Colorful and dramatic reports were filed following the first day of hearings in Metropolitan Airports Commission v. “Konservo,” a landmark case being heard in Minnesota’s Fourth District Court before the bench of Judge Pamela G. Alexander.
Signs of the fireworks to come were clear at the very beginning of the closed-door hearing, with the defendant’s arrival. He appeared clad in an orange jumpsuit and slippers, desperately gripping a Swiffer™ duster in his cuffed hands. Defense counsel Kjell-Olaf Yakimoto reluctantly explained to the bench that his client had become so distraught without his toilet brush, on the walk to the courtroom he had snatched the Swiffer™ from a janitor’s cart and threatened violence and the Wrath Of Ralph on anyone who tried to take the item away from him, at one point nearly kicking a hole in the wall. Officers escorting the defendant added that they’d had enough difficulty getting him to leave the roll of toilet tissue in his holding cell – said effort having prompted the handcuffs and necessitated first aid for abrasions and a suspected sprained wrist in one officer’s case – and judged the Swiffer™ a benign risk. Judge Alexander agreed and the litigants were seated…Konservo lightly dusting the surface of the table and humming the title tune from Mame under his breath.
Prosecuting attorney Thomas Anderson of the MAC Legal Division asserted in opening statements that the defendant’s actions in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Airport restroom made famous by Senator Larry Craig's alleged indiscretions were just one step shy of domestic terrorism. “At a time of heightened risk, to take up a fortified position within an airport facility is clearly an act of provocation designed to engender fear in travelers and airport staff,” he opined. “Additionally, the use of the blow-up doll as part of the barricade was deeply offensive to many travelers as an element of public lewdness, and there was a high safety risk posed by the potato trail left by the defendant – particularly the raw peelings.” Anderson stated his intent to seek the full penalty for all charges, from the police standoff right down to the bathroom graffiti. Convictions on all counts could, taken together, result in a sentence of up to 15 years in prison and fines of over $250,000.
Rising to Konservo’s defense – after insisting that the defendant stop pounding on the tabletop calling for a karaoke performance – was defense counsel Yakimoto. He urged Judge Alexander to throw out the case, painting the incident as “clearly motivated by the defendant’s high admiration for Senator Craig and his contributions to the state of Idaho” and floating a trial balloon for a “performance art” explanation. When Judge Alexander stated that she found little artistic merit in Konservo’s airport antics, Yakimoto – with a barely-audible stage whisper to Konservo to “for God’s sake stay in your seat, you idiot!” – responded that art is in the eye of the beholder, entering for the record Konservo’s rave reviews from the Lookout Bar & Bistro in Ottawa. He concluded his remarks by suggesting that public service, perhaps janitorial given Konservo’s toilet-brush penchant, would be an acceptable compromise toward his client sidestepping more serious charges.
Speaking from the bench, Judge Alexander commented that in her 24 years of service in Minnesota courts, she had never before encountered quite so unusual a case, and in a rare breach of court protocol directly addressed the defendant, asking Konservo what he had to say for himself.
At this opportunity, Konservo leapt to his feet, waving the Swiffer™ triumphantly and singing in a somewhat grating falsetto:
I’m a grand old fag,
I’m in love with the flag,
And with Senators in restrooms galore!
They’re the emblem of
The stuff I love,
And I just can’t wait to get more!
Every foot taps true
Be you red, be you blue,
And Jeff Gannon’s jets never “lag.”
So should auld acquaintance be forgot,
Here’s a look at my grand old wag!
Having delivered the final line while shaking his backside energetically toward the bench, he then took an exaggerated bow, blowing kisses to all corners of the courtroom, proclaiming “I love you, Minneapolis! I love you! Ralph/Blat 2008!! Larry – CALL ME!!”
Then, as abruptly as his outburst began, the defendant seated himself again, placidly humming once again – this time, the tune appeared to be “The Way We Were” – and he set aside the Swiffer™ to absently doodle Senator Craig’s name on a notepad, dotting the “i” in Craig with a heart.
Judge Alexander immediately reprimanded defendant and counsel for a display unbecoming the court and recommended to Yakimoto that, prior to jury selection several days hence, he might want to consider the wisdom of a not-guilty-by-reason-of-insanity plea.
Konservo was escorted from the courtroom by the officers, tearfully clutching his Swiffer™ and saying “Hello, everybody. This…is…Mrs. Norman Maine…”
More as it develops in this groundbreaking legal case.