Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Recently in Legislative Oddities Category

The State of Michigan is considering passing a bill that would remove protections for police officers that have sexual intercourse with sex workers during prostitution investigations and stings. The bill was unanimously passed by the state senate, and now must pass through the house and be signed by the governor.

Support for the bill is rather strong, particularly as Michigan is the last state in the country to still have this type of immunity for officers on the books. Proponents of the bill explain that the immunity from criminal liability for officers having sex with an alleged sex worker during a prostitution investigation further victimizes sex workers, who are frequently the victims of pimping or human trafficking.

In the state of Oklahoma, the legislature is considering a bill that is affectionately being called the 'Flying Pig Bill.' And while some might think based on the name that the bill has as much chance at passing as a pig has at flying, that's where they'd be wrong.

Unfortunately, no pigs will be flying or taking off if this bill passes. The name is actually a bit of a misnomer, as the bill is actually proposing to allow hunters who go after feral hogs to hire helicopters and other aircrafts to use for aerial hunting. While it's not an activity the typical person is willing to spend one or a few thousand dollars on, for some, shooting feral hogs out of a plane, helicopter, or even a hot air balloon, is rare pleasure worth the high cost.

A recent court decision out of Maine will likely be used in classrooms for generations to come. That's not because it tells a worthwhile story of American history, nor does it involve famous personalities, nor because it's so well written it merits inclusion in America's literary canon. Rather, it simply shows how significant an Oxford comma can be when determining the meaning of a sentence. And if you don't know what an Oxford comma is, read on, because, clearly, it's pretty important to writing clearly and effectively.

This case boiled down to one statute with a list of exemptions, separated by commas, except for the last exclusion. Essentially, dairy delivery drivers were claiming that under Maine law, they were entitled to overtime wages, despite their employer claiming they were excluded by the very same Maine law. However, that law is not so clear on whether delivery drivers would be exempt or not. And you guessed it, that ambiguity is the result of a missing Oxford comma.

Ohio had good reasons to increase the efficiency of home foreclosures in the state: reducing the time it takes to complete a foreclosure can also cut down on the problems long-vacant properties can create, such as blight, squatters, and vandalism, along with the lowering of neighboring property values. So the state passed House Bill 390, which not only shortened foreclosure timelines, but also removed the requirement that bidding on foreclosed homes at auction begin at two-thirds of the appraised value of the home.

Another piece of the law meant to expedite resale of a vacant home, this meant that a 92-year-old bungalow in Akron recently sold for just $1.

This may come as a shock to many, but if you are under federal jurisdiction in the ocean, you can go fishing with your favorite Glock. The video posted to YouTube last month by Courtland Hunt, a Floridian, shows off his prowess at shooting Lionfish with his modified Glock 9mm pistol while underwater.

Lionfish are an invasive species that Florida wildlife officials are asking fisherman to actively seek as the species is destroying reefs at an alarming rate. The video shows the extreme sports enthusiast shooting and killing a handful of the lionfish. While the lionfish feed on the reefs, the shooter makes every effort to draw the fish away from the reef before firing so as to avoid damaging the reef.

Just about every state has enhancement statutes that allow misdemeanor thefts to become felonies if the value of what's stolen exceeds a different dollar amount. Missouri certainly thought it was one of those states. But a recent state supreme court ruling determined that a flaw in how Missouri criminal statutes are worded means that most stealing offenses in the state can no longer be charged as felonies, no matter how much was stolen.

So how did the Missouri legislature screw this up? And how are they going to fix it?

Back in 2014, years before avowed racist Dylann Roof slaughtered nine black parishioners in a Charleston church and drew national attention to states still officially incorporating the Confederate Battle Flag into official locations and ceremonies, California passed a law prohibiting the state from displaying or selling merchandise emblazoned with the Confederate flag.

So does that law cover a citizen's Civil War painting depicting the flag displayed at a county fair? One resident and Civil War buff is trying to figure that out, and he's suing the state to do it.

The Garden State can breathe (and drive) a little easier tonight. After a proposed bill was rumored to ban drinking coffee while driving, the law's author and sponsor has clarified matters. Assemblyman John Wisniewski said his proposed legislation, which doesn't mention food or drink, is aimed at distracted drivers and he can't imagine police officers pulling people over for drinking coffee.

But the fact that so many Tony Sopranos were worried about being ticketed for DWC (Driving With Coffee? Driving While Caffeinating?) may reveal a fatal flaw in the intended legislation.

In an odd case of becoming the thing you hate, Missouri Governor Jay Nixon has been assigned to serve as defense counsel on a criminal case by the state's public defender office. This is the same public defender's office whose budget he's been slashing for the past seven years.

In response to these budget cuts, Director of the Missouri State Public Defender Michael Barrett invoked a previously unused state statute that gives his office authority to assign cases to private attorneys. Gov. Nixon, previously the state's attorney general, was Barrett's attorney of choice.

Not if New York has anything to say about it. The state that brought you illegal stop-and-frisk polices, while at the same time trying (and failing) to make large sodas and fantasy football illegal, is now trying to criminalize playing Pokemon Go, at least for sex offender parolees.

"While children believe they are out to catch a Pokemon," wrote New York Senator Jeff Klein, "what might really be lurking could be a predator instead of a Pikachu."