Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

December 2015 Archives

DWI Dismissed on Body Brewery Defense

A woman in New York discovered she has a body brewery after facing drunken driving charges, according to the Associated Press. Her charge was dismissed based on the defense that she has a rare condition: her body converts carbohydrates to alcohol.

The condition is documented and has been used in DUI defenses before. But it is rare and dismissal of criminal charges is not based on a mere assertion. Her lawyer, Joseph Marusak, explained to reporters this week how she came to discover the condition and how he convinced the court.

Look, we all have our own taste in music, and the Christmas creep is real. But surely playing some holiday tunes on Christmas Eve is something everyone can agree on, right?

Well, everyone except Christopher Gamboeck, maybe. Gamboeck was none too pleased when a bartender turned down the Black Sabbath and turned up the Christmas music, and he let his displeasure be known with a flying beer bottle. Very bah humbug, dude.

Cops OK Distribution of Banned Book in Idaho Park

Last year parents in Meridian, Idaho moved to ban a popular novel from local schools for its allegedly sexually explicit and anti-Christian content. The book is Sherman Alexie's young adult tale, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, winner of the 2007 National Book Award for Young People's Literature.

Brady Kissel, a local high school student, fought back against the ban, circulating a petition that earned 350 signatures and the ire of the offended parents. This week Kissel was out in the park distributing copies of the books when those angry parents called the cops, reports the Free Thought Project.

Sampling the Cannabis: Alaska to Allow Pot Cafes

Americans in search of a legal high used to fly to Amsterdam for its pot cafes. Now, with marijuana legalization and decriminalization spreading across the country, that is less necessary.

But many states still have limitations on the canna-biz, allowing medical marijuana sales only to people with a prescription, or no legal pot at all. And none have done what Alaska has, which is pass a law that allows public consumption in a civilized setting, like a cafe.

France Bans Too-Skinny Models -- Next in the US?

Feel free to eat all those Christmas cookies and cakes and pour yourself an extra cup of eggnog. There are more than just holidays to celebrate and no need to watch your weight. Next year, fashion models working in France will need to prove they weigh enough and this should, theoretically, help women who model themselves on those ideals of beauty presented in magazines and on the runways.

France -- following the passage of similar laws in Italy, Spain, and Israel -- is cracking down on excessively thin models by demanding that they show medical certificates proving overall good health and an appropriate Body Mass Index (BMI) of at least 18 or over, according to Hint Fashion Magazine.

If we've said it once, we've said it a thousand times: it's never too early to teach our children about business and entrepreneurship. For instance, is 11 years old too young to learn how to take cocaine from the cartel to the street dealer? We say no.

That's why we need more science teachers like the one at Bear Creek Intermediate School in Keller, Texas, who sent 6th graders home with an assignment titled, "The Cocaine Trade: From Field to Street."

New York Man Legally Changed Name to Darth Vader

People are crazy about the movie "Star Wars." They will wait in line weeks to get a ticket to the premiere of a new franchise release and cry when they finally see it on screen. True devotees are many and they are committed like few other super fans.

The Star Wars frenzy is reaching new heights with the recent opening of "The Force Awakens," and geeks everywhere are competing to show they're the most into the movie. But no one will beat what Darth Vader already did last year. A New York man legally changed his name to that of the movie villain, according to the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle.

Texas Man Criminally Charged for Freeway Marriage Proposal

Romance means different things to different people. Some people propose marriage on one knee at the beach with a diamond ring in hand, others pop the question in sky writing, or deliver it in a singing telegram.

For Vidal Valladares of Houston, Texas a romantic engagement means a freeway full of furiously honking cars. He now faces criminal charges for his marriage proposal to Michelle Wycoff on Interstate 25 last Sunday, according to The Associated Press.

Festivus Pole in Oklahoma State Capitol Approved

Festivus is a fictional holiday invented by a character on the sitcom Seinfeld about 20 years ago. But it will be recognized by the state of Oklahoma and others this month, according to the Associated Press.

A Festivus pole wrapped in the rainbow colors of gay pride and topped with a disco ball will be on display in the Oklahoma Capitol rotunda, right by a giant nutcracker and a sleigh with gifts. Approval for the pole came just months after the Supreme Court ruled that permanent Ten Commandments tributes or displays in the Capitol violated the requirement for separation of church and state. But Festivus is not a religious holiday.

How the 12 Days of Christmas Run A-Fowl of the Law (Part II)

Now we bring you Part II of our series on the painful illegalities of the beloved Twelve Days of Christmas.

As noted in Part I, at FindLaw, we have a minor tradition of discussing some of the legal issues that can crop up around cherished holiday traditions. So, without further a-do, we return to the terrible, terrible ways the Twelve Days of Christmas gifts, pear tree and all, run a-fowl (excuse the repeated and repeated pun) of modern law.

How the 12 Days of Christmas Run A-Fowl of the Law (Part I)

It's that time of year, when the world falls in love ... sadly, these days, with the best deals on Amazon. But still, there are traditions to be cherished. Mulled cider. Little white lights. Caroling.

Here at FindLaw, we have a minor tradition of exposing some of the very interesting legal issues that can crop up around holiday traditions. Take, for instance, the Grinch. Pointing out all the ways that green gangsta broke the law is now a FindLaw holiday tradition in its own right. In keeping with this new tradition, let us now examine the terrible, terrible ways the Twelve Days of Christmas gifts, partridge and all, run a-fowl (excuse the repeated pun) of modern law.

Ah, New York City. The Big Apple. The Five Boroughs. The Modern Gomorrah. Home of constitutionally-protected sex shops, topless ladies, and gigantic sodas. The City That Never Sleeps is truly a wonderland for all the heart and stomach desire. Except salt.

NYC is requiring restaurants to add a new warning label for any menu item that contains too much salt, but restaurants are not going along without a fight. The National Restaurant Association sued the City, saying health regulators are overstepping their bounds and getting the science wrong. So who's going to win this epic battle between city and sodium?

"You're not you when you're hungry," or so Snickers' latest slogan says. And one New York City man should've heeded they're advice. Instead, he shoved an uneaten Snickers bar in a stranger's face, and proceeded to pummel him in the Times Square subway station last week.

Victim Ian Sklarsky says attacker Eliexer Reyes was unprovoked when he shoved a Snickers candy bar in Sklarsky's mouth. Sklarsky asked Reyes what was wrong with him and Reyes responded with a flurry of punches. We're not sure what Reyes' calorie or blood sugar count was prior to the attack, but maybe if he had just eaten the candy bar, he might've felt better.

Are Zombie Nativity Scenes Legal?

An Ohio man's 'artsy' undead nativity scene has earned him the national spotlight and a $500 fine. Jasen Dixon, of Sycamore, Ohio, has a Christmas tradition that is causing an uproar for its ghoulish depiction of Jesus and other biblical figures, The Washington Post reports.

Dixon calls it art and is not an atheist. But his zombie manger scene has enraged neighbors and got him in hot water with Sycamore Township.

Oregon McDonald's Falls Victim to Costly Prank Call

A prank phone call to a McDonald's in Kennewick, Oregon turned into a serious and costly headache for the restaurant. Employees, believing the caller who said he was from the local fire department and was testing remote alarms, pulled the fire alarms as the caller instructed. The alarms triggered a spray of flame-deterring chemicals, United Press International reports.

The prank cost the restaurant about $5,000 in damages. But that was not the only such call. Other Oregon McDonald's locations also received calls ... and in one other location employees also pulled the alarms and found the kitchen and grills in a chemical shower.

While parents were worried about in-app game purchases and whether teachers are properly using iPads, it turns out hackers were finding yet another way to access your information -- your kid's Barbie doll. According to Vice, bugs in the Hello Barbie doll's cloud infrastructure and smartphone apps could allow hackers to listen to your child's conversations.

So what secrets has your toddler been telling Barbie?

Smuggler Caught With Turtles Taped to Legs Pleads Guilty

A Canadian man who was caught at the US border with 51 turtles taped to his legs last year, yesterday pled guilty to six smuggling crimes. In a Michigan federal court, Kai Xu, 27, admitted to smuggling or attempting to smuggle 1,000 reptiles in all, according to the Associated Press.

Xu has reportedly been smuggling turtles to China for a while now, and it is a relatively profitable business.

We've all had that dream -- you know, the one where you think you're getting your last 40 bucks from the ATM, only the balance on your receipt has few more digits and commas than you expected. And that little yellow card from Monopoly flashes before your eyes: BANK ERROR IN YOUR FAVOR.

Now imagine the nightmare version of that, where all those digits are in red, and you owe the bank trillions. Not as fun, right? But that's what happened to some First Hawaiian Bank customers, who woke up Tuesday morning trillions of dollars in debt.

Albany Political Corruption Museum Puts Renewable Resources to Use

Albany New York is accustomed to shady characters. It is New York's capital and many who came to it with high hopes after elections left in disgrace after corruption trials. Now former State Assemblyman Sheldon Silver joins those ranks and the time is right to announce Albany's Museum of Political Corruption.

The museum is the brainchild of Bruce Roter, a professor at Albany's College of Saint Rose. He is raising money for the museum, which he envisions as both an educational institution and a tourist destination that focuses on the city's reputation for corruption, according to the Associated Press.

Town of Swett for Sale for a Sweet Quarter Million

If San Francisco and New York rents are getting you down there is a town for you. It's affordable. There is plenty of open space. And it is for sale, according to the Rapid City Journal.

Swett, South Dakota is on the market for a cool quarter million dollars right now. It is 6 acres and has a single house and a bar. In light of real estate prices elsewhere, Swett is a steal.