Scales Of Justice: Judge Lets Fish-Tossing Fans Off Hook

Here's the o-fish-al ruling from Municipal Court:

Misdemeanor charges against two Seattle Thunderbird hockey fans who threw fish onto the ice during a home game against Portland on Dec. 30 were dismissed yesterday. The two had been charged with reckless endangerment.

"We're going to Ivar's!" shouted victorious Ron Mark, 43, and Tom Loechelt, 32, after Judge Barbara A. Madsen dismissed the case with the stipulation they each pay $25 in court costs.

Mark, who described himself to reporters as a "serial fish thrower," and Loechelt are Redmond neighbors and season-ticket holders. They were ejected from the game and cited by Seattle police after they each heaved a dead rainbow trout onto the ice as players from each team were fighting.

They maintain they actually served a peace-keeping function because the players stopped fighting and skated over to examine the fish.

Their attorney, Diane L. VanDerbeek, argued before the court that fish-throwing at Seattle-Portland hockey games is a harmless, decades-old tradition.

Judge Madsen said she could envision situations where fish-throwing could be harmful - such as a player skating over a fish and getting injured - but cited the men's clean criminal records in dismissing the case.

John Mason, assistant city prosecutor, didn't object to the dismissal, which was fine with pun-loving Mark, who had quipped, "I hope we don't get a carping prosecutor."

Mark, a professional fishing guide, admitted outside court that he and Loechelt, an operating engineer, threw fish on the ice in Portland on Feb. 12 and were escorted from the Coliseum by Portland police. He said one officer jokingly asked, "Do you have a non-resident fish-throwing permit?"

Portland makes its final regular-season visit to Seattle on Saturday night. Will Mark and Loechelt throw more fish? They smiled and Loechelt said, "Make sure you are there and see what happens."