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Utah Crime & Courts
Tribune Justice Reporters
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Hitchcock’s “The Birds” done Utah County style

Remember the Alfred Hitchcock movie "The Birds," when birds inexplicably attack? This is the story of how that actually (sort of) happened at Provo’s 4th District Court.

A couple of years ago, I was sitting in Judge Lynn Davis’ courtroom waiting for a case I was covering. It was a pretty typical, even boring, day when —BAM! Something smacked into the window.

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The noise was so loud and so sudden that everyone in the courtroom gasped. Many ducked. It was as though everyone thought something was about whizz over their heads. But by the time I looked, there was just a blur; I couldn’t tell what had happened.

But Judge Davis and the rest of the courtroom staff took it all in stride, continuing on with criminal sentencings, plea bargains and the like.

Then a few minutes later, a loud knocking sound began at the back of the courtroom. It sounded like someone kicking the base of a bench. At first, I couldn’t believe someone was being so rude. Then I was confused; the sheriff’s deputies and bailiff weren’t doing anything to stop the disruption. In fact, they were acting like it was normal.

I soon learned why: the knocking and the loud bang were the result of a particularly tenacious crow who had taken to roosting on an ledge outside the courtroom. The bird often knocked loudly on the window — most often below eye level — as I later learned at many subsequent days in court.

Curious for more information, I called Russel Farr. Today Farr works at the law firm of Farr Rasmussen and Farr, but back in 2011 and 2012 — when I was regularly going to court in Provo — he was Judge Davis’ law clerk and bailiff.

Farr laughed when I asked him about the bird, then said the attacks against the building were a regular occurrence. Apparently, the crow would see its reflection in the mirrored glass and become territorial, Farr explained. It would then peck away at the "other" bird, causing loud disruptions in court.

Sometimes it became Farr’s job to open the small door leading to the ledge and scare the crow away. Other times, Judge Davis simply announced that the bird was pecking at the building and things continued as normally as possible. But the bird kept going.

"He must have had brain damage by the end," Farr joked. "This bird was the most persistent bird that I have ever seen."

I agree, and it was a uniquely bizarre experience sitting in court listening to a bird fighting the building. Imagine, if you will, someone banging on a window with a hammer. That was about the level of noise it created. And inside, people just carrying on trying to act like there wasn’t this huge amount of noise.

— Jim Dalrymple II

Twitter: @jimmycdii



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