Archive for October, 2009

250px-Jack-o'-Lantern_2003-10-31Halloween is the favorite holiday for all torts professors and personal injury lawyers. (Indeed, I am convinced it was invented by a personal injury lawyer). Common carrier hay rides, lighting vegetables on fire, handing out foodstuffs without a permit . . . It’s the most litigious day of the year. So, with no further ado, here is this year’s annual Spooky Torts and Crimes list of actual cases from Halloween. Happy Halloween everyone (except those avoiding the holiday due to demon-inspired soul-sucking candy or papal prohibitions).
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51Dc67FxA+L._SL500_AA240_Dan Delong, an English teacher at Southwestern High School in Piasa, Illinois has been suspended for allegedly allowing students in his English classes to read an article about homosexuality in the animal kingdom. The article that Delong allegedly had his class read was published in a 2006 edition of “The Gay Animal Kingdom” and is available at http://seedmagazine.com/content/article/the_gay_animal_kingdom.
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200px-McDonald's_New_LogoWhile police officers are being fired for ticketing protected progeny in Stockton, Utah, teenagers are being arrested in American Fork, Utah for rapping at McDonald’s drive-through. They insist that they are innocent, but the police insist that it was indeed a bad rap, but a good collar.
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150px-Jupiter_Smyrna_Louvre_Ma13Officer Joshua Rowell in Stockton, Utah (population 443) has been reinstated this week after being fired by Mayor Dan Rydalch. It appears that Rowell had the audacity to ticket the mayor’s son and was fired on the spot by an anger father. He was out of a job until the Top Kopp — Police Chief Heinz Kopp — and others objected.
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The dangers of drunk Ewoks is a little known danger for costume parties. However, the Today Show became the unwitting focus of inebriated Ewoks, including Al Roker who appears have a claim for sexual assault.
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150px-muslim_woman_in_yemenNew York prosecutors are dealing with an attempted honor killing of a different sort. We have been following such cases on this blog, but Rabia Sarwar, 37, may be category unto herself after she allegedly slit her husband’s throat after he forced by her to eat pork, wear short skirts and drink alcohol slashed.
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181px-FourbatsA Montana jury has rendered a surprising verdict. The jury ruled against the manufacturer of the Louisville Slugger bat, Hillerich and Bradsby. Notably, the jury rejected design defect claims but found a warning defect in the death of 18-year-old Brandon Patch who was hit in the head with a ball hit by a aluminum bat.

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200px-BentoXVI-30-100520071008344Note to self: have kids skip the Vatican this Halloween. Pope Benedict XVI has joined Kimberly Daniels at the Christian Broadcasting Network in issuing his own warning against Christians participating in Halloween. The Pope wants Catholics to know that the holiday is dangerous to not just their waistline but their eternal souls.

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kimdaniels-crop250px-Jack-o'-Lantern_2003-10-31With many of us preparing for Halloween on Saturday, we have a disturbing warning from Kimberly Daniels on the Christian Broadcasting Network’s Web site: demons (real demons) have contaminated Halloween candy to invade the souls of our children (and presumably late-night candy stealing parents).
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220px-Ali_Saleh_Kahlah_Al_MarriIn a potentially important ruling for detainees held by the United States, Illinois U.S. District Judge Michael Mihm rejected prosecution demands and sentenced Qatar native Ali al-Marri to just eight years in jail — with a possible release in less than six years. The reduction from 15 years was expressly tied to the abusive conditions and treatment of al-Marri by the United States while held as an enemy combatant in South Carolina.
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ian+baker300px-Rump_steakCulinary crimes and misdemeanors are becoming the rage. In Illinois, it is Jamaican-Chicken that proved the undoing of a judge. In Wisconsin, the culprit is a Jack Daniels steak that trapped Ian Baker, 23, in his fourth drunk driving charge.

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300px-Newport_CemeterySouth Carolina appears to have finally moved beyond the Sanford affair. Deputy assistant attorney general Roland Corning, 66, has been fired after he was stopped in his SUV by police during his lunch break. The problem was that he was found with a stripper, Viagra, and sex toys in a cemetery.
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180px-Jerk_chicken_platethumb_scales_of_justiceAssociate Judge Robert Livas may be put on a vegan diet. The former prosecutor and former police officer is in hot water over a curious order that he placed for Jamaican-style chicken as part of a plea agreement with Darrius Logan. Logan, 24, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor battery and criminal trespass charges and was sentenced to 100 hours community service. Then things got funky . . . Jamaican-chicken funky . . .

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CORRECTION Adoption ArrestWith Bernie Madoff and other crooks, we have become used to Ponzi schemes. However, lawyer Kevin Cohen of Roslyn, New York is accused of a rather unique variation on this criminal theme: a baby Ponzi scheme.
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Cats in Space

I give you a cat in zero gravity.
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10_62_kwamekilpatrick_320Now this is a novel case. Disgraced former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick (and current Compuware worker in Texas) has sued lawyer Mike Stefani who leaked steamy text messages to a newspaper — ultimately ensnaring Kilpatrick in the scandal that led to his criminal conviction.
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thumb_computer_assault_2In yet another blow to confidentiality on the Internet, Tennessee Judge Thomas Brothers has ruled a married couple that runs a real estate business and a halfway house for recovering drug abusers may confirm the identity an anonymous blogger critic. The critic used a blog called Stop Swartz to accuse Donald and Terry Keller Swartz of Old Hickory, of committing arson, evading taxes and being drug addicts themselves.
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180px-Father_time_7765Ahmed Muhamed Dore is 112 and has 18 children by five wives. However, this week he added a sixth wife, Safia Abdulleh, 17. The marriage was blessed under the Islamic traditions of the area. It is part of a disturbing trend of cases where young girls are married off to older men under Sharia law.

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matthewmcnelly_joeymillerMatthew McNelly, 23, and Joey Miller, 20, have discovered that, since the days of highwaymen, the purpose of a mask in crime is not just to conceal your identity but to take off the mask when rejoining society. The two Iowa men used Sharpie markers to draw disguises on their faces — making them rather easy for the police to identify after allegedly trying to break into an apartment.

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250px-Cassatt_Mary_Nurse_and_Child_1896-97We previously discussed whether England was becoming a “Nanny State.” Now, it turns out that even the nanny is not welcomed. The city fathers (and mothers) of Watford has solved the danger of strangers bothering children by banning parents from playground areas. Mayor Dorothy Thornhill observes simply, “Sadly, in today’s climate, you can’t have adults walking around unchecked in a children’s playground.”

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asm6711357357_BG2Rep. Jeffrey Wood has achieved a degree of unwanted national fame after being shown in a police dashcam falling down during a sobriety test. From both a legal and political standpoint, falling down is never good during such tests. It does not make it better when this is Wood’s third arrest in less than a year on suspicion of driving under the influence.
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Christopher-Swiridowsky-thumb-200x217When Christopher Swiridowsky, 30, decided to flee the scene after mowing down three pedestrians he had a one problem: one of the victims was lodged in his windshield.
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base_mediaA woman in South Australia has achieved a certain infamy among drivers: she has succeeded in killing two people seven years apart in the same intersection in the same way. Michelle Thiele’s driving skills (or the lack thereof) are the subject of a rather understated response by the coroner.
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betsy+hanksBetsy M. Hanks, 25, is a real catch looking for a new husband. The Minnesota woman first shot her common-law husband in the head and then tried to blame the killing on her 3-year-old son.
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200px-TheTexasChainSawMassacre-posterMaryland police Sgt. Eric Janik, 37, may not get the thrust of trick of treat traditions. The Baltimore police officer went to a haunted house called the House of Screams with friends and when confronted by a character dressed as Leatherface with a chainsaw (sans the chain, of course), Janik pulled out his service weapon and pointed it at the man, who immediately dropped character, dropped the chainsaw, and ran like a bat out of Halloween Hell.
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We have previously followed the perils of the press (here), but this videotape shows how reporters can be attacked for simply walking around with a cameraman. Paresh Patel was attacked by drunken thugs in Manchester. What is astonishing is that neither John Nugent, 22, nor David Neville McKenna, 27, will spend time in jail for the unprovoked attack.
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51JYTR29A1L._SL500_AA240_We have previously discussed the dangers of increasing taxation in places like New York city. Now it appears that the city is facing a tax-version of the China Syndrome where over-taxation may be causing wealthier families to flee, which increases the need for higher taxes on those remaining.

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488px-scientology_symbolsvgIn light of today’s conviction of the Church of Scientology in France, this story from Australia may be of interest. The Church is being accused of actively subverting an investigation into the death of Australian private Edward Alexander McBride. The Church allegedly ordered that McBride’s “auditing file” be sent to the United States before the arrival of a warrant from coroner John Lock.

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488px-scientology_symbolsvgGiven the recent refusal of a Scientology spokesman to discuss the basis of Church’s beliefs, we are unlikely to get much of a response on the conviction this week of the Church for fraud in Paris. The court convicted the Church and fined it more than 600,000 euros ($900,000). However, the court stopped short in banning the group entirely as demanded by the government.

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180px-Arun_image19There is an interesting decision out of Springfield, Missouri where federal judge Richard Dorr has ruled that a Bonnet Macaque named Richard is not a “service animal” under the Americans with Disabilities Act and his owner Debby Rose is not disabled.
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180px-Chunkyno3180px-Bayer_Heroin_bottleIt is very common for “mules” to swallow balloons of heroin or other narcotics — only to be put under observation until they “produce” the evidence. It is one of the least glamorous jobs for police officers. However, Damien Ankrah, 28, showed remarkable tenacity in a case in England where he refused to go to the bathroom for 16 days — clearly hoping that the police could not hold him indefinitely without evidence.

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art.judgeIn a surprise verdict, a jury acquitted former judge Herman Thomas of sexual abuse, attempted sodomy, and assault related to allegations that he brought inmates to his chambers for sex and spankings. The judge insisted that he brought the men to his office to “mentor” them, but prosecutors put forward evidence of semen on the carpet and testimony of numerous former inmates that they had sex with him or allowed him to spank them for lenient treatment.
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180px-Python_molurus_molurus_2180px-Phelsuma_l._laticaudaNorwegian police had a bit of a surprise when they noticed something moving on the body of a 22-year-old man getting off a ferry. They found a tarantula in a bag during a routine stop and then in a strip search discovered 14 royal pythons and 10 albino leopard geckos taped to his body. This was without the use of baggy pants, here.
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_46422894_006107185-1Metropolitan_Police_FlagSandra Simpson, 61, probably thought of a myriad of dangers in London but never saw this one coming. Simpson was killed by officer Malcolm Searles, who was driving his patrol car as fast as 104 mph in a 40 mph zone with his sirens and lights on — to deliver a birthday card to a friend.

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While this site often explores police abuse allegations related to overreactions or excessive force by officers (as well as members of the legal community), this video shows the type of hidden dangers that officers face.
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logomedill_logoThere is an incredible story out of Chicago and my alma mater Northwestern University. The Cook County District Attorney has issued a sweeping subpoena to the Innocence Project at the acclaimed Medill School of Journalism — demanding such things as the grades and emails of students who worked on an investigation of the case of Anthony McKinney. The students found compelling evidence of innocence and the prosecutors are now pounding them with demands for personal information and communications. I just completed doing NPR’s Talk of the Nation on the case with Professor Barry Scheck.
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San Bernadino police are under criticism today after the release of this video from a cellphone appears to show officers beating a suspect with a baton without cause. The man, Darren Johnson, 43, is a barber shop owner who was allegedly held without charge for two days and was never booked in the jail system. He says that he was also denied a telephone call to counsel. The department has been previously sued for keeping suspects “on ice” but holding them without booking or access to counsel.

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200px-12_angry_menAlansWebPic_smPatricia Sylvester may have learned the ultimate lesson of “never ask a question in trial that you do not know the answer to.” Sylvester, 49, was overjoyed when a jury came back with a “not guilty” to vehicular assault in Island County Superior Court in Washington. While she cried with joy, Judge Alan Hancock polled the jury only to have one woman say that she didn’t agree with the “not guilty” verdict. He sent the jury back to voted again. By the time they had returned, they had convicted Sylvester.
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jared+colony250px-BraxtonPuggle-edit1In Iowa City, Jared Colony, 28, has been charged with aggravated cruelty to animals after giving a puggle puppy named Pip vodka in its bowl as a joke with friends.
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This video outside workout place in Thornhill, Ontario is simply astonishing.
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250px-flag_of_iransvgI guess Black Sabbath will skip that tour in Iran. The Iranian government has arrested a dozen people for “promoting satanism” through underground music and “blasphemous video clips.” Fortunately, the Obama Administration recently supported a resolution supporting Muslim countries in establishing a “balancing” of free speech and respect for religion, here.
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125px-Flag_of_Somalia.svgthumb_teacher1The Islamic al-Shabaab militia is well known for its harsh application of Sharia law in Somalia. However, it turns out that they have the same concerns about the children growing up with the wrong priorities and values as do people in the West. In the case of the al-Shabaab, the problem is a failure of parents to teach children to use weapons and their insistence on educating them on such things as reading and writing. The militia group is now forcing children to watch executions and giving away prizes of automatic weapons and grenades at children events. It is the Somali version of Hooked on Phonics.
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Video: Beware the Bat

This has to be one of the most bizarre videos floating around the Internet, but in the spirit of Halloween I have to share it with you. It is a person who scares the daylights out of people in a giant bat costume.
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This video is the focus of an investigation into the beating of a San Jose State student Phoung Ho by officers. Police reportedly had difficulty communicating with Ho and the encounter with the math major ended in beating Ho with batons and using a taser on him.
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A Cat and a Teddy

humorous-014_smallOn this Sunday, let us not forget the simple pleasures.
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Saudi Arabia flag180px-FlagellantsIn an attack both on free speech and the free press, Saudia Arabia has ordered a female journalist to be flogged 60 times for airing an interview with a man who bragged about his sex life. Rosanna Al-Yami was also given a two-year travel ban for her role in the episode of “A Thick Red Line,” a popular show on social taboos.
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*Oct 11 - 00:05*Carmen Huertas, 31, had a fun game to play with a car packed with girls going to a slumber party at her house. No it wasn’t counting VW bugs or out-of-state license plates. She asked which of the seven girls thought that she would crash. Since at least one girl was begging her to slow down, it was clear that some of the kids thought the answer was yes. It is not clear how Leandra Rosado, 11, voted: she died when the allegedly intoxicated Huertas crashed. Huertas notably was sober enough to pull her own daughter from the wreck but left the rest of the kids to fend for themselves, including Leandra who died on the side of the road.

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Ok, it may be early in the morning before sufficient caffeine, but this video is a little creepy, right?
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Nightline has been running a fascinating investigation into the Church of Scientology. This investigation includes this video of a walk-out of the spokesman for Scientology when asked simply about the beliefs of the church. According to the spokesman, it is “offensive” to be asked about what Scientologists specifically believe about the origins of man.

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This is either a mysterious lighter than air helicopter or a photographer who was able to synchronize his cameras´╗┐ shutter speed with the helicopters rotors.

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