The Great Mooning Case of 1997

It’s hard for me to believe that the Great Mooning Case handled by my former partner, Joe Hairston, happened 23 years ago.  It was one of those cases that makes school law so enjoyable. And so funny. 

It started at a basketball game in Wimberley ISD when one student offered another student $100 if he would go down to the court during the halftime break and moon the audience.  I think the boys were 9th graders. So consider: what 9th grader would turn down such an offer? The other question that arises is “what is a 9th grader doing with $100 to spend like this?”

Here’s another question: would you agree to do this for $100?  I expect not.  So then--how much would it take?  And don’t tell me that there is no number high enough.  There is a number.

School administrators, as is typical, took a dim view of this prank and imposed disciplinary sanctions which were immediately challenged in a state court suit.  That’s how Joe got involved.  The state court judge was sympathetic to the mooner and the moon-inducer, and ordered the school to put them back in school.  Joe knew how to handle that: he removed the case from state court to federal court where he had the good fortune of being assigned to The Honorable Judge Sam Sparks. 

Judge Sparks was already known as one of those judges who did not suffer fools gladly.  Moreover, he had experience as a school attorney before being assigned to the bench.  He had little patience for this suit and issued a memorable written order that, as they say, “ripped a new one” for the state court judge, the lawyers who filed the case, and the parents who supported it.  He concluded with this admonition to the students:

The court has this advice: It’s time to take your punishment like men, no “butts” about it. 

That’s the Great Mooning Case of 1997: Nicholson v. Wimberley ISD.


That’s it for the first week of this new year. We’ll be barking again on Monday.