United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (W.D.Pa. 1971),[1] was a federal court case in which a prisoner filed a lawsuit against Satan and his servants in United States District Court.[2] It was dismissed on procedural grounds.

Prisoner's Rights Laws[edit]

The rights of inmates while behind bars. All inmates are protected by the Eighth Amendment from cruel and unusual punishment. The definition of cruel and unusual punishment is not clear. A violation of a person's dignity could be considered cruel and unusual. Prisoners are entitled to medical care and treatment.

The complaint[edit]

Gerald Mayo, a 22 year old inmate at Western Penitentiary in Pittsburgh,[3] filed a claim before the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania in which Mayo alleged that "Satan has on numerous occasions caused plaintiff misery and unwarranted threats, against the will of plaintiff, that Satan has placed deliberate obstacles in his path and has caused plaintiff's downfall" and had therefore "deprived him of his constitutional rights," allegedly prohibited under several sections of the United States Code. Mayo filed in forma pauperis - that is, he asserted that he would not be able to afford the costs associated with his lawsuit and that they therefore should be waived. Mayo filed a law suit against Satan and his minions, not the prison system. Mayo filed suit against external forces that the prison had no control over.

The decision[edit]

In his decision,[3] U.S. District Court Judge Gerald J. Weber first noted that the jurisdictional situation was unclear. While no previous cases had been brought by or against Satan and so no official precedent existed, there was an "unofficial account of a trial in New Hampshire where this defendant filed an action of mortgage foreclosure as plaintiff", a reference to the short story "The Devil and Daniel Webster". Judge Weber suggested that the Devil (who had claimed in that story to be an American), should he appear, might have been therefore estopped from arguing a lack of personal jurisdiction. In this context, the Court noted that Satan was a foreign prince, but did not have occasion to address whether, if sued as a defendant, he would be able to claim sovereign immunity from suit.

Judge Weber noted that three of the four requirements for a class action suit were met (commonality [there are questions of law or fact common to the class], numerosity [the class is so large that individual suits is impractical], and typicality [claims of each class member are typical of the claims of the class]). However, class action status was not granted because the judge was unable to determine whether Mayo would adequately represent the class (the adequacy element).

Finally, the judge noted that Mayo had failed to provide directions to the United States Marshals Service as to service of process.

Citing the foregoing reasons, the court refused the request to proceed in forma pauperis. [4]

The Court doubted the need for action due to the complaint containing no allegation of residence in plaintiff.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ United States ex rel. Gerald Mayo v. Satan and His Staff, 54 F.R.D. 282 (1971)
  2. ^ Jason Zasky (Mar 13, 2007). "Devil's Advocate: Can Satan be held legally responsible for his actions?". Failure Magazine. Retrieved Dec 3, 2017.
  3. ^ a b "A federal judge has refused to order Satan to quit". Huntingdon Daily News, ocr, pg 2. December 7, 1971. PITTSBURGH. A federal judge has refused to order Satan to quit placing temptations before a 22 year old inmate at Western Penitentiary who claimed the Devil caused his downfall. The devil with it all, said US District Court Judge Gerald J. Weber on Monday when he threw the case out of court because federal marshals could not produce the devil. Gerald Mayo of Reading, Pa, filed the petition for the injunction against Satan and his staff, and argued Satan violated his constitutional rights by placing irresistible obstacles in his path. Weber said the nearest thing he could find to a precedent was Stephen Vincent Benet’s short story 'The Devil and Daniel Webster' where Webster contended Satan was a foreign prince and could not sue in America courts. Although he did not go that far, Weber said Mayo failed to show Satan lives within the court’s jurisdiction and that federal marshals were not told how Satan could be summoned.
  4. ^ "United States ex rel. Mayo v. Satan and His Staff". Lowering the Bar. 2015-10-05. Retrieved 2018-09-21.

External links[edit]