Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

January 2016 Archives

10 Odd Laws Travelers Abroad Must Know

We travel to different countries to have new experiences, wash our eyes and take in fresh sights. But every culture has its quirks, so if you prefer tasting the best local cuisine to learning a new legal system, follow the laws, however absurd they may seem to you as an outsider.

We're products of culture and conditioning, so what seems strange in one place may make perfect sense in another setting. You don't have to approve of everything you see abroad, but you do have to follow the rules in the places you visit. So take a minute to review this list of 10 laws, compiled by Smarter Travel, that might strike an American as strange and that you should be aware of if you're going abroad.

If you're a bootlegger, you may have to get creative with your advertising. And we here at FindLaw have extolled the virtues of small businesses utilizing social media to get their message and product out there to the people.

But there's a flip side to that coin, one that we've also discussed around these parts: the cops have access to Facebook and probably your photos as well. Well three Florida moonshiners are learning that lesson the hard way, after deputies discovered they were selling moonshine through a Facebook page.

They were two great tastes that went great together: Kwan Dixon's Pop's Popcorn and Koosier Daddy's Food Cart filled that niche of the one-stop-shop to get your hot dogs, nachos, and sex toys. But alas, as Robert Frost warned us, nothing gold can stay. And the city of Evansville, Illinois shut down the most magical food cart in all the land.

So how come Kwan was forced to close up shop?

23 Car Crashes in 5 Years: Insurance Fraud?

What would you do for $55 grand? Would you crash your car two dozen times? How about if it was a crime? A man in Utah claimed 23 car accidents in the last 5 years to collect on insurance and now he's collecting criminal charges, according to the Associated Press.

Navid Monjazeb got over $55,000 from insurance carriers over 5 years. Now he has added criminal charges to his collection and he is looking at 12 counts of insurance fraud, 2 counts of forgery, 7 counts of reckless endangerment, and a pattern of unlawful activity after making allegedly false claims.

Ex Taco Bell Exec Sues Uber Driver for Filming His Attack

Do you remember golden boy Edward Golden? He is the guy who was captured on film attacking his Uber driver, Edward Caban, and then expressed remorse when he became a national laughing stock.

The Uber driver Caban posted the video of Golden, a drunken Taco Bell executive, on YouTube. It immediately went viral and Golden lost his job promptly, CNBC reports. He issued a public apology about attacking the driver and tried to repair his reputation to no avail. Now Golden's remorse is gone and he's feeling feisty again. He's suing Edward Caban for $5 million.

If you're handing over half a million dollars to a psychic palm reader, the least you could get is a heads up that significant prison time is in your immediate future. Such was not the case for Ervin Brinker, who paid his personal psychic fortuneteller $510,000 and was sentenced to at least 32 months in jail last week.

The big problem for Mr. Brinker? Those were public funds he spent on said fortuneteller. We're guessing he didn't get his money's worth.

Atheists Sue Congress to Remove 'In God We Trust' From Currency

One of the things we like to repeat about the US is that we're all free to believe what we wish, especially when it comes to religion. While this is true, there are still dominant views that dictate how we do things, naturally. But dominant views do change over time and one man is doing his best to contribute.

Attorney Michael Newdow filed suit in federal court in Ohio on behalf of 49 atheist plaintiffs for the removal of the words "In God We Trust" from American currency, reports Jurist. The phrase, he argues, is a violation of the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which provides that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." The defendant is the United States Congress.

Because Walmart: Weird Crimes at the Retail Giant

There is something about Walmart that seems to bring out the weirdest in people. Maybe Walmart itself is not to blame. Maybe it's just that the chain has so many stores around the country (reportedly almost 5,000 operating in the US in 2015).

Whatever the reason, there are plenty of strange stories that come out of the chain, and the New York Daily News has collected the weirdest crimes at the retail giant from recent years.

Lobbyists lobby -- they try to influence legislators to vote for their particular cause. This effort can include persuasive argument, fundraising assistance, or even campaign committee contributions. Outright gifts are strictly limited and must be reported.

A new Missouri law may require lobbyists to report sex with state legislators as a "gift" under state lobbying statutes. This shines a whole new light on lobbying in The Show Me State.

Michigan Couple Engaged at Walmart Go To Jail

Marriage proposals can be elaborate or simple. Pretty much the only key to their success is the couple's happiness. Whether the big question is popped in person or via a skywriter, on an island paradise or a busy freeway, it's an event many people dream about.

The point, theoretically, is not the place or the ring, but the two people promising their lives to each other. So when a Michigan man requested that his proposal be read over the loudspeaker and a couple got engaged at a Bay City Wal-Mart on New Year's Eve, employees and customers cheered and congratulated, according to Michigan Live.

Can Detroit Artist's Lawsuit Protect Her Mural From Building Owners?

A Detroit artist is suing under federal law to protect a mural she made from destruction by new building owners. The mural is considered a symbol of the rising stature of the North End neighborhood where the building stands, and the artwork is said to have contributed to the area's reputation.

But now the developer wants to put windows in the building or maybe even sell it altogether and is offering the artist a minimal sum, accordng to the Detroit Free Press. Katherine Gibbs, the artist who made "The Illuminated Mural" is fighting to protect her work under the Visual Arts Rights Act of 1990, which safeguards works from "distortion, mutilation, or other modification ... which would be prejudicial to [the artist's] honor or reputation." Will she succeed?

The phrase "cat burglar" normally refers a burglar who is as stealthy as a cat. Although, as FindLaw Senior Writer for Legal Professional Blogs Casey Sullivan pointed out, it could also refer to cats who burgle. Rarely, if ever, does it refer to a burglar who steals cats.

But one thief fits that description after breaking into a Pennsylvania man's home and absconding with his feline friend. Oh, and the thief turned off the heat as well. That monster!

Robber in Wheelchair Holds up Bank, Escapes

There seems to be a new trend developing in bank robbing in Queens, one that highlights what many have long said: people with physical disabilities are just like everyone else. A thief in a wheelchair held up a TD Bank yesterday, making this the second wheelchair bank hold-up in Queens since June, according to the New York Daily News.

The thief reportedly rolled to the counter and handed the teller a note stating that he had a bomb and a gun. He demanded cash and received it, then fled south on Queens Boulevard with an undisclosed sum. He has not been caught.

It's not often that a criminal defendant will tell a judge he's being too lenient on him. But Gideon Swartzentruber is not your average defendant. Mr. Swartzentruber was caught fornicating with a female donkey and was originally sentenced to only probation.

But that wasn't enough for Swartzentruber, who insisted on jail time from the judge. The Wisconsin man got what he wanted, and will now spend the next 30 days in jail.