At the moment I'm reading a really interesting book on the history of trials. There's a chapter dedicated to the trials of non-humans (animals, objects and corpses), which is a practice that didn't really fade out until the Enlightenment. Lots of theory about the evolution about the modern judicial system, but even more good stories.
So for your delectation, a couple of anecdotes from this chapter. The first concerns a certain Jacques Ferron and an unnamed female donkey both of whom were convicted for improper relations back in Vanvres, 1750. Man and donkey were sentenced to death, but prior to the execution Jacques' neighbours and parish priest came rushing hot-foot with a petition for mercy. Mercy for the communally-owned donkey, that is. They stated that they had known the poor maligned creature for four years and that she was "in word and deed and in all her habits of life a most honest creature." Donkey was back in the grazing ground by tea-time, nibbling while Jacques burned (alive). (p.156)
Back in 1535 Nottinghamshire a jury was convened to establish culpability in the death of one farmer Anthony Whylde, who had been suffocated when a large haystack fell on him. In a Perry Masonesque feat of deduction, the jurors managed to identify with astonishing precision the exact small bale responsible for Anthony's death. The ultimate fate of the bale is not noted. Insert bad pun of your choice here. (p.179)
Tomorrow - corpses in the dock. Wa-hay!