow him 12 weeks to “find or forge” Japanese samurai swords” and stated that his ex-wife, Bridgette Ostrom, could chose her lawyer Mathew Hudson, as “her champion”.

Mr Ostrom argued that the judge had the power to let the parties “resolve our disputes on the field of battle, legally” since trial by combat “has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in [the] United States”, and was used “as recently as 1818 in [a] British court”.”

For those of you who are interested, it was the case of Ashford v Thornton. In 1817 Abraham Thornton had been charged with the murder of Mary Ashford, although he was acquitted and found not guilty of rape due to the little evidence of violence. On an appeal by Mary’s brother and the re-arrest of Thornton, Thornton claimed the right to trial by battle, a right that had not been repealed by Parliament since medieval times. As Ashford declined the offer of battle, Thornton was freed from custody.

Despite Mr Ostrom’s argument that the likelihood of death would “outweigh those of property tax and custody issues”, Judge Craig Dreismeier of Iowa District Court, Shelby County has not yet ruled on the motion:

“Until the proper procedural steps to initiate a court proceeding are followed, this court will take no further action concerning any motion, objection or petition filed by either party at this time”

Solicitors and barristers in the UK will have heard bizarre requests, especially in divorce cases, probably none will match this level of absurdity, however what have been the strangest requests you have heard in family proceedings?

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