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Kill the groundhog? Prosecutor demands death for faulty forecast

March 23, 2013|By Paloma Esquivel
  • With another snowstorm hitting the Midwest this weekend, an Ohio prosecutor is demanding the death penalty for Punxsutawney Phil, the groundhog who predicted an early spring this year.
With another snowstorm hitting the Midwest this weekend, an Ohio prosecutor… (David Maxwell / European…)

Meteorologists take heed. The punishment for inaccurately predicting the weather in Ohio is now death, at least according to one prosecutor.

Butler County Prosecutor Mike Gmoser was apparently so enraged by this year’s lengthy winter that he issued an indictment against Punxsutawney Phil, the famous groundhog who just a few months ago dared to predict an early spring.

The tongue-in cheek indictment, which was posted online by the Washington Post, said Phil “purposely, and with prior calculation and design, caused the people to believe that Spring would come early.” The crimes at issue, he said, were “MISREPRESENTATION OF EARLY SPRING, an Unclassified Felony, and against the peace and dignity of the State of Ohio.”

Gmoser does appear to have the facts on his side. The first day of spring was Wednesday, but the Midwest was bracing this weekend for its third major storm in a month.

But death for the groundhog?

One Pennsylvania-based law firm didn’t take kindly to the slight against a fellow Keystone State resident. Todd Nurick and Brian Andris, attorneys with the Nurick Law Group, issued a cease-and-desist order in response to the indictment, indicating that they somehow managed to secure a response from the elusive Phil.

“Punxsutawney Phil maintains complete innocence and denies any and all
accusations made against him,” they wrote. “Thus, it is in your best interest, Mr. Gmoser, to immediately cease and desist from pursuing the preposterous prosecution that you have proposed, to retract any and all defamatory allegations that you have made against our client and to immediately and publicly apologize for said transgressions.”

In a telephone interview, Nurick and Andris said they hoped their strongly worded letter would be the end of Phil’s prosecution.

If not, Andris said, “we’re certainly not looking to instigate anything but we don’t back down either.”

Gmoser could not be reached for comment. But he told ABCNews.com it was the cold that forced him to act.

”I woke up in a snowstorm.  The wind was blowing and howling.  The temperature was in the teens,” he said. "”Phil let us down.”

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paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

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