Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

August 2010 Archives

Caesar's Palace Casino Fined for Gambler's Table Dance

Certain types of dancing will get you into trouble in Vegas and no, it's not what you think. This was not an incident involving the "do a little dance, make a little love" kind of dancing, but more of the do a little dance, bet a little money sort. This particular type of table dance also ended in the casino that was the scene of the festivities having to fend off a little complaint by the Nevada Gaming Control Board.

This week it was reported that Caesar's Palace casino has agreed to pay a fine of $250,000 for allowing a baccarat player to dance on the card table while a game was in progress, according to the Associated Press. Or, to phrase it in the more silken terms employed by our brethren in the British press, the fine was levied after a high-rolling male baccarat player made several "trips to the table's surface," and that said roller was "alleged to have walked on the table whilst making bets ..."

Kilo of Cocaine Found Hidden in Bologna

Bologna, the popular sandwhich meat, is taking on a whole new role these days after a 30 year-old Holyoke, Massacheutts man was the recepient of a cocaine-stuffed chunk of bologna. Juan G. Rodriguez was later arrested on cocaine trafficking charges, according to MSNBC.

A bunch of bologna? Not this case, as Rodriguez will have to answer to more than just Oscar Mayer for his unconvential use of the deli meat. With a steet value of close to $100,000, police were originally tipped off to the "enhanced" meat by postal workers in Puerto Rico, who had been investigating similar shipments over the past month. An undercover postal worker delivered the package to its indended recipient, and police later entered his house and arrested Rodriguez.

'Condom in Soup' Case Reaches Settlement

Question: What is the worst thing that a person could find in their soup?

Answer: hard to say for sure, but finding a condom in soup has to be pretty high on the list. We don't know. But, an Orange County Claim Jumper diner who found the secret ingredient in his soup sued for monetary compensation and the restaurant settled for an undisclosed amount.

Philip Hodousek, 51, and his wife said that it went down like this: Philip felt what he believed was tough cheese on one side of this mouth ... he could not chew it into pieces ... it felt like rubber. He then spit it out, spooned it onto a napkin, at which time his wife said, 'Oh my God, it's a condom.' Hodousek then made a trip to the he the men's bathroom and vomited. The manager of the restaurant contended that it was a piece of a rubber glove. However Hodousek was insistent that it was a condom, and later had it tested by a lab.

Woman's Remains Stolen from NY Mausoleum

Here's a refreshing thought. You know that saying about letting the dead rest in peace? Well, that may be a bit hard to ensure when there are people running amok stealing bodies from Catholic cemeteries.

That's right. New York police are investigating the theft of a woman's body from a NY Mausoleum. The body stealing bandits entered three mausoleums and removed a casket from one, according to Suffolk County Deputy Inspector Robert Brown. Brown said that vandalism does happen regularly at cemeteries but that he had only heard of a body being stolen a couple of times in 25 years. The break-in happened at St. Charles Cemetery on Long Island between 6:30 p.m. Monday and 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. Brown said that the thieves were prepared with respect to the process necessary to remove a casket and carry the woman's remains.

Minneapolis Settles With Seven Zombies for $165k

How do you get rid of zombies? Pay them cold, hard cash. At least that is what the city of Minneapolis did to make a suit by seven zombies lay down and die, for good.

The story of the undead, zero probable cause and one scary appellate court decision begins in the summer of 2006, according to the Wall Street Journal. Seven citizens, dressed up like zombies, lurched down the streets of downtown Minneapolis allegedly to protest "mindless consumerism." Or, did they mean mind-eating consumerism? Never mind. The zombies carried with them an iPod and four sacks containing sound amplification equipment. However, to police called to the scene, the sound equipment somehow resembled "weapons of mass destruction." Add to that equation no identification for any of the un-dead and you get two days in jail without any charges ever filed. Cut to lawsuit against city.

Busted For Selling Pot: Defendant Must Write His Wrongs

It is that time of year again, back to school. How can you tell? Increased traffic, sales at Staples, stressed kids and happy parents. Oh, and homework. Here is a case of homework in a very unusual arena. A Nevada judge has given homework to a defendant who came before him on a charge of selling pot. The defendant, 25 year-old Matthew Palazzolo, was busted for selling the drug he grew himself after obtaining a valid medical marijuana card. The judge found this situation ludicrous and wants Palazzolo to write all about it.

Judge Dave Gamble has ordered Palazzolo write an essay on the "nonsensical character" of the medical marijuana laws in the neighboring state of California, according to the Associated Press. Palazzolo had pled guilty to a charge of conspiracy to violate the Uniform Controlled Substances Act. He was arrested outside a casino in Stateline, NV in February after he sold a quarter-pound of pot to an informant for $1,060.

More Distracted Driving Tales: Changing Clothes While Driving?

The report is short and sweet, but the (almost) crime is not. Police in the Badger State (Go Bucky!) have seen a new variation on the now common problem of distracted driving and this time, it is not pretty. Hang up and drive? A 54 year-old Wisconsin man is advised by police to hang up his clothes and drive.

According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, the man in question was driving back from a very good day at the Wisconsin State Fair. At least it seems to have been a good day, because according to the police, the man said he was changing clothes while driving because he was so sweaty from his day out. After a due warning about indecent exposure, the cops let him go on his sweaty, but merry way.

10 Legal Lessons Learned from FindLaw's Legally Weird

Can there be lessons learned merely from the antics reported over the past months of 2010 in FindLaw's Legally Weird blog? If so, you can be sure that the whimsical writers of these posts will be eager to bring them to you, piping hot. Over the past year, we have seen everything pop up in LW from grannies in jail, to snake attacks, to marijuana use. Lots and lots of marijuana use. For your reading ease and pleasure, herewith, a few of the legal lessons learned in Legally Weird, to date.

10. Do not coat your fellow man with any form of bodily fluids. Any vomit or other offensive materials being thrown on others will result in a lawsuit. See, Man Arrested for Attacking Woman with Bucket of Human Waste, Jail Time for Phillies Fan's 'Vomit Assault'.

9. 911 is for emergencies. Emergencies do not involve a lack of beer, a date or because the back door to someone's house is open. See, Man Arrested for 911 Phone Calls about Mom Taking His Beer, Florida Man Charged with Making 18 911 Phone Calls in 2 Months.

8. Drive through restaurant windows are for ORDERING FOOD. Singing, tantrum throwing, theft and other art forms are often discouraged by law. See, Teen found Not Guilty of Disorderly Conduct for McDonald's Rap, Wendy's Restaurant Robber Phones In to Complain, Melodi Dushane Arrested for McNugget-Related Attack.

NJ Police Post Mug Shots to Facebook

Facebook: it is so many things to so many people. A source of friendship, an alibi for a crime, a way to torture your own flesh and blood. For Evesham, New Jersey police it recently also has been a way to find and maybe even punish those suspected of drunk driving. Talk about social media innovation.

According to the Courier-Post, the police department's Facebook page has included helpful items such as video surveillance clips, mug shots, police reports, photos of missing persons and announcements of policing initiatives. Just weeks ago, the department added names and photos of suspects arrested for drunken driving. "This arms the public with information and puts a face with a name," said Evesham NJ police Lt. Walt Miller. "We've got a lot of information on our (Facebook) wall. We're only as good as the information the public gives us."

Thief Caught Selling Stolen Ladder to Former Victim

Attention all you would be ladder thieves: despite what you might have learned from your colleagues, it is not a good idea to try to resell your stolen ladder back to the person you swiped it from. Especially after you were just released for being caught stealing the ladder.

Kevin Gilman has hopefully learned this valuable and seemingly obvious lesson after being arrested twice for crimes involving the same ladder. After he was relased for the theft, he started calling people from the Craigslist ad he had placed. He made the mistake of calling the guy who he stole the ladder from, who turned Gilman in yet again to the Washington County sheriff's office. The sheriff's set up a sting and bought three stolen ladder from Gilman, said sheriff's office spokesman Sgt. David Thompson. Gilman was taken to jail for burglary and theft.

Man Arrested for Attacking Woman with Bucket of Human Waste

A Seattle man has been accused of throwing a bucket of human waste filled with feces, urine and vomit at a woman Saturday night. In his defense, perhaps his parents never taught him that such behavior is generally frowned upon. The suspect, Ronald V. Ellis, 69, was arrested Wednesday night for assault.

The case for the alleged bucket assault is unclear, but apparently Ellis and the female victim had a long-standing dispute. On Saturday, Ellis called the woman and told her there was something wrong with her car. When she went out to inspect her car, she saw that there was, in fact, nothing wrong with it. She then started walking upstairs to her apartment when she was hit with the contents of the bucket, by a man she identified as her neighbor.

NY Man Charged for 'Marinating' A Live Cat

The cat formerly known as Navarro (new name: Oliver) is lucky he has have nine lives. Navarro was saved when cops heard the cat's cries during a traffic stop of his owner, Gary Korkuc. Cheektowaga, New York native Korkuc was pulled over for running a stop sign when police heard the normally black and white cat in the trunk of his car. Upon inspection, they found Korkuc's feline marinating in oil, crushed peppers and chili peppers, reports Yahoo News.

No, Korkuc was not trying to get one last summer barbeque in, but told police that he was punishing his cat because he was ill-tempered. This is not the only bizarre cat antics Korkuc admitted to -- he also told police that his neutered male cat was pregnant. Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals spokesperson Gina Browing told Mail Online, "He was covered in oil, he was covered in a few different kinds of peppers, some hot peppers, so his eyes were watering ... who knows what he was facing." Police believe he was preparing to eat his cat.

Personal Injury Suit Alleges Horse Charged Car

In failing to keep his hoofs under control, a Wisconsin horse is the center of a personal injury lawsuit. Melva Lee Yates claims that she was driving her Pontiac Grand Am in 2008 when a horse owned by Connie and George Cummings charged into her vehicle.

The stallion not only caused damage to the body of the car, but also to the body of the driver. In her personal injury complaint, Yates alleges that the Cummings' failure to properly control their four-legged friend caused her to sustain back, right hip, and knee injuries. According to the Madison Record, Yates incurred medical costs, suffered great pain and mental anguish, and was forced to miss numerous work days. Yates is seeking over $200,000 in damages.

Melodi Dushane Arrested for McNugget-Related Attack

Fast food is addicting. The salty fries, greasy burgers, and decadent shakes can cause some major cravings. For 25 year-old Melodi Dushane, her chicken McNugget attack takes craving to a whole new level. New Years Day footage from a Toledo, Ohio McDonalds shows the snack attack gone wrong. Dushane tried to order Chicken McNuggets during a time when McDonalds was only serving their breakfast menu. Not accepting defeat and settling for an egg McMuffin, Dushane got out of the car and hit the drive-thru employee in the mouth.

CBS further reports on the McNugget-related attack, "At that point, the manager comes over, Dushane swings a few more times, and the manager tries to pull her up through the window by her hair." And in her ultimate act of defiance, Dushane breaks the now shut drive-thru window with a bottle. Whether these antics were the result of a disappointing or all too celebratory New Years Eve is still up for speculation.

Kid's Lemonade Stand Shut Down by County Inspectors

First there was the Boston Tea Party (the original one, not the current one). Then Prohibition. Now, there is the Portland Lemonade Revolt. Yes, like her forbearers, this modern American citizen truly resents government bureaucrats tampering with her God given right to sell and drink her preferred legal beverage. Now, after county inspectors shut down a little girl's lemonade stand, some Portlanders are up in arms.

Last week, 7 year-old entrepreneur Julie Murphy (with VP Mom assisting) opened a lemonade booth at a local arts fair in usually laid-back Portland, Oregon, according to MSNBC. Unfortunately, it was not long before a county health inspector stepped up to the booth, not for a refreshing sip of the Kool-Aid concoction, but to demand to see Julie's restaurant license. When Julie and her mother admitted to the inspector they did not have a license, he threatened them with a $500 fine if they did not shut down their illicit lemonade stand immediately.

Jet Blue Flight Attendant Opens Escape Chute, Gets Arrested

A New York JetBlue flight attendant allegedly pulled off an exit that most people only get to dream of. After a rowdy incident with a passenger who refused his orders to stay seated after landing, Steven Slater, 39, allegedly went on a bit of a rampage. First taking to the address system, to swear at the passengers, then activating the emergency escape chute, sliding off the plane and running to his car, parked at Kennedy International Airport. He was apprehended shortly after the incident at his home in Queens. He has been charged with criminal mischief and reckless endangerment.

According to a New York Times report, an anonymous law enforcement official said that a passenger got out of his seat to get his bags from the overhead bin, while the fully loaded plane was still pulling up to the gate. Steven Slater approached the passenger and told him to stay in his seat. The man refused and Slater further approached and reached toward the passenger. As he got to the passenger, the man's luggage hit Slater in the head, setting him off. He asked for an apology but instead the man swore at Slater. That was when JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater grabbed the microphone and began his dramatic exit down the escape chute.

FL 'Beauty Bandit' Maria Chrysson Steals Cosmetic Procedures

Might you remember a 1996 movie called Stealing Beauty, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci? Now there is a new version of stealing beauty, courtesy of a Florida woman the press has dubbed the "Beauty Bandit." Another cute moniker for the relatively ordinary crime of walking out on the bill. It is alleged that beauty seeker Maria Elizabeth Chrysson has a habit of going to Miami doctors for botox and other cosmetic procedures and then waltzing out the door without making payment. Pretty ugly behavior.

The Sun Sentinel reports that Ms. Chrysson is the subject of legal action by the Miami Institute for Age Management and Intervention for payment for services rendered. In addition, the Fort Lauderdale police are looking into whether Chrysson was the same woman who failed to pay her $3,300 bill before walking out of the Shino Bay Cosmetic Dermatology & Laser Institute on July 23. There may well be some surveillance video of the Beauty Bandit to confirm the Shino Bay job.

Charges Filed in Toe Typist Burglary Case

He thought of everything. Well, almost everything. Dontavius Jackson, the man who robbed the Atlanta, Georgia house of his victim and then bound her to the headboard should have tied her feet up as well. His female victim was able to get a message to her boyfriend by typing it with her toes on her laptop. No word as to whether or not this was a known or new-found skill for Amy Windom.

The 39 year-old Windom told police that Jackson woke her up early Tuesday morning where he proceeded to hold her hostage for an hour, during which time he stole a range of goods, and pistol-whipped her when she struggled to escape his control, reports the San Francisco Examiner. Before escaping in her car, he tied the toe-typing Windom to the headboard of her bed. In the commotion, Windom begged Jackson not to take her laptop. Jackson was pulled over by police the following evening on a routine traffic stop that revealed the 17 year-old had an outstanding probation violation for theft, receiving stolen goods, and obstruction of a law enforcement officer. Windom later identified him in a lineup as her attacker.

Wendy's Restaurant Robber Phones In to Complain

Times are still tough, and don't you doubt it for a moment. Case in point, one Wendy's restaurant is simply not making enough dough: not for their buns, for their thieves. A Wendy's in Atlanta is now the focus of complaints from the man who robbed it at gunpoint late in the evening of August 31.

The Associated Press reports that the disgruntled robber walked up to the drive-through window last Saturday night and proceeded to rob the cashier. Wearing a ski mask and gloves, the thief waived his gun, demanded the cash drawer, and disappeared into the night with it - on foot.

Florida Shoplifter Leaves Baby Behind

Writing for Legally Weird is frequently weird and often funny. For example: the recent case of a shoplifter who stole clothes from a retailer, wore them to an interview at the same store, and then stole more clothes on the way out. However, the case of a Florida shoplifter who shoplifted with her baby and then ditched the baby in order to make her escape is simply sad.

Two Florida women were allegedly stealing items from JCPenney's junior department on July 31. They made their escape successfully. Well, except for the fact that they left behind a 10-month old child. The mother, Crystal Whitaker, 23, was arrested and charged with violating child abuse laws. Specifically, she was charged with child abuse without great harm, child neglect without causing great harm, contributing to the delinquency of a dependent and theft, The Palm Beach Post reports.

Posthumous Pardon for Billy the Kid?

While neighboring state Arizona handles the legal show down over SB 1070, the state of New Mexico has a few pressing problems of its own. Governor Bill Richardson has said he is considering issuing a posthumous pardon to the legendary thief and gun-slinger Billy the Kid, a.k.a. Henry McCarty or William H. Bonney. There are those up in arms against the possible pardon and no, it is not the descendants of any of Billy's victims, it is the family of the man credited by many (but not all) with killing the Kid, Sheriff Pat Garrett.

The latter-day Garretts are calling on Richardson to hold the pardon, as it would result in what they call an "inexcusable defamation" of their forbearer, Sheriff Garrett, according to the Associated Press. How a pardon to the long-dead outlaw would actually defame the character of the man credited for his death is not quite clear, but that is the family's argument.

Woman Shoplifts Wardrobe, Wears to Interview at Store

A 40 year-old Canadian woman allegedly took shoplifting to a bold new level. The woman lined up an interview at an Ontario retail clothing store. Then she went to the store to shoplift for some clothes. Next, she wore the shoplifted clothes to the interview. Finally, she helped herself to a little more shoplifting on the way out of the interview. The manager, who had just finished interviewing the suspect, saw the second of her shoplifts on the security video tape. He wasn't quick enough to catch her before she left, but her escape would be short-lived. It was an odd career strategy that failed to pay off.

It wasn't hard for police to track her down; security had her resume in hand when they called the police. She is facing shoplifting penalties. The woman, who has not been identified to the public, has been charged with two counts of theft under $5,000 according to the London Free Press.