Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

June 2014 Archives

Twitter Tip: SCOTUSblog Is Not the U.S. Supreme Court, People!

With today's controversial decision in the Hobby Lobby case, the U.S. Supreme Court is drawing its fair share of criticism on social media. But just like with last year's High Court decision in a divisive EPA case, much of the invective on Twitter is being directed at the wrong account -- namely, @SCOTUSblog.

SCOTUSblog is, as its name implies, a blog dedicated to covering the Supreme Court of the United States (which lawyers affectionately refer to as "SCOTUS"). The blog is not officially affiliated with the Court (and in fact doesn't even have a press pass), but it's been bearing the brunt of some hilarious misdirected Twitter hatred by people who think that it speaks for The Nine.

From the looks of it, though, SCOTUSblog's social media staff are handling it in the best possible way:

Nanny Nightmare: Live-in Help Refuses to Work -- Or Leave

A California couple is living a nanny nightmare: Their live-in nanny quit doing any work, but refuses to leave the family's home.

The couple found the 64-year-old nanny on Craigslist in March, reports Los Angeles' KCBS-TV. She agreed to move into the couple's home in Upland, east of L.A., to take care of their three kids and do housework in exchange for rent. But after a few months, the couple says the nanny stopped working. The couple asked her to leave, but she refused.

Now the couple say she comes and goes as she pleases, continues to live in their house rent-free as the couple tries to navigate the legal process of having her removed. How is this legal?

2 Guys Toss $1M Lotto Ticket in Garbage, Then Sue N.J. Lotto

Two unlucky chumps are suing the New Jersey Lotto after they supposedly tossed a winning ticket worth $1 million in the garbage in 2013.

New York residents Salvatore Cambria and Erick Onyango filed suit against the New Jersey Lottery Commission, the lotto commissioner, and even Gov. Chris Christie for failing to post the current winning Powerball numbers on the state lottery's website on the night of the drawing. The pair alleges that because of the delay in posting the current winning numbers, they thought their ticket was a loser and tossed it in the garbage.

Can you really sue the lotto for a ticket you toss in the trash?

N.Y. May Ban 'Tiger Selfies' Trending on Tinder, Dating Sites

A bill passed by New York legislators seeks to outlaw so-called "tiger selfies" increasingly popping up on dating sites such as Tinder.

The bill actually wasn't drafted with these photos in mind. In fact, the bill's author, New York State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal, hadn't even heard of the "tiger selfie" trend until after her bill was passed, reports CNET.

What are tiger selfies, and how would they be affected by this proposed law which awaits the governor's signature?

Va. Man, 27, Agrees to Vasectomy to Reduce Prison Term

A Virginia man accused of child endangerment has agreed to get a vasectomy in exchange for a reduced prison term.

To some, the plea deal recalls Virginia's dark history of forced sterilizations during the eugenics movement of the early- to mid-20th century. But according to The Associated Press, prosecutors see the deal as being the best way to keep the man in the case -- who reportedly has at least seven children with six women -- from fathering any more children.

What led to this unorthodox deal?

Fla. Law Takes Bite Out of Pressing Issue: Pop-Tart Guns

Florida has proved that it won't be falling behind the times by enacting a law that prohibits schools from punishing children who chew Pop-Tarts into simulated guns.

Florida Gov. Rick Scott on Friday signed the "Pop-Tart" bill that was spurred by a 7-year-old's suspension for chewing his toaster pastry into a shape that resembled a gun. The new law purports to prevent children from being unreasonably disciplined for these sorts of breakfast-food hijinks, which are apparently a problem in Florida.

What exactly does this new Pop-Tart gun law say?

Graffiti Suspect Tags Courthouse Where His Case Was Being Heard

Sheriff's deputies investigating graffiti at a San Diego County courthouse didn't have too look far to find their suspect. The prolific alleged tagger had been in court just two months earlier facing charges of -- you guessed it -- vandalism.

Francisco Canseco, 18, was arrested again last week, after officers obtained a search warrant for his San Diego home and found graffiti-related supplies that linked him to the courthouse vandalism, reports KNSD-TV. Canseco allegedly tagged several areas inside the courthouse, including the courtroom where his case was being heard.

How exactly were authorities able to link Canseco to the courthouse graffiti?

Ohio Man Cited for Homemade Sobriety-Checkpoint Warning Sign

An Ohio man has been cited for holding a sign that warned drivers of a roadside sobriety checkpoint. He claims his civil rights have been violated.

Douglas Odolecki, 43, of Parma, held a homemade sign stating: "Check point ahead! Turn now!," for which he was cited for "obstructing official business," reports The Associated Press. This incident wasn't Odolecki's first run-in with the law either.

But does he have the right to warn drivers of an upcoming sobriety checkpoint?

N.Y. Pet Owners Can Soon Be Buried With Their Pets

New regulations adopted in New York state are set to allow pet owners to be buried with their pets.

Late New Yorker Joey Ramone would not have approved.

Nevertheless, the regulations are set to take effect next month. What do they allow, and what made New York legislators consider allowing human remains in pet cemeteries in the first place?

Nuns' Lawsuit: Strip Club Next to Convent Is a Nuisance

It's a classic battle: nuns versus strippers. A group of Illinois nuns are suing a neighboring strip club for being a public nuisance and for alleged violations of state law.

The Missionary Sisters of St. Charles Borromeo Scalabrinians allege that nearby Club Allure keeps them up at night with "blinking neon lights and loud thumping music," reports the Chicago Tribune.

Is this suit the premise for a new Whoopi Goldberg vehicle: "Sister Act 3: Sister's Brand New Suit"?

450-Pound Man Busted for Pot Hidden Under Stomach Fat

A Florida man known as "Biggie" allegedly went through the trouble of stashing 23 grams of marijuana under his stomach fat, which is certainly a good hiding place when you weigh 450 pounds.

Unfortunately, he forgot to put on his seat belt.

Seems like something you'd want to do if you were a convicted felon allegedly transporting drugs. But Biggie had what probably seemed to him like a surefire excuse for not buckling up.

Strippers Allegedly Drugged Rich Men, Maxed Out Their Credit Cards

Four NYC strippers may not have had hearts of gold, as they're currently charged with drugging and cleaning out some wealthy customers.

The Gotham strippers were arrested after an eight-month investigation by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration and the New York Police Department into allegations that "dancers had been drugging men" at two strip clubs: Scores in Manhattan and Roadhouse NYC in Queens, reports the New York Daily News.

How did these strippers go from nip tip to drug slip to credit card dip?

Aunt's Fake Facebook Page Leads to Teen's Murder-for-Hire Arrest

The aunt of a troubled Alabama teenager got more than she bargained for when she created a fake Facebook account to teach her niece a lesson about online safety.

AL.com reports that just days after the aunt began chatting with her niece Marissa Williams via a fake Facebook account, posing as a man named "Tre 'Topdog' Ellis," Williams allegedly asked Ellis to kill her aunt, her aunt's fiance, her cousin, and even the family dog.

What kind of trouble did this oversharing teen get herself into?

Ex-Cop Busted for Hidden-Camera Bathroom Videos on Porn Site

A Missouri police officer has been accused of recording hidden-camera bathroom videos of men pooping and then posting the videos on his porn site.

David Cerna, 33, who's been -- ahem -- relieved of duty since his arrest, will face a Clayton, Missouri, grand jury in July on invasion of privacy charges for his alleged hidden-camera bathroom antics, reports St. Louis' KTVI.

What's the scoop on Cerna's poop shoots?

Pink Cover Band 'Ruined' by Bad, Ugly Singer, $10M Lawsuit Claims

A New York lawyer who claims to have once played drums for Michael Bolton is suing a woman for $10 million for ruining his Pink cover band with her alleged "subpar" musicianship and unattractiveness.

According to The New York Post, Long Island lawyer Charles Bonfante had grand plans for the area's first cover act dedicated to the Grammy-winning pop star Pink -- until those plans were foiled by 40-year-old singer Collette McLafferty.

What was Bonfante's beef with McLafferty's Pink impression?

Man Who Drove 1,900 Miles With Girlfriend's Corpse Won't Be Charged

A Michigan man drove 1,900 miles with his girlfriend's corpse in the passenger seat, and he neglected to report to anyone that she had died.

Ray Tomlinson, 62, and his mother, 93, had picked up Tomlinson's 31-year-old girlfriend from a mental health facility in Arizona and began the long drive home to Detroit. Only one problem: His girlfriend died at some point during the trip.

Detroit's WDIV-TV reports that Tomlinson kept on driving, planning to drop off the dead body at the county morgue once they returned to Michigan.

Ariz. Candidate Changes Name to 'Cesar Chavez,' but Will It Work?

In politics, if at first you don't succeed, try, try again ... and maybe change your name to Cesar Chavez?

That's the tactic being employed by one Arizona congressional candidate, who came up short in previous runs for political office under his given name Scott Fistler.

What's the story behind Cesar Chavez (the candidate, not the legendary labor activist) and can you really change your name to Cesar Chavez just to try to win an election?

'Kia Hamster' Dancer Busted for Alleged Disability Fraud

The man who once played a dancing hamster in a Kia Soul commercial has been arrested on suspicion of insurance fraud.

Leroy Barnes, 27, of Los Angeles, had allegedly been collecting disability insurance benefits after he claimed he was struck by a "piece of ceiling" during a gig. However, LA's KCBS-TV reports that Leroy allegedly told doctors he was unemployed -- when he was actually getting work as a dancer, both in commercials and for major recording artists.

Does Barnes have a chance of shuffling his way out of this one?

Boy, 13, Charged as Adult Based on Size of Genitals: Report

When does a boy become a man in the eyes of the law? In one Russian courtroom, it apparently depends at least partially on the size of your genitals.

A boy suspected of theft, whose family claims is only 13 years old, is set to be tried as an adult after an examination of his teeth and his genitals led doctors to believe he was actually between 16 and 17, a Russian newspaper reports. In Russia, the age of criminal responsibility is 16, according to The Moscow Times.

While the Russian judge's way of assessing age may be questionable, how do courts in America decide when to try juveniles as adults?

Man Fakes Seizures to Get Free Food; Gets 5 Years in Prison

A Baltimore man notorious for faking seizures to escape paying his check had a hefty prison sentence put on his plate.

Andrew Palmer, 47, was sentenced to five years in prison after years of peddling his dine-seizure-and-dash routine around Charm City. The Baltimore Sun reports that his latest act, refusing to pay $89 at a restaurant called Oliver Speck's last fall, was the one that may have him spending years in prison.

How did prosecutors manage to get Palmer five years for a dine-and-dash?

Driver Blames 'Time Warp' for Crash That Killed N.Y. Trooper

A man accused of intentionally causing a crash that killed a New York state trooper has blamed the incident on a "time warp."

Almond Upton, 60, of Melrose, Florida, allegedly hit two cars on Interstate 81 near Binghamton, New York, before crossing into the right shoulder and hitting Trooper Christopher G. Skinner, killing him instantly. According to The Post-Standard, Upton claims he was on his way to visit his mother in Connecticut when a "time warp (or) something" transported him to Binghamton.

Is Upton's "time warp" a plausible legal defense?