Legal Grounds - The FindLaw Legal News with an Attitude Blog


Every relationship has its ups and downs, and sometimes we just need a little break from a loved one to get some relief and some perspective. And other times we tell our wife we'd "rather be in jail than at home," walk into a bank, hand a teller a note that reads "I have a gun, give me money," and wait to be arrested.

That was 70-year-old Lawrence John Ripple's domestic situation when he robbed the Bank of Labor in Kansas City earlier this year. But the unhappy thief might not have received the punishment he wanted. Last week, a U.S. District Court judge sentenced Ripple to six months of home confinement. Congratulations, Mrs. Ripple!

Remember Judge Arnold Ogden Jones II of Wayne County, North Carolina? Maybe not. As a reminder, he was the esteemed jurist who tried to obtain his wife's text messages by offering an FBI agent "a couple cases of beer" and $100. Now-former Judge Jones was arrested, indicted on three federal charges, convicted, had the convictions overturned, subsequently pleaded guilty to paying gratuities to a public official, and has now been sentenced to two years probation, $5,000 in fines, and 100 hours of community service.

There are many reasons why a judge, even the one sitting as chairman of the state's Innocence Inquiry Commission, would seek to avoid incarceration. And there are many judges out there who might deserve to be behind bars. Here's a look at both.

Probably. And you might get your friend arrested, too.

Proving that no good deed goes unpunished, Friendswood Police announced they arrested Marissa Ann Sluss and her friend, Hannah Marie Webb after Sluss called the police on herself and admitted to being too drunk to drive. The main problem is that she was behind the wheel when she made the call.

Yes! If you're an inmate in the medium security wing of Chicago's Cook County Jail, that is. But don't expect one of the city's iconic deep dish pies -- it's thin crust only on the menu. And you better trust your cellmate because he might be in charge of toppings -- all of the delivery pizzas are cooked by inmates in the jail's brick oven.

So the only question is: Are the guards partaking in prisoner-made pepperoni pizzas as well?

It's no R2-D2, but the Knightscope Autonomous Data Machine is a pretty cool droid. According to its manufacturer and this dubstep-soundtracked trailer, the K5 can use 360-degree video, thermal imaging sensors, a laser range finder and radar, and even air quality sensors to detect and prevent crime. The K5 can contact law enforcement and even scare off sexual predators prowling around your Tesla in the parking lot.

But the K5 has one apparent vulnerability: 40-something drunk dudes in Silicon Valley shopping mall parking lots.

Is Your Uber Driver Sober?

Probably not the question you want to ask yourself as your rideshare rolls up, but after California's Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division (CPED) fined Uber $1.13 million for failing to investigate reports of inebriated drivers, you might want to double check your driver's breath.

A CPED investigation found that Uber's California operation received 2,047 complaints about drivers being under the influence in just one year between August 12, 2014 and August 31, 2015, and only deactivated drivers in 574 of those complaints, or less than one-third of all allegedly drunken drivers.

You know that feeling -- you're eight years old and craving that McDonald's cheeseburger, and you're four-year-old sister wants one too, but your parents are asleep and can't get you to the drive thru. Now, some of us might've just suffered with our hunger pangs, or tried to cobble together some cheeseburger substitute. But that's only because we lacked the ambition of one Ohio boy, who hopped into the family van with his baby sister and headed for the Golden Arches.

And they might've gotten away with it too, if it weren't for those meddling adults, who called the cops on our young heroes. But not before they got their tiny, toddler hands on those sweet, sweet cheeseburgers.

Harrisburg High School's new principal wanted to get the attention of students who were skipping class and their parents. "Many parents send their kids to school and they're thinking they're going to class," Lisa Love told the Patriot-News. "I needed to reach out because of the enormous number not going to class." The school therefore sent suspension notices to 500 of its 1,100 students last week, punishing kids for not going to class by not allowing them to attend class.

While this may seem an odd punishment, it was designed as part of a larger effort by the Pennsylvania school to improve test scores, a plan school officials intended to present to parents and the news media had not a fire alarm been pulled during that presentation.

Harrisburg High's Lean on Me-esque efforts got us thinking about some other crazy high school legal stories, so here are some of our favorites, from our archives:

In what is being heralded as major win for those that want to eat healthier, but not too much healthier, nearly two dozen Dunkin' Donuts locations in Massachusetts will stop giving customers margarine, or butter substitute, when those customers order buttered bagels. Unfortunately, it took a lawsuit filed by one disappointed Dunkies devotee to get the chain to stop churning out bagels with fake butter.

While many might be surprised to learn that Dunkin' Donuts even sells bagels (we've all seen them, but never knew anyone actually bought 'em), those customers that ordered their bagels buttered have been tricked. Although the donut dealers have real butter, it is refrigerated and not left at the comfortable spreadable room temperature that true butter aficionados prefer, for food safety reasons. When customers order a buttered bagel, employees have been spreading margarine, or vegetable spread, on the bagels instead, all because those spread easier than chilled butter.

"It's outrageous," defense attorney Sherry Tash told the Kennebec Journal. "He is one of the people who's supposed to protect the sanctity of the courtroom, and he goes and does this."

The "he" to whom Tash is referring is Sgt. Joel Eldridge of the Kennebec County Sheriff's Office. And the "this" to which she is referring is a photo Eldridge snapped of Tash's notes, which he then allegedly sent to Assistant District Attorney Francis Griffin while Griffin and Tash were conferring with a judge in chambers.

No, it's not illegal, but it is a major breach of legal ethics and courtroom protocol.