Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

January 2014 Archives

NASA Sued for Not Probing Mars 'Mystery Doughnut' for Life

Houston, we have a lawsuit. NASA is being sued by a Silicon Valley scientist for not digging deeper into his alleged "discovery" of possible life on Mars -- specifically, a curious object that appeared in a Mars rover photograph earlier this month, The Huffington Post reports.

To some (including NASA), it was just a rock; to others (including comedian Stephen Colbert), it was a "mystery doughnut." But to Dr. Rhawn Joseph of Santa Clara County, California, it was "a putative biological organism."

What is Joseph's lawsuit demanding, and is his request grounded in legal reality?

Judge to Eco-Terrorist: Read Malcolm Gladwell in Prison

One foreign eco-terrorist won't be breaking rocks in prison, she'll be cracking books instead.

Rebecca Rubin, 40, of British Columbia, Canada, was convicted in federal court in Oregon for her part in a "massive eco-sabotage campaign" as part of the Earth Liberation Front and the Animal Liberation Front. According to The Oregonian, Rubin was sentenced to five years in prison ... and advised to read two books by pop science writer Malcolm Gladwell.

Can a judge actually give a prisoner reading assignments?

Jailed 'N.J. Weedman' Gets to Smoke Pot 10 Days Per Month

Ed Forchion -- who made headlines for his unsuccessful attempt to legally change his name to -- finally scored a court win. Soon, he'll score some pot, too.

Although Forchion was convicted of pot possession in New Jersey, he recently received court approval to spend 10 days every month in California to -- you guessed it -- smoke medical marijuana, according to The Trentonian.

The process is called a medical furlough.

Judge's 'Screw-Up' Turns Woman's 2-Day Jail Sentence Into 154 Days

An Indiana woman who was supposed to spend just two days in jail wasn't released until five months later. Now a lawsuit may soon be filed over what the court called "a big screw-up."

In what was supposed to be a "slap on the wrist," Destiny Hoffman, 34, of Jeffersonville, was sentenced to just 48 hours behind bars -- but because of a judge's error, she actually served 154 days before being released Thursday, the News and Tribune reports.

What happened to keep this woman in jail for so long past her release date, and will she be able to sue over the error?

Revenge Porn 'King' Hunter Moore Gets Taken Down by FBI

Hunter Moore, otherwise known as the king of revenge porn (and therefore otherwise known as the king of sleaze), was arrested by special agents with the FBI.

Moore, the 27-year-old who operated, and Charles Evens, 25, were arrested for allegedly trying to steal naked pics of victims to drum up more business for the website.

Apparently, business has been slow in the revenge porn industry.

Kan. 'Sperm Donor' Must Pay Child Support, Judge Rules

Donate sperm, get ... a child support order? That's what happened to one Kansas man after a judge ruled that in his case, he was more than just a "sperm donor" in the eyes of the law.

Judge Mary Mattivi ruled Wednesday that William Marotta, who donated sperm to a lesbian couple, is their child's legal father. Judge Mattivi determined that a lack of formal medical arrangements forced the law to recognize Marotta as the father, who should be required to pay child support, reports The Topeka Capital-Journal.

Does this change the game for men hoping to make a quick buck by donating sperm?

Trooper Who Masturbated With Boy in 'Sex Lesson' Won't Be Charged

An Ohio law-enforcement officer who allegedly masturbated with a boy for "educational" purposes won't be charged for his actions.

Ohio Highway Patrol Trooper Ricky Vitte Jr. triggered a criminal investigation after he watched porn and masturbated with a pre-teen boy five years ago, according the Sandusky Register. Vitte admitted the incident to his wife, but said he was just trying to teach the boy about sex, according to an investigator's report.

Prosecutors have now decided not to seek a grand jury indictment for Vitte's highly questionable behavior. But why?

Google Glass Wearer Detained by Federal Agents at Movie Theater

Another day, another Google Glass legal run-in. This time, an Ohio man who wore Google Glass into a movie theater was in a dramatic plotline of his own when he was detained and questioned by special agents from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

This legal snafu sounds way more exciting than the Google Glass-related distracted driving ticket that was recently dismissed.

What the heck happened?

Driver's Google Glass Ticket Dismissed; Judge Sees No Proof

At long last, the California woman who received the first-ever traffic ticket for wearing Google Glass while driving is free to once again snap on her high-tech gear. The officer who ticketed her, however, may want to Google the question "What is evidence?"

As we previously suspected, the citation was dismissed for evidentiary reasons. The San Diego traffic court commissioner found insufficient proof that Cecilia Abadie was using her Google Glass while driving. It was a good day for Abadie because her speeding ticket was also tossed because of a lack of proof, reports The San Diego Union-Tribune.

But the legal status of sporting Google Glass behind the wheel is more unsettled than meets the eye.

Medieval Sword Fighters Report Robbery, Get Busted for Pot Dealing

A medieval sword-fighting duo called 911 to report being robbed in a Taco Bell parking lot. They conveniently forgot to mention that the item robbed from them was pot -- which they allegedly were trying to sell to their robbers.

Just another day in the neighborhood!

As expected, the police didn't take too kindly on the knights in skunky armor.

Empire State Bldg. Sues 'Boobs Around Town' Photographer for $1M

A titillating photographer is being sued by the Empire State Building's management over some sky-high boobie photos.

Allen Henson, 30, actually snapped the saucy pic of a model bearing her chest on the monument's 86th-floor observation deck in August, but the pic has since gone viral, reports Reuters. The famous building's owners are now seeking compensation for what they believe amounts to more than $1 million in damage to its reputation.

Should Henson pay up for snapping the salacious shot?

Jailed Pimp Sues Nike: Are Air Jordans 'Dangerous Weapons'?

A convicted pimp is suing Nike from behind bars, accusing the footwear company of an alleged defect: a failure to warn that Air Jordans can be dangerous weapons.

Sirgiorgio Clardy, 26, of Portland, Oregon, asesrts that Nike should've warned consumers that their sneakers could cause serious injury or death. The reason: Clardy was wearing Air Jordans when he repeatedly stomped the face of a john who tried to "hit it and quit it" without paying, reports The Oregonian.

Why does Clardy think Nike should be held liable for the brutal stomping he committed?

Bill Aims to Let Kids Chew Pop Tarts Into Guns

Thanks to a new bill, children in Oklahoma may soon be able to chew Pop-Tarts into the shape of guns without getting arrested. The goal is to rein in outlandish zero tolerance policies.

Here's hoping things don't take a turn for the "Lord of the Flies" during snack time.

Lawsuit to Nowhere? Gov. Christie, N.J. Sued Over Bridge Lane Closure

The George Washington Bridge lane-closure scandal is now the focus of a proposed federal class-action lawsuit, naming Gov. Chris Christie and the state of New Jersey as defendants.

Not wanting to miss anyone irritated by what some are calling "Bridgegate," the proposed class-action suit seeks to include "any and all individuals and business owners" who were inconvenienced or hurt by the bridge's lane closures in mid-September, reports Politico.

But is this suit a bridge too far?

How Does an 'Atomic Wedgie' Lead to Murder Charge?

An adolescent prank has turned into a murder charge for an Oklahoma man who allegedly killed his stepfather with an "atomic wedgie."

Brad Lee Davis, 33, an ex-Marine, is accused of stretching the back of his 58-year-old stepfather's underwear so far that it covered the man's face and neck, suffocating him, Reuters reports.

Does this wedgie-gone-wrong really justify a murder charge?

As Colo. Pot Sales Top $5M, Bank Accounts Still a Problem

The bud business is booming in Colorado, the first state to legalize retail recreational marijuana sales to adults age 21 and older. In the first week of sales alone, pot retailers raked in more than $5 million. Combined wholesale and retail pot sales are expected to generate a jaw-dropping $600 million annually.

But here's the kicker: The businesses can't open bank accounts. The issue would make for the most bureaucratically frustrating episode of "Weeds."

7-Foot Satan Statue Proposed for Okla. State Capitol

A devilish design for a proposed statue of Satan at Oklahoma's state Capitol has gotten more than one legislator's goat.

The Satanic Temple, based in New York, requested that a 7-foot-tall likeness of Satan (in winged, horned, goat-headed form) be erected at the Sooner State's Capitol building, as a response to the Ten Commandments occupying the public space in 2012, reports The Associated Press.

Will Hell freeze over before Satan sits on Oklahoma's Capitol steps?

Mark 'Coonrippy' Brown Runs for Governor to Get Pet Raccoon Back

Are you a Tennessean who loves 'coons? If so, Mark "Coonrippy" Brown should be your pick for governor. Brown was inspired to enter the political fray when state wildlife officials took away his pet raccoon.

Brown is running on a pretty narrow platform.

Man Seeking Return to Prison Was Too Polite for 'Robbery': Judge

A Missouri man who tried to "rob" a store to get sent back to prison has finally gotten his wish -- though, as the judge explained, he was technically too polite to have committed a robbery.

Roy Murphy, 43, was arrested on allegations that he entered a convenience store in November, telling the clerk to "open the register, please" and "[p]lease call the police," reports the St. Joseph News-Press. Murphy then fled and was arrested by the St. Joseph police.

In court, Murphy wanted to plead guilty to second-degree attempted robbery, which could have meant up to seven years in prison. The judge, however, wouldn't allow it. Why?

For Penis Sketch, Could Wyo. Man Lose Unemployment Benefits?

A Wyoming man's penis sketch may have cost him his unemployment benefits, with his old employer arguing that the penile Picasso isn't owed anything.

David A. Dell was fired by Teton Motors in May 2013 for allegedly handing a business card with a "drawing of a penis on the back" to a female customer in late 2012, reports the Jackson Hole News & Guide.

Can Dell be denied unemployment checks over a doodle?