Legally Weird - FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog


Believe it or not, many states have laws that prohibit warming up a car the way most cold weather state residents do it. One Michigan man learned a hard lesson this past week. Nick Taylor of Roseville, Michigan was hoping to avoid freezing his butt off while driving when he decided to warm up his car before leaving his house. Like countless other Americans living in cold weather states, Nick started his car, then went back inside his home to finish getting ready. After a few minutes, he discovered that an officer had come by and ticketed his car.

Nick learned that it is illegal in the state of Michigan to leave a car running and unattended, even if you are just trying to warm it up in your own driveway. Many drivers are shocked to learn that the Michigan law against unattended idling is actually not that unusual. While generally these laws are geared towards preventing car thefts, the anti-idling laws also are seen as emissions friendly laws designed to reduce pollution.

A Louisiana man is facing criminal charges, likely due to technical difficulties related to text messaging. Namely, accidentally texting incriminating evidence directly to the police.

Last week, a sheriff's deputy received a text message from a wrong number offering to sell crystal meth. The deputy arranged a meet up with Dwayne Herbert, who arrived at the predetermined location carrying not just the drugs, but also two firearms. Herbert was promptly arrested, and now faces serious criminal charges for selling drugs and possession of firearms.

Parents beware! Your fingerprints may no longer be secure against hackers. No, hackers haven't discovered some new fangled technology to lift your fingerprints over the telephone. The danger is right under the noses of parents, and when parents nap, the newest generation of hackers are getting a head start on disrupting household economics.

Well, maybe this was an isolated incident, but one six year old, in Little Rock, Arkansas, this past holiday season, disrupted the whole one-touch fingerprint security industry during mommy's naptime. While her mother napped on the couch, the young hacker opened the Amazon app on her mother's device, gently used her napping mother's hand to get the fingerprint to bypass the password authorization, and then went on a Pokemon shopping spree. The child made 13 purchases, racking up a modest grand total of about $250. Fortunately for the girl's parents, she had modest desires, as only a few of the items were returnable after being ordered.

Few things in life are more depressing than watching someone repeatedly lose at a lottery or casino game, particularly if the person is really hoping to win. It's reminiscent of watching someone eat soup with a fork.

Tawanda Shields of Pennsylvania, a lottery devotee, had lost a few too many times while playing the state's scratch off lottery tickets to keep losing quietly. Starting in mid-2016, Shields began making threatening calls to the state's lottery headquarters as a result of her repeated losses. And as a result of the many threatening calls, she has been arrested and charged with over 50 counts (individual criminal acts), including charges for stalking, harassment, and terroristic threats.

Ohio had good reasons to increase the efficiency of home foreclosures in the state: reducing the time it takes to complete a foreclosure can also cut down on the problems long-vacant properties can create, such as blight, squatters, and vandalism, along with the lowering of neighboring property values. So the state passed House Bill 390, which not only shortened foreclosure timelines, but also removed the requirement that bidding on foreclosed homes at auction begin at two-thirds of the appraised value of the home.

Another piece of the law meant to expedite resale of a vacant home, this meant that a 92-year-old bungalow in Akron recently sold for just $1.

Teach a man to use a vending machine, and he'll panhandle until he can afford some potato chips. Teach a man how to use a coat hanger to rob a vending machine, and he might end up with 28 criminal convictions and behind bars on 23 separate occasions.

For Harley Busse, of Chicago, his modus operandi of stealing change out of vending machines got him a 12 year prison sentence for stealing $44 from a university vending machine. While it may not have been his first conviction, recently, the appellate court in Illinois ruled in Busse's favor, explaining that a 12 year sentence for a petty theft crime was grossly disproportionate.

The popular digital home assistant, the Amazon Echo, affectionately known as Alexa, is being asked by law enforcement to help solve the murder of a Bentonville, Arkansas man. Well, Alexa isn't really being asked anything. Rather, police have obtained a warrant requesting Amazon to turn over information and data that the murder suspect's device may contain regarding the murder.

Police believe that the device may have collected some critical data as a result of the device's "always listening" programming. The Amazon Echo is equipped with several microphones that are always on (so long as the device is on). Those microphones are constantly listening for commands. When the device hears one of the commands, it sends an audio recording to a server where it is transcribed and saved, and data is sent back confirming the response or action the device should take.

Criminals often get nicknamed by police as a result of unique methods of committing their crimes. In Wyoming, a burglar left a distinctive calling card: a half-eaten peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The sandwich, along with a cup of coffee, contained DNA evidence, which linked the burglary suspect to the repeated robberies of a hardware/equipment store and a JC Penny store.

The DNA found on the sandwich and coffee cup linked the suspected burglar to six different burglaries, three at the same hardware store and three at JC Penny. The half-eaten sandwich was found at the scene of the first burglary and ever since the police had been calling the burglar the PB&J burglar. At the scene of one of the JC Penny burglaries, police found a coffee cup which linked the suspect to the scene of the crime.

Working at a company like Google must be one heck of an experience. Unfortunately for Googlers and the rest of us, the tech giant prohibits its employees from sharing their experiences, either aloud or in novelized form.

A recent lawsuit claims Google employees are barred from writing "a novel about someone working at a tech company in Silicon Valley," without the company signing off on the final draft. So don't look for the definitive insider's view of the internet company on the New York Times best-seller list any time soon.

Recently, on the way home from some educational conference in Canada, a small group of travelers got quite a surprise when they reached the border. The group appeared to be in good spirits, and while making witty banter with the border control agent at the US-Canada border, explained that they had bought a lot of those Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs. No one in the group knew that those fun chocolate eggs were illegal in the US.

Needless to say, the border control agent was less than thrilled with the ordeal. Fortunately for the chocolate smugglers, and one random Canadian, rather than do the paperwork, the customs agent let one of the group members walk back over to Canada and give all the Kinder chocolates to someone, and then cross back over.