Legally Speaking: All the Legal Weirdness That's Fit to Print (Part 1)
Readers of "Legally Speaking" know that I'm particularly fond of illustrating the quirkiness of the legal system, from the oddest of its litigants to the craziest criminals and the strangest cases.
As long as there are examples like those below, I'll never run out of material.
And You Thought Your Singing was Bad . . .
The United Kingdom has "human rights" laws that embody political correctness run amok. No one knows that better now than Simon Ledger.
The 34 year-old singer and his band were recently performing the 1970s hit "Kung Fu Fighting" at the Driftwood Beach Bar on the Isle of Wight (off England's southern coast), when an Asian man passing by screamed an expletive and made an obscene hand gesture.
But this was more than just a case of a disgruntled audience member; the man filed a police complaint against Ledger for being "subjected to racial abuse."
Police arrested Ledger (ironically, shortly after his dinner at a Chinese restaurant).
"I thought it was a joke but they were serious," said Ledger.
According to the BBC, police would say little other than that "an investigation into this allegation is continuing to establish the full circumstances surrounding what happened."
See what can happen without a First Amendment?
If the Name Fits, Don't Acquit
Police in Fairfax County, Va., recently arrested a man on suspicion of drug dealing. The defendant may want to change his name, though, before trial.
Twenty-four-year-old Kevin Lee Cokayne faces two felony counts of distributing marijuana after police found a safe and other containers filled with pot at his house, along with a digital scale and other equipment.
Although no cocaine was found (except on Cokayne's Facebook page), it may be tough to overcome a name like that and give him a presumption of innocence.
Worst Restaurant Critics. Ever
Chad Baxa and Rhonda Wilson of Lincoln, Neb., probably should have quit while they were ahead. It was bad enough that they paid for a pizza with forged $5 bills.
But when they called up the restaurant to complain that it was "too doughy" and demand a replacement pizza, the Pizza Hut manager investigated, noticed the suspicious bills, and alerted police. The cops paid them a visit, and found more fake currency.
Baxa and Wilson have been charged with first-degree forgery. But maybe their restaurant criticism was valid—after all, who would know more about "fake dough" than a forger?
Best Jury Duty Excuse. Ever
A prospective juror in the retrial of former Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich on corruption charges gave the judge a pretty compelling reason to be excused from jury service.
The woman known only as "Juror 137" told the judge she had a ticket for the final taping of "the Oprah Winfrey Show," and that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.
The judge agreed, and dismissed her from jury duty.
Rod Blagojevich himself was less than pleased, though, especially when reporters sarcastically asked if he considered that a "golden ticket" ( a reference to the phrase Blagojevich himself allegedly used to refer to the chance to appoint someone to Barack Obama's vacant U.S. Senate seat).
Best Excuse For a Continuance. Ever
Virginia lawyer Chad Dorsk was recently appointed to defend the accused in a heroin distribution case after another attorney withdrew. But he took the case without knowing when the trial date was.
As soon as he found out that it conflicted with another milestone—his wedding day—Dorsk filed a motion for continuance with U.S. District Judge Robert Doumar.
In his motion, Dorsk pointed out his planned May 28 wedding and subsequent honeymoon, and asked for a continuance "in order to preserve and ensure a future of marital harmony and bliss."
As it turns out, we'll never know if Judge Doumar has a romantic streak or soft spot—trial was put off when Dorsk's client elected to plead guilty on May 16.