Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Recently in Strangely Illegal Category

While it may not necessarily be worse than selling real drugs, a man was arrested in Tennessee for selling fake drugs at the annual music festival Bonnaroo. Though that in and of itself is not very shocking, like that U2 album that keeps popping up on your iPhone, the man's purpose and the size of his fake stash were rather peculiar.

David E. Brady, a 45 year old from New York, was arrested holding over 1,000 doses of LSD, 22 bags of fake psychedelic mushrooms, 20 bags of fake cocaine, and 37 fake pills of molly, as well as some fake heroin. While his purpose isn't even likely to impress the Blues Brothers, his mock supply would be rather impressive for a Hollywood stage's prop closet. Brady claimed to be doing "God's work."

Conducting science experiments at home is a dying practice among Americans young and old. Over the past few decades, at-home science kits have faced increasing scrutiny and regulation as a result of incidents involving homemade drugs and explosives.

While at-home science kits still exist, they frequently lack many of the most basic chemicals that interested individuals actually need to conduct experiments. This is due not only to the manufacturer's fear of legal liability over individuals using the chemicals to make explosives or cause others harm, but also as a result of laws prohibiting the distribution of certain chemicals and lab equipment.

If you are considering doing some science at home, then you may want to think twice and check your state's laws before getting started. Law enforcement is not kidding around when it comes to this stuff, and have even arrested children for doing science.

Believe it or not, many states have laws that prohibit warming up a car the way most cold weather state residents do it. One Michigan man learned a hard lesson this past week. Nick Taylor of Roseville, Michigan was hoping to avoid freezing his butt off while driving when he decided to warm up his car before leaving his house. Like countless other Americans living in cold weather states, Nick started his car, then went back inside his home to finish getting ready. After a few minutes, he discovered that an officer had come by and ticketed his car.

Nick learned that it is illegal in the state of Michigan to leave a car running and unattended, even if you are just trying to warm it up in your own driveway. Many drivers are shocked to learn that the Michigan law against unattended idling is actually not that unusual. While generally these laws are geared towards preventing car thefts, the anti-idling laws also are seen as emissions friendly laws designed to reduce pollution.

Recently, on the way home from some educational conference in Canada, a small group of travelers got quite a surprise when they reached the border. The group appeared to be in good spirits, and while making witty banter with the border control agent at the US-Canada border, explained that they had bought a lot of those Kinder Surprise chocolate eggs. No one in the group knew that those fun chocolate eggs were illegal in the US.

Needless to say, the border control agent was less than thrilled with the ordeal. Fortunately for the chocolate smugglers, and one random Canadian, rather than do the paperwork, the customs agent let one of the group members walk back over to Canada and give all the Kinder chocolates to someone, and then cross back over.

A Christmas Carol: Was It Legal to Scare Scrooge? (Part II)

Welcome to Part II of this year's review of great Christmas traditions that actually break a lot of laws. In case you missed Part I, this year we examine Ebenezer Scrooge, that " ... grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner" and his brush with a clutch of law-breaking ghosts.

In Part I, we discussed Jacob Marley and the Ghost of Christmas Past. Now without further ado, let us pick up where we left of, with the next legally challenged ghost to visit Scrooge, the Ghost of Christmas present.

A Christmas Carol: Was It Legal to Scare Scrooge? (Part I)

Each year I take time out of my busy schedule of haranguing my team about Oxford commas, calls to action, and proper tone to write about the legal issues found lurking in our most beloved Christmas traditions. First it was the Grinch, the fuzzy green Christmas anti-hero of all time. Then it was the 12 Days of Christmas -- the law breaking in that seemingly innocent song is rather breathtaking. But really, I have always wanted to take on Dickens and his master creation, Ebenezer Scrooge; I just never could find a way.

Scrooge was "a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous, old sinner" but to date, I never could figure what laws he might have broken on his journey through Christmas past, present, and future to become less of a pain in Victorian London's collective bum. Maybe I just wasn't trying hard enough. Maybe it was a lack of knowledge of English commercial law. Then, I had an idea ... an awful, wonderful idea. Maybe it isn't Scrooge I needed to look at, maybe it was those darn ghosts.

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:

Facebook launched 'Marketplace' last week, and it didn't take long before the social media giant's answer to Craigslist devolved into an anarchic online bazaar hawking the very items banned by the company's commerce policy. Guns, drugs ... Harambe? Marketplace had it all, and Facebook has spent the last few days trying to convince everyone that it was all due to a "technical issue."

So what illegal items turned up in Marketplace before Facebook fixed the glitch? And what things should you avoid buying? Here's a quick look:

The recent trend of creepy clowns creeping people out seems to be gaining steam. Over the past week, a school dad was arrested for following his child's bus while dressed as a clown, several schools had to deal with threats relating to creepy clowns on or around campus, and one California mother reported a clown attempting to kidnap her child. Now, kids are getting in trouble for posting clown-related threats on social media, scaring locals and disrupting schools.

Clowns are supposed to cheer people up, entertain children, and joke around, but the clown pranks and crimes are not making anyone laugh. Police departments, schools, and even college students, are anxious and fearful that these creepy clowns that have been appearing around the country have violent intentions. The same is true whether a threat is made by a clown on the street or a clown on the internet.

Being an inmate in a Texan prison is already bad enough, but during Banned Books Week last week, the state's institutions were under the spotlight for their censorship of canonical literary works. Apparently, Texas prisons are notorious for banning books with virtually no oversight and based on extraordinarily subjective criteria.

The Texas Civil Rights Project, a non-profit organization, has been on the front lines of the fight to change the policy within the Texas Department of Corrections and Justice. In the TCRP report, it is explained that the state's prison system in Texas basically leaves the decision of whether to ban a book up to the mailroom clerk. The TCRP report explains that mail clerks are instructed to review for whether the work in question: