Quote:For nearly two hours on May 19, 2011, Joann Davis stood in the parking lot of a California Denny’s restaurant in pants soaked in urine answering questions from a federal agent about a rice-sized piece of moon rock she wanted to sell to help pay for her son’s medical care.
Davis, who was in her 70s, had contacted NASA about the rock and claimed it was a gift to her late husband from astronaut Neil Armstrong. But lunar material gathered on the Apollo missions is considered government property, and her email prompted an investigation that brought six armed officers to the Denny’s that day to seize the rock.
An indignant federal appeals court on Thursday criticized Davis’ detention by NASA agent Norman Conley in the Denny’s parking lot, calling it “unreasonably prolonged and unnecessarily degrading.”
Conley detained Davis even though he knew she was nearly 75 years old, had urinated in her pants during the sting, had reached out to NASA herself and was having financial problems, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said.
Instead of telling Davis that her possession of the paperweight was illegal and asking her to surrender it to NASA, Conley “organized a sting operation involving six armed officers to forcibly seize a lucite paperweight containing a moon rock the size of a rice grain from an elderly grandmother,” 9th Circuit Chief Judge Sidney Thomas wrote.
It's so nice to see our tax money being spent wisely for a change, who knows what hell on earth would be unleashed should that paperweight fall into the wrong hands.