Kansas man seeks ‘trial by combat’ with Japanese swords to settle dispute with ex-wife in Iowa

HARLAN, Iowa — Court disputes can contain pointed arguments -- particularly in child custody battles -- but a case in Iowa has razor-sharp implications.

A Kansas man is seeking a court-ordered sword fight in Iowa to settle a dispute with his ex-wife over his ability to communicate with his two children, the Carroll Times Herald reported.

David Ostrom, 40, of Paola, Kansas, has asked a Shelby County court to grant his motion for trial by combat against his ex-wife, Bridgette Ostrom, 38, of Harlan, the Des Moines Register reported. David Ostrom claims his ex-wife has “destroyed him legally,” according to court documents.

Therefore, he has asked the Iowa District Court for the chance to meet his ex-wife and her attorney "on the field of battle where (he) will rend their souls from their corporal bodies.”

“To this day, trial by combat has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States,” David Ostrom claims in court records, noting it had been used as recently as 1818 in a British court.

The Kansas resident asked the court to give him 12 weeks “to source or forge katana and wakizashi swords,” the Times Herald reported.

A katana is a long sword used by Japanese samurai, while a wakizashi is a smaller weapon.

David Ostrom told the Register his actions stem from his frustration with his ex-wife’s attorney, Matthew Hudson of Harlan. He told the newspaper he got the idea after reading about a 2016 case in New York, when the state’s Supreme Court admitted that duels had not been abolished.

“I think I’ve met Mr. Hudson’s absurdity with my own absurdity,” he said.

Hudson filed a countermotion and corrected David Ostrom’s spelling, the Register reported.

“Surely (Ostrom) meant ‘corporeal’ bodies which Merriam Webster defines as having, consisting of, or relating to, a physical material body,” the attorney wrote, according to court documents. “Although (Ostrom) and potential combatant do have souls to be rended, they respectfully request that the court not order this done.”

Hudson also argued remedies for custody battles should not include duels, since it could end in death, according to court records.

“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.

David Ostrom said he plans to request a duel for any other disputes that might arise from the custody battle, the Register reported. He added his ex-wife could choose her attorney as a “champion,” or stand-in fighter, the newspaper reported.

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