Futility Closet tells the story of a 16th century French attorney who was placed in an unenviable position by the “the authorities in Autun [who] asked him to advocate for the rats, which they put on trial in 1510 for eating the harvest of Burgundy”:
In his defence, Chasseneux showed that the rats had not received formal notice; and, before proceeding with the case, he obtained a decision that all the priests of the afflicted parishes should announce an adjournment, and summon the defendants to appear on a fixed day.
At the adjourned trial, he complained that the delay accorded his clients had been too short to allow of their appearing, in consequence of the roads being infested with cats. Chasseneux made an able defence, and finally obtained a second adjournment. We believe that no verdict was given. — Sabine Baring-Gould*, Curiosities of Olden Times, 1896