Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Recently in Strange Law Enforcement Category

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 Ancestry.com 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.

Coleman Martin, a 29-year-old Texas cop, was recently arrested after his fake suicide plot was discovered. Coincidentally, a few weeks after fleeing the country, he was flying through Texas from Colombia, and he was detained and arrested at the airport on misdemeanor false alarm charges (similar to yelling fire in a crowded theater).

Martin had led his wife to believe that he planned to drown himself. His wife, on April 25, called police, which found a suicide note in his car, next to a lake. Countless hours, and massive amounts of resources, were wasted by authorities searching for Martin, who had fled the country via a taxi ride to the Mexico border. After the massive manhunt ended, authorities discovered that someone with an IP address in Mexico had logged in to Martin's email account. Additionally, it was discovered that Martin had a "close relationship" with another woman, and that this woman had received an email explaining how he faked his suicide.

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.

Last week, a California woman was arrested, 'Whip-it' in hand, inhaling laughing gas in front of a police officer. The woman was in her car, in a hospital parking lot, when an officer arrived at the scene due to a report of a woman in a car with a handgun. In addition to charges related to drug use, she may also be charged with carrying a concealed weapon, which was found in her car.

Although nitrous oxide, Whip-its, laughing gas, or similar chemicals and gases may not be illegal to possess, using these and other legal products as inhalants to get high usually will violate the law. Whip-its, for instance, are commonly used by bakers and hobbyists for purposes that do not involve getting high. However, the laughing gas filled cartridges are frequently abused due to their ready availability, which often confuses individuals into thinking that it's actually legal to use Whip-its as a drug.

For a few years now, phone scammers have been conning people out of their money by claiming to be the IRS. While there are numerous variations on how the scam works, most recently the scammers have been threatening to have their victims arrested if they do not pay-up within a certain period of time. Frequently they ask for payment to be made via the hottest untraceable currency: gift cards.

While various criminal enterprises perpetrating these phone scams have been busted, scammers nevertheless persist. If you've never received a call from one of these scammers, don't think for a second that you are immune. Proof of the fact that scammers are really just dialing blindly surfaced this week when a Wisconsin police officer who educates seniors about phone scams was targeted, with comical results.

Strange lawsuits get filed all the time, particularly against law enforcement officers and prison guards. But a lawsuit against two cops for forcing a person to take a field sobriety test on the side of a pubic roadway without pants is not only strange, it's justified.

The lawsuit brought by the pant-less, but sober, driver, is seeking monetary damages as a result of the public humiliation, and violation of her civil rights.

In a tale that quickly goes from weird to sad, a Las Vegas man was arrested after allegedly attempting to murder a sleeping homeless mannequin with a ball-peen hammer. He is currently only charged with carrying a concealed weapon, but his bail of $50,000 (ten times the normal bail for this charge) is telling.

After two homeless men were murdered while sleeping on the sidewalks under similar circumstances within the last month near the same area, Las Vegas police decided to attempt a mannequin challenge with a different focus: catching a murderer.

In what can only be described as a real life episode of Scooby-Doo, only without the talking dog and extended mystery plot, an art thief was caught by three college students almost immediately after the end of this year's Super Bowl. Based on reports, it sounds like the art thief would have gotten away with it, if it weren't for those meddling kids. Obligatory Muttley laugh.

The three students, just barely old enough to buy a drink, were out in Boston just after the Patriot's Super Bowl win, when they spotted the thief as he tried to escape with a Picasso and Rembrandt from the Galerie d'Orsay in Boston. They saw the thief run out of a smashed gallery window holding several pieces of art. When they shouted out after the thief, he tossed the artwork, valued at approximately $50,000 and ran. The three students then chased him down, and restrained the thief until police arrived to make the arrest.