Weirdest Legal News of 2010
December 16, 2010 8:20 PM   Subscribe

What are the weirdest legal news stories of 2010?

This is an actual research assignment for work, so not chatfilter. Links to the weirdest legal news stories (US only) that you came across this year are much appreciated.
posted by twiggy32 to Law & Government (11 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Weird, like weird legal opinions or weird set of facts in a legal case?
posted by greasy_skillet at 9:26 PM on December 16, 2010

Plaintiff refers to judges as 'ass clowns' in appeal and that's just the start.
posted by chndrcks at 9:28 PM on December 16, 2010

I was sent an OutrageFilter article with a title like "Ohio court says it's OK to rape unmarried women!"

The facts behind the case were quite particular: it's apparently illegal to have sex by impersonating the victim's partner - but only if the victim & partner are married. In this situation, the woman's partner somehow organised for his friend to have sex with her in the dark, but she was not impressed, to say the least.

It read like one of those bizarre legal loopholes that are on the books because it was somehow thought a good idea 100 years ago (because unmarried people shouldn't be having sex anyway, or something) and nobody noticed it or wanted to change it enough.

Can't really google it from work though, sorry.
posted by UbuRoivas at 9:36 PM on December 16, 2010

The story UbuRoivas is referring to took place in Idaho, link to some info here.
posted by illenion at 11:54 PM on December 16, 2010

Thanks, yes, that's the exact one.
posted by UbuRoivas at 2:58 AM on December 17, 2010

Lowering the Bar is my favorite source for legal WTFerie.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 5:13 AM on December 17, 2010

Do you want stories that seem weird to non-lawyers, weird to everyone, or were just reported in a weird way? Often times, legal stories are reported really badly and sensationalistically; they just seem weird to non-lawyers because nonlawyers and reporters don't understand the full background. So for example, the story bottlebrushtree linked to about the school bus stop case is not actually "weird" to lawyers. In fact, it's just a pretty straight-forward statutory interpretation case, the kind of stuff you start learning your first day of law school. It's interesting to lawyers for several reasons -- mostly because it's actually such a textbook case of statutory interpretation, and not actually weird. (In addition, it's noteworthy because the defense lawyer did a really diligent job of statutory interpretation; the judge was actually convinced instead of being knee-jerk anti-defendant; and the state legislature made a pretty dumb drafting error.)

The "ass clowns" case is a little more noteworthy, but again -- pro se plaintiffs writing crazy briefs is nothing really unusual for the legal community.

I think your best bet for "weird" legal news that seems weird to everyone is probably going to be by focusing on legal blogs, like overlawyered and above the law.
But keep in mind that overlawyered as a very specific legal agenda (anti-regulation and anti-plaintiff/anti-tort), and above the law can be pretty juvenile.
posted by yarly at 7:09 AM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]

Crikey, time flies. I was going to nominate this one.
posted by uncanny hengeman at 7:52 AM on December 17, 2010

4 year old girl sued for crashing into elderly woman in Manhattan says NY Supreme Court. BAM!

(Notable: Times article had to have two corrections to the story, including this one:

An article in some editions on Friday about a lawsuit that claims an elderly woman was severely injured by two children racing their bicycles on a Manhattan sidewalk misstated the timing of the woman’s death. The woman, Claire Menagh, died of unrelated causes three months after she was struck, not three weeks.)
posted by jng at 8:13 AM on December 17, 2010

Sorry, that should say "can be sued for crashing"... Is actually quite a fascinating legal case for even a layman like me. I love how arbitrary the delineation between suable (real word? ok, maybe liable) and not suable is:
In legal papers, Mr. Tyrie added, “Courts have held that an infant under the age of 4 is conclusively presumed to be incapable of negligence.” (Rachel and Jacob Kohn did not seek to dismiss the case against them.)

But Justice Wooten declined to stretch that rule to children over 4. On Oct. 1, he rejected a motion to dismiss the case because of Juliet’s age, noting that she was three months shy of turning 5 when Ms. Menagh was struck, and thus old enough to be sued.
posted by jng at 8:17 AM on December 17, 2010

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