Legally Weird - FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog


Sixteen Amish men and women convicted of federal hate crimes for chopping off the hair and beards of fellow followers of the Amish faith had their convictions overturned by an Ohio appeals court.

The series of attacks, led by the aptly named Samuel Mullet Sr., were charged as hate crimes by federal prosecutors in 2012, resulting in a 15-year sentence for Mullet and lesser sentences for 15 of his followers, eight of whom still remain in prison, reports The New York Times.

What was behind these bizarre hair attacks and why did the court overturn the defendants' hate crime convictions?

When it comes to choosing an arch-nemesis, a 12-year-old boy selling lemonade and cookies from a front-lawn card table seems like a peculiar choice.

But a Florida man seems determined to shut down a neighborhood boy's pop-up lemonade shop, claiming the lemonade stand is an "illegal business" that reduces the value of his home, reports the Tampa Bay Times.

How are the neighbor's complaints going over with local authorities?

A wanted parolee's Ice Bucket Challenge video on Facebook didn't inspire donations -- it inspired a tipster to call the cops.

Jesean Morris, 20, was wanted for an outstanding warrant, and Omaha police received a tip on his specific location from someone who saw Morris' Facebook video. According to the Omaha World-Herald, Morris was hauled in by police on Friday and booked for criminal impersonation, resisting arrest, and assaulting an officer.

How did Morris' Ice Bucket Challenge video leave him out to dry?

The conventional wisdom is that increased use of drugs and alcohol in married couples leads to greater risk of domestic violence.

However, the results of a new study are casting some doubt on that wisdom, at least as far as marijuana is concerned, reports The Huffington Post.

Does hitting the bong as a married couple really make it less likely that you'll hit you spouse?

An Oregon woman has confessed to setting a 51,000-acre wildfire to help out her "bored firefighter friends," and now she's due to be sentenced.

Sadie Renee Johnson, 23, was convicted in federal court in May after pleading guilty to setting the Sunnyside Turnoff Fire, which forced evacuations of dozens of homes and closed the Kah-Nee-Ta Resort and Village, reports Central Oregon's KTVZ. In Johnson's defense, she said she thought she was only setting "a two-day fire."

So what legal consequences are facing this strangely motivated arsonist?

Burning Man is almost upon us, and eager Burners may not know a few very important legal facts about partying on the Playa.

For many, Burning Man is a symbol of freedom from authoritarian rule, social restrictions on dress, and inhibitions regarding drug use. But while it may feel like a pocket universe, it's actually still in Nevada... in the United States. And it's still subject to many laws.

So don't be a legal sparkle pony, know these five Burning Man legal facts before you hit the Playa:

A Montana man who police say felt "ripped off" when a stripper accepted $350 for a private dance but refused to have sex with him may have gotten a little bit more than he bargained for in the end.

William McDaniel, 53, of Butte, called 911 to report the stripper's failure to provide him with the happy ending he had envisioned for his private dance, reports The Montana Standard.

Police responded, but not in the way McDaniel had hoped.

British bride-to-be Alex Lancaster was shocked when she got the call from her future father-in-law telling her that her American fiance Tucker Blandford had committed suicide by throwing himself in front of a car.

But Lancaster was no less shocked when, upon calling Blandford's parents house only a few hours later, she discovered that Tucker was actually quite alive, reports the UK's Daily Mirror. Blandford had apparently gotten cold feet about the couple's engagement. But instead of calling off the wedding, he decided to call his fiance and pretend to be his own dad; not exactly the most well-conceived plan.

Beyond just being a bad idea, is faking your own death actually legal?

Relatives of a living man who was legally declared dead have been told they must pay back the benefits they received from his "death."

Donald Miller Jr. was declared legally dead in 1994 and again in 2013, but the 62-year-old Ohio resident is still very much alive. According to The Courier of Findlay, once the Social Security Administration learned of Miller's not-so-dead status, it demanded repayment of death benefits paid to his children, totaling more than $47,000.

How can Miller be legally dead but still alive enough for his children to owe the SSA money?

It's either one heck of a way to celebrate "Shark Week" or some good old fashioned synchronicity: A church in Texas cooked up 75 pounds of shark meat taken from a whopping 809-pound tiger shark donated to the church earlier this month.

The meat fed about 90 homeless and needy parishioners at Timon's Ministry in Corpus Christi, reports The Associated Press. The 12-foot shark was the largest fish ever donated to the church, and took the fisherman who caught it more than seven hours to reel in.

But while the shark feed was certainly a noble gesture (except in the eyes of the shark, perhaps), was it legal?