Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Recently in Strange Law Enforcement Category

Many of us don't know why you'd try to keep a wild animal as a pet, especially a purse-snatching, jogger-attacking trash panda. Then again, most of us aren't President Calvin Coolidge, or, for that matter, the Greers of West Seattle, Washington.

Kellie and Chris Greer rescued a weeks-old raccoon seven years ago, naming it Mae. Two weeks ago, a Department of Fish and Wildlife officer seized the raccoon from the Greer household, and now the Greers are suing for Mae's return.

We like to poke a little fun at people who try to pay fines in pennies. But a misguided protest that doesn't punish any of the people responsible for the fine itself shouldn't open the door for civil rights violations. And bringing $10 in pennies to pay a ticket doesn't give court officers the right to grabbed you from behind, choke you and throw to the ground so hard you defecate yourself.

But that's what one Michigan man alleges happened when he tried to pay a parking ticket in pennies in Royal Oak.

If we've learned anything from A Christmas Story, you find "the Christmas tree emporium of the Midwest," avoid the balsas, bargain like an Arab trader, and get the salesman to throw in some rope and tie it to your car for you. But police in Sudbury, Massachusetts pulled over a driver who may have taken that advice a little too far.

In that case, a single tree seemed to swallow a minivan whole. But how do you transport a Christmas tree, legally?

You would think that, after decades of classification as an illegal Schedule I narcotic, marijuana plants would be pretty easily identifiable to law enforcement personnel. But it took three assault rifle-toting Buffalo Township police officers four hours to distinguish between some Cannabaceae, the cultivation of which is a felony under Pennsylvania state pot laws, and Malvaceae, the cultivation of which will result in some nice, trumpet-shaped flowers with five or more petals ranging from white, pink, and yellow to red, orange, peach, or even purple.

Yes, Buffalo Township cops mistook a couple's hibiscus plants for marijuana, leading to them being handcuffed in the back of a patrol car for hours while officers ransacked their house and backyard. Now the couple is suing the township (and the alleged tipster), claiming wrongful arrest.

The First Law of Holes states that 'if you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.' Case in point: If you hired a hit man to kill your wife, and that hit man turned out to be a cop, you probably don't want to hire another hit man to kill the first. Chances are, that hit man is a cop too, and you've just added another count of "using facilities of interstate commerce in connection with the hiring of a person to commit a murder" to your record.

So when that happens, we have no choice but to wonder whether all hit men are actually undercover cops.

Parody, especially of public figures, is protected speech under the First Amendment. Parody Twitter accounts are a fact of life, as ubiquitous on that platform as fake news is on Facebook. There are over 50 parody Donald Trump accounts alone. While most people don't take parody accounts too seriously, most people are not the Miami Beach Police Department.

Officers from that department arrested Ernesto Orsetti after they discovered he was behind a parody Twitter account impersonating MBPD spokesperson Ernesto Rodriguez. Orsetti was charged with impersonating a police officer, and could be looking at 5 years in prison if convicted.

'F*** you. F*** you. F*** you.'

Not always the most diplomatic tack to take with a police officer, but should it get you arrested? Tracy Smith doesn't think so, but then again, he probably didn't think he'd end up in handcuffs after a neighbor complained about a dog that he didn't own, pooping in a yard that wasn't his.

So what did the Founding Fathers say about dropping F-bombs to the fuzz regarding some furry friend's fecal matter?

Dan Heyman, a local West Virginia writer and news reporter, was arrested last week inside the halls of the state's capitol building for trying to ask a politician a question. The arresting officers claimed that Mr. Heyman was creating a disturbance, and, officially, that he was arrested for "willful disruption of a governmental process."

Tom Price, the country's Health and Human Services secretary, was walking in the state capitol with Kellyanne Conway, when Heyman, with valid press credentials on display, approached to ask a question about whether victims of domestic violence and rape risk losing coverage under the AHCA. But, rather than getting a response to the question, Heyman got arrested. Price refused to answer the question or condemn the arrest.

A police officer in Michigan has filed a discrimination lawsuit against his department, the chief of police, and a few other officers. While officers filing discrimination lawsuits against their department is nothing new, this case is a little bit different.

The plaintiff, Cleon Brown, appears to be Caucasian, however, a recent genetic test revealed that he was in fact 18% African. When Brown revealed this information to his colleagues within department, he alleges that he became the subject of ridicule and harassment. After he submitted a complaint to the EEOC, he started facing retaliation in the form of denied career advancement opportunities.

Sunday night, a brawl erupted at Florida's Fort Lauderdale - Hollywood International Airport at the Spirit Airlines ticket counter. Three passengers, all from New York, whose flights were cancelled, were arrested during the incident.

While Spirit has issued an official apology, the brawl has brought the airline's situation under much more public scrutiny due to the rash of recent airline public relations disasters. Videos posted to social media sites have gained viral status.