Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

March 2016 Archives

CT Woman Calls 911 for Pizza Problem

Emergency dispatch services are always available to handle a range of issues, but pizza delivery complaints are not among them. A woman in Hartford, Connecticut, who remained unnamed in media reports, called 911 to say that she ordered a small half-bacon pizza and instead got a half-hamburger, according to UPI.

The 911 dispatcher took this in stride and by all accounts was extremely reasonable, considering the nature of this lady's emergency. But sometimes people are punished for making false emergency calls.

Last month, former Breitbart reporter Michelle Fields alleged (and security video confirmed) that Donald Trump's campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, roughly grabbed her arm at a campaign press conference, leaving bruises. Trump and his campaign denied the allegations and the matter caused a mini-implosion at Breitbart, with both Fields and Ben Shapiro leaving the company, citing a lack of support.

Today, the Jupiter (Florida) Police Department charged Lewandowski with battery and he turned himself in to police.

NJ Legislators Consider Punishment for Distracted Walking

You are a product of your time and culture, so you too -- like just about everyone else -- walk around, distractedly, with a cell phone in hand and your face in a screen. As a result of your fascination with tech, you have become a menace on the streets.

Distracted walking is, in fact, a growing international problem as more people around the world grow engrossed with their phones, rather than paying attention to their surroundings. According to The Washington Post, there has been a rise in pedestrian deaths over the last decade, which is linked to the new devices we rely on. Now a new Jersey state assemblywoman is proposing a law that would fine the unfocused.

Man Arrested for VHS Rental Overdue by 14 Years

The busted taillight is a driving offense that has triggered thousands of arrests, maybe more, including that of James Meyers, 37, of North Carolina. It's not the taillight that's the problem, but getting pulled over is an opportunity for cops to run a name and find out if there are any warrants out for an arrest. There was one for Meyers -- he failed to return a rented video 14 years ago.

Now Tom Green, the star of the overdue movie "Freddy Got Fingered," is offering to pay Meyers' fines. Here's what happened and how Tom Green got involved.

2-Man-1-Car-3-Crash DUI May Be a First

Some crimes are so absurd that even police think they are funny. "Kind of comical" is in fact how one Salem, Massachusetts police lieutenant described the night this week when he saw two men arrested for drunk driving in the same car after switching seats during a series of small crashes.

The accused are Erik Leibowitz, 43, and Juan Rodriguez, 46. The two were recorded on surveillance cameras and were reportedly seen switching seats repeatedly. Unfortunately, that was not enough to rectify the situation and both have been charged with DUI.

The National Crime Information Center (NCIC) is an online database of criminal justice information available to law enforcement agencies nationwide. Colorado has its own database, the Colorado Crime Information Center (CCIC). These databases are intended to assist law enforcement officers with criminal investigations.

Instead, some Denver cops were using the NCIC and CCIC to get phone numbers for romantic reasons, and to retrieve and hand out personal information to friends, tow truck drivers, and stalkers. And officers were rarely, if ever, getting punished for it.

Pay to Pray Website Owes $7.8M for Deceptions

People have long believed in the power of prayer to heal and have even paid for prayers. The practice of trying to cover the bases with God extends to many religions and sects and has now found its place on the web. The problem, however, is that promising prayers will deliver certain results and not being able to back that up violates consumer protection laws.

Now, a Seattle, Washington man is being ordered to pay users millions of dollars, money they gave him and fictitious pastors invented by him for the power of their prayers. That Washington State Attorney General's Office investigated Benjamin Rogovy for a year, according to ABC News, and found his claimed blessings were a sham. Rogovy will be paying $7.8 million back.

This week, a handwritten, $10 million lawsuit against Uber surfaced, bearing the name of Jason Brian Dalton, the Michigan man charged with murdering six people and injuring two others in a shooting spree last month. Dalton allegedly picked up fares via the ridesharing app in between killings.

The purported complaint for punitive damages says, among other claims, "I am currently in prison because of Uber." And although the lawsuit has been debunked, the claims had a familiar ring to them -- Dalton told police the Uber app on his iPhone directed him where to go and when and whom to shoot.

Some things get better with age: a fine wine, a great book, this pun about a snickers ad campaign from the '80s. And some things don't age as well: sushi, JNCO jeans, and criminal prosecutions.

Which is why the North Dakota Supreme Court just tossed out a man's DUI conviction that came 20 years after the fact. The only things that should still be around from March of 1995 are re-airings of "Tommy Boy."

Was This the World's First Taylor Swift Burglary?

Even those of us who do not follow the many highs of Taylor Swift's career or the highs and lows of her romantic life know this -- she is not married. The young pop goddess is allegedly attached to a Scottish DJ named Calvin Harris and just celebrated her one-year dating anniversary with him. Still, recently, a different young man -- Paul Herrin, 26 -- broke into a Tennessee home claiming he was there to save his wife, Taylor Swift, according to ABC News.

Swift is always in the headlines, but this may be the first time she has been associated with an aggravated burglary. Paul Herrin, Swift's supposed savior and husband, was arrested after a Tennessee homeowner called police to complain about his claim (at least it was age-appropriate, Swift is also 26).

When five female passengers start throwing haymakers some 30,000 feet over the Cornhusker State, you start to wonder: which long arm of the law will be prosecuting these productive members of society? The cops in Baltimore, where the flight originated? Or in LA, where we're going to land? Doesn't the Federal Aviation Administration have jurisdiction over the skies?

Unfortunately, we might not get that answer -- these lucky ladies may have avoided all charges.

Hoverboard Shootings: Yes, It's a New Thing

You've heard of the getaway car and even the getaway bicycle but what about the getaway hoverboard? The first known hoverboard getaway was successfully completed last week, and now one more mode of transport presents for fleeing criminals.

Dallas, Texas police said that a man on a hoverboard rolled by a car, shot at the driver, and rolled away, eluding police. The shooting occurred in the wee hours of the morning, and there is no news yet on the shooter's whereabouts. Dallas police told Time last week that the investigation is ongoing.

Toddlers in Court Don't Need Lawyers, Immigration Judge Says

We hear a lot about immigration law, especially in an election year. But few of us understand how it operates, even inside the system. Now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is suing the US Government, saying that indigent children who are not represented by an attorney in immigration court should be appointed a lawyer.

In the context of that case, a senior immigration judge, John H. Weil, said in a deposition that children as young as 3-years-old could understand immigration law sufficiently to handle a hearing. Judge Weil is the Justice Department's witness in the case against the ACLU on behalf of indigent immigrant children, but the government is not taking responsibility for Weil's statement, according to The Washington Post.

Teen Burns Ex's Love Letter, Charged Criminally for School Fire

Romeo and Juliet are the classic teen drama queens, their love so strong it killed them. But teens today may be less committed, but their passions still run hot. Specifically, they blaze, causing $20,000 in damages. Or at least that's true for a lovelorn teen in Anchorage, Alaska who burned a letter from an ex in the school playground and has since been charged criminally for this mischief.

Two 18-year-olds have been charged with criminal mischief, failure to control or report a fire, and negligent burning for the act. It is the fourth fire in the Anchorage School District since June, reports KTUU News, and costs are adding up.

We all want to pay less taxes, and we all know that dependents get you extra tax breaks. Most of us know that you shouldn't lie about the number of dependents you have, and I'm pretty sure that almost all of us know that you shouldn't put on ad on Craigslist looking for kids to claim as your dependents so you can get a bigger tax refund. All of us except for Raheem McClain, that is.

McClain has been indicted for filing false tax returns after he posted an ad on Craigslist offering $750 for unclaimed children that he could list as dependents on his tax return. Maybe the biggest surprise? He found a few.

Salma Hayek's Neighbor Admits to Shooting, Killing Her Dog

Salma Hayek's dog was killed by a neighbor in the Seattle area in mid-February and the shooting was ruled justified by the Thurston County Sheriff's Office, NBC News reports. Nonetheless, the county will send the case of the actress's shot dog to prosecutors for review, said spokesman Lt. Cliff Ziesemer.

Hayek's neighbor, who is an animal lover and dog owner, has expressed deep regret over Hayek's dog's death. She wasn't aware that it belonged to the actress, or even that the dog was dead. Here's what reportedly happened.

If you, like me, were wondering when you'd finally be able to get married with a pasta strainer on your head, your day of joy has finally arrived. New Zealand has granted the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster, whose members refer to themselves as "Pastafarians," the right to perform marriages in the country last year.

And although the group has yet to tie a couple's "noodley knot" just yet, it's likely only a matter of time before American Pastafarians can enjoy the same marriage rights as their Kiwi counterparts.