Author Archives: Rebekah

“Who Knew?!” Department

Oh No!A word to the wise:  if you burgle a business and come and go through a snow-covered roof, you can expect to create enough reasonable suspicion to allow the police to follow the footprints to where you are located.  The case is People v. Weeks, 524 N.Y.S.2d 844 (1988). 

 

Legal Spooktacular: Vampires in Court

As if being Undead isn’t complicated enough, vampires also seem to suffer from (or cause) a variety of legal problems. Did you know that you can jeopardize your visitation rights for letting vampires babysit your children? Ditto moving in with a vampire (Bass v. Weaver, 101 Ark. App. 367, 278 S.W.3d 127 (2008)). A judge’s noting on the record that a defendant had been a practicing vampire since the age of 13 does not denote bias that would warrant the judge’s recusal (U.S. v. Lawrence, 88 F. App’x 913 (6th Cir. 2004)). A Michigan carjacker explained his car theft spree as an attempt to “escape from flesh-eating bats and vampires” (People v. Morgan, No. 284986, 2009 WL 1397132 (Mich. App., May 19, 2009)). A Massachusetts defendant testified to believing that he had been a vampire for years (Com. v. Riva, 18 Mass. App. Ct. 713, 469 N.E.2d 1307 (1984)). An Arizona defendant testified to stealing an ambulance and running it into a building in order to break a vampire curse. (State v. Ward, 2015 WL 1516506, (Ariz. App., April 2, 2015)). What does this mean for you? Well, for starters, if you come across a despondent vampire this Halloween, be kind. S/he may have had a bad day in court.

Legal Spooktacular: Haunted House Law

Haunted house law is trickier (or treatier?) than you might expect. For instance, while a broker has no duty to disclose that a house is reputed to be haunted, once an owner has reported hauntings of the property in the public media, she is estopped from denying that the ghosts exist haunted house(Stambovsky v. Ackley, 572 N.Y.S.2d 672 (1991)), and a buyer may be able to rescind the contract. And yet, a deed obtained through misrepresentation that a house is haunted might be allowed to stand (Souza v. Soares, 22 Haw. 17 (1914)). Also, the fact that you believe a house to be haunted doesn’t give you a pass for vandalizing it (Hayward v. Carraway, 180 So.2d 758 (1965)).  Ghosts have feelings, too.

Just Don’t Department

Oh No!There are countless approaches to the practice of law that will let you express your creativity and ability.  And then there are the things you just don’t do.

*Don’t comment on someone’s social media picture, even if you think you’re paying a compliment.

*Don’t leave voicemails laced with profanity and name-calling.

*Don’t hang Hitler’s portrait in your courtroom.

*Don’t get indicted for fraud.

 

 

Today In History: Frederick Douglass Escapes Slavery

Frederick DouglassOn September 3, 1838, Frederick Douglass, American abolitionist, social reformer, and statesman, escaped from slavery.  Wearing a sailor’s uniform (and carrying seaman’s protection documents) provided by a friend, he embarked on a perilous journey from Baltimore to Philadelphia.  Forty years later, he wrote a riveting account of his escape; you can read it here.

What Not To Do Department

There are many things that one can do to invite trouble in any profession, and the legal profession is no different.  Here are some tips for avoiding various sorts of difficulties:

1.  Don’t alter court records.

2.  Don’t ask your paralegal to “friend” a party in a case with which you’re involved.

3.  Don’t let your donkey (or zebra) attack a judge.

4.  Don’t forget to clean out your pockets before going to court.

This Week In Legal News

The Governor of Kansas has signed a bill that would de-fund state courts if they overturn a 2014 law that governs selection of chief district judges.

A Michigan lawyer has called off his campaign to get his pet pig elected as mayor of the city of Flint.

On Friday, the Iowa Supreme Court recognized the right to be drunk on your own front porch.

 

This Week in Legal News

The United States Supreme Court has declined to hear a case from a law school applicant asking that his undergraduate grades from the 1970s be adjusted to offset subsequent grade inflation.news icon for blog

A Minnesota man has been found not liable for sawing his neighbor’s garage in half, and gets attorney’s fees.

Four people in Mississippi are being charged with disturbing the peace after they ignored a request not to yell during a high-school graduation.

Lawyer-Inventor sues after blogger dubs his patent the “stupid patent of the month.”

The Law of Squirrels and Vampires

Of all the entities you’d expect to gelittle justicet airtime in a courtroom, squirrels and vampires are probably low on your list.  And yet.

Squirrels frequently show up in court (contextually, if not literally) in cases involving utility companies.  A power company was held not negligent in failing to foresee injuries sustained by a man who chased a squirrel up a utility pole (Keller v. Ohio Public Service Co. , 73 Ohio App. 530, 57 N.E.2d 176 (Ohio App. 1943), and another power company was found not negligent for injuries alleged by a cordless phone user when a squirrel got into a transformer and caused a power outage (Pardue v. AT&T Telephone Co., 799 So.2d 710 (La. App. 2001).

    From the Undead angle, not only is there a Vampire Nation (which appears to contain no actual vampires), but it’s been taken to court for a variety of white-collar crimes (U.S. v. Vampire Nation, 451 F.3d 189 (3rd Cir. 2006)). A Michigan carjacker explained his car theft spree as an attempt to “escape from flesh-eating bats and vampires” (People v. Morgan, No. 284986, 2009 WL 1397132, (Mich. App., May 19, 2009)).  A Massachusetts defendant testified to believing that he had been a vampire for years (Com. v. Riva, 469 N.E.2d 1307 (Mass. App. Div. 1984)). An Arizona defendant testified to stealing an ambulance and running it into a building in order to break a vampire curse (State v. Ward, 2015 WL 1516506, (Ariz. App., April 2, 2015)).  And that’s not nearly all, folks.  Numerous defendants have attempted to justify their misdeeds by invoking the Undead.  For an entertaining research romp, go to your favorite research service and run this search query:  vampire! /s crime