RARA-AVIS: Criminal Conversation

From: funkmasterj@runbox.com
Date: 11 Jan 2008

I just finished reading this book by Evan Hunter, I really enjoyed it - both Noir and Hard Boiled (depending on the character). Prior to that I read William Gibson's collection of short stories, Burning Chrome - definitely noir. And before that I read Ed McBain's The Gutter and the Grave - enjoyed that too...

And speaking of Criminal Conversation:

 Dan Glaister in Los Angeles Thursday January 10, 2008 Guardian Unlimited

When Sandra Valentine divorced her husband, Johnny, and married the man who had fathered her child during an affair, it had every appearance of another unremarkable tale of marital breakdown. But when Johnny hit back and sued his rival Jerry Fitch for a six-figure sum, the Mississippi love triangle took on an altogether different dimension. And when he won in a verdict upheld by the state supreme court, he was suddenly richer to the tune of £750,000.

Valentine took advantage of a quirk in the law in Mississippi which, like six other US states, allows claims of "spousal theft": if a man - or perhaps even a woman - takes another's property, ie their spouse, they can be sued. So Johnny Valentine sued Fitch under the state's "alienation of affection" law, which allows a cuckolded spouse to seek damages for "loss of society, companionship, love and affection", as well as "the loss of sexual relations".

A Mississippi jury agreed with Valentine. Fitch appealed and took the case to the Mississippi supreme court, which upheld the verdict. So Fitch went all the way to the US supreme court. But this week, the court declined to hear the case.

"This alienation-of-affection law is only in seven states in the United States now," Fitch told ABC News. "It needs to be off the books. This is not right."

Sandra Fitch, too, was not impressed that she had been treated as a piece of property by the courts. "I don't consider myself property," she said. "Not Johnny's, not anyone's. Just my own."

And she denied her ex's contention that the marriage had been fine until she went to work for Jerry.

"No, that's not true," she said. "Johnny had gambling problems. It took a period of about six years to destroy our marriage. He had already alienated my affection with gambling, so the marriage was already over before I met Jerry."


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This archive was generated by hypermail 2b29 : 11 Jan 2008 EST