Legally Weird: November 2010 Archives
Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

November 2010 Archives

Man Threatens to Re-Possess Ex-Girlfriend's Breasts

If your boyfriend gives you a loan so that you can get breast implants, what happens if you don't pay him back in full?

According to Anastasia, a woman in Germany, her ex-boyfriend, is seeking to re-possess her implants after she failed to completely reimburse him. The former couple allegedly had a deal: as long as the woman stayed with the man for a year, she wouldn't have to pay him back. The woman apparently admits that she signed an agreement that said she would stay with the man, named only as "Carsten," for at least a year if he paid for the implants.

Meerkat Stolen from Zoo, Abandoned at Petco

How do you steal a meerkat? Why would you steal a meerkat? What is a meerkat?

Authorities in Kansas City have more questions than answers after a meerkat was stolen from the Kansas City Zoo, except to the latter question -- they now know what the furry animal is. A meerkat is a small mammal and a member of the mongoose family, and were made famous in the popular Animal Planet show "Meerkat Manor." They live in all parts of the Kalahari Desert in Botswana and in South Africa. (Thanks Wikipedia.) If you still can't picture one, 'Timon' from The Lion King was a meerkat.

This time, some 11 days after being stolen from the Kansas City Zoo, the meerkat turned up in an aquarium outside a Petco store. The zoo had not reported him missing because they assumed a prowler must have killed him, they had not contemplated a person jumping over the protective glass area into the animal's area and taking him.

Soldiers Break Into, Lock Themselves Inside Pot Dispensary

This is not the kind of story that makes our boys and girls in uniform look too good. Three active duty soldiers broke into a medical marijuana dispensary near Fort Carson, Colorado, and were accidentally trapped when the door slammed and locked behind them. The trio was neatly arrested by police, who happened to be right next door on another call, on charges of second-degree burglary. They are now awaiting arraignment on the charges.

Larry, Curly and Moe, also known as Darius Thomas, 23, Cory Young, 22, and Ramone Holling, 22, were shown on the security camera prying open the pot dispensary door with a crowbar after breaking the lock, according to the report by local news station KDRO. When the door slammed and jammed shut behind them, the three soldiers found themselves trapped with nary a bud or a buck in sight. All the medicinal marijuana, not to mention the money, had been locked in the safe for the night, dispensary owner Renze Waddington told KDRO.

California Town to Post DUI Names on Facebook?

Let the public shaming continue. We have noted several instances of judges using public shaming as a way to punish those convicted of various crimes. One of the most startling was the thief in Texas sentenced to stand outside the local mall holding a sign detailing his crimes, every weekend, for six years. Our country used to use the public stockade to shame criminals. Now it's billboards, police websites and everyone's favorite: Facebook.

The town of Huntington Beach is struggling with a major drunk driving problem. The Los Angeles Times reports that in 2009 there were 1,687 drunk-driving arrests;one of the highest rates for a city that size in California. The police are looking to get tough and crack down, but not just with the usual road-block/checkpoint tools.

Councilman Devin Dwyer has suggested the police consider posting the names of people arrested for drunk driving on the city's Facebook page, because the local newspaper has stopped publishing the listings, reports The Times. "I didn't think public shaming for driving under the influence was such a bad idea," Dwyer told The Times. "I would use any tool necessary to bring down the numbers of drunk drivers."

Charged with Raping Horse? Call Attorney 'Cowboy Bob'

It's important for an attorney to have a niche. Attorney "Cowboy Bob Clark" knows this as well as anyone:

"Cowboy Bob" Clark is representing a Mobile, Alabama man who stands accused of having sexual relations with a miniature horse, which could also be called animal rape. The man, Eric Easley, is charged with cruelty to animals and for killing or disabling livestock after allegedly tying up the horse and sexually assaulting it in the horse's pen, according to the horse's owner. His bond was set at $4,000, which he posted and was released. Easley contends that he didn't have sex with the horse.

'South Park' Sued for 'Butters' Butt' Parody

Matt Stone and Trey Parker, creators of "South Park," are under fire again for allegedly knocking off material from another site. Last month, Stone and Parker apologized for taking material for a spoof of the hit movie "Inception" from a video on collegehumor.com. This time, the producers of South Park, including Comedy Central and Viacom, are being sued for allegedly stealing material for the video "What What (In The Butt)."

However, Comedy Central says they have an applicable defense to "Butters' Butt" video: their video is a parody and fair use protects it. Fair use is a defense to copyright infringement that protects what would otherwise be a copyright violation. Generally speaking, fair use allows limited use of copyrighted material without permission from the copyright holder under certain circumstances.

Kentucky Man Forced to Eat His Own Beard

Two men in Kentucky were sentenced on Tuesday for forcing another man to eat his own beard. At knife point, of course. The defendants, Troy F. Holt, 47, and James E. Hill, 51, are now on probation and, if they do not further break the law for the respective periods of five and four years, they will have all charges against them dismissed.

How did we get here?

Although the event, er, crime took place in 2009, "details about the beard-eating were not widely known until last week." According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, the victim, Harvey Westmoreland and his brother Joseph were held at knife-point in a barn on Willisburg Road in western Anderson County. After some heavy drinking that according to Holt, "go out of control" Holt whipped out a pocket knife, cut off Westmoreland's beard and forced him to eat it while accomplice James Hill stood by, sling blade at the ready.

Half Baked? Kids Arrested for Selling Cupcakes

Teens in New York were busted by police for illegal sales recently. It's not what you might think, however. The 13-year-olds weren't charged with selling drugs, they were busted for selling cupcakes.

Young entrepreneurs Andrew DeMarchis and Kevin Graff were turned in to local cops for running their illegal operations selling cupcakes, cookies, brownies and other items that were a threat to public safety. According to the New York Daily News, when local Councilman Michael Wolfensohn spotted the stall the kids were running with two schoolmates, he promptly ratted them out. A sheepish police officer had to actually go tell the kids that they were being shut down.

Defendant's Probation Agreement: Send 780 Postcards to Victim's Dad

Two tours of duty in Iraq didn't kill Thomas Towers, Jr., but a reckless driver did. On March 14, 2008, Towers' car was hit by another, driven by Andrew Gaudioso, who was found to have drugs in his system. After 4 months in a coma, Gaudioso was charged with vehicular homicide. Before the case could go to trial, the defense, prosecution and family of Thomas Towers reached an unusual plea deal.

Andrew Gaudioso was able to evade prison, but only if he agreed to a long probation with a twist, reports the St. Petersburg Times. Gaudioso was looking at an 8-year prison sentence, but Tower's, father, Thomas Sr., objected. "I want him to apologize to my family -- every week," Towers remembers telling the assistant state attorney. "I want him to remember, for the rest of his life, that he killed my son."

Sex Toy Assault: Woman Attacks Cop With 'Pleasure Device'

Assault with a sex toy. Now that's just weird.

A suburban Chicago woman is facing misdemeanor aggravated assault charges after allegedly assaulting a police officer, as well of theft of labor or services. What did Carolee Bildsten allegedly use to assault the police officer with, and why? That's going to be a tricky one to answer tastefully. Is this a family audience? The near victim/police officer said Bildsten's alleged weapon was "a rigid feminine pleasure device," but who are we kidding? It was a vibrator, alright?

Lamebook v. Facebook: Parody or Infringement?

Here is a new spin on the whole "do something wrong to someone, demand an pology from them" theme noted in a FindLaw Free Enterprise post. In that case, a magazine editor who lifted content from a blogger without permission asserted the blogger should just be grateful her name was mentioned at all. In this case, a new site has come to bedevil the great overlord of social media: Facebook. Their nemesis? Lamebook. What does this have to do with the unwarranted apology? It's coming.

Facebook, as would any other company with a valuable trademark to protect, threatened to sue Lamebook, for fairly obvious reasons, notes The Wall Street Journal. Lamebook's response? They sued Facebook, for threatening to sue them. Lamebook is seeking a ruling from a federal judge in Austin, Texas, saying that they are not infringing on Facebook's trademark and would the social media behemoth please go away and leave them to their nice little parody, protected of course, by the First Amendment.

Drunk Mom Child Endangerment Case Celebration

When an investigation into your ability to properly parent a child is dropped, a celebration is likely in order. But if the celebration takes the form of the exact reason that prompted the investigation, then maybe it is not such a good idea. Take 27-year-old Jamie Riley.

When Riley got word that the local Department of Children and Family Services dropped their case against her, she began celebrating with vodka. Specifically, she told police she took to the bottle, "because DCFS dropped their investigation." Neighbors called police, reporting that Riley was carrying her 3-month-old child "as if she had a football under her armpit." The Huffington Post reports that police arrived on the scene and Riley threatened to urinate in the squad car.

Want to Get Out of Jury Duty? Mention Jeffrey Dahmer Friendship

Oh the joys of jury duty. The civic responsibility most citizens wish they weren't responsible for. Excuses range from personal prejudices, to physical handicaps, to Jeffrey Dahmer.

Yes, mentioning a friendship with Jeffrey Dahmer can now join the list of viable excuses for getting out of jury duty. For those of you who don't know, Jeffrey Dahmer was a notorious mass murderer convicted of killing and dismembering several boys and men mainly in the Milwaukee area.

In all fairness, the dropping of Dahmer's name came during a routine jury pool inquiry. When a judge was conducting the initial jury screening, he asked the same set of questions he always asks, including "has anyone you know ever been convicted of a crime." It was prospective juror John Backdef's response that caught the courtroom off guard.

Half Naked Bridal Burglar Found Guilty

This is the runaway bride, in reverse. A trouble-making "bride" was found guilty of more than just a bad fashion sense for breaking into a house half naked. Melissa Wagaman, the bridal burglar, broke into a neighbor's house while dressed in a wedding skirt (mind you, not the whole gown) and veil. She faces up to 10 years in prison on assault charges, and more time on a host of other charges.

It took a jury in Washington County, Maryland, only about ten minutes to convict Wagaman on all counts, reports the Herald-Mail. In court testimony, Wagaman explained that she was bi-polar, had PTSD, was sleep deprived and was under the influence of a combination of cold medicine and marijuana. While playing dress up with her friend's daughter, Wagaman slipped on her half of a bridal gown and promptly began hallucinating her mother was trapped in the neighbor's basement.

Posting a Fake Craigslist Personal Ad: Criminal Harassment

Posting a fake Craigslist ad in which you try to sell a friend's car without their knowledge? Funny.

Posting a fake Craigslist ad on Casual Encounters offering sex without that person's knowledge? A crime.

At least, that is what a Massachusetts court recently held. Crystal Oliver is charged with criminal harassment for offering up a "friend's" services one evening, reports Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly's The Docket. Oliver allegedly broke into the home of the victim and used her computer to place an ad offering oral sex. Unsatisfied with just that ad, Oliver then posted a second ad expanding the "sexual conduct to include intercourse." No one will be surprised to hear the victim received approximately 70 phone calls and five text messages between 9 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Mom Shot by 4-Year-Old Son 'Not Bad Parent'

Mixing kids and guns are never a good idea. But if you happen to do so, does that make one a bad parent? That's up for debate. The mother that was shot by her 4-year-old son wants everyone to know that she is not a bad parent for the events that transpired at her Seattle home.

The Seattle Times reports that an unidentified 23-year-old mother was on the phone when she felt the gunshot. Her 4-year-old was watching Elmo on television with his 2-year-old sister when he picked up a loaded 12-gauge semi-automatic shotgun and shot his mother. "I knew where they were. I turned my head to talk on the phone. Then I heard this big bang and saw all this stuff all over my pants," The Times quotes the mother as saying.

Office 'Sex Party' Leads to Federal Lawsuit

There is a time and a place for everything. On second thought, I'm not so sure that's true.

Jessica Webber, a hotel employee in Eugene, Oregon, has filed suit against her boss, Julie Frederick, alleging that the company party became a "sex party." Courthouse News Service reports that Frederick's husband stripped down to thong underwear in the restaurant and performed lap dances to employees and guests. Minutes later, according to the sex party lawsuit, the thong came off and things got even weirder.

Lawyer Accused of Hiding Money Finds Nearly $1M Stashed in Closet

Many lawyers are not numbers people. The aversion to all things math may be a reason one enters the literature-heavy profession. Take South Carolina lawyer Harry Pavilack. He owed creditors and various other people more than $72.5 million. He claimed he only had $50,000 in assets. Being bad at math, he forgot the other $8.9 million he had, and the $1 million in cash he had stored away in his closet. Oops.

Yes, this is a post about the lawyer that hides $1 million in his closet. In all fairness, it was his office closet. The Sun News reports that Pavilack recently filed for bankruptcy claiming to owe more $72.5 million to creditors for mortgages and personal guarantees on his real estate ventures. The 70-year-old Pavilack began to reveal a sizable amount of stashed assets after the bankruptcy investigator assigned to his case "stressed the importance" of disclosing all his assets.

'Superheroes' Arrested After Halloween Brawl

It is always sad when you find out your heroes have feet of clay. And fists of steel. It is even more distressing when the superheroes we so enjoy use their powers to attack each other, as well as Connecticut police officers. Halloween in Stamford, Connecticut, may never be the same.

In the early morning hours of October 31, police were called to the scene of an outright Halloween brawl between some of the characters that were supposed to be on their side. NBC Connecticut reports the officers arrived to find Captain America, locally known as 25-year-old Michael Sanchez, beating the heck out of a man already on the ground. The battle was joined by Spiderman, aka Vincent Decaro, 21, who was pummeling the Captain.

Juror Passes Love Note to Bailiff During Trial

Jury instructions are the very important rules that judges give to jurors before they begin deliberations on a case. We have recently covered several cases where postings on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have become a concern in the jury box and an item to be included in the jury instructions. In this latest case, however, the presiding judge said he should have included another instruction: "Don't do anything stupid."

How did we get here? It all began during a murder trial in Connecticut. According to The Hartford Courant, the case of the murder of a woman and her two daughters by defendant Steven Hayes was entering its penalty phase. However, one alternate juror evidently had her mind on other things. Like the bailiff.

Hells Angels File Trademark Suit Against Designer Alexander McQueen

Who would have guessed the Hells Angels even knew what a trademark is? It seems the leather-wearing, Harley-riding motorcycle gang has a solid understanding of how to protect their intellectual property. Case in point: the bad boy bikers have filed suit against the label bearing the name of the bad boy of haute couture: Alexander McQueen.

The Hells Angeles filed their trademark suit against McQueen for his use of the death's head insignia on rings, purses and dresses, according to The Los Angeles Times. How was the designer label busted for its alleged use of the infringing words "Hells," "Hells Angels" and the insignia of the death's head? The usual way: one of the Angels' girlfriends was shopping online and saw a ring on Saks.com.