Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog


On the long list of worst news a person could receive, "Your evil twin sister that plotted your kidnapping and murder is getting out of jail" has to be right near the top. And that's the news Sunny Han might be getting if California Governor Jerry Brown approves the state Board of Parole's recommendation that Jeen "Gina" Han be released from prison.

Jeen was convicted of conspiracy to commit murder, burglary, and false imprisonment in 1998 and has spent almost two decades in the Central California Women's Facility in Chowchilla. And prosecutors aren't as convinced of her rehabilitation as is the parole board.

Are Elephants People Too?

Under the law, plenty of things are people: people are people; municipalities, states, and federal offices are people; and even corporations are people, with religious rights and all. And now, a lawyer is arguing that elephants (three specifically, at least) are people, too.

"The Nonhuman Rights Project's lawsuit on behalf of the elephants," according to Steven Wise, founder of the group and filer of the lawsuit at issue, "marks the first time in the world that a lawsuit has demanded that an elephant's legal right not to be imprisoned and treated as a thing be recognized." From whence do these rights derive? And do Minnie, Beulah, and Karen have any shot at getting the same legal rights as Hobby Lobby?

Diabetes service dogs. Emotional support pigs. Kangaroos? As the debate over which species make legally acceptable service and support animals rages on, one intrepid Florida squirrel has thrust herself into the national spotlight. Brutis, an eastern gray squirrel rescued the emotionally unstable Ryan Boylan during Hurricane Matthew last year. "Ever since then I mean, oh my God, I can't imagine not being around her," Boylan told WFLA.

The only problem is that Boylan's condo association has a thing about unregistered emotional support animals (and also unapproved tenants, apparently), and issued him, and Brutis, an eviction notice.

If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. And if you send your ex a bunch of "nasty" text messages and calls in violation of a no-contact order, you'll have to write a bunch of nice about them to make up for it.

So said Maui Judge Rhonda Loo to Daren Young last week, sentencing him to write 144 compliments about his ex-girlfriend in response to the 144 text messages and calls that he was accused of sending her. (We're guessing Young has to turn this homework in to the judge, lest he continue violating the protections order.) Loo's sentence got us thinking of some of our favorite odd punishments, from the Legal Grounds archives:

The plot to Ocean's 14 (or Catorce de Oceano, in this case) this is not. Still, it's a pretty sizzling heist story.

Over the course of almost a decade, $1,251,578 worth of fajitas got delivered to the Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department in Texas. The only problem? The Cameron County Juvenile Justice Department in Texas doesn't serve fajitas, nor has it ever.

Icons from Steve Jobs to Mike Ditka have done it; perhaps Johnny Cash did it best. There is something primeval about flipping the bird, like it was the first, finest, and most simple and complete insult we ever learned and we have yet to find one better. The middle finger's wordless punch transcends linguistic barriers and leaves no doubt as to its intent. It is speech, perfected. Does that make it perfectly legal?

In most cases, flipping the bird is considered free speech protected by the First Amendment. But the limits to that protection might surprise you:

We often warn people going on vacation to not be so busy on social media, for fear of tipping off potential burglars. Well, the same advice might apply to criminals on the run from Johnny Law.

Texas police tracked down a man on their most-wanted list, all thanks to an Instagram post.

So we all like to vent online, and Twitter provides a worldwide platform for some epic rants. Look no further than our Commander in Chief for evidence of that. Given that the targets of those rants are people, and that when we're venting we tend to invent or at least exaggerate some negative aspects of those people, we run the risk of libel.

And anywhere there is risk, insurance is sure to follow. While libel insurance was once standard practice only among journalists, more and more laytweeters are looking into Twitter libel insurance policies.

"Sugardaddy seeking his sugarbaby ... Ask me about your monthly allowance." Seems innocuous enough, right? After all, it's 2017 -- alternative relationship are accepted, if not celebrated, and some legal experts are even recommending sugar daddies as an alternative means to fund a law school education.

But putting that message on a business card and handing it out to underage girls at the beach is altogether something different. So say goodbye to your prospects of landing a sugar baby, Richard Basaraba, and say hello to a six-month ban from al the beaches in Volusia County, Florida.

If I told you a man was captured on cell phone video circling two AT&T service trucks and calmly firing round after round from a revolver into the trucks' tires, then asked you to name the state, I doubt you'd need all 50 guesses before you got to Florida.

Retired Miami-Dade firefighter Jorge Jove wasn't too pleased about the trucks being parked near his house. To be fair, who among us is? But most of us don't walk back into the house, emerge with a hand cannon, and open fire. The 64-year-old proved himself to be a crack shot, up close at least, and earned some criminal charges for his trouble.