Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

July 2014 Archives

Seattle Swaps Anti-Pot Cop Who Issued 80% of Marijuana Tickets

A Seattle police officer has been reassigned after a review of police records found the officer had written 80 percent of the marijuana citations issued in the city so far this year.

The officer even added notes to the back of some of the citations, including one in which he voiced his opinion that Washington's marijuana legalization laws are "silly," reports Reuters.

What else did the department's investigation find? And if pot is legal in Washington state, why are pot smokers still being cited?

Satanic Temple Cites Hobby Lobby Ruling to Fight Abortion Laws

The expansion of religious liberties under the Supreme Court's recent Hobby Lobby ruling has found a new home with Satanists, who are hoping to use the decision to defeat certain abortion laws.

The Satanic Temple (TST) believes that the human body is "inviolable subject to one's own will alone," reports The Huffington Post. TST has begun a campaign to defeat abortion laws that require a woman to read informational materials which critics claim are designed to dissuade a woman from terminating her pregnancy. And the Temple is using the recent Hobby Lobby case to do it.

Are these Satanists unholier than thou? Or will the law give the Devil his due?

Court Won't Resurrect Atheists' 'Ground Zero Cross' Lawsuit

The "Ground Zero cross" gleaned from the wreckage of the World Trade Center can remain at the 9/11 memorial site despite concerns about church-state division.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a 2013 ruling allowing the steel-reinforced cross to stay at Ground Zero, finding that despite its likeness to the Christian symbol, its purpose is secular, reports Reuters. An atheist group has been fighting the inclusion of the "cross" as a publicly funded religious symbol in state and federal courts.

Is the Ground Zero "miracle cross" here to stay?

Ala. Man's Penis Amputated by Mistake, Lawsuit Claims

An Alabama man claims he woke up in a hospital to find that his penis had been amputated, but all he had wanted was a circumcision.

Johnny Lee Banks Jr., 56, has filed a lawsuit alleging that Princeton Baptist Medical Center in Birmingham never told him why it was "necessary to remove his penis," reports Reuters. A spokeswoman for the Center denied the merit of his claims, but by all accounts Banks is still missing his penis.

What recourse does Banks have for the allegedly mistaken mangling of his member?

N.H. Driver Brakes for Ducklings, Gets $100 Ticket

A New Hampshire woman recently learned the hard way that state police don't consider rescuing baby ducklings worthy of the "emergency" status required for stopping on the state's highway medians.

Hallie Bibeau, 33, of Newfields, was driving on New Hampshire's Route 101 when she saw a mother duck and a group of ducklings trying to cross the road. Bibeau slammed on her brakes and pulled to the side, but the mother and several of the ducklings were hit by another car, reports Manchester's WMUR-TV.

When Bibeau noticed that several of the ducklings were still alive, she got out of her car to try to do the right thing ... or at least, so she thought.

No Duty to Disclose Murder-Suicide to Home Buyers: Pa. Sup. Court

Are you trying to sell a murder house, but finding it hard to keep its homicidal history a secret? Well in Pennsylvania, you needn't worry about things like that. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ruled that homeowners have no duty to disclose such tragic incidents to potential buyers.

According to PennLive.com, the state's High Court ruled this week that the sale of a house that was the backdrop of a murder-suicide didn't require the owner to tell the buyers about it.

So why are Pennsylvania homeowners allowed to keep murders and other tragedies secret from potential buyers?

Iraq Vet's 'Therapy Ducks' Run Afoul of Law, Ohio Village Says

An Ohio vet's unconventional form of therapy is ruffling some legal feathers: He's been cited for owning therapy ducks.

Iraq veteran Darin Welker of West Lafayette is facing a minor misdemeanor for owning 14 ducks, despite the fact that he claims they are therapeutic for his PTSD and back injury. The Marion Star reports that while the Department of Veteran's Affairs (VA) was willing to pay for Welker's back surgery, it didn't cover any physical or emotional therapy.

So what legal quack said it's wrong for Welker to keep his therapy ducks?

Airbnb Squatter Refuses to Leave, Threatens Owner With Lawsuit

Anyone who has rented out their house or apartment through online home-sharing service Airbnb has probably asked themselves, at least rhetorically, what's the worst that could happen?

Well, a San Francisco woman's experience with an unruly Airbnb tenant in her Palm Springs condo is illustrating the dark side of the burgeoning sharing economy. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the Airbnb tenant stopped paying rent 30 days into his stay, but now refuses to leave and is using California's tenant's rights rules to remain in the woman's condo rent-free.

What led to this woman's nightmare scenario, and why has it been so difficult to get this Airbnb squatter to leave?

Manuel Noriega Sues Over 'Call of Duty' Video-Game Likeness

Imprisoned ex-dictator Manuel Noriega is suing the makers of "Call of Duty: Black Ops II" for allegedly harming his reputation and using his name and likeness without permission.

The Activision Blizzard Inc. game, which has made more than $1 billion in worldwide sales, includes a mission in which the protagonists must track down Noriega and capture him, reports Gamespot. Noriega's lawsuit claims the game portrays him as a "kidnapper, murderer, and enemy of the state" and used that virtual vilification to profit.

Does Noriega have a case against his fictional portrayal in a video game?

Shoplifter Wins $510K for Ankle Injury During NYPD Arrest

A shoplifter who broke his ankle while getting arrested was awarded $510,000 by a jury this week for his injury.

Even more noteworthy: This is actually the third time the man, 50-year-old Kevin Jarman, has gotten a payout from New York City in a case against the New York Police Department. Two previous court cases were settled before trial for $15,000 and $20,000, according to The New York Post.

What earned Jarman his biggest payout yet, and how do you go about suing the police in court?

Disneyland's 59th Anniversary: 10 Legally Weird Disney Incidents

Disneyland's 59th Anniversary is today, which makes it a great time to reflect on all the joy (and pain) Disney has brought its fans.

From injury suits to employee beard bans, the company has enjoyed a wide range of legal issues from its employees, intellectual properties, and customers.

It really is a small legal world of Disney, but these 10 legally weird Disney incidents capture the magic of the iconic company:

Man Arrested for Stabbing Watermelon in 'Passive-Aggressive' Manner

A Connecticut man was arrested after police say he stabbed a watermelon with a butcher knife in a "passive aggressive" manner.

Carmine Cervillino, 49, of Thomaston, was picked up by police after his wife claimed he left the watermelon, pierced by a large butcher knife, on the kitchen counter to "intimidate her because he is angry at her," The Register-Citizen reports.

What did the woman do to draw Cervillino's watermelon-stabbing ire, and what charges is this allegedly passive-aggressive fruit slayer now facing?

In Greece, N.Y., Atheist to Offer Invocation at Town Meeting

After a landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the issue of prayers at public meetings, the town of Greece, New York, is awaiting an atheist's secular invocation at its town board meeting tonight.

The Supreme Court determined in Town of Greece v. Galloway that sectarian prayers before town hall meetings were constitutional, even if the lion's share of the invocations were distinctly Christian. Key to the High Court's decision was the fact that anyone was allowed to open a town hall meeting, even those of non-Christian faiths.

Now it appears an atheist is preparing to test this ruling.

Nat'l Nude Day: Let It All Hang Out With Our Top 10 Nudist Notes

In celebration of National Nude Day today -- not to mention Nude Recreation Week -- Legally Weird is letting it all hang out.

We're going to show you the family crown jewels in our naked and nude archive, and show that while nudity may not be shameful, it can leave you legally exposed.

Check out our Top 10 real-life legal notes for nudists before you strip down:

Girl, 9, Tattles on Pothead Parents in Minn.

A 9-year-old Minnesota girl fed up with her parents' alleged use and sale of marijuana in their home decided to take action.

She walked into the Barnesville police station last month and gave detailed descriptions to police about where to find her parents' stash of meth, as well as seven marijuana plants, reports ABC News.

What was the final straw for this little girl, and what charges could her parents potentially be facing as a result?

Study: Folks in Colo. Are Buying Tons of Pot, Literally

As Colorado has been selling legal pot to the general public for more than six months now, a new government study has found that residents and visitors alike are smoking tons of pot.

Not figurative tons. Actual metric tons. According to The Associated Press, the Centennial State's market demand for legal weed is about 130 metric tons a year. And most of that demand is coming from residents, not tourists.

So how does Colorado's craving for cannabis add up?

Search Warrant Seeks Pics of Teen's Erect Penis in Sexting Case

Prosecutors in a Virginia sexting case have reportedly obtained a search warrant to take pictures of a teenage boy's erect penis.

Prince William County prosecutors are hoping to use the photos as evidence that the 17-year-old boy's erection is the same one seen in a "sexting" video allegedly sent to his 15-year-old girlfriend, The Washington Post reports.

The story has many wondering: Can police actually do this?

Used-Car Salesman Arrested for Snapping Pic of Woman's Butt

A Texas car salesman may have snapped a picture worth a thousand words ... and potentially two years in jail.

Pedro Elimeleo Zuniga-Martinez, 22, of Brownsville, was working at a used-car lot when a female customer told police that he'd taken a picture of her buttocks with his phone. Strangely, Zuniga-Martinez allegedly admitted to taking the photo, but Harlingen's KGBT-TV reports that the alleged butt photographer couldn't find the illicit pic.

What may come of this border-town butt pic?

Man Chokes Girlfriend's Rabbit in Spat Over Women's Rights: Cops

Following last week's U.S. Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case, women's rights are certainly a hot-button issue.

But one Florida man took his argument that it's a "man's world" a little too far, when police say he punched and choked his girlfriend's pet rabbits, then threw her across the room during a heated argument about women's rights, reports the Sun Sentinel.

Free Weed for Poor Pot Patients in Berkeley? It May Soon Be the Law

Low-income residents of Berkeley, California, may soon have a chance to score some free weed from medical marijuana dispensaries, thanks to a pending change to the famously liberal city's pot laws.

In a unanimous vote Tuesday, Berkeley's City Council approved a first reading of amendments to the city's medical marijuana ordinance. Among the proposed changes: to require at least 2 percent of medical marijuana dispensaries' "green" medicine to be given away at no cost to low-income members. "The pot has to be of good quality too," the East Bay Express reports.

But before you pack up your pipe and hitchhike to Berkeley, let's go over the details of this free medical weed ordinance.

'Unmarked Police Car' Bumper Sticker Leads to Traffic Stop, Lawsuit

An Indiana woman thought the "Unmarked Police Car" joke bumper sticker she received as a gift was pretty funny.

But Indianapolis police apparently didn't agree. Pamela Konchinsky, 56, was pulled over and claims police demanded she remove the sticker, reports The Indianapolis Star.

Konchinsky is now suing the police officers, alleging they violated her constitutional rights. What's the basis of her lawsuit?

NYC Subway Dancing Crackdown: Arrests Jump 600 Percent

New York City is cracking down on dancers in its subway trains after seeing a 600-percent increase in "acrobatics"-based arrests in the last year.

New York Police Department Commissioner William Bratton sees these subway performers as part of a pernicious "low-grade lawlessness" that can create the perfect environment for more dangerous criminals. The Associated Press reports that while Bratton doesn't believe it is a significant crime, he feels subway dancers and acrobats are adding to a greater sense of disorder in the city's mass transit.

So what can happen to a subway dancer in NYC?