As you put on your scarf and gloves, pull on your boots, and chip the ice and brush the snow off your car this morning, take heart that you are still having a better day than Punxsutawney Phil…
Last week, a prosecutor in Ohio indicted Phil on felony fraud charges stemming from the Gobblers Knob resident’s February 2nd prediction of only six more weeks of winter. Citing “aggravating circumstances” and seeking the death penalty, the indictment accuses the groundhog of “purposely, and with prior calculation and design,” causing people to believe that an early spring was forthcoming. Intriguingly, Phil’s 39% accuracy rate is far worse than random guessing. He is overwhelmingly likely to predict a long winter, forecasting an early Spring less than 14% of the time. His century-long pattern of inaccuracy may help save his hide.
Extradition issues aside, Phil is unlikely to stand trial. Being a prudent and savvy marmot, he has already retained top-notch legal counsel. In a motion to quash filed over the weekend, Phil’s legal team lays out a highly scientific defense. Additionally, Bill Deeley, a high-profile member of Phil’s entourage, is attempting to take some of the heat off of the ground squirrel asserting: “I’m the guy that did it; I’ll be the fall guy. It’s not Phil’s fault.” Likely on advice from counsel, Phil has declined to publicly comment about the charges against him and maintained a low profile.
Will a defense consisting of rodent illiteracy, a negative North Atlantic Oscillation, and the misinterpretation of ‘Groundhogese‘ prevail? Only time will tell. Regardless of Phil’s ultimate fate, get ready to stow those snow boots for at least the next six months. Relief is in sight. In the meantime, stay warm!