Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

July 2013 Archives

Ben & Jerry's Porn Lawsuit Settlement: Here's the Scoop

The Ben and Jerry's porn lawsuit has settled out of court, so don't expect a scoop of eye candy anytime soon.

Caballero Video, a Southern California porn studio, was sued by the ice cream giant after the studio named its "nutty" naughty porn parodies after Ben & Jerry's famously punny ice cream flavors. One example: "Boston Cream Thighs."

Here's the scoop on the settlement:

Mich. Dad Fights Order to Pay Child Support for Another Man's Kid

Imagine this: A dad pays for child support. Expected and normal, right? But imagine a dad who pays child support... for a child who is legitimately not his.

According to Michigan law, this is perfectly OK. It's also exactly what happened to Joseph Chmelar, a recently divorced father of two.

Chmelar's ex-wife had a child with another man while she and Chmelar were separated, but still legally married, Grand Rapids' WOOD-TV reports. As if this wasn't already an unpleasant surprise, Chmelar then received a letter informing him that he owed $8,500 in back child support for the other man's child. All on Father's Day weekend, no less.

How is this allowed?

Jail Sentence for Filthy Mess in Courthouse Restroom Upheld

A federal appellate court has affirmed a man's conviction for making a crap-stained mess of a federal courthouse bathroom, proving to the nation what was long suspected: Judges hate poop.

The First Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Ronald J. Strong's conviction for willfully "damaging" along with "creating a nuisance" and "hazard" on federal property -- crimes for which the weak-bowelled Strong served seven days in jail, reports Salon.

Is it really illegal for a person to make a big mess in a federal restroom, even when he allegedly tried to clean it up?

Driver's License Lawsuit: Photo Will Lead to 'Mark of the Beast'

An Oklahoma woman has filed a driver's license lawsuit, claiming that taking fingerprints and high-resolution photographs of people is the "the beginning stages of the [Biblical] mark of the beast."

Think along the lines of facial-recognition technology used in "Minority Report," "Gattaca," and [your favorite sci-fi movie]. Well, that's how Kaye Beach apparently feels about the Department of Public Safety's high-res photos and fingerprints.

She claims requiring biometrics to get a license violates her religious rights, according to her complaint.

$1M Seized During Traffic Stop Must Go Back to Stripper: Judge

A former California stripper is set to get more than $1 million in cash returned to her after Nebraska state troopers seized the bills during a traffic stop in 2012.

Former exotic dancer Tara Mishra won her case in federal court to have the $1,074,900 returned, reports the Lincoln Journal Star. Mishra claims she'd earned the money while working as an exotic dancer.

Why did the judge decide to give Mishra back her stripper cash?

Student's 'Hot for Teacher' Lawsuit Dismissed

The federal judge in a student's "hot for teacher" lawsuit was hot for the university, and not for the student.

U.S. District Judge Patrick Duggan ruled Tuesday that Joseph Corlett, a college student suspended for writing an essay entitled "Hot for Teacher," had no First Amendment right to express his sexual attraction for his instructor. Corlett, who was 56 when he wrote the essay, filed a lawsuit against Oakland University in Rochester, Michigan, over his suspension.

Duggan, however, dismissed Corlett's lawsuit and ruled in favor of the school, reports The Associated Press.

Scammer Ordered to Spend Next 5 Christmases in Jail

An Ohio woman will spend her next five Christmas holidays in jail as punishment for a driver's license scam.

One can only wonder about her stocking stuffers... Soap on a rope, anyone?

Scrooge Judge Michael J. Holbrook imposed what many refer to as the "Holbrook holidays" sentence on Betina Young, 44, for issuing state ID cards and driver's licenses to immigrants who'd entered the country illegally.

Burglar Busted After Mistaking Human Ashes for Cocaine

A Tennessee man allegedly stole a box of human ashes that he mistook for cocaine.

William "Billy" Cantrell, 28, of Nashville, allegedly stole the ashes and an Xbox from his neighbor and brought the spoils to his grandmother's house. Unfortunately for him, the ashes were the cremated remains of his neighbor's mother.

So how did Billy, who has been charged with aggravated burglary, mistake a lump of gray for grams of white?

Shoot Down a Drone, Get $100? Colo. Town Aims for Aug. Vote

Colorado is becoming a more interesting place by the day. First they legalize pot, and now one town may soon allow its residents to shoot down military drones for cash.

"Shoot Down Drones for Cash" sounds like some sort of Al Qaeda game show, but it turns out that it's actually a proposed law in the town of Deer Trail, Colorado. The ordinance, if approved, would enable citizens to "hunt" unmanned drones and cash in on their lightweight-metal corpses, reports Reuters.

Could a law like this really exist?

Redneck Heaven 'Breastaurant' Covered by New Body-Paint Law

Redneck Heaven, a Texas food joint in the "breastaurant" industry a la Hooters and Twin Peaks, can't use body paint as a proxy for clothes anymore.

A city ordinance change in Lewisville, Texas, means Redneck Heaven -- known for its "Anything But Clothes" days -- can no longer clad female servers in mere pasties and body paint.

It's a big blow to the busty restaurant, considering it only adopted the body paint idea after a 2011 local ordinance required more coverage during the promotion.

Alleged Burglars Pocket-Dial 911, Discuss Details of Heist

Don't you just hate it when you're mid-burglary and you pocket-dial a high school acquaintance, your most heinous ex, or even 911?

An alleged pocket-dialing burglar from McAlester, Oklahoma, knows exactly how you might feel. He and his cohort were overheard chatting about the details of their heist via a misbehaving phone that pocket-dialed 911, reports the McAlester News-Capital.

Just how will this phone gaffe affect the suspects' chances to beat their burglary charges?

College Student Rigs Class Election, Gets 1 Year in Prison

You know what happens when a student rigs an election? Prison. A former Cal State San Marcos student who stole nearly 750 student passwords and used them to cast votes for himself and fraternity brothers was sentenced Monday in federal court to a year in prison.

It would be especially sad if he still couldn't manage to get enough votes to win.

Despite the large-scale theft, it was Matthew Weaver's dumb unwise attempt to cover up the largest student identity theft in the university's 24-year history that really got the judge's goat.

KTVU Apologizes, Asiana to Sue Over Pilot Name Gaffe

Television station KTVU has apologized for airing fake names of the pilots of a jetliner that crashed in San Francisco last week. But Asiana Airlines says it's planning to sue the station over the error.

An anchor for Oakland, California's KTVU read four made-up names for the pilots of the downed Asiana plane -- names which were racially insensitive. The fake names were apparently confirmed by an intern with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), reports The Associated Press.

While the mistake was embarrassing for KTVU, does Asiana have really have grounds to sue?

What a Steal! ID Thief, 26, Goes on 17 Disney Vacations

An ex-restaurant manager from Illinois had the mean ol' government put a stop to his frequent trips to Disney World, mostly because he was allegedly stealing people's identities in order to foot the bill.

Huge Disney fan and slightly smaller alleged identity thief Alexander Pera, 26, was arrested last week for using stolen identities to fund two Disney cruises and 15 trips to Disney World -- a five-month Disney vacation bender that cost about $50,000 in stolen funds, reports CNN Money.

Unfortunately for Pera, fraud for Disney World's sake is still fraud, and he may soon find prison to be a Small Small World.

Nude Swimmer Distracts Man in Alleged Burglary Plot

A naughty nude swimmer distracted a Tennessee man in an alleged burglary plot that made quite a splash in his neighborhood.

Stephen Amaral, 54, of Crossville, Tennessee, claimed a menacing mermaid woman asked to go skinny-dipping in his pool while, unbeknownst to Amaral, the woman's husband burglarized his home.

Here's the skinny on how it happened:

'Porta Potty Peeper' Pleads Guilty

A Colorado man known as the "porta potty peeper" has pleaded guilty to burglary and unlawful sexual contact, after admitting to hiding in public toilets across the state.

Luke Chrisco, 31, was caught after he emerged from a portable toilet, covered in feces, at a yoga festival in Boulder in 2011. His attorney is hoping for a "community based" sentence for the titillated toilet tenant, reports Boulder's Daily Camera.

Chrisco may have enjoyed his prior exposure to women's excrement, but this time it'll be Lady Justice giving him the flush.

Woman Arrested for Kissing Cop on the Nose

Can you get arrested for kissing a cop on the nose? Apparently, you can. This is exactly what happened to 62-year-old Peggy Hill of Bradenton, Florida. According to The Huffington Post, police officers were reporting to a call about an altercation between Hill and her neighbor one Saturday night in late June.

Hill, who said she had been drinking, then planted a wet one on an officer when he was talking to her.

She was then arrested and jailed on charges of felony battery.

Fight Over Boyfriend's Farts Leads to 911 Call

A concerned neighbor in Michigan called 911 over what she thought was domestic violence, but it was all hot air, literally: The fight was actually over a fart.

One of the neighbors had heard somebody -- a female -- yelling, "Stop! No!" the police chief of Clawson, Michigan, told Detroit's WWJ Newsradio.

The dutiful fart patrol neighbor also said that, in between shouts, she heard a repeated loud noise.

Poppy Seed Bagel Caused Mom to Fail Drug Test, Lose Custody

A Pennsylvania mother's poppy seed bagel drug-test mishap has led to a six-figure settlement with the hospital that performed the test and the county that took her newborn into protective custody.

When Elizabeth Mort was at Jameson Hospital giving birth in April 2010, she tested positive for opiates. That prompted child welfare workers to take Mort's 3-day-old baby from her, reports The Associated Press.

Mort insisted the drug-test result was due to her eating a poppy seed muffin. And after regaining custody of her child, she sued the hospital.

Rich Parents Sue School Over $50K Finger Painting 'Scam'

An alleged finger-painting "scam" is pitting a pair of rich parents against a posh school over a fundraiser gone wrong.

Michelle Heinemann and her investment-banker husband Jon are suing the upscale Cathedral School of St. John the Divine in New York City for $415,000 plus damages for allegedly conspiring to rig a fundraising auction and sticking them with a $50,000 bill for their "winning bid."

At the center of the dispute: A 30-by-30-inch finger painting by a classroom of kindergartners.

Sidewalk Chalk Writer's Vandalism Charges Erased

A California jury has acquitted a sidewalk chalk writer of his Crayola vandalism charges for writing slogans on sidewalks in front of banks.

A jury in San Diego deliberated for five hours before acquitting Jeff Olson, 40, of 13 misdemeanor charges that could have sent him to jail for 13 years and forced him to pay up to $13,000 in fines.

Though Olson was acquitted, the lesson to learn here is that even sidewalk chalk can potentially be considered vandalism.

Fake Drug Checkpoints Trick Drivers, but Are They Legal?

DUI checkpoints are generally legal to check if drivers are drunk. But what if police use a fake drug checkpoint sign to catch drivers with illegal drugs?

In Mayfield Heights, Ohio, police have set up yellow signs that say "Drug Checkpoint Ahead." But really, there's no such thing. Instead, officers are observing drivers' reactions and then pulling over the ones who "react suspiciously" upon seeing the fake warning, reports The Plain Dealer of Cleveland.

Whether this ruse works to snag drug suspects is one thing, but is this deceptive practice legal?