Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Recently in Strange Law Enforcement Category

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.

The popular digital home assistant, the Amazon Echo, affectionately known as Alexa, is being asked by law enforcement to help solve the murder of a Bentonville, Arkansas man. Well, Alexa isn't really being asked anything. Rather, police have obtained a warrant requesting Amazon to turn over information and data that the murder suspect's device may contain regarding the murder.

Police believe that the device may have collected some critical data as a result of the device's "always listening" programming. The Amazon Echo is equipped with several microphones that are always on (so long as the device is on). Those microphones are constantly listening for commands. When the device hears one of the commands, it sends an audio recording to a server where it is transcribed and saved, and data is sent back confirming the response or action the device should take.

It's rare that deaths by natural causes make the headlines, but one Miami man's death recently garnered some attention. Jacob Morpeau, aged 62, died of natural causes while parked in his car a few blocks from the county courthouse. What makes his death legally weird is that for four days, city parking officials continued to issue citations to Morpeau's vehicle, presumably with him dead inside, sometimes two tickets at a time.

One concerned citizen, who was curious about how a car could rack up so many parking ticket went to take a closer look at Morpeau's vehicle. That's when she discovered that Morpeau was in his SUV slumped over, and dead. County officials have dismissed the $160 in parking citations, but have not issued a statement as to how parking enforcement could have missed the dead body in the car. The good Samaritan however explained that Morpeau was slumped beneath the steering wheel out of sight.

Of all the illegal things being bought and sold on Facebook, the last thing that we thought would get you in trouble is ceviche. Leaving aside whether or not purchasing raw fish cured in citrus juices over the internet is a wise decision, surely a single mother of six can offer up a delicious homemade dish on a local Facebook forum, no?

No. Not according to San Joaquin County authorities, who completed a year-long undercover sting operation on illicit Facebook food sales by hauling Mariza Ruelas into court to face misdemeanor charges that could wind up in jail time if Ruelas is convicted. Legitimate law enforcement dragnet, or a criminal fishing expedition gone awry? You decide:

Nearly every new car owner thinks, at least for a moment, about whether to get a vanity plate and what it would say. John Mitchell, a Maryland man, decided he would not only get a vanity plate, he wanted to get one with a Spanish curse word. While he was likely surprised that his requested plate was approved, he used the plate for two years before the DMV even knew what they did.

When the DMV discovered the plate had been issued in error, as vulgar language is not permitted, they cancelled the plate. Mr. Mitchell filed and lost an administrative appeal, then took the matter to the state court and lost, and appealed all the way to the state's supreme court, where he finally lost for the last time.

In the recently filed civil suit in New Mexico against Roosevelt County Sheriff Marlin Parker, the town of Elida's mayor, Durward Dixon, alleges the sheriff challenged him to a fist fight in the middle of the road. Dixon and Parker are at odds over Parker's alleged interference with the Elida police department's enforcement of law and order.

The lawsuit specifically claims that Sheriff Parker returned a dog to its owner after Elida police had taken the dog away for killing chickens. The sheriff returned the dog because he asserted that chickens are not livestock. When Dixon attempted to speak with the county sheriff, Parker refused to discuss the matter on a couple occasions, and on one occasion, according to Dixon, challenged him to a fist fight in the road.

You know how the saying goes: "Give a man a drone, and he'll strap a flamethrower on that bad boy and roast a turkey with it." (Teach a man to drone, and he'll talk turkey for the rest of his life.) And here comes the Federal Aviation Administration, trying to take away your god-given right to flamethrowing-drone-roasted turkey.

But how far does the long arm of the airplane law actually reach? Surely not into our forested backyards, where we should be free to attach any old incendiary device to an unmanned whirlybird and fly that thing all over tarnation.