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Man Requests 'Trial by Combat' to Take Sword to Ex-Wife

Man Requests 'Trial by Combat' to Take Sword to Ex-Wife
By Richard Dahl on January 27, 2020

Lacking satisfaction in the courts, David Ostrom is seeking it by Medieval means: Trial by combat.

Or so he claims.

Admitting defeat at the hands of his ex-wife and her lawyer in an Iowa court, Ostrom has asked a judge to sanction a different kind of battle: sword fighting.

"To this day, trial by combat has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States," Ostrom argued to the court.

Ostrom reportedly was on the losing end of a legal matter with his ex-wife, Bridgette Ostrom, involving disputes over property taxes and custody. Confessing that he has been "destroyed legally" in that contest, he told the court that he wants to meet his ex-wife and her lawyer, Matthew Hudson, "on the field of battle where I will rend their souls from their corporal bodies," with swords.

It does seem that Ostrom isn't serious. "I think I've met Mr. Hudson's absurdity with my own absurdity," he told the Des Moines Register.

Shelby County District Court Judge Craig Dreismeier didn't officially respond to Ostrom's request, saying it fell short of being a "proper procedural step."

Taking Cues From New York

Ostrom says he is a fan of Game of Thrones, where trial by combat is a technique used by people in that fantasy world, Westeros, to solve disputes. But he apparently has done his research and told the court that "trial by combat has never been banned or restricted as a right in these United States" and referred to a recent case in New York where a judge found that trial by combat had not been banished from statute books.

In that case, lawyer Richard Luthmann requested trial by combat in 2015 to resolve a suit in which he was accused of helping a client fraudulently transfer assets. Luthmann proposed it as a way to settle the matter if the case against him was not dismissed, claiming that dueling has never been made illegal in the U.S. or New York.

Like Ostrom, Luthmann has professed to be a Game of Thrones fan. And, like Ostrom, it appears that he was probably trying to make a (weird) point. "They want to be absurd about what they're trying to do," he wrote in the brief, "then I'll give them back ridiculousness in kind."

New York Supreme Court Justice Philip Minardo agreed that Luthmann might technically be correct on that point, but said the matter should be resolved in court by traditional methods and not by lethal violence.

So it looks like Ostrom's chances of having a swordfight to the death with his ex-wife and her lawyer are slim. If only he could move his case to a different jurisdiction — like Westeros.

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