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Judge Denies Witness Chance To View Eclipse

Gavel

A federal judge in Florida ruled a trial couldn't be postponed just because one of the key witnesses — a federal agent — had travel plans to see the solar eclipse.

In a droll, three-page ruling issued Friday, Judge Steven Merryday denied the motion filed by an assistant U.S. attorney.

Recalling popular dialogue from the TV classic “Star Trek,” the judge wrote that the prosecutor "boldly moves (where no AUSA has moved before)."

"The solar eclipse is no longer mysterious, supernatural, foreboding or ominous," Merryday wrote. "An eclipse is just another astral event, precisely predictable since the day the Babylonians discovered the governing formula."

Prosecutors wanted Monday's trial postponed because an Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms agent had booked a trip to see the eclipse on a day when defendant Joseph Bishop was to stand trial for unlawfully transporting firearms.

Merryday chalked it up to a "cruel fate" that allowed the trial and the eclipse to happen on the same day. The prosecutor's motion "proposes to subordinate the time and resources of the court, of the opposing counsel, of the witnesses and of the jurors to one person's aspiration to view a 'total' solar eclipse for no more than two minutes and forty-two seconds."

A large chunk of the ruling cited lyrics from singer Carly Simon's "You're So Vain," which contains a line about flying to witness an eclipse.

The judge also quoted from the poet Wordsworth, name-checked Greek historian Herodotus, and referenced a Russian opera.

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