You won’t believe these 10 crazy, stupid, archaic laws are still on the books in N.J.
The thing about laws is that they always make great sense at the time they’re written.
Nearly 4,000 years ago, the Babylonian king Hammurabi decreed that those accused of sorcery should leap into a river and prove their innocence by not drowning.
The Salem Witch Trials viewed floating in water as proof of guilt only 325 years ago.
In this respect, New Jersey’s laws are no different from Massachusetts’ or Mesopotamia’s: We have a fair number of laws on the books that once made sense, but are now bona fide head-scratchers. Many of these antiquated statutes are on the hit list of the New Jersey Law Review Commission, which is tasked with shaking the dust off what’s on those old books.
Here are a few that may leave you wondering if justice is as dumb as it is blind.
Under a 1941 statute, bringing “any poor person” into a county from any other county in the state without first having obtained permission from the county welfare board is a misdemeanor in New Jersey.
And the person who was lured into moving? “He shall be returned from whence he came.”
N.J.S. 44:4-79. Bringing poor person into county unlawfully; misdemeanor
Since 1962, New Jersey’s children have been prohibited from appearing in “public performance” as a tightrope walker, contortionist, and/or rider of a horse or other animal — unless the minor is trained “to safely ride such horse or animal.”
“Officer, help! That toddler is riding a tiger!”
“He’s a professional, ma’am. Stand back and let him do his job!”
For most Americans, World War II ended in 1945 with the surrender of Germany in August and Japan later that September.
But not here in New Jersey, where state law still specifies that “the words ‘present war,’ ‘present war emergency,’ ‘the existing state of war,’ ‘present defense emergency,” always legally mean “the present wars with the governments of Japan, Germany and Italy.”
Talk about holding a grudge.