Betty Perry – A Lawn unto herself

Here’s the latest on this story, as of 18th September: Betty Perry is still being prosecuted for not watering her lawn. She’s had to plead not guilty to resisting arrest and failing to tend her lawn. Her lawyer is trying to win the sympathy vote by stressing how the law needs to be applied a little more sanely. She’ll be back in court on October 11th.

Maybe then they can add charges for “wearing 1970’s clothes in public” or even “sporting a bad hair-do in public”. But, then, everyone in Utah would be on trial.

Here’s my original story from July:


Betty Perry, world-leading lawn-law breaker. Approach with caution!

Honestly, in the weird and wacky world of law enforcement, is this the most disproportionate response ever? A little old lady, 70, Betty Perry, from Orem City, Utah, was alleged to have refused to give her name to police officers questioning her about her unkept lawn. So far, so mad. (Story here).

What’s the law got to do with it? Apparently, there is some bye-law in Utah (or that part of Utah, Orem City) that says residents must water their lawns. In other, saner places, the law says you must not water your lawn in times of drought, when massive fires are sweeping across the state. No wonder the little old lady was confused!

In any case, let’s say she was breaking the law in Orem City, just for arguments sake. Just let us put aside for the moment that it was her lawn, she was a confused 70-year old woman in a bizarre conversation with a uniformed police officer and all that. No extenuating circumstances, let’s pretend.

At that very moment, when she turns to go inside to ask her son for help, the police officer is said to have slapped her across the face with handcuffs! So she says. He claims she fell during a struggle. Either way, it wasn’t pretty.

Was he afraid she’d bolt for the door and he’d never catch her? Was he afraid that she’d head for the hills, Rambo-style, hiding out and defying the entire Utah police force to come and get her? All over a brown lawn? Even more outlandishly, he called for reinforcement! Oh my, was she about to crack his head open? Was the little ole police officer afraid of the little old granny?

Ah, but then they dragged her sorry ass off to a holding pen. Zero-tolerance for lawn-neglecters. Zero. Otherwise they’d all be at it, all those law-breaking, 70-year-old, sit-at-home, do-nothing, old women. And Orem City just couldn’t have that. It was then that some common sense broke out. Seeing that she was injured, they brought her to hospital to be treated. A thoughtful gesture. And one that you would think would result in everyone calming down and thinking through the situation. And how disproportionate it all was, and how they ought to bring her home and try and make it up to her. The official police statement, from one Lt. Doug Edwards says “[the police]… immediately released the woman and returned her to her home on the basis that there were other options available to handle this situation besides making an arrest and holding the woman in jail,”. No shit Sherlock!

To cap it all though, Lt. Doug Edwards described the arresting officer as “intelligent”. Really? In that case, I’d hate to see the dumb ones…



  1. Bob Dixon said,

    September 19, 2007 at 8:13 pm

    Several points of basic law enforcement should be made:
    1. the offence is a simple ticket not arrest.
    2. the officer didn’t need the old grandmother’s name the ticket is issued to the property owner and it is a matter of public record. The officer could have easily and properly issued the citation when he got back to City Hall.
    3. when the grandmother fell or tripped, she should have been taken immediately to the hospital and or paramedics should have been called to the scene.
    4. The grandmother has the legal right to resist an illegal arrest, the clearing of the officer is a white wash.
    5. The Police Chief or the head of the department for which the officer worked should have been fired for not having a written police of procedure to handle situations like this.
    6. The Citizens of the town should demand the proper police policy for handing situations like this be published in the legal notices of the City.
    7 And last but not least the city commission should demand the officer apologize because the situation rises to the stupidest

  2. shazgood said,

    September 19, 2007 at 8:20 pm

    Very good points, thanks for adding that.
    1: Apparently it is a class C misdemeanor, in Utah! As I say in my post, surely watering your lawn should be the misdemeanor, not the other way around!!
    2: Quite right
    3: You would think so. I guess this will be part of whatever civil case Betty takes against them.
    4: Resisting arrest is quite a serious offence, even if the original arrest is illegal, because then the law would fall into disrepute. But I think in this case, the arrest was disproportionate in the extreme.
    5: Whitewash!
    6: The law should be abolished. And the police should be trained to use discretion.
    7: Apparently, the apology will not be forthcoming simply because they fear a civil suit.

  3. September 20, 2007 at 1:18 pm

    […] Betty Perry, Utah. Poor old Betty. 70 year old great-grandmother and internationally-renowned criminal! Not only was she hounded by an […]

  4. Billy Barlow said,

    November 10, 2007 at 3:03 am

    1. The police officer should be then one arrested, as he could have wrote the ticket and mailed it to the old woman.
    2. The old woman should sue the city and have the office water and trim her lawn for her.
    3. People of Orem should domonstrate at the trial and demand the old woman be appoligized to.

  5. Uber said,

    May 19, 2008 at 11:17 am

    I repeat my message forwarded on Sept. 21 2007 to the following address of the city of Orem:
    Of course no anwer has been forwarded by any representative of the city.
    “Dear citizens of Orem, I have just red on an Italian newspaper the incredible story about the case concerning Betty Perry, and I was not convinced that the news reported could be true. Unfortunately I got the confirmation reading on Internet.
    to police officer

  6. Uber said,

    May 19, 2008 at 11:32 am

    … to police officer James Flygare and also to the city attorney for arresting and prosecuting an old and injured (by the policeman) lady for failure in watering her lown. Why both of them (officer and attorney) do not resign or,better, why the Authorities of the City or of the State do not fire them?? And you, citizens of Orem, don’t you feel ashamed on the fact that your city have become famous in the world only for this stupid event performed by two or three idiot fellows who misused their authority? I egree with the action of your Major and City Council who expressed their apologies to Mrs. Perry. May I ask to be informed via email on the following of this soap opera?. Thank you . Uber from Italy

  7. Uber said,

    May 19, 2008 at 11:36 am

    If somebody cuold keep me informed on the developments of this story, I would appreciate.
    Please email me to:
    Thank you

  8. May 31, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    […] year old Betty Perry was handcuffed, violently arrested and prosecuted for not watering her lawn in […]

  9. February 5, 2013 at 4:03 am

    U truly produced a lot of great points in ur blog post,
    “Betty Perry – A Lawn unto herself Sailing
    to Byzantium”. I may end up coming back to ur site eventually.
    Thanks a lot -Amado

  10. Frank felice said,

    January 3, 2014 at 2:58 am

    I guess since this cop doesn’t wear the pants at home, he had to show the little old granny he was the big man hahahaha. They should demote this cop to a mall cop.

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