Stella Case No. 014, Originally Published: 30 October 2002
Robert Paul Rice, an inmate in Utah serving 1–15 years on weapons, theft and burglary convictions, sued the Utah Department of Corrections claiming his prison was not letting him practice his religion. He says he’s a Druid Vampire, and must be allowed sexual access to a “vampress” and partake “in the vampiric sacrament” — drinking blood.
When Judge J. Dennis Frederick dismissed his suit, Rice appealed.
The State Court of Appeals upheld the dismissal, noting that the suit “raises questions that are so insubstantial as not to merit further consideration.”
Rice claimed that he had told the prison he was a Druid, and “the order of the Druids that I follow is the order of the Vampire” with specific “vampiric dietary needs,” but his records show that he registered as a Catholic when he was imprisoned in 2000.
As for the sexual favors of any female vampires, “Without any question we do not have conjugal visits in Utah,” says a prison spokesman. Proof once again that prison life sucks.
- “Self-styled ‘Vampire’ Prisoner Denied Conjugal Visits”, Associated Press/CNN, 26 October 2002
- “Rice v. Department of Corrections”, Utah Court of Appeals, Case No. 20020451-CA, 24 October 2002
Dismissed. Rice was a Runner-Up for the 2002 Awards. As of this posting, Rice was not found in the Utah prisoner data base. I hope he has gone straight.
My 2020 Thoughts on the Case
Prisoner lawsuits can be a lot more vexatious than this …as we shall see as more cases are re-published.
Lawrence, an attorney in Pennsylvania, admits “Folks dislike lawyers. True enough, since in criminal cases, the guilty dislike getting caught and punished, and in civil cases, there must always be a winner and a loser (unless you do the economics of the case, where in many cases, only the lawyers win!) However, when you do need a lawyer, do you go to the attorney who’s been recommended by a friend as ‘a real nice guy’ or do you choose the one that’s described as ‘a real mean S.O.B.’? The latter, of course, since now YOU WANT TO WIN. Nice lawyers finish last. That’s the market created by you, the clients. Want nicer lawyers and a gentle system choose the nice lawyers to represent you, and stop committing gruesome crimes.”
Good point, Lawrence, and indeed “Stella Awards” are generally awarded to the plaintiff — the client — not the attorneys involved. Apparently there’s plenty of blame to go around, but we do need to keep your point in mind. And, for the record, having hired many attorneys in my time, I hire the smart ones, not the mean ones. A good argument based on fact is much more effective than an angry or malicious approach. That has served me well, and I indeed consider some of the attorneys I’ve hired as friends.
Brien in California: “The whining from the lawyer defending the right to frivolous lawsuits was exactly why there is such a pervasive and persistent [negative] stereotype for that profession. I can’t help but think of what type of fall all the frivolity and abuse is setting us up to take. How much longer can the system and our society take with the courts becoming the new get-rich-quick scheme? All one has to do today is think pathetic, be pathetic and lose something equally pathetic to become pathetically rich. It’s all about pimping the system.”
Interesting parallel there, Brien: pathetic people sacrificing themselves to the system for the enrichment of [usually] some guy who operates the system from afar. Isn’t that pretty much the dictionary definition of “pimp”? (See Case #012)
But some lawyers, of course, love the present system….
Ron in New Jersey (“where, I believe, we have more lawyers per capita than any other state of the union”): “I really enjoyed your [latest] issue. I would send it to my attorney brother, except that he got so angry when I told him about the True Stella Awards he filters out any email from me! Clearly, there are other thin-skinned attorneys out there who go ballistic at any mention of less-than-perfect lawyers. Thanks.”
- - -
No new cases are being published, so please don’t try to submit cases.
While there are no new cases coming, all of the previously published cases are returning to this site over time. You can subscribe to notifications as those classic cases are posted, scheduled for Mondays and Thursdays. Click here for a Stella Awards subscribe form.
Meanwhile, my flagship email publication This is True does continue to come out with new stories every week. It’s “Thought-Provoking Entertainment” like Stella, but uses weird-but-true news items as its vehicle for social commentary. It is the oldest entertainment newsletter online — weekly since 1994. Click here for a This is True subscribe form.