Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

April 2015 Archives

My cats act like they're in prison when I don't let them out of their house. They should think about one Virginia kitty who really suffered the indignity of house arrest when its owner ran from the authorities.

Settle back, adjust your self-monitoring device, and listen to the story of a smart (alleged!!) dealer and his scapegoat cat.

Oh, the halcyon days of Winter, 2014-2015. Back when we could luxuriate in the hilarity of erotic fiction starring an NFL player without worrying about who the hell those two people were on the cover and why they were there.

Well those days are long gone. The couple on the cover of "A Gronking to Remember" have sued the e-book's author, Lacey Noonan, as well as Apple, Amazon, and Barnes and Noble, claiming the Noonan used their engagement photo without permission, holding them up to "ridicule and embarrassment."

What everyone assumed was a stock photograph has now come to life in litigation, and our Gronking will never be the same.

Mother-in-laws. Can't live with them. Can't shoot them. Or, can you?

One Sunday afternoon, a Georgia man was armadillo hunting in his yard. He killed the armadillo and got his mother-in-law too! According to reports, the man, let's call him Armadillo Dundee, fired a 9 mm pistol at the armadillo. The bullet killed the armadillo, ricocheted into a fence, through the back door of his mother-in-law's mobile home, through the back of a recliner, and into her back. Possibly to his dismay, the mother-in-law was not severely hurt.

Since shooting armadillos is actually encouraged, and the ricochet was an accident, the man was not charged with a crime.

Top 3 Weirdest Defenses

My dog ate my homework! It's the classic defense for not turning in homework.

Most criminal defendants plead guilty to get a shorter sentence. However, some attorneys really earn their money when they come up with crazy farfetched defenses for their clients. Sometimes, those defenses even work!

Here are our picks for the top three weirdest defenses presented in court:

What happened to the good old days when an angry girlfriend would get revenge on her philandering beau by smashing the windows of his car?

Today's scorned women are more tech savvy. One unhappy Japanese woman exacted her revenge by dumping her cheating boyfriend's iMac, iPhone, iPad and accessories in a water filled bath tub. She made sure he felt the pain by sending him pictures of his swimming accessories.

Is this lady going to face any legal retribution, or is her revenge justified?

What's more innocent and nonthreatening than an old lady?

That's probably what a Guyanese woman thought when she hatched her plan to smuggle cocaine into the United States. Olive Fowler, 70-years-old, caught airport investigators' attention when she acted nervous at JFK airport. Authorities said she was sweating profusely and avoided eye contact with officers. They decided to pull her aside for a pat down search in a private room. After feeling a "dense hard material" under her clothes, authorities found over $73,000 of cocaine in Fowlers underwear and girdle. (Who wears a girdle anymore?)

Fowler was arrested and charged with narcotics smuggling.

Brighton Tree Ninja Nabbed

Who's that? Is it Paul Bunyan? No. It's a ninja!

For years, a mysterious man, known as the Brighton Tree Ninja, has been vandalizing and damaging newly planted trees and shrubbery in Boston's Brighton neighborhood. Police had never been able to make an arrest, but the problem was getting serious. So, they set up a sting operation. Lo-and-behold, police caught a man attempting to chop down a tree with a hammer. Who tries to chop down a tree with a hammer? Ever heard of an ax?

The Tree Ninja was arrested and charged with five counts of willful and malicious destruction of property, and one count of possession of a dangerous weapon.

If you thought the Star Wars vs. Star Trek debate was serious, it's nothing compared to the Android vs. Apple battle of 2015.

Two Tulsa men, Jiaro Mendez and Elias Acevedo (note: different news sources have spelled the men's names differently, we will follow the apparent majority spelling), were arrested after a debate over who had the best smartphone, Android or Apple, turned violent.

Gropey TSA Agents Fired

It's hard being beautiful. Everyone wants to get their hands on you, even TSA agents.

All those fears passengers had of TSA agents getting sexual gratification from body scans and pat downs have been justified. At Denver International Airport, two TSA agents, one male and one female, have been fired for a scheme to grope attractive male passengers. Whenever the male agent sees an attractive man about to be scanned, he signals to his partner. The female agent would put into the scanning computer that a woman was about to be scanned. So when a man steps inside, the scanning machine would indicate an anomaly in the genital area, allowing the male TSA screener to conduct a pat-down search and cop a feel.

There have been at least 11 victims, but none have come forward to make a complaint. The two were fired.

We've all heard stories about lying about cancer to avoid speeding tickets, sucking on pennies to fool a breathalyzer, or blaming a car accident on your coffee-drinking pet parrot. Nobody wants to get in trouble with the law, and we'll go to great lengths to avoid criminal liability.

But beating a cop at rock, paper, scissors to get out of an underage drinking ticket? That's a new one. And apparently it's effective -- just check out this video:

Top 3 Odd Punishments For Crimes

Sometimes, jail just doesn't get the message across. We see people go to jail, get out, and go right back in for another crime. Maybe, they need more creative punishments.

Former NFL player, Darren Sharper, may have the oddest probation condition we've ever seen. Sharper pled guilty to several rapes in several states. He has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, but may only have to serve nine. Don't think he's getting off easy though. Once released from prison, Sharper will be on probation for the rest of his life. As a condition of probation, he must take sex offender counseling and is prohibited from drinking alcohol, visiting bars, or using the internet for sexual gratification.

Oh yeah, and he must also submit to a "penile plethysmograph." A penile plethysmograph is a sensor, attached to the penis, which measures a person's arousal and reactions to sexual images. Reports are unclear on what will happen if Sharper does show arousal. Will he get a shock every time he reacts to an image? Will he be sent back to prison? Regardless, a penile plethysmograph is probably preferable to spending more years in prison.

While Sharper's probation requirements are the oddest we've seen,here are three other weird sentences:

Man Pays Ticket With Origami Pigs

Americans are great at passive aggressive protest. We've all heard of those people who think they're so cool sticking it to the establishment and paying their bills or fines in pennies. A Utah man paid his $25 doctor's bill with 2,500 pennies.

But, one man got a bit more creative. A Houston man was very unhappy when police gave him a $137 ticket for an expired inspection ticket. So to show his dissatisfaction, he folded 137 dollar bills into origami pigs, put them into two Dunkin' Donuts boxes, and went to pay his fine. (He claims that he folded the dollars into pigs because that's the shape of piggy banks, but I think he's referring to something else.)

Unsurprisingly, the teller refused to accept the piggy money.

A Tampa, Florida eighth-grader was charged with a felony for logging on to a teacher's computer and changing the background image to two men kissing. Domanik Green said he didn't like the teacher, so he "tried putting inappropriate pictures onto his computer to annoy him."

Florida computer crimes laws make unauthorized access of a computer, computer system, or computer network a felony. Green was arrested by sheriff's deputies, processed, and released from a juvenile detention facility. Green was also suspended from school for 10 days and could face five years in jail and $5,000 in fines.

We know you can find great deals at Walmart. Whether you're looking for a bathroom meth lab or the legal services necessary to defend a charge of making meth in a bathroom, the gargantuan retailer has everything you need.

Or maybe you're looking for a nice Easter present for your young daughter. Instead of faking a heart attack to steal a Barbie car, may we suggest the "Smart Shots Sports Center?" It comes with bags of pot.

Three grown men tried to play Winnie-the-Pooh and attempted to steal honey from 30,000 honeybees.

Three Florida men tried to scrape honey from a hive in their back yard. The bees, in defense of their home, swarmed the men and attacked, stinging the men about 50 times each. A woman was also attacked when she went outside during the attack. All the victims were not severely hurt, and are expected to survive.

Clearly, these men don't remember all the times Winnie-the-Pooh was unsuccessful and had to run away from the attacking bees.

The Tewksbury Police Department paid $500 to regain access to its computer files after an anonymous hacker encrypted their data.

The department received a pop-up ransom note that read, "Your personal files are encrypted. File decryption costs ~ $500." After numerous attempts to unlock the data themselves, Tewksbury paid the ransom in bitcoin.

We all know, or should know by now, that pictures and posts on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter could get us in trouble at work.

In Texas, a state trooper took a picture with Snoop Dogg at the rapper's request. After Snoop Dogg posted the picture on his Instagram, captioned "Me n my deputy dogg," the trooper was hit with a counseling order! According to the order, the trooper "took a photo with a public figure who has a well-known criminal background" and "it reflects poorly on the agency."

I know things are a bit weirder in Texas, but seriously? Counseling because of an innocuous picture? Could it be retaliation instead?

Yeah, we've all been there: 3:00 a.m., drunk, high, and looking to vibe out with an owl on the ride home. Well, two Florida men have lived that dream, and now one of them is being charged with a federal offense.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says that Stervenson Benjamin violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act by capturing, possessing, and transporting a great horned owl. As you can see in the video below, the horned owl is in fact great, and very, very chill.

Thieves Steal From Girl Scouts

Why don't the bad guys pick on someone their own size? Grown men cowardly steal from Girl Scouts selling cookies all too often.

In New Hampshire, a troop of Girl Scouts were selling cookies in front of Walgreens when a thief grabbed their cash box and fled with the girls' hard earned money. In California, a thief stole a cash box out of a Girl Scout's hands. The most despicable incident of all occurred in Michigan. A cowardly man stole a cash box with over $600 from a Girl Scout disabled by cerebral palsy. These thieves victimized young girls who were particularly vulnerable. They should be given harsher punishments than normal.

Are there any laws that inflict harsher punishment when the victims are children or disabled?