Legally Weird - FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog


Just about every state has enhancement statutes that allow misdemeanor thefts to become felonies if the value of what's stolen exceeds a different dollar amount. Missouri certainly thought it was one of those states. But a recent state supreme court ruling determined that a flaw in how Missouri criminal statutes are worded means that most stealing offenses in the state can no longer be charged as felonies, no matter how much was stolen.

So how did the Missouri legislature screw this up? And how are they going to fix it?

Back in 2014, years before avowed racist Dylann Roof slaughtered nine black parishioners in a Charleston church and drew national attention to states still officially incorporating the Confederate Battle Flag into official locations and ceremonies, California passed a law prohibiting the state from displaying or selling merchandise emblazoned with the Confederate flag.

So does that law cover a citizen's Civil War painting depicting the flag displayed at a county fair? One resident and Civil War buff is trying to figure that out, and he's suing the state to do it.

The Garden State can breathe (and drive) a little easier tonight. After a proposed bill was rumored to ban drinking coffee while driving, the law's author and sponsor has clarified matters. Assemblyman John Wisniewski said his proposed legislation, which doesn't mention food or drink, is aimed at distracted drivers and he can't imagine police officers pulling people over for drinking coffee.

But the fact that so many Tony Sopranos were worried about being ticketed for DWC (Driving With Coffee? Driving While Caffeinating?) may reveal a fatal flaw in the intended legislation.

In an odd case of becoming the thing you hate, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has been assigned to serve as defense counsel on a criminal case by the state's public defender office. This is the same public defender's office whose budget he's been slashing for the past seven years.

In response to these budget cuts, Director of the Missouri State Public Defender Michael Barrett invoked a previously unused state statute that gives his office authority to assign cases to private attorneys. Gov. Nixon, previously the state's attorney general, was Barrett's attorney of choice.

Not if New York has anything to say about it. The state that brought you illegal stop-and-frisk polices, while at the same time trying (and failing) to make large sodas and fantasy football illegal, is now trying to criminalize playing Pokemon Go, at least for sex offender parolees.

"While children believe they are out to catch a Pokemon," wrote New York Senator Jeff Klein, "what might really be lurking could be a predator instead of a Pikachu."

If you're the kind of grandparent that would jump at the chance to help your grandchildren (and let's face it, what grandparent isn't?), you'll want to be a little more careful lending a helping hand this summer. The ever-popular grandparent scam -- wherein scammers pose as grandchildren in desperate need for financial help -- is booming again, thanks to kids travelling on summer vacation.

So be on guard, grandparents, and know how to stay safe from the grandparent scam this summer.

The urban legend has people waking up in bathtubs full of ice and discovering that their kidney has been removed, all because of a lucrative black market for internal organs. And that black market exists because most state and federal laws prohibit people from selling their organs, citing public policy concerns and the negative incentives that a body part market would create.

But it's your body -- surely you can lop a little of it off if you choose to, right? It turns out there are a few pieces of you that you can sell, so here's a quick legal guide to selling your body parts for fun and profit:

Did 'Antiques Roadshow' Bros, Keno Twins, Commit Auction Fraud?

If you watch Antiques Roadshow on public television, then you know its charming hosts, twin brothers Leslie and Leigh Keno. They are sophisticated and handsome fellows, 59, with fancy credentials and a passion for Americana. They love old items and they know better than most what is and is not junk, what things are worth. That is why their actions have been raising eyebrows lately.

The brothers have, until recently, enjoyed great reputations in the fine collectibles community. But the Kenos drew suspicion when they bid against each other at auctions, driving prices absurdly high, and fell behind on their bills. The New York Times reports that the twins are accused of auction fraud. The brothers say it's all a misunderstanding.

Pokemon Go Player Caught: Game Leads Wanted Man to Police

Positive things have been said about Pokemon Go, most notably how it bring reclusives who play video games out into the light of day. But it's unlikely anyone expected the upside of the game that the Milford, Michigan police experienced last week.

A wanted man presented himself to them in front of the station in his pajamas at night, seeking a nearby Pokemon, reports the Huffington Post. The player must be identifying with the characters in his game right now. He got caught by the cops while he was out trying to "catch 'em all."

Fugitive Sect Leader Lyle Jeffs Demands Feds Drop Welfare Fraud Charges

Some people answer to the law of the land and some answer only to their religion. This is essentially the legal argument of Lyle Jeffs, the interim leader of a polygamous sect, the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints (FLDS Church). He is charged with welfare fraud and is a wanted fugitive. Despite this, his lawyers are demanding that charges against him be dropped after Jeffs recently slipped out of his GPS monitor while on supervised release.

Lyle Jeffs, brother of Warren Jeffs who is in prison for his relations with underage girls, is arguing that members of his sect endanger their chances of salvation when they do not pool their welfare benefits. As such, he argues, he should not be charged with a $12 million food stamps benefit fraud scheme.