Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

June 2010 Archives

Red Light Cameras Catch Cops in Cedar Rapids

Have you ever been caught by one of those pesky red light or speed enforcement cameras? Did you have your siren and lights on at the time? If not, you may include yourself in the company of at least some of the 26 Cedar Rapids, Iowa, police officers who have been busted by red light and speed cameras. It seems that the cops have been photographed running red lights and speeding in America's heartland, and not always with good reason.

According to the GazetteOnline, the 26 officers snapped breaking the traffic laws as of last week are all under the eye of Cedar Rapids Police Chief, Greg Graham. Reportedly, five of the potential violations were deemed not to be actual violations; that is, officers were operating in "legitimate" fashion, such as tailing a speeder at the speeder's speed. In six other instances, the officers were issued letters of discipline because they did not have their lights or sirens on when they should have. Others are still under review.

'Geezer Bandit' Suspected of 11th California Bank Robbery

The "geezer bandit," a retirement age serial bank robber, has pulled off his 11th California bank robbery.

The suspect held up a bank in Temecula with a small caliber pistol and presented a demand not for cash, adding to the string of bank robberies the "geezer bandit" is wanted in, CNN reports.

As previously discussed, the geezer bandit is a man, believed to be in his 70s, who is suspected of robbing five banks in the San Diego area.

But authorities are now questioning whether the "geezer bandit" is really a geezer.

Man Accused of Smuggling Cocaine in Soup Packets

Apparently authorities at Dulles International Airport are familiar with creative drug smugglers and were unphazed when a man accused smuggling cocaine in soup packets was arrested.

Jose Acevedo, a 41-year-old from Carlisle, Pa, was arrested after a drug-sniffing dog picked up a scent of cocaine hidden in dry soup packages, the Washington Examiner reports.

Jose Acevedo was trying to enter the country at the Dulles International Airport from a trip to El Salvador. Authorities were alerted to the cocaine in the dry soup packets after the dog's barking.

William Stringer Charged in Shooting Death of Neighbor

In a bizarre killing, William Stringer has been charged in connection to the shooting death of a neighbor.

William Stringer, 75, claims the killing was in self-defense against an intruder. He told police that he shot and killed his 47 year-old neighbor Alan Farringer. Stringer then dug a grave behind the house and called a neighbor to help him move the body, the Cincinnati Enquirer reports.

When authorities arrived at Stringer's Mt. Washington, Ohio home, they found Farringer shot to death behind the residence.

Bobby Fischer's Remains to be Exhumed in Iceland

Let the dead rest in peace. A nice sentiment, but in the case of Bobby Fischer, apparently it does not apply.

The Supreme Court of Iceland ruled Wednesday that Fischer's body will be exhumed, two years after he was buried. Lower courts had denied the request to examine his remains for paternity tests.

The famous chess genuis will have his remains exhumed in order to determine whether he fathered a 9 year old girl. Fischer is buried approximately 30 miles outside of Reykjavik, Iceland, where he had lived for three years prior to his death in 2008. At stake is his estate, reportedly worth $2 million, after he died in Iceland in 2008 with no will. Thordur Bogason, a lawyer for the child in question and her mother said that the investigation was launched because legal cases over who has rights to Bobby Fischer's estate have not been resolved.

Heiress Gail Posner Leaves Fortune to Chihuahua

It's Bret vs. Conchita in a battle in battle over control of the family fortune.

A Chihuahua named Conchita was left millions of dollars by Heiress Gail Posner and her son Bret Carr is now fighting for his share of his mother's multimillion-dollar estate, the Miami Herald reports.

Gail Posner's pooch was left with a $3 million trust fund and an $8.3 million Miami Beach mansion. Her bodyguards, handlers, housekeepers and a personal trainer received 27 million. Posner's son Bret Carr was only left a million dollars and now has launched a legal battle over his mother's estate.

Actor Jeremy London Kidnapped, Forced to Use Drugs

Actor Jeremy London has survived a bizarre kidnapping.

Jeremy London, "Party of Five" and "7th Heaven" star, said he was kidnapped, held at gunpoint and forced to use drugs, People Magazine reports.

London, 37, told police that the incident happened while he was in Palm Springs and was attempting to change a flat tire on his car. He said he was approached by a group of men who offered to assist him.

Uninsured Michigan Woman Shoots Herself, Seeking Medical Attention

Kathy Myers could face charges of reckless discharge of a firearm, but that is probably the least of her concerns while being nursed back to health after shooting herself in the shoulder to get medical attention.

An uninsured Michigan woman Kathy Myers, 41, put a gun to her shoulder and pulled the trigger as a cry for help and medical attention for a painful pre-existing condition, the Niles Daily Star reports.

Her self-inflicted gunshot wound with .25 caliber handgun was not a "suicide wish" but a drastic measure she was forced to take as she is unemployed, uninsured, and unable to afford a doctor. Myers said she has not been able to see a specialist or find a specialist who will accept her on a payment plan she can afford.

Man Arrested for Making False Distress Signal Calls

Kurtis Thorsted made several distress signal calls claiming he was stranded at sea, when in fact he was safe inside his Salinas, California home.

Kurtis Thorsted , 53, made multiple "mayday" calls and broadcast more than four dozen of these hoax distress signals over six months in 2008, the Associated Press reports.

The false distress signal mayday calls cost the Coast Guard more than $102,000 for attempted searches, officials said.

Lisette Lee: DEA Agents Arrest Her Carrying 500 lbs of Pot

Forget about traveling light.

DEA agents arrested California socialite, Lisette Lee, carrying 506 pounds of marijuana in 13 suitcases, the Columbus Dispatch reports.

She was arrested with the pot at the airport after flying to Ohio from California on a private jet.

Lee, 28, was picked up by Drug Enforcement Administration agents with a body guard and two assistants in tow.

Parents Sue Man for Gross Negligence during 'Ding Dong Ditch' Game

A "Ding Dong Ditch" prank by a few teenagers has resulted in a serious lawsuit.

The parents of a boy who was shot in the leg during a game of Ding Dong Ditch have filed a $2.5 million gross negligence lawsuit, the Tennessean reports.

Jeff and Sherri Robinson have filed a gross negligence lawsuit against a man who thought his home was being broken into and opened fire, shooting their 17-year-old son Joseph in the leg.

Mobile Medical Marijuana Dispensary Faces Tough Legal Road

Although Stewart Hauptman and Helen Cherry have found a way to keep business rolling for their Pace Arrow motor home medical dispensary, they face a tough legal road ahead.

As previously discussed, the couple travels in their RV pot shop around Southern California and Las Vegas, serving about 700 members of their marijuana collective.

Woman Sues City of New York, Wins Damages Award of $1

A popular legal maxim states that, "he who represents himself has a fool for a client." If true, you might say that the City of New York lost to a fool. 
It's an odd case, but then, this is Legally Weird, so of course it is. 
Velma Craig, who worked as a school safety officer, represented herself in court after filing a lawsuit against the city. She had been suspended from her job for refusing to accept an employee identification card. The card, issued by the police, was problematic to Craig because she believed it contained "the mark of the beast." She had been issued an identification badge with enhanced security features, including microchips that held her fingerprints, after the 9/11 attacks.

Just Stupid: How Attorneys Found Evidence in Lehman Bros Suit

In the litigation following the destruction of the fourth largest securities firm, Lehman Brothers, some weird and wonderful stories have emerged. In cases such as the litigation around Lehman Brothers' demise, one of the key questions is always, "who know what, when?" It is rarely easy for the attorneys reviewing the literally millions of pages of emails, reports and other documents to find evidence of that crucial question. Well, one man has found a way.

According to Bloomberg news, Anton Valukas is the bankruptcy examiner in charge of discovering who knew about what risks at what time and then ignored that knowledge, leading to the demise of Lehman Bros. But how to sort through 34 million pages of documents? You use your head. And your search terms.

Update: Oregon Man Sentenced for Bus Passenger Haircuts

There's no cutting out of this one for Oregon man, Jared Weston Walter, accused of giving his fellow bus passengers haircuts.

Jared Weston Walter, the 23-year-old Portland, Oregon man accused of snipping the hair of unsuspecting bus passengers, was sentenced on Wednesday, June 9, to 2 1/3 years in prison, the Oregonian reports.

Facebook Social Networking Tool Helps Mom Find Missing Children

As we know, Facebook is a social networking tool for people to connect with friends and send messages, but for Prince Segala the online site has unlocked so much more, helping her to find missing children who were kidnapped nearly 15 years ago.

Through a Facebook search Prince Segala, a San Bernardino County, California mother, located her missing children -- a daughter, now 17, and son, now 16, and alerted the police to their location, the San Bernardino County Sun reports.

Suzanne Corona of New York Charged with Adultery

Note: Normally a joke would go here, but it's unlikely that it would make it past the editor. 

Dateline: Batavia, New York. Police were called to Farrall Park at about 5 p.m. last Friday. The mother of a small child contacted the police after she said that a man and women were having sex on a picnic table in the park. Officer Matthew Baldwin arrived and found Justin M. Amend, 29, of Oakfield, and Suzanne M. Corona, 41, in flagrante delicto. This despite the fact that the two were allegedly in full view of several women and children in the park.

Man Sentenced for Smuggling Songbirds in His Pants

Sony Dong gave new meaning to the children's song lyrics "Mister bluebird's on my shoulder" when he smuggled songbirds into the United States by hiding them in his pants. 

Dong, 46, hid the birds by attaching them to his calves underneath his pants on his flight back from Vietnam. He was charged and sentenced to four months in prison, the Associated Press reports.

Officials said 14 live birds were found attached to pieces of cloth wrapped around his legs.

Man Arrested for 911 Phone Calls about Mom Taking His Beer

In most cases, someone taking your beer probably does not rise to the level of an emergency. But a Florida man made multiple 911 phone calls to report that his mother had taken his beer away.

Charles Dennison of New Port Richey, Fla., was arrested for allegedly calling the police to complain that his mother had taken his beer away from him. He is now facing criminal charges, the St. Petersburg Times reports.

Man Seeking to Rescue Stray Dog Arrested for DUI

Oleksandr Nayda would have been known as a Good Samaritan had he not been arrested for drunk driving while seeking to rescue a stray dog.

Instead, the good deeds by Oleksandr Nayda as a dog rescuer were overshadowed police said, when he drove drunk to local police station, the Associated Press reports.

Police said the 38-year-old man from Monroe, New York, found a stray Rottweiler and stopped by the department's headquarters to ask for directions to an animal shelter.

Free Speech, Right? Facebook Group Calls for 'B-Pee' Day

As the BP oil spill continues to gush oil into the Gulf of Mexico, there is no shortage of media coverage and public comment from a variety of angles. One angle that has not received a lot of attention, however, is that of cold, hard revenge. 

FBI Using Digital Billboards to Find 'Granddad Bandit'

The FBI is on the lookout for an elusive suspect who the agency has dubbed the "Granddad Bandit," and hopes using new digital billboards will help them make a quick capture.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has plans to post the picture of the "Granddad Bandit" on digital billboards around the country in an effort to catch him in any of the several states where he is wanted, the Associated Press reports.

Woman Files Lawsuit over Google Maps Application Directions

Someone needs to take the blame for bad directions, so Lauren Rosenberg is suing Internet giant, Google, maker of the Google Maps application.

Lauren Rosenberg filed a lawsuit against the search engine company, claiming the Google Maps application gave her walking directions down a highway where she was struck by a car, the Associated Press reports.