U.S. man seeks 'trial by combat' using swords in court fight with ex-wife

A Kansas man has asked to cut through the red tape of the civil court system so he can settle a fight with his ex-wife the old-fashioned way — with a sword duel.

David Zachary Ostrom, 40, has asked the Iowa District Court to let him fight his ex-wife, 38-year-old Bridgette Ostrom, or her lawyer in order to sort out a dispute about taxes and calling their children.

His bizarre request is included in court documents obtained by two local newspapers, the Carroll Times Herald and the Des Moines Register.


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David Ostrom says trial by sword combat would give him a chance to strike back against the pair who have “destroyed me legally.”

“I now wish to give them the chance to meet me on the field of battle, where I will REND THEIR SOULS from their corporal (sic) bodies,” Ostrom wrote in his request, according to the Herald.

Ostrom says he wants to fight his ex-wife, although he’ll settle for fighting her lawyer, Matthew Hudson, if he chooses to be her “champion.”

David Ostrom asked the judge to grant him 12 weeks in order to find or forge a high-quality Japanese katana sword for the battle.

“Trial by combat was still regarded as a legitimate method for dispute resolution when the Constitution was ratified by the United States and by the original 13 colonies,” Ostrom wrote in his request, according to court records.

“To this day, trial by combat has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States.”

Ostrom told the Register that he got the “trial by combat” idea from a 2016 case in New York, where a Supreme Court justice acknowledged that medieval combat was a viable option for resolving a legal dispute. However, the judge declined to order such a fight.

A Japanese samurai sword is shown in this file photo.

A Japanese samurai sword is shown in this file photo.

Mirrorpix/Courtesy Everett Collection

David lives in Paola, Kansas, while Bridgette lives in Harlan, Iowa, where the court battle is unfolding.

Attorney Matthew Hudson filed a resistance to Ostrom’s motion, and appeared to mock his spelling in the process.

“Surely meant ‘corporeal’ bodies which Merriam Webster defines as having, consisting of, or relating to, a physical material body,” Hudson wrote in his response.

“Although and potential combatant do have souls to be rended, they respectfully request that the court not order this done.”


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Hudson suggested that trial by combat is an extreme way to settle property tax and custody issues, since such a battle could easily end in death.

“It should be noted that just because the U.S. and Iowa constitutions do not specifically prohibit battling another person with a deadly katana sword, it does prohibit a court sitting in equity from ordering same,” Hudson wrote, according to the Register.

Ostrom acknowledged the misspelled word in his response but continued to press for a fight.

“Respondent and counsel have proven themselves to be cravens for refusing the answer the call of battle,” he wrote.

Ostrom added that he would submit to using practice swords for the fight. Otherwise, he believes his ex-wife should lose the dispute.

Ostrom says he doesn’t expect the judge to grant his request for mortal combat, but he’d like to at least get a clear response.

The Ostroms were married for 10 years and have been divorced for two, the Herald reports. The judge who granted their divorce described them both as “very bright and articulate” at the time.


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Hudson has asked the judge to suspend Ostrom’s visitation rights and order him to undergo psychological evaluation.

Ostrom told the Register that he doesn’t have any history of mental illness. He also doesn’t have any sword-duelling experience, but he’d still be happy to fight Hudson on the field of battle.

“I don’t think he has the guts to do it,” Ostrom said.

© 2020 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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