Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

November 2015 Archives

Mom Takes Kids to Exorcism, Loses Custody Rights

It's not easy to strip parents of their rights. But when dad is in prison and mom takes the tykes to an exorcism, states may step in. A New Jersey appellate court did just that, confirming a lower court's decision to strip parental rights and allow adoption of two children whose mom and dad are alive, if not well.

The mother of the children, a boy and girl who are now 6 and 7, has a history of mental illness, NBC News reports. She took the children to a priest after hearing voices urging her to give them to the devil. The kids were only 2 and 3 years old at the time, and state authorities removed them from the home. Now, neither mom nor dad is officially a parent.

Muslim Teen's Family Demands $15 Million for Clock-Not-Bomb Fiasco

The Texas teen who made a clock that was mistaken for a bomb, Ahmed Mohamed,14, is asking for $15 million and an apology. Specifically, his family's lawyers sent demand letters to the city and school district that responded to the science project by panicking.

Threatening to sue within 60 days if they did not pay for the illegal detention and questioning, the Muslim family is asking for $10 million from the city of Irving and $5 million from the school district, according to The Guardian. "Understandably, Mr. Mohamed was furious at the treatment of his son -- and at the rancid, openly discriminatory intent that motivated it," attorneys wrote in one of the letters.

Florida Manager Terminates 13 Workers via Group Text

A Florida restaurant manager took communication to a new low when he fired 13 employees at once via text last week. "[W]e have decided to move on without you. We appreciate the opportunity to work with you and all of your hard work," the text stated, according to United Press International.

The servers from Lilly's on the Lake in Clermont, Florida were shocked when they got the text last Friday. They told reporters that they expected an individual discussion and an explanation of the terminations. But from a legal standpoint, management needed no reason to fire them.

NYC Bestiality Dentist Traded Meth for Services

A New York City dentist was accused of trading services for methamphetamines, possessing child porn, and hosting sex parties where he tried to spread HIV. The dentist had a reputation for being an upstanding citizen, the Huffington Post reports .

A meth dealer that the dentist traded services with agreed to become an informant after he was arrested last March. He led police to Dr. John Wolf, who was discovered to have child porn after police searched his home and found drugs and a flash drive with hundreds of illegal files.

Feds Charge Dad for Hospital Terror Threat While Wife in Labor

A Utah man is being charged for making a terrorist threat by federal authorities. He allegedly called in a false bomb threat to a hospital while his wife was giving birth there; apparently, he was upset because he couldn't attend the event, the Associated Press reports.

Michael Morlang was indicted Wednesday and faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah said in a press release. Morlang's fraudulent phone call forced the hospital to evacuate and be on lock-down for a day in September.

Google's Self-Driving Car Stopped by Police for Slow Driving

A Mountain View Police officer pulled over a Google self-driving care for driving too slowly last week. There was no one in the driver's seat to ticket for the vehicle's sluggish progress through a 35 mile-per-hour zone, according to the police department's blog.

But the cop did question the remote operator, even if he issued no citation. The officer stopped the car and made contact to learn more about how the car was choosing speeds along certain roadways and "to educate the operators about impeding traffic."

Amusement Park Sued for Letting Chimp Smoke and Drink Coke

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is suing a New Orleans amusement park that allegedly lets its chimp smoke cigarettes and drink Coca Cola. The rights group is using a new law that classifies captive chimpanzees as endangered, just like those in the wild.

It is reportedly the first suit of its kind. The chimp's name is Candy and the suit, filed this week in Baton Rouge, states that she is lonely and needs company. Also, plaintiffs argue, she shouldn't be smoking and drinking Cokes. Some locals have sought to have Candy moved for decades, according to the Associated Press. The adjusted Endangered Species Act provided a legal basis for another attempt.

Double DUI: PA Woman Charged Twice in a Day

A woman in Pennsylvania faces two separate DUI charges stemming from a single day. She picked up the second intoxicated driving charge after paying for a ride to her car from the scene of the first.

Michele Leonard, 43, was pulled over for intoxicated driving on Saturday afternoon at 5 p.m., according to reports from the Associated Press and Huffington Post. About an hour later, she crashed into a shed. When the shed owner tried to take away her car keys, Leonard told him, "I can't get another DUI today." But she did.

Eating Protected Rattlesnake for Dinner Is Criminal

Some people will pay a lot to eat an exotic food item. But the teenagers who pled guilty this week in Maryland to grilling a protected rattlesnake and eating it for dinner were not gourmets, and they were probably not prepared for the price they would pay.

Four young men who went camping in the Green Ridge State Forest this past summer pled guilty in Cumberland, Maryland District Court to possessing or destroying protected rattlesnake, according to the Associated Press. They took probation pleas and agreed to each pay a fine of $500 ($300 suspended); their records will be expunged if they successfully complete probation.

Look, far be it from me to judge what other people want to do with their hair. Me? I want whoever's got the scissors to have 20/20 vision. But others, like Joel Nixon's loyal clients, don't mind a little diminished eyesight.

They call him "The Blind Barber," and, until 2012, they found him at Tony's Barber Shop in Norton, Massachusetts. Nixon was fired two years ago, and filed a discrimination claim against the shop and its owner, Tony Morales. This week, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination ruled his firing was illegal and awarded the Blind Barber $100,000.

Among fast food burger joints, few have so carefully refined their brand and image as In-N-Out Burger. The limited (and secret) menu, the California vibe, and the customer service make it everyone's first stop when they hit the West Coast. But as anyone who's stopped at an In-N-Out knows, those lines can get pretty long, and many of us have dreamt about having a Double-Double delivered instead.

In steps food delivery service, the savior for lazy fans of Animal Style burgers and fries. But the burger chain is pumping the brakes on the delivery service, suing DoorDash to keep them from delivering those delicious, delicious burgers.

Can I Be Arrested for Breaking Into My Own Home?

You can be arrested for breaking into your own home but it is unlikely that you will be charged or that the charges will stick. It may be that neighbors spot you jimmying a lock, don't recognize you, and call the cops. Or maybe a patrol car is driving by and wonders why you're crawling through the front window.

Whatever the case, you should be able to avoid arrest by explaining who you are and showing some proof you live in the place. But you can be arrested for breaking into your home, and it certainly has happened before. Here is how to handle it.

Last April, Brandon Alfred Calantoc donned a wig, navy blue scrubs, glasses, a purse, and a locket necklace and knocked over a U.S. Bank in Santa Cruz, California. Dubbed the "Mrs. Doubtfire Bank Robber" by Santa Cruz Police, Calantoc was arrested a couple weeks later.

After slipping away from law enforcement last month, Calantoc is back in custody, with a few added charges on his resume.

Dog Swallows BBQ Skewer, Wins Hambone Award for Quirkiest Pet Injury

The Nationwide Hambone Award for most unusual American pet insurance claim went to a 5-year-old boxer who swallowed a barbeque skewer. Every year the award is given to a pet in the US who has survived a bizarre injury, Nationwide Insurance reported.

Contestants are chosen by the insurance company's employees every month, and once a year, the top twelve weirdest claims are voted on nationally. According to Nationwide, the awards began when the company noticed that pet insurance claims were unusually quirky. "These claims had bizarre tales that exemplified the inspiring strengths of our pets and the harrowing actions of our members and their trusted veterinarians," the company said in a statement.

The North Carolina Innocence Inquiry Commission is tasked with investigating criminal convictions and making sure they're correct. And they may be investigating one of their own soon. Commission chairman and Superior Court Judge Arnold Ogden Jones II is accused of trying to bribe an FBI agent with "a couple of cases of beer." Judge Jones was allegedly trying to get text messages between family members.

Now he might be getting a few decades in prison. The judge has been arrested and indicted on three federal corruption charges.

Ex Taco Bell Exec Apologizes via Attorney for Drunk Attack on Uber Driver

Life is less than golden for Benjamin Golden. The ex-executive for Taco Bell who was filmed drunkenly hitting an Uber driver issued a public apology after the driver sued him, Taco Bell fired him, and prosecutors charged him criminally for the attack, according to ABC7 in Los Angeles.

The driver, Edward Caban, posted a video on YouTube of Golden falling over in his vehicle, being surly and uncooperative, and then finally hitting him in the head. The dashboard camera video, which also shows the driver pepper-spraying the passenger, garnered millions of views.

Drunk Driver Tries to Absorb Alcohol With Toilet Paper

An Iowa man stopped for drinking and driving on Sunday tried a unique approach to alcohol absorption. After initially refusing a breathalyzer test, the man swallowed some toilet paper and agreed to blow, The Smoking Gun reports.

Ross McDonald, 39, was pulled over when officers spotted him driving the wrong way down a road at around 3 a.m. Police pulled the driver over and discovered that he was "extremely confused." McDonald could not tell them where he was coming from, although he insisted he only had two drinks.

DC Cop Stops Teen Fight With Dance-Off and Gains National Acclaim

A Washington DC police officer won the president's respect and lots of street credit when she defused a teen fight with some dance moves last week. The officer reportedly tried to clear an area where two teenagers were fighting when one woman walked up to her and started dancing. The officer laughed and danced back. Their moves were memorialized on video and the recording went viral, the Washington Post reported.