Archive for Giovanni Fabris


Justice will be served

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Pick a street -- any street -- and you'll find plenty of picturesque dilapidation. At least I suppose it's picturesque. If this were a palace, people would love it.

Visitors and even residents who regard the peeling plaster and crumbling brick and other symptoms of age and use as part of Venice’s transcendent charm mostly don’t have to concern themselves with the consequences of the aforesaid peeling and crumbling.

But if you were the plaintiff in a certain court case, you would find little to no charm in the condition of your case.  I mean the physical condition, not your chances of winning it.

Folders eaten by rats, case postponed” reads a headline from a recent Gazzettino.

This did not surprise me, because I have been, more than once, down the hallways and into various offices of the civil court here.  There is scarcely any more space for documents and files in these warrens than there is for the average person in the average dead-end backstreet during Carnival.  And the files, by now, are a thousand times more than many. It’s like something out of Jarndyce and Jarndyce.

Thus many of these slabs of paperwork are left outside the staggering, overloaded file cabinets, and they are simply stacked on the floor in dusty, tattered heaps.  I have seen this with these very eyes.

No worries, though — assuming you don’t need to find a particular file, because it’s not clear they have been stacked according to any particular system.  Other, that is, than the system of numbering houses in Tokyo: In order of age.

Enter the rats.  What they don’t see are mute masses of pain and anger and greed and bureaucratic boredom and the occasional fatal misspelling or lost identification number or whatever.  They see what, I gather, amounts to towering columns of food.  And even a rat knows what to do with food.

“The case?” the article begins.  “It has to be placed on a new schedule because the file has been gnawed by rats and has to be ‘reconstructed.’

“This unusual reason for postponing the audience was pronounced a few weeks ago by the president of one of the penal sections of the Court of Appeals.  But it seems this is not the only such case: For years the judicial offices have been suffering from grave shortages of space and the areas available aren’t always adequate, especially those used for the archiving of the proceedings.” Translation: As stated above, no more space.

The defendent’s lawyer, Giovanni Fabris, wasn’t so amused.  Instead of arming himself with a magnifying glass, flour paste, duct tape, or spray shellac , reassembling the documents and depositing them in the chancellery, he sent a packet to the judge presiding over the court.

It contained a mousetrap.

It also contained a note: ‘Here is my personal contribution to the efficiency of justice.”

The dog ate your homework?  Piffle!

Rats mean cats, or at least they used to, as demonstrated on a capital of the Doge's Palace. I'd like to see the dog du jour attempt this.

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