Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

April 2013 Archives

Police Pot Holders Ordered to Return Marijuana Seized 1 Year Ago

It appears that respect for judicial officers has gone up in smoke in Washington state, as Tacoma police have refused a court order to return seized marijuana to its owner.

Judge Jack Emery ordered the police to return the pot to Joseph L. Robertson back in February, but law enforcement has decided to bogart his stash, reports The News Tribune.

Despite obvious issues with police refusing to follow a court order, the larger question remains: Do Robertson and others in Washington have legal property rights to their grass?

Man With Tourette's Barred From Flight for Saying 'Bomb' 100 Times

A man with Tourette syndrome says he wasn't allowed to board a flight at Reagan National Airport because he blurted out the word "bomb" nearly 100 times.

Since the flight left without him, 19-year-old Michael Doyle -- and his incredibly supportive friend who stayed behind with him -- missed taking part in an 18th-century battle re-enactment in Puerto Rico, which the two of them had been planning to attend for the last two years, reports ABC News.

Considering Doyle's uncontrollable outbursts, was it legal to bar him from flying?

Bike Thief Apologizes, but is 'Borrowing' a Defense?

Bike theft is at the center of every bicyclist's sweat-soaked nightmares, but one recent case ended with an endearing apology that's gone viral.

The anonymous thief had the courtesy to return the bike, attaching a handwritten letter of apology for getting "straight white girl wasted" and being "too broke to afford a cab, so I borrowed your bike without asking."

"It was a lusciously smooth ride from what I remember," the thief continued. She (if she is indeed a she) also left a coupon for a free lava cake at Domino's! Aw, shucks.

So is this Apologetic Broke Bike Thief even a thief?

Is It Illegal for Kids to Read News Online?

Are you a teenager who reads news online? In the eyes of the Justice Department, you may technically be a criminal.

The Department of Justice (DOJ) under both the Bush and Obama administrations have interpreted the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act very broadly. So broadly, in fact, that it can be considered a crime for many kids to access news websites, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF).

Teacher's Molestation Defense: Too 'Racist' to Touch Black Kids

Sounding like a Chris Rock joke gone terribly awry, a former first-grade teacher in Texas insists she is too racist to have fondled a 7-year-old female student in her classroom.

Esther Irene Stokes, 61, taught at Northwest Preparatory Academy in Humble, Texas. She's charged with indecency with a child in an incident that allegedly occurred April 10.

But Stokes is relying on a strange defense: She claims that she doesn't like touching black children, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Woman Robs Bank Armed With Pasta Sauce

It is surely a sign that our society has hit hard times when bank robbers pretend that their canned goods are explosives. But Ophelia A. Neal must have been cleaning out her pantry when she allegedly robbed a Michigan bank armed with two cans of pasta sauce.

The saucy suspect did not have time to hit another bank (perhaps armed with a baguette painted to look like a bazooka), and was arrested for bank robbery and parole violations.

The devil is in the details of any crime, and the details of Neal's alleged robbery were delicious.

Thief Steals Wallet, Trashes Bag With Cash

In Neuman, Georgia, it isn’t just fluoride and proper brushing that are competing with dentist Dr. Artie Ricaud for his money. This Neuman dentist almost lost the hard-earned tooth cash to a thief, one who tossed a bag containing thousands in cash in the trashcan after helping himself to the contents of Ricaud’s wallet.

Maybe it’s true that you don’t know what you’ve got, til it’s gone … or until the theft charges hit.

Grounded! Six-Year-Old Drives Dad's Car to Get Chinese Food

Some kids dream of trading in their Power Wheels for a real car, other kids just have a midnight craving for Chinese food. A six-year-old Michigan boy whose name is not Macaulay Culkin tackled both dreams when he was found driving around in the family Ford Taurus at 6 a.m. to pick up Chinese takeout.

The little dude could hardly see over the dash, which sounds adorable, but is actually quite scary.

GF Attacks Man Who Won't Stop Singing 'Thrift Shop'

Getting a song stuck in your head may be bad enough. But imagine if someone like your boyfriend serenades you constantly with that song you can't stand.

This is what happened to 23-year-old woman Samantha Malson. Her boyfriend had Macklemore and Ryan Lewis' "Thrift Shop" in his head and reportedly felt the need to sing it out loud to Malson on all occasions.

The Colorado woman had enough and broke down. She allegedly pushed and choked her 26-year-old boyfriend to get him to stop, reports KROQ. Given that "Thrift Shop" is currently the number one single in the country, Malson may have shut her boyfriend up, but she will likely need to leave her radio off and avoid going out in public if she never wants to hear that song again.

Banana and Lobster Allegedly Steal UNC Chapel Hill Sculpture

First Sesame Street, now food. In the wee hours of the night, four people -- including two dressed as a banana and lobster -- sauntered into the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's Student Union building and allegedly 'split' after stealing a wooden critter sculpture worth $1,000, The Daily Tar Heel reports.

The lobster and friends might soon find themselves in hot water for larceny, or possibly even burglary.

Texas Restaurant Chain Trademarks 'breastaurant'

The CEO of restaurant chain Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill announced that the company has officially trademarked the name "breastaurant" with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Perhaps a tongue-in-cheek name used by other restaurants like "Hooters" and "Twin Peaks" and "Canz" was not good enough for this Texas-based chain. Instead, they had to hit their customers over the head by specifying exactly why they are going to the restaurant, or excuse us, breastaurant.

CEO Doug Guller stated in a press release that he was really excited about getting the trademark and said that his employees hard work over the past seven years "solidifies that Bikinis Sports Bar & Grill is America's ONLY breastaurant," reports Fox News.

DUI Suspect Dances Naked After Crash; Hazmat Responds

What began as a minor DUI crash in Orlando, Florida, morphed into a bizarre scene à la "Footloose." Only the guy cutting loose was naked and allegedly high.

Upon entering Felix Lockett's vehicle, three law-enforcement officers fell sick from formaldehyde exposure. Lockett allegedly told investigators he'd been mixing formaldehyde with marijuana and smoking it, the Orlando Sentinel reports. After he crashed into a wall, Lockett proceeded to strip off his clothes and dance in the middle of the street.

Despite the amusing tale of the toe-tapping toker, Florida's drugged driving laws are no laughing matter.

Does N.M.'s Space Travel Liability Law Go Too Far?

Commercial space travel may sound like a blast. But if anyone gets hurt, certain personal injury lawsuits may not fly, thanks to a new law.

New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed legislation Tuesday that limits the civil liability of commercial spaceflight operators and parts suppliers. The bill is an effort to protect the state's nearly quarter-billion-dollar investment in commercial space travel, including the construction of a futuristic "spaceport," and to keep billionaire Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic firmly grounded in the state, Insurance Journal reports.

The specific purpose of the law is to protect spacecraft parts suppliers from lawsuits filed by future passengers. So what exactly does the space travel liability law say?

Who knew cat-sitting could be so dangerous? William Baxter of Homer Glen, Illinois, claims he was "viciously attacked, bit and clawed" by a cat he was watching for his neighbor, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.

Baxter has filed a lawsuit against the cat's owner, Christine Bobak, claiming significant injuries to his ring finger and left arm. He's seeking a whopping $100,000 in damages.

But wait, it gets weirder: Baxter and Bobak may actually be married.

Zoo's Easter Egg Hunt Turns Wild When 2 Moms Fight

An Easter egg hunt at a zoo in Seattle turned "rotten" when two mothers started to fight, according to police.

Police say that one mother allegedly shoved a child to allow her own child to get to some brightly colored eggs. The other kid's mother was obviously not happy, and confronted the allegedly pushy woman.

Things quickly escalated, and the two women started fighting. The fight was so intense that the women had to be separated three or four times only for them to go back at each other, reports USA Today.

No Foolin', April Fool's Pranks Can Be Arresting

Today is April Fool's Day, which means tomorrow you'll probably read about a few April Fool's pranks-gone-wrong that resulted in arrests.

The line between a well-played joke and a crime can be fine indeed. And with the proliferation of viral pranks on the Internet, jokesters may be pushing the limits of what is legal.

Here's a look at five April Fool's pranks that ended up with some jokers under arrest: