Small claims update: horse sh*ts in court

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By Judge John Hack on

Whether it was a comment on the quality of the legal argument or just an overwhelming desire to answer the call of nature, an Ohio courtroom was recently faced with a messy problem


Surely this doesn’t happen very often — even in Ohio.

A small claims hearing in the Cleveland suburb of Berea was interrupted last week when a miniature horse belonging to one of the parties shat all over the courtroom.

According to a report on, the website of daily newspaper The Plain Dealer, an unnamed woman who was party to the claim brought her horse to the hearing, maintaining she was perfectly entitled to do so as the beast qualified as a “service animal” under provisions of the Americans with Disabilities Act.

That legislation allows those animals deemed to be service in nature to enter government buildings. Service animals are usually guide dogs. However, the US’s Department of Justice makes special mention of miniature horses, as some have been “trained to do work or perform tasks for people with disabilities”.

The department goes on to define miniature horses as generally ranging in height from 24 to 34 inches measured to the shoulders, and weighing between 70 and 100 pounds.

Presumably, the Ohio horse met the height and weight requirements and was duly allowed into the courtroom. Indeed, early in the proceedings court clerks managed to take the tiny gigi out for what the Americans euphemistically refer to as a “comfort break”.

However, on its return, the frisky animal decided it wasn’t quite comfortable enough — or that it was disappointed with the standard of submissions and advocacy — and let loose with another round.

The paper reports that the judge had little option but to adjourn the hearing temporarily and clear the courtroom. Court officials confirmed to the paper that professional hi-tech horse shit scooping cleaners were instructed to remedy the situation later that evening.

There was no indication of the judgment in the claim.