Milestone Legal Case: Rudolph v. North Pole Reindeer Team (1964)

Rudolph “the Red-Nosed Reindeer” Jenkins, who became famous for being discriminated against because of the color of his nose, and was not allowed to join the North Pole Reindeer Team, was in court following the Christmas of 1963. After a slew of witnesses ranging from Dasher and Dancer to Donner and Blitzen, the prosecution’s star witness, SANTA, took the stand. We pick up now at that point in this milestone trial.

PROSECUTOR: State your full name for the court, please.

SANTA: Santalacious Frederico Claus.

PROSECUTOR: Mr. Claus, when did you meet my client

SANTA: When he came to try out for the reindeer team.

PROSECUTOR: He didn’t make that reindeer team, did he?

SANTA: No, he didn’t.

PROSECUTOR: And why is that, Mr. Claus?

SANTA: Because he had a red nose.

AUDIENCE: (collectively) Gasp!

PROSECUTOR: Because he had a red nose. Did you know, Mr. Claus, that it is illegal to discriminate against any candidate for a job based of the color of his or her nose?

SANTA: Yes, I did.

PROSECUTOR: And you chose to ignore the law anyway because you’re SANTA and you’re above the law.

DEFENCE: Objection, your honor! The prosecution is badgering the witness and using his celebrity status against him.

JUDGE: Overruled.

PROSECUTOR: No further questions, your honor.
JUDGE: You may step down, Mr. Claus.

SANTA walks down sheepishly amongst a flurry of hushed murmurs from the audience. Rudolph looks pleased with the way it has gone. Next, COMET, the coach of the reindeer team, is called to the stand.

PROSECUTOR: Would you state your name for the jury, please.

COMET: Comet Edwin Mekkelstein.

PROSECUTOR: And Mr. Mekkelstein, you are the Head Coach of the North Pole Reindeer Team. Is that correct?


PROSECUTOR: The official team SANTA uses to fly around the world on Christmas Eve?

COMET: Yes, that’s correct.

PROSECUTOR: Did you know, Mr. Mekkelstein, that Rudolph’s parents went to the extreme of covering his nose with mud to make it look black? Were you aware of that, Mr. Mekkelsteien?

COMET: No, I was not.

PROSECUTOR: His parents put dirt on his face, Mr. Mekkelstein. Dirt! So he would look the way he is supposed to look. I don’t know about you but I think that is pretty sick.

COMET: It is unfortunate.

PROSECUTOR: But when the dirt rubbed off, his father made him wear a prosthetic nose. A prosthetic black nose, Mr. Mekkelstein, so that maybe he would have a chance with the reindeer team. But that prosthetic nose didn’t stay on, and everyone saw that his nose was in fact red.

COMET: Yes, they did. You have to understand that we had a lot of concerns at the time. We felt his nose could cause an unraveling of the unity of our team. As a team of flying reindeer unity is paramount. You also have to understand that we have to fly around the entire world in one night and deliver presents to all the good children. We have to land safely on the roof and work collectively to shove SANTA down the chimney, and God love him but that man has a weight problem.


The judge pounds on the gavel to silence SANTA.

JUDGE: Order in this court!

COMET: Also, you have to understand, we had never seen a deformity like that before. For all we knew it was some kind of epidemic that could infect everyone.

PROSECUTOR: SO, ignorance is your DEFENSE! Mr. Mekkelstein, looking at the records it seems that, and I quote, “one foggy Christmas Eve” Mr. Claus and the reindeer team were in a dilemma. Do you remember that “foggy Christmas Eve,” Mr. Mekkelstein?

COMET: Yes, I do.

PROSECUTOR: And what was the problem, Mr. Mekkelstein?

COMET: We couldn’t see because it was foggy.

PROSECUTOR: So foggy in fact, that, and I’m quoting from witness Frosty the Snowman’s official statement again: “Then one foggy Christmas Eve, SANTA came to say, ‘Rudolph with your nose so bright, won’t you guide our sleigh tonight.'”

He pauses for a moment, letting it all sink in.

PROSECUTOR: Sounds like a desperate man, doesn’t it. Sounds like a man who is begging for the help of a small reindeer who he once shunned. A reindeer whose onetime handicap has now become a literal light in the storm! Isn’t that right, Mr. Mekkelstein!


JUDGE: Order in this court!

COMET: Yes, yes! Okay! Yes! We discriminated against Rudolph and then we unfairly put him on the spot when we needed a really bright light to get through the storm.

PROSECUTOR: Mr. Mekkelstein, you have hit the nail on the head. My client feels he was abused by the reindeer team every which way and he is seeking restitution. Do you think that’s too much to ask?

COMET: No, I guess not.

PROSECUTOR: Thank you, Mr. Mekkelstein. No further questions. You may step down.


COMET walks through the court trying not to look SANTA in the eye. Consequently he fell onto Lady Snowina’s lap and is slapped.

The trial continued and both the DEFENCE and prosecution called several more witnesses.

Finally, Rudolph was called to the stand. He gave a heartfelt testimony full of tears and hope and a little bit of peppermint oatmeal.

The prosecution quoted Frosty the Snowman’s testimony, reminding the court that after SANTA asked him to guide them through the storm, “then how the reindeer loved [SANTA],” pointing out that Rudolph seemed at that time not to hold contempt for SANTA.

In the end, the jury found the North Pole Reindeer Team guilty on 12 counts of discrimination, laughing at, calling names, not allowing to participate in reindeer games (such as Monopoly, for example), and putting on the spot after doing said things. Their statement was as follows:

“We the jury find COMET Mekkelstein, SANTA Claus, and the entire North Pole Reindeer Team guilty of conspiring to discriminate against a fellow reindeer based only on the rosy hue of his nose.

Although we have found that Rudolph Donner did indeed have a very shiny nose that if you ever saw you might think glowed, we do not believe this was cause enough for the laughing, reindeer game segregation, and otherwise unreindeer-like behavior. We believe that Rudolph is an inspiration to weirdos everywhere, and we would like to shout out with glee, but we have to use quiet voices since we’re in court, but still we think, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer will go down in history…in a good way, we mean.

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