Man Requests “Trial by Combat” to Settle Legal Dispute with Ex-Wife

A Kansas man made international news this week after it was revealed that he asked an Iowa court to approve a trial by combat so she could meet his ex-wife and/or her attorney on the field of battle.

David Ostrom, a 40-year-old man from Paola, in Kansas, asked the Iowa District Court in Shelby County to give him 12 weeks lead time to forge his own Japanese katana and wakizashi swords, so could he meet his ex-wife and her attorney “on the field of battle where (he) will rend their souls from their corporal bodies.” Ostrom, who doesn’t have any experience in sword fighting, told reporters that even though he doesn’t anticipate a favorable response from the court, he still wants an answer to his request.

Photo: Krys Amon/Unsplash

“To this day, trial by combat has never been explicitly banned or restricted as a right in these United States,” Ostrom claimed in court, adding that dueling to settle legal disputes was used “as recently as 1818 in British Court.”

The desperate man told the Des Moines Register that he was inspired to request trial by combat after learning about a 2016 case in which New York Supreme Court Justice Philip Minardo acknowledged that duels had not been abolished. However, Matthew Hudson, the lawyer of Ostrom’s former partner, was quick to file a resistance to the trial by combat:

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

Photo: Sidibe_KaGaks/Pixabay

“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 added.

David Ostrom obviously sees things from a different perspective. He argues that by refusing to answer his call to battle, Hudson and his client have proven to be “cravens” and should lose the trial by default. Still, he told members of the media that if the other side prefers it, he would agree to proceed with a “blunted practice style” of sword play instead.

Asked whether he is serious about a duel with the opposition lawyer, Ostrom said: “If Mr. Hudson is willing to do it, I will meet him. I don’t think he has the guts to do it.”


The court is yet to rule on Ostrom’s bizarre motion.

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