Inviting strange children to your home after dark to feed them potential allergens and choking hazards? Displaying fake corpses and images of the occult? Hacking into giant gourds with huge, unsharpened kitchen knives, in close proximity to friends and loved ones? It’s not surprising that Halloween has given rise to some pretty sensational lawsuits spanning all areas of the law. From products liability (who knew it would be a bad idea to light a cigarette when dressed as a cotton-ball-covered sheep?)1 to freedom of expression (shout out to the Seventh Circuit for protecting your right to talk smack about your neighbors via fake tombstone)2. From the mundanity of premises liability (if you break your nose fleeing a haunted house right into a cinderblock wall, you’re on your own)3 to intellectual property (banana costume buyer, beware) 4.
Since tricks and treats have inspired a plethora of lawsuits, it follows that lawsuits can inspire some truly great Halloween costumes. We know you can do better than stapling some old case files to your oldest gray flannel and calling it a “lawsuit.” See below for some ideas sure to impress your friends.
Go with an oldie but a goodie (or should that be a Goody?). The Salem Witch Trials give rise to too many costumes to list here. Goody Proctor. Judge Hathorne. Giles Corey and his “more weight”. Even Old Scratch himself. Bonus points if you can figure out how to dress as ergot poisoning.
Celebrate the popularization of American courtroom drama: find a group of friends, two of whom can go as legal giants Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryant, one of whom can go as high school teacher John T. Scopes (men simply do NOT wear enough straw hats these days—this could be your excuse to buy one), and any number of whom can go as a monkey, or really any other hominid, in the Scopes Monkey Trial, which was the first American legal trial to be broadcast on the radio. H.L.