Quoting Carly Simon, Florida judge denies request to postpone trial for eclipse

'This bettor's horse has -- naturally -- lost,' Tampa judge writes in order

By Peter Burke - Local10.com Managing Editor
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PEMBROKE PARK, Fla. - A federal judge in Florida denied a request by a prosecutor to postpone a trial so that a federal agent could travel to see Monday's solar eclipse.

U.S. District Judge Steven Merryday issued an order Friday denying the motion, using the lyrics from Carly Simon's "You're So Vain" to make his case.

"In a popular 1970s song, the splendid Carly Simon introduced the attendance of a former suitor (reportedly the actor Warren Beatty) at a solar eclipse as probative evidence of his putatively insufferable vanity," the Tampa judge wrote.

Then, he quoted an excerpt from the song for which Simon is perhaps best known.

"Well I hear you went to Saratoga, and your horse, naturally, won," Merryday wrote, reciting the lyrics. "Then you flew your Learjet up to Nova Scotia to see the total eclipse of the sun. Well, you're where you should be all the time, and when you're not, you're with some underworld spy or the wife of a close friend, wife of a close friend, and you're so vain, you probably think this song is about you."

Merryday berated the Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosive agent whose planned trip prompted an assistant U.S. attorney to postpone the trial of Joseph Bishop because the agent had "pre-paid the cost of visiting the zone of 'totality' of a solar eclipse" scheduled to occur during the trial.

"Cruel fate has dictated that the August 21 eclipse will occur during the trial of an action in which the agent is a principal participant on behalf of the United States," Merryday wrote.

Merryday then chastised the agent for wanting to rearrange the court's schedule.

"The present motion proposes to subordinate the time and resources of the court, the opposing counsel, of the witnesses and of the jurors to one person's aspiration to view a 'total' solar eclipse for no more than two minutes and forty-two seconds," the judge wrote.

Then, borrowing again from Simon, Merryday summarized his ruling.

"When an indispensable participant, knowing that a trial is imminent, pre-pays for some personal indulgence, that participant, in effect, lays in a bet," the judge wrote. "This time, unlike Carly Simon's former suitor, whose 'horse, naturally, won,' this bettor's horse has -- naturally -- lost."

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