Attorney fined for using shock pen on witness

NewImageA Utah judge fined an attorney $3,000 after he zapped a witness with a trick shock pen during a trial. The case is about about whether emissions from a power plant are harming nearby dairy cows.

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

In an order released this week, 4th District Judge James Brady wrote that electricity expert Athanasios Meliopoulos was testifying against dairy farmers who claim that "stray" currents from Intermountain Power Plant in Delta were harming cattle.

As part of his testimony, Meliopoulos claimed that 1.5 volts, the equivalent of a AAA battery, could not be felt by a person. Los Angeles-based attorney Don Howarth, who represented the dairy farmers, gave a child’s gag pen to Meliopoulos. According to the package label, the retractable pen zaps the user with "a harmless powerful shock," Brady wrote.

Howarth told Meliopoulos that the pen contained a 1.5-volt AAA battery and challenged Meliopoulos to "go ahead and push the back of the pen and tell the jury whether you feel it or not," Brady wrote.

Meliopoulos, a Georgia Tech professor, pushed the pen and "received a strong electric shock, which caused his body to jerk and to drop the pen," Brady wrote.

Attorney fined for zapping witness with trick pen at dairy cow trial

Notable Replies

  1. However, the pen did not contain only a AAA battery, Brady wrote — it also contained a transformer that boosts the battery voltage to up to 750 volts.

    Shocking.

  2. I wonder if the power plant's attorney responded by attaching a milking machine to the nipples of the dairy farm's witness.

  3. Yep, people always bring that up and it's hard to explain. Technically, it's true. But a AA battery can easily deliver 1000's of mA in current when only 30mA can kill you... but clearly no one is dying from AA batteries alone. The trick is that the body is not a particularly good conductor, so to get that kind of deadly current you need a high voltage to force the electrons through your body.

    It's kinda like saying the weight of a penny can kill you. True, but only if it accelerated to a high enough speed to penetrate your skin.

  4. The article states that the attorney was "charged" with "battery of a witness."

    Brings to mind some potential Paul Coker -style electricity/law jargon pun cartoons.

    Grounded in fact.

    Charging a suspect.

    Resisting an officer.

    Enforcing a current law.

    Impeding someone's speech.

  5. I have one of the pens pictured. It actually uses three button cells and a capacitor and is a handy means to keep myself awake during meetings.

    I kind of wish I could find a cheap one that uses an AAA battery. The button cells don't last very long and they're kind of expensive. I suppose I could just build an appropriate device myself, but I have no idea how to work out the specifics.

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