Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

October 2015 Archives

The Republic of Texas was its own country for a decade between 1836 and 1846 before being annexed by the United States. And some Texans aren't big fans of that annexation, maintaining that the Republic of Texas remains a sovereign nation.

This is all well and good. After all, residents of Key West consider themselves citizens of the Conch Republic; got their own flag and everything. The problem comes when you start serving court papers from your "sovereign nation" on a judge and lawyer, ordering them to appear before an "international common law court." That kind of behavior will get you arrested.

The explosion of craft beer over the past decade has expanded beer-drinkers' palates and ignited several high-profile legal cases in the process. How carefully do you have to label your beer? What constitutes a craft beer? And is there a secret war between macro and micro brews?

Here's a look at three recent lager lawsuits and where beer law may be headed:

School Principal Charged With Illegally Passing a Stopped School Bus

Patience is a virtue that one school principal in North Carolina did not display last April. Now she faces national scorn and hundreds of dollars in fines for illegally passing a stopped school bus, WNCN reported.

When Johneka Simmons Williams was stopped for passing a parked bus, it caused a fuss because she is in charge of child safety at her job. Elementary school principals even authorize school bus routes. According to the incident report, however, the administrator, 36, denied passing the bus and told the officer who pulled her over for the move that she would never do such a thing.

NYPD Boycotts Quentin Tarantino's Film Release

Quentin Tarantino protested police brutality in New York this weekend. As a result, his films are now the subject of a protest. The NYPD is calling for a boycott of the director's upcoming release in NYC, Rolling Stone reported.

The filmmaker, known for his snappy dialogue and love of blood, joined in a rally at Washington Square Park for families of victims of police brutality. He expressed outrage over police shootings. "When I see murders, I do not stand by ... I have to call a murder a murder, and I have to call the murderers the murderers," Tarantino said of police.

Police Crack Down on Driving and Drinking ... Coffee

You've done it and seen it done. People driving and drinking ... coffee. Doesn't seem like a crime, right? But it could be distracted driving, a violation of traffic rules that could get you ticketed in Minnesota.

On Monday morning, Lindsey Krieger was pulled over for sipping java while driving on I-94 in St. Paul. She told Fox 9 News, "I was completely dumbfounded. I thought it was a joke!"

SF Mansion Squatter Sold Art for Squat Until Caught

Jeremiah Kaylor spent months squatting in a San Francisco mansion and sold 11 of its pricey paintings for diddly-squat before getting caught this weekend. He claimed to be purchasing the Presidio Heights property when police first approached him and he had (fraudulent) documents to prove it.

Although police do not know how Kaylor got into the mansion, they say he spent about two months as a squatter there. Now he is in custody on suspicion of burglary after a listing agent found him in the house and detained him.

An unidentified male opened fire on a crowd of zombies in downtown Fort Myers, Florida last weekend. Only this wasn't the apocalypse -- it was ZombiCon, a walking dead-themed street festival -- and the real-life shooting took one real life and left five others injured.

Police are still hunting for the man who opened fire on the zombie crowd, as well as a motive for the shooting.

Vegetarians Save $200 on Rent, per Landlord's Advertisement

Jinesh Varia is renting out a luxury three-bedroom townhouse with whirlpool bathtub, fireplace, and backyard. If you prefer veggie burgers and think meat is murder, he'll give you a deal.

A landlord in Bethel, Washington, Varia is offering a rental discount to vegans and vegetarians. He wants to encourage environmental activism and start a trend by knocking $200 off the rent for non-carnivores. But is that legal?

Mom Humiliates 'Bad' Boy in Walmart, DSS Investigates

A South Carolina mother who shaved her son's head, wrote bad on it, and paraded her son around Walmart in women's clothing is under investigation. She said the public shaming was punishment for making homophobic remarks and fighting at school.

Claiming that corporal punishment was not working, the mom opted for the public display. Police were called to the Walmart on Sunday and the Department of Social Services is investigating the mother. The boy's age has not been released.

Struck by 16-Pound Pine Cone, Lawsuit Seeks $5 Million

It's a bird. It's a plane. It's a pine cone. And it may have caused brain damage, according to a lawsuit filed in San Francisco this week.

A Navy veteran is suing the US government and others for negligence after a giant pine cone fell from a tree at the San Francisco Maritime National Park and crushed his skull last year.

Loving Hug Wasn't Negligent: Aunt Loses Case Against 12-Year-Old Nephew

Michael Tarala, 12, was found not guilty of negligence by a Connecticut jury today. The boy's aunt claimed that she was due $127,000 in damages resulting from her nephew's too-hard hug on his eighth birthday.

A six-person jury panel this afternoon determined that Jenniffer Connell did not suffer compensable injury. They were apparently not won over by her testimony about the difficulties of handling hors d'ouevres at parties with a broken wrist. They were similarly unmoved by claims that the wrist made it hard to manage a third-floor walk-up in Manhattan.

911 Emergency: Weird Tales From the Trenches of Dispatch Services This Week

The news from 911 is usually bad. But sometimes it's also a little funny. This week dispatchers had two particularly amusing tales to tell. They come from South Carolina and Ohio.

Let's start with South Carolina, which was underwater all week due to Hurricane Joaquin. Police there were busy with flooding, serious injuries, and deaths from the storm.

Butt Dials: a Big Pain for 911 Dispatchers

Last year Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O'Rielly suggested that half of the nation's 911 calls were no emergency. Now researchers have confirmed that there is something to this statement, in San Francisco at least.

Pocket dials -- also known by the more crude appellation "butt dials" -- make up almost one third of the city's emergency calls, according to data from Google researchers shadowing dispatchers. Emergency line operators said these accidental calls were the biggest "pain point" in their day.

Priest Allegedly Aimed a Musket at a Child, Pleads Not Guilty

A New Jersey priest who allegedly threatened an eight-year-old parishioner with an empty musket will plead not guilty to child endangerment and aggravated assault at his arraignment. Father Kevin Carter's lawyer says the incident stemmed from a football rivalry and was just a joke.

One Sunday before Mass last month, Giants fan Father Carter allegedly pulled a boy wearing a Dallas Cowboys jersey into a rectory room at St. Margaret of Cortona Roman Catholic Church, stood him against the wall, and aimed an empty gun at him. It may have been a joke, but the Bergen County Prosecutor's office is not laughing.

New 'Peeple' App to Allow Online Reviews of You

A new app will allow us to rate each other online. Peeple, set for release in November, is Yelp for, well, people.

The Peeple tag line is "Character is Destiny." The app seems destined to be the source of numerous libel lawsuits. Anyone who has your cell phone number can create a profile for you and rate you online. And to many of us, that is not at all fine.