Legally Weird - FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog


How a Russian Ballet Dancer Ended Up in Guantanamo

Many Americans have probably forgotten about Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and the naval base there, where foreign detainees are held with limited legal process. The detainees are believed to be terrorists, or at least associated with terrorist organizations, and some have been in custody for more than a decade, since the Iraq War.

One such detainee is Ravil Kamilevitch Mingazov, and his story is odd. Trained as a professional dancer, he was in Russia's military ballet troop, did passport control at the Mongolian border and managed military food operations. But somehow Mingazov ended up in Pakistan where he was picked up by American authorities about 14 years ago. He is now seeking release and his story is interesting, revealing just how hard these cases are to decide.

Starbucks Latte Drinkers Who Want More Java May Sue

When a cup of coffee costs a few bucks, you want every penny’s worth. Now Starbucks latte drinkers who say the company has been shorting them on their java and milk drinks got the green light and their lawsuit against the Seattle coffee corporation is going forward, reports Reuters.

The suit was filed in federal court in San Francisco and claims that Starbucks changed its latte recipe in 2009 in order to save money on milk. The plaintiffs say that the company shorts latte drinkers by instructing baristas to use “fill lines.” Customers are deprived of the amount of coffee claimed on the cups by about 25 percent and the plaintiffs want damages for fraud and false advertising.

Hurricane Sandy Fraudster Owes NY Almost $90K

When tragedy strikes it's not nice to second-guess alleged victims and ask if they really need help. But afterward, if it becomes apparent that a person was not deserving of the emergency assistance they received, the state will make them pay.

That is what happened to a Queens, New York woman who claimed that she was a Hurricane Sandy victim and lived in hotels on the state's dime. She also took food money from the American Red Cross, which she spent on clothes. Caterina Curatolo, 51, this week pled guilty to filing false reports and collecting nearly $90,000 in benefits intended for Hurricane Sandy victims. She was placed on probation and ordered to pay restitution.

You know how the saying goes: "Give a man a drone, and he'll strap a flamethrower on that bad boy and roast a turkey with it." (Teach a man to drone, and he'll talk turkey for the rest of his life.) And here comes the Federal Aviation Administration, trying to take away your god-given right to flamethrowing-drone-roasted turkey.

But how far does the long arm of the airplane law actually reach? Surely not into our forested backyards, where we should be free to attach any old incendiary device to an unmanned whirlybird and fly that thing all over tarnation.

FL Mom Tackles Kidnapper, Saves Daughter From Abduction

There is such a thing as everyday heroism, when regular folks do something extraordinary because the situation demands it. A Florida mother and an off-duty Citrus County Sheriff's Deputy are fine examples of this, after the mom saved her daughter from a kidnapping and the sheriff's deputy was there to stop the fleeing suspect and arrest him.

The incident happened this week, midday in the aisle of a Dollar General store, and the accused is now in custody awaiting a psychiatric evaluation. He is 30 years old and has only a misdemeanor criminal record, reports NBC News, but the charges against him now are very serious as this was a brazen attempt.

"Don't f*ing shoot!" Those are the words of Bud, an African gray parrot in Ensley Township, Michigan. And they may have also been the last words of Martin Duram, Bud's owner who was shot and killed in his home last year.

So who's the prime suspect, according to Bud? And will he be able to testify at trial?

Inconsistent Law Yields Bizarre Charges for Tutor Dating Teen

In an effort to protect minors, there are numerous laws enacted that criminalize adult interactions with youths, and sometimes these laws are not entirely consistent, creating strange situations. This is illustrated by a recent Houston, Texas case in which a 51-year-old math tutor is being charged for possession of child pornography for having images in his phone of a 17-year-old student with whom he had consensual sexual relations which are not illegal.

Texas law puts the age of consent for sex at 17 but criminalizes possession of lewd images of a child under 18. That means that although the tutor is not being prosecuted for touching his student, who says she willingly submitted and reportedly still wants to see him, he is charged for the photos in his phone and for allegedly cajoling her into sending them.

3 Weird Divorce and Breakup Laws

First you say I do and walk down the aisle with your true love. Then you hang out for a while and say I don't, and you're headed for divorce court.

Whatever state you are in, you will likely come across some strange marriage and divorce laws. Some make sense if you think about them a little -- and we will -- and some are less logical. Let's look at a few funny annulment and divorce rules from around the country.

Mustache Matters: Bearded Valedictorian Barred from Graduation

With the bearded hipster so ubiquitous, few would have expected this, but facial hair is under attack. More precisely, a mustachioed valedictorian was barred from attending his high school graduation in Amite, Louisiana this past weekend due to his facial hair.

Jones has a 4.0 grade point average and will be attending college next year on academic and sports scholarships, reports the Huffington Post. But he did not walk in his graduation and was asked to turn over his cap and gown.

Old Man Writes to Federal Court to Complain About Deflategate Decision

They say that with age comes patience and wisdom, but one World War II veteran, 93, is short on the former. He wrote a letter to federal judges on the Second Circuit Court of Appeals to let them know that their recent intervention in a sports scandal is, well, scandalous.

Calling a decision to overturn a ruling for quarterback Tom Brady and reinstate his four-game suspension for Deflategate "asinine," Warren B. Lessing chided the judges for wasting time. "Don't you have anything more important to do," he asked in his letter, reports the New York Daily News. Let's see why he's angry.