Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

January 2013 Archives

'GAYGUY' License Plate Denial Drives Ga. Man to Sue

The state of Georgia has a lawsuit to fend off, after denying a man's request for a personalized license plate saying "GAYGUY."

But legally speaking, did state officials infringe on Cyrus Gilbert's rights, or did they make an allowable judgment call pursuant to an established regulation?

Gilbert, an openly gay man, asserts that his rights were violated in his quest for a vanity license plate. After all, so many people have all sorts of personalized vanity license plates reflecting their affiliations and identities, right?

Apparently, homosexual identity doesn't make the cut in Georgia.

Fla. Man Takes Wife's Last Name, Accused of Driver's License Fraud

When Lazaro Sopena married Hahn Dinh, he took his wife's last name so that her family name would continue. His wife, you see, has no brothers to continue the line. What a great husband, right?

To make it official, he went through the appropriate process of changing his passport, Social Security card, and bank account information. Then he got a new driver's license. Or so he thought.

Lazaro Sopena -- now Lazaro Dinh -- received his license with his new last name. But a little more than a year later, his license was suspended.

Squatter, 23, Claims Legal Right to Occupy $2.5M Mansion

A squatter in a $2.5 million mansion is trying to assert a claim under Florida law that says the mansion belongs to him. His legal ground: adverse possession.

The man, Andre "Loki" Barbosa, 23, a Brazilian national also known as "Loki Boy," claims that the mansion belongs to him because he was in possession of it for the last six months, ABC News reports.

Under Florida's adverse possession law, a party may acquire title from another by openly occupying that property and paying real estate tax on that property -- but that must happen for a continuous period of at least seven years. Sued After Woman Stabbed by Ex-Date

Instead of suing her attacker, a woman is suing after she was stabbed by a man she'd met online.

Mary Kay Beckman seeks to hold the dating website responsible for the suffering she endured in a brutal attack in 2011. Her attacker was sent to prison.

Beckman is suing for $10 million, alleging negligence, negligent misrepresentation, deceptive trade, failure to warn, and negligent infliction of emotional distress.

Church of Scientology Sued Over Misspent Donations

A California couple is suing the Church of Scientology, claiming that the church misspent hundreds of thousands of dollars they donated for the construction of a new building.

The couple, Luis Garcia Saz and Maria Del Rocio Burgos Garcia, claim they donated $420,000 to the church to fund construction of a building in Florida and for other humanitarian purposes, reports The Tampa Tribune.

But more than a decade after the project started, the building is nowhere near complete. In their lawsuit, the couple claims that the church invented the construction project as a scheme to swindle money from church members.

So where did the money go?

Segway DUI? Not in Minnesota, Court Rules

It's possible to get a DUI charge on almost any vehicle: a Zamboni, a buggy, a motorized arm chair, we've seen it all. But apparently a Segway is where Minnesota draws the line.

A state court of appeals ruled that the self-balancing, two-wheeled, 95-pound personal transit machine can be driven while drunk without violating the law. Or at least without violating any laws about driving while intoxicated.

That's good news for Mark Greenman, who was arrested for a DUI while riding his Segway last year. And it wasn't his first Segway DUI, either.

'Revenge Porn' Website Sued Over Privacy Violations

Driven largely by "sexting" between partners, so-called "revenge porn" websites have sprung up online. Now, one such U.S.-based website is being sued.

If you aren't in the know, a "revenge porn" website is basically a site where a vengeful person posts your naked pictures online -- along with personal information like your name, address, and telephone number, reports Wired.

How do these sites get the photos and information? Typically, from bitter exes.

Are these websites legal? Well, we're about to find out.

Teacher Marries Ex-Student, Avoids Statutory Rape Prosecution

Everyone loves a romance story and when a teacher marries a student, it has to be a good one. Oh, and it is.

The happy couple is 42-year-old Leah Gayle Shipman and her husband, Johnny Ray Ison. He just turned 19. But when the couple's relationship began, he was only 15 years old, and Shipman was a teacher at his school.

Shipman was arrested for statutory rape in 2009 after having sex with Ison; had she been convicted, she could have faced 15 years in prison. But thanks to her new teenage husband, the law can't touch her.

Nearly Naked Woman Gets DWI After Crashing Into Wall

Is this a DWI or indecent exposure? A nearly naked woman crashed her Volkswagen Jetta just after midnight on Friday and then fled, only to be caught by cops a short distance later.

The driver, 36-year-old Catherine Giaquinto of New York, is facing several charges after she allegedly crashed her car into a stone retaining wall in New Jersey and then drove off, the Asbury Park Press reports.

Though it was near freezing at the time, about 12:50 a.m., Giaquinto was wearing only an unzipped leather jacket, police said.

Rejected! 5 Weird White House 'We the People' Petitions

You can petition the White House online about anything, and get an official response if you can gather enough signatures. But that doesn't mean silly ideas won't be rejected.

In 2011, President Obama's administration launched a website called "We the People" that allows citizens to send petitions directly to the White House. All you needed was 25,000 signatures in 30 days to get the president, or at least his staff, to consider your request.

At least, that's what you needed before. After several silly petitions, the number of signatures needed has been raised to 100,000, New York Magazine reports. How silly, you ask? Well, take a look at five weird White House petitions:

For '2 Girls, 1 Cup,' Ira Isaacs Gets 4 Years in Prison

Whatever you do, don't search for "2 Girls, 1 Cup" after reading this. I did, to learn more about producer Ira Isaacs being sentenced to prison for making the viral video. And the automated images Google includes in its results may not be something you want to see today, or any other day.

I've never personally seen the entire clip. But the number of reaction videos on YouTube, and even Stewie's reaction on "Family Guy," gives you some sense that if you watch, you'll want to watch with an empty stomach.

And apparently federal prosecutors, and jurors, felt the same. Isaacs was convicted of violating federal obscenity laws and for selling movies featuring "bestiality and extreme fetishes." He was sentenced Thursday to four years in federal prison, reports The Huffington Post.

Wild Wedgie Spree Lands YouTube User in Jail

Charles Ross allegedly went on a wedgie spree Sunday night and likely intended to put the video on his YouTube page. But his subsequent arrest put a damper on those plans.

Police in Florida were tipped off to Ross' obnoxious behavior when a male victim told them Ross had grabbed the back of his pants and pulled them up none too gently. You might have had to put up with that in middle school but in the real world, that's battery.

The man who reported the crime wasn't the only victim that night. But he was the only one brave enough to press charges, so he'll see Ross in court.

Pedophobic Teacher Sues School District for Discrimination

You've probably heard of pedophile teachers who prey on young children, but what about pedophobic teachers?

There have been some strange employment discrimination cases over the years, but this is certainly one for the books. An Ohio teacher is suing her ex-school district over claims she was discriminated against because of her disability.

Her alleged disability: Pedophobia, or the fear of young children.

Man Busted for 17,000 Lewd Phone Calls

After 17,000 lewd phone calls, the law has finally caught up with Robert Glass. The women of Pennsylvania will now be safe from harassing phone calls, at least from this guy.

Glass, a 51-year old resident of Myerstown, Pennsylvania, was arraigned last week and charged with multiple counts of harassment and stalking. So far at least 30 women have been identified as victims of unwanted phone calls from Glass.

Silly prank calls are one thing, but Glass did more than just ask if the refrigerator was running. He took things way too far when he picked up the phone.

iPhone Tracked Down, Man Beaten by Video Vigilantes

An alleged iPhone thief got beaten up by the rightful owner of the phone. But with video footage of the assault, the victim of the theft could potentially find himself charged with a crime as well.

The iPhone's owner, Kenneth Schmidgall of San Diego, is not a man to mess with. This is especially true when it comes to his beloved digital device.

So when the 26-year-old lost his iPhone at a reggae concert, he and his roommate (who happens to be a freelance news photographer) set out on a mission to get it back, reports The Huffington Post.

They also brought along a videocamera.

'Rape by Trickery' Doesn't Apply to Unmarried Woman, Court Says

Prosecutors argued that a California woman was raped when a man impersonated her boyfriend and had sex with her as she slept.

But a California appeals court has ruled that an unmarried woman is not capable of being raped by trickery such as impersonation. The court explained these laws protect married women only.

Since the woman in this case was not married, the court reversed the man's rape conviction. But prosecutors will be able to try him again on a different legal theory.

In Carpool Lane, Are Corporations 'People'?

It appears that the fight over whether corporations are people has temporarily left the courtroom and moved to the carpool lane.

Jonathan Frieman was driving in San Rafael, California, in October, when he got a ticket for driving in the carpool lane. The officer stopped him because he only saw one person in the car, but Frieman claims there were technically two people in his vehicle at the time.

Frieman's definition of who was in the car with him is a little unorthodox. In fact, he's been trying to get pulled over for the last 10 years just to make his point.

Sperm Donor Fights Child Support Order

Do sperm donors have to pay child support?

If Kansas authorities get their way, that may be the case.

Four years ago, William Marotta donated sperm to a lesbian couple after answering an online ad. A baby girl was born, and now the donor is suddenly faced with a child support bill, reports the Associated Press.