Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

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When most people hear of a defendant 'getting off on a technicality,' they think of it in a pejorative sense, assuming a criminal is going unpunished because of some fancy lawyering or a quirk in the law. But those technicalities are there for a reason.

"It's really important for us to be fair," Jeffrey Shear, New York City's Deputy Department of Finance Commissioner for Treasury and Payment Service told 1010 WINS. Shear was announcing the dismissal of over 500,000 parking tickets -- costing the city around $26 million -- all on a technicality.

There's an old saying about your life being over once you have kids. It's a joke most already-parents like to bestow on soon-to-be-parents; a joke with just a hint of truth. Many parents long for their pre-children social lives, and try to combine the two, dragging the kids along to restaurants, bars, and even beer gardens.

Of course the majority of parents do this responsibly and without incident. But it's always the irresponsible few that ruin it for the many. Such was the case at Hampton Station, a Seminole Heights, Florida craft beer and pizza spot, where a few recent incidents meant an end to the beer garden's kid-friendly atmosphere.

The San Francisco real estate market is rather unique and red hot right now. Most homes and properties that go up for sale get multiple offers, and tend to sell anywhere from 10 to over 30 percent over the asking price. If that wasn't silly enough, a single parking space can sometimes run $82,000 in the city. And it's not slowing down.

However, there are ways to get a slice of San Francisco without having to spend a million dollars on an entry level home. One San Jose couple recently went to a property auction where they purchased a private street in San Francisco for the low price of $90,000. They had not seen the property, Presidio Terrace, but believed that it was too good of a deal to pass up. The private neighborhood had not paid taxes on the street for several years due to an error after changing accountants, and never receiving tax notices or even a notice of the sale.

Now, you might be asking: Why would anyone want to buy a street?

To the extent that most of us use them, few of us really think much about our stamps. We pick up a roll or sheet at the post office or grocery store, put them on letters, cards, and bills until we run out, then start again. Every now and then we choose stamps based on the image, whether it be a favorite historical figure or cartoon character, or we just like the way they look -- some stamps are chosen for their artistic appeal.

As it turns out, those images hold a unique place when it comes to government works and copyright law. So do postage stamps get the same copyright protections as other works of art?

A judge in Tennessee is making national headlines over a new policy he recently approved. If an inmate in county prison wants to take 30 days off their incarceration, men can get a vasectomy, and women can have a birth control device implanted.

The judge was quick to point out that this is not some form of eugenics. Rather, he contends that it's a way to help inmates more easily reintegrate into society after release. He stated that the hope is to encourage inmates to take "personal responsibility" and that "not being burdened with children" would benefit former inmates after their release. Previously, this same judge instituted a policy that would cut two days off a jail term if an inmate took a course on why it's bad to use drugs around children.

While southern California surf towns, like Laguna Beach, might be known for being full of hot air, liberal people, and progressive notions, there's no shortage of anti-tobacco sentiment. In fact, in May 2017, the city of Laguna Beach actually banned all smoking in all public places. Even outside a bar, late at night, after a few drinks. Even for vapers, e-cig users, marijuana smokers, and midnight tokers.

The Laguna Beach smoking ban prohibits an individual from smoking anywhere in the city except on their own private property and in their cars. A first offense can result in a $100 ticket, with subsequent offenses leading to an increased fine.

The criminal justice system is far from perfect. Sometimes mistakes get made due to accidents caused by flaws in the system. Fortunately for Richard Jones, the miscarriage of justice he suffered has been corrected; unfortunately, it took nearly 20 years to happen.

Thanks to the Innocence Project and another criminal's lack of luck, Ricky Amos, Mr. Jones was confronted one day, while in custody, by a friend who claimed Mr. Jones snubbed him in the cafeteria. When Mr. Jones denied that accusation stating he wasn't in the cafeteria, the truth was discovered: Mr. Jones and Ricky Amos looked almost identical.

A request to be unblocked by two Twitter users who got blocked by @realDonaldTrump, President Donald Trump's verified, personal (?) Twitter account, is making waves through the internet. Users @joepabike and @AynRandPaulRyan have claimed that the block violates their First Amendment rights to participate in a public forum.

Basically, they are claiming that a public forum is being held and they are denied entry for an illegal reason. More specifically, it would be like a public official banning you from a town hall meeting being held at a privately owned location because you publicly criticized or even insulted that official. The First Amendment protects the peoples' right to free speech, particularly when criticizing government officials.

When it comes to hunting hogs and coyotes, lawmakers in Texas are trying to give hunters a new option. Wild hogs, and particularly feral hogs, are not only dangerous to other animals and people, the wild beasts also cause an estimated $80 to $90 million in property damages each year in Texas alone.

To combat the feral hog problem, Texas just passed a law to allow hog hunters to shoot feral hogs from a hot air balloon. Under this new law, coyotes may also be hunted by balloon as well. However, before the law can go into effect, it still must be approved by the state governor, though it is unlikely to be denied as there is a compelling need.

Cryogenics, or the practice of freezing dead bodies so that they can be revived in the future, currently occupies a special place between junk science and fraudulent fantasy land. There are a handful of places across the world that will take your money and put your dead body in a frozen tube, until the power fails or gets shut off. While the hope is that your dead body will be revivable in a few hundred, or thousand, years, there's quite a bit to be skeptical about.

Fortunately, unless you fork over a small boatload of cash and sign some pretty specific and legally binding paperwork, your dead body won't get made into an icicle. There was an exception for the baseball player Ted Williams, however. Williams' remains were cryogenically frozen by his two children, prompting an unusual legal battle with their half-sister. Given the case of Ted Williams, there definitely remain quite a few legal questions surrounding this issue.