Legally Weird - The FindLaw Legal Curiosities Blog

Recently in Strange Legal Procedures Category

Like lifting a book report from a Wikipedia article, getting legal advice from Reddit can seem pretty risky. After all, who's behind this information? Is it accurate? And, if you rely on it, are you going to get yourself into more trouble? In the end, you're probably better off reading the book yourself or talking to a real live lawyer.

But, as a recent Vice profile highlighted, that's where Reddit's Legal Advice subreddit can be at its best: answering the most common legal question, "Do I need a lawyer?"

Misappropriation of taxpayer funds; "unnecessary and lavish" spending; authorizing salaries over state law restrictions; misuse of state resources, including cars and computers; and even using state money to frame personal photos, documents, photos, and artwork. They sound like charges levied against corrupt congresspersons or city officials.

But nope -- those are all parts of 14 articles of impeachment filed against the four sitting justices of the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals on Tuesday. (The fifth justice wasn't included, as he resigned last month.) The West Virginia House Judiciary Committee moved to impeach the four justices based on a staggering amount of financial malfeasance, including $3.7 million to renovate and decorate their offices. So, what happens if the entire court gets the boot?

A complaint filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination claims Twitter unfairly singled out the Salem-based Satanic Temple when it suspended two accounts associated with the religious organization, instead of an account that made a threat against the temple. While the two accounts have been restored, they have yet the be "verified" by Twitter, a choice that amounts to religious discrimination, the Satanic Temple claims.

"The failure of Twitter to verify both accounts ... clearly demonstrates a pattern of hostile discriminatory behavior engaged in by Twitter against The Satanic Temple," according to cofounder Lucien Greaves. "It reveals the biased human agency behind a facade of neutral and evenly enforced standards."

Gone are the days when marriages could only be performed by a priest in a church or an official in city hall. Now just about any Joe Schmo can perform a marriage ceremony, if they click a few buttons online. And while the new Wild West of wedding officiants can leave brides and grooms wonder whether their union is actually legal, it can also open the doors for some fun marriages and ministers.

So if you're looking to get licensed to perform a wedding ceremony, here are the three weirdest places to get ordained (sadly, Our Lady of Perpetual Exemption is no longer one of them):

11-Year-Old Summoned for Jury Duty

Although most people don't enjoy getting a jury summons in the mail, there was at least one Pennsylvania resident who didn't feel that way. Jeanette Fox's son, Luke, was very excited when he was summoned for jury duty. But, there was a problem: Luke is only 11 years old and, unfortunately for him, a person has to be at least 18 years old to serve on a jury.

So, what happens when someone is over 18 years old and doesn't want to serve on a jury? Well, unless you have a valid excuse - and make the court aware of the excuse - you can actually get into trouble for not showing up when summoned for jury duty.

We like to poke a little fun at people who try to pay fines in pennies. But a misguided protest that doesn't punish any of the people responsible for the fine itself shouldn't open the door for civil rights violations. And bringing $10 in pennies to pay a ticket doesn't give court officers the right to grabbed you from behind, choke you and throw to the ground so hard you defecate yourself.

But that's what one Michigan man alleges happened when he tried to pay a parking ticket in pennies in Royal Oak.

We've noted before that, while Reddit's legal advice section was a decent source of humor, it's not such a great source of legal advice. So when we saw one humorous looking post, we couldn't resist taking a look at the ensuing legal advice.

"[M]y mom has power of attorney for me (im in my mid twenties) [sic] and now because I haven't cleaned my room I'm on the verge of being kicked out of the house, sent to a group home, and having my phone turned off," wrote one user. "She locks the refrigerator and freezers up because 'she can't trust me to not eat everything in the house.'" So what did the legal experts on Reddit have to say?

Velcro's marketing department scored a huge victory this week, as their heavily bleeped music video featuring actual in-house attorneys imploring consumers to say "hook and loop" rather than "Velcro" went viral. If not, these company lawyers explain, Velcro may "lose our circle R," or trademark on their own company name.

Known in intellectual property law circles as "genericide," a trademark can be deemed to be abandoned if the mark becomes the generic name for the goods or services on or in connection with which it is used. While that fate has befallen brands like Hoover, Jacuzzi, and Frisbee, Velcro is hoping to avoid being the next victim. But is it really up to consumers to protect a company's trademark?

One of the most iconic pieces of facial hair from the last century was still in "its classic 10-past-10 position," almost 30 years after its wearer was embalmed and buried. That's how Lluis Penuelas, secretary general of the Dali Foundation, described Salvador Dali's impeccably waxed mustache after the surrealist's body was exhumed for DNA testing last week.

His embalmer, Narcis Bardalet, was equally impressed, calling the discovery "a miracle," adding, "Salvador Dali is forever." Whether the artist's genes also live on past his death remains to be seen.

One New York man is making headlines after his arrest for first degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a vehicle. Darwin Barnes, of Rochester, New York, has somehow managed to have his driver's license suspended 46 times. What makes this even more shocking is that Barnes is only 51 years old. Hold off on doing the math for a minute.

On Monday, Barnes was pulled over doing 30 mph over the speed limit. When officers ran his information, not only did they discover that Barnes' license was currently under suspension, but that his license had been suspended 45 other times over 17 different occasions. Assuming he started driving at 16, he is averaging 1 occasion of suspension every 2 years (with each occasion averaging 3 license suspensions). Believe it or not, Barnes still has 20+ suspensions to go before he catches up to the thirty-something year old Paul Wheeler from Indiana.