Monday, February 19, 2018

Pending California Bigfoot Lawsuit: "Inherit the Windigo"



Perhaps you have heard. A California woman is suing her home state to force state resource and wildlife agencies to officially recognize that sasquatches (bigfoots) do exist.
     Make no mistake: I applaud the efforts of this woman, Claudia Ackley, and her co-plaintiff, Todd Standing.  I sincerely hope they succeed in forcing the State of California to officially recognize the mysterious but real beings we variously describe as bigfoot, sasquatch, yeti, windigo, or even the abominable snowman.  But, do I expect them to win this landmark lawsuit? Not a chance.
     Call me cynical, but we have been down this path before, or atleast a path that is very similar to this one, and in the past, it led absolutely nowhere. On the bright side, we won't have to wait very long to find out how solid the legal footing is for the Ackley vs. State of California litigation.
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for March 19th, which is just one short month away.
And, as we impatiently wait for resolution of this most intriguing matter, lets examine a few of the details and their implications.
     To begin with, Ms. Ackley and her two daughters were hiking in the San Bernardino

Claudia Ackley
Mountains near Lake Arrowhead, California, when they had a fairly ordinary bigfoot sighting (if you can call any bigfoot sighting "ordinary").The mom, Claudia Ackley describes seeing a sasquatch checking out the mother-daughters trio from its perch up in the branches of a tree. She describes the creature as hair-covered and massive. One of the daughters saw what she felt were two juvenile sasquatches.  She snapped a cell phone photo which was typically blurry.  Ms. Ackley estimated that the creature she saw weighed about 800 pounds.  We assume that the limb upon which the creature was perched was quite stout.
     I will offer that, as a collector of sasquatch sighting reports, this kind of claim is not as weird as it sounds. Based on numerous sighting reports I have gathered, sasquatches do climb trees and there are a number of historical sightings of sasquatches with arboreal inclinations. I'd hate to have to prove in in a court of law, but it is true.
     Anyway, the hikers were scared silly and got the hell out of there but the whole experience conflicted her greatly so Ms. Ackley reported the sighting to rangers and bureaucrats at California Dept. of Fish and Wildlife.  Predictably, they poo-poo'ed her sighting as nothing more than a tree-bound bear. That the California Department of Fish and Wildlife failed to take her seriously irked Ms. Ackley and she decided to do something about it.
     This is where it begins to appear that Ms. Ackley wasn't just another ordinary witness of random sasquatch activity. I suspect she had some prior interest in or knowledge of the subject because she connected with, of all people, Mr. Todd Standing.
Those of us who are regulars in the 'bigfoot biz' know Todd Standing quite well. Anyway, some lawyering was done and before long, Todd and Claudia Ackley filed a lawsuit which alleges that:
     1.) Ms. Ackley's reputation has been diminished by the state's insistence that such creatures as the sasquatch do not exist.
     2.) The state is putting the public at risk by failing to recognize the sasquatch and the obvious danger they pose to the outdoor-loving public and,
    3.) The sasquatch are clearly threatened or endangered in some way by human activity in general and forest practices in particular.  The state needs to do more to safeguard the sasquatches' presumptive habitat.


     This is my favorite element of the whole lawsuit: the suggestion that the sasquatch are, on the one hand, a threat to our safety, and on the other hand the sasquatch themselves are equally threatened by our activity!  You gotta admire Standing and Ackley for covering all the bases.  It's also the perfect conundrum.  If this lawsuit does prevail, one way or the other, the State of California has a lot of protecting to do.
     I further predict that this conundrum, and a few others like it, will ultimately doom the whole lawsuit. But the biggest hurdle that the plaintiffs in ths lawsuit face is the expectation that they can demonstrate that bigfoot creatures exist in the first place.  As the kids say these days, "Good luck with that!"
     Fear not. Todd Standing to the rescue. A resident of Alberta, Canada, Todd has been active in the bigfoot field for several years now, and he, like many others, has aggressively pursued an evidence-gathering agenda for some time now. Todd is also an aspiring film-maker with a collection of pretty questionable video clips of purported sasquatches. Todd also claims to have had a whole bunch of close-range interactions with sasquatch beings in secret locations somewhere in Canada.. Todd confidently states in a  recent newspaper piece that, in addition to his video evidence,  he plans to bring to the courtroom, "a whole mountain of evidence...Ph.D's, wilderness experts, wildlife biologists, and fingerprint experts." Todd intends to construct a bullet-proof case for sasquatch existence (pun intended). Boy, is he in for a surprise.
     I can already envision the feature-length movie that will ultimately emerge from this amusing story.  It'll be sort of an Inherit the Wind remake but instead of  Spencer Tracy playing Clarence Darrow as John Scopes' lawyer in the famed Scopes Monkey Trial, it'll be Liam Neeson playing Todd and Claudia's lawyer in a remake entitled, Inherit the Windigo.  (Sorry, I couldn't resist.)
     Whatever happens, I'll be watching.  I just hope Todd and company are ready from some hard-ball opposition from the other side of the courtroom aisle.  Count on whatever 'evidence' the modern-day Clarence Darrow presents to be roundly discredited. If things even get that far without the whole case being dismissed, the expert testimony will be vigorously challenged, utterly impugned, and thoroughly contradicted by competing 'experts' testifying on behalf the Great of State of California. Trust that the reputation of all of the plaintiffs' so-called experts will be trashed, since this tactic is the one we have seen the most often applied in the past.  If you cannot refute the testimony, just discredit the experts and especially the witness (Ms. Ackley) with  ad hominem attacks on her character and reputation.  Things will get this ugly for the simple reason that there is so much at stake.
     One big issue which I think will stop the lawsuit cold is the un-provable assertion that sasquatches are a real threat to public safety.  I doubt that admissible evidence of this point can be found, much less shown to be compelling in the eyes of the court.  In the California incident, the mother  and daughters left the scene without physical harm. This is the way virtually every sasquatch encounter ends.  Ms. Ackley may have experienced mental trauma but good luck proving that. Indeed, good luck finding any persons anywhere, living or dead, who were physically harmed by a sasquatch in any provable manner. Mind you, there probably are a few such folks.  For example, in 1959, some college-student mountain climbers were killed near Dyatlov Pass in Russia.  Yeti-like beings were suspected, but whoever or whatever they were, the perpetrators in that tragic situation were utterly unverifiable at the time. If such a situation was submitted into evidence, I predict that the judge rules it "inadmissible hear-say".
    What's may actually be admissible as evidence is the true fact that, on October 6, 2013, a physicist name Alyof Krost disappeared from a group hike on a trail at Arrowhead Lake, the same vicinity as Ackley's bigfoot sighting.  Dave Paulides brought this case to my attention when he read this post. He told me he that he personally investigated that case at length, since it was one of several curious cases of a physicist disappearing from the wilderness. In this particular case, the 62-year-old hiker/physicist named Krost disappeared from the Pinnacle Trail off Lake Arrowhead amidst an organized hike comprised of twenty hikers and two guides. No trace of him was ever found. 
    Perhaps Todd and Claudia's s legal team can add this item of circumstantial evidence (courtesy of Dave Paulides) to the "mountain of evidence" that they are preparing.  It won't help if they can't also prove bigfoots exists, and that will be difficult unless they can produce a body. (Where is Rick Dwyer when we need him?)
     Whatever evidence of bigfoots' existence they do plan to submit, I sure hope it's better than the video clips and photographs Todd has been showing around at presentations like the Sasquatch Summit in 2015.

A still from one of Todd Standing's videos. Admissible in court as evidence of sasquatch existence?
I don't think so.
     The Standing and Ackley legal team should also be prepared for some very aggressive opposition since resource extraction concerns (mining and timber) have a great deal to lose by formal recognition of a new species of indigenous North American primate, even though I would assert that the sasquatch are in no way endangered by humans.  But something is going on in the woods, because government agencies have suppressed their knowledge of bigfoot/sasquatches for many decades.  One can count on the fact that such government agencies and corporate interests would willingly contribute to the defendants' (State of California) position that no such species exists and consequently, that Ms. Ackley's perceived slight at the hands of the State of California has no merit.
     And finally, there is the one remaining hurdle: showing that the sasquatch is, in the words of the court document, an "indigenous mammal primate...a giant, hairy hominoid or primate."  I remember the days when I thought the sasquatch was just an undiscovered primate.  I was sure that if I put a few remote cameras around in the woods, I would get pictures to show the world and the case would be closed.
     We in the 'bigfoot biz' have been working that angle for half-a-century now and we have one good film clip to show for our efforts; the Patterson-Gimlin Footage. I hope that clip is found to be admissible evidence in this lawsuit, but I doubt it. Even if it is, it isn't at all clear what that famous footage purports to show.  Is it a costume, an ape, a primitive person, or a ghost?
     My own understanding of the sasquatch phenomenon has changed markedly over the years. Currently, my view is that the sasquatch are a lot closer to people than apes, but they aren't even people in the strictest sense.  They are mysterious, ghostly, spirit beings that need no protection from humanity and in any case, are no particular threat to humanity.  Can I prove any of this? Hell, no. If I were Todd I would stick with the bogus 'ape' scenario for the same reason it is embraced by so many self-anointed researchers of this mysterious topic; because it is the most sale-able.  True? No. Just saleable to a court that has not studied this vexing issue in any depth whatsoever.
     But the more one does study this issue, the stranger and more confusing it becomes. When that happens, most throw up their hands and declare the subject to be either unsolvable, or imaginary, or both.  But there is indeed another knowable truth beneath this seemingly intractable mystery.
     After years and years of reading, investigating, reading, investigating, and then writing, I
feel like I finally stumbled upon the solution.  It gets a little complicated so I wrote it all down and published it  in a book entitled Edges of Science.
     (One can buy it on Amazon or through a link on this website (click here).)
     Are any of my conclusions of any use to Todd Standing and Claudia Ackley in their most worthy lawsuit? Doubtful.  I hope and pray that they do prevail in this admirable legal endeavor, even as I harbor strong doubt that the judge of their legal case will find in their favor.  I'm not a lawyer but I think I would motion for a jury trial and whip up a bunch of courtroom drama for the sake of the jury, just like in Inherit the Wind.
     In an article published about Todd in a Canadian paper, the reporter quoted Todd as saying, "We can't lose.  How can we lose?"  I met Todd at Ocean Shores.  He was a perfectly nice fellow.  I'm cheering for him.  Still, from all of my experience with the bigfoot topic and in light of the way I expect the court to view the whole bigfoot topic, I would respond,  "You can't win.  How can you win?"









2 comments:

  1. Any update Thom?
    The preliminary hearing has come and gone....

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  2. In Oregon, Governor Kitzaber stated in front of TV cameras that Bigfoot is real, in order to help free up the court system from scheming whiners, who think that they can sue somebody for scaring them.

    ReplyDelete