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The Lighter Side of the Legal System Print E-mail
by John Browning    Tue, Jul 23, 2013, 10:17 AM

We’ve been deluged lately with weighty, thought-provoking cases in the legal system: the George Zimmerman trial over the shooting death of Trayvon Martin and what it says about race relations in America; the fight over abortion legislation in Texas; and a series of potentially far-reaching U.S. Supreme Court decisions on everything from voting rights to affirmative action to same-sex marriage.  At some point, the mind practically begs for some relief—isn’t there anything out there to lighten things up just a bit?  Well, search no more, faithful readers: here is a roundup of the cute, the funny, and the just plain odd of the legal system.

Wackiest Warning Labels

In June, the Center for America selected their finalists for the Wackiest Warning Label of the Year.  My favorites include the label on a common indoor extension cord—“Wash hands after using” (for those of us for whom the interaction between water and electrical outlets is still a mystery); the warning on a package of rubber worms made for fishing—“Not for human consumption” (thanks for the tip—I thought they were like Gummi Worms, just chewier and without flavor); and the warning on a bottle of spray-on anti-fog cleaner—“Not for contact lenses or direct use in the eyes.”

Having Fun with Lawyers

Perhaps the best way to get back at angry lawyers is to do what Chris Shepherd recently did.  The Houston chef operates Underbelly, a local restaurant that until recently offered a burger called the “UB Double Double.”  When lawyers for California-based fast food chain In-N-Out sent him a letter threatening litigation over the similarity to In-N-Out’s “Double Double,” Shepherd decided not to play David and try to fight Goliath and his army of humorless lawyers.  Instead, he complied with the cease and desist letter by re-naming the burger the “Cease and Desist Burger.”  It consists of two hamburger patties (all of Underbelly’s meat is butchered on-site at the restaurant), two slices of cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles (Underbelly’s vegetables are locally grown), and just a bit of wry (humor, that is).  Since the controversy, the Cease and Desist burger has become one of the most popular items on the menu.

The Happiest Court on Earth

A family court judge in Arizona recently found the best way to deal with an ex-husband who opposed his ex-wife’s request to take their children out of state to Disneyland.  In granting the mother’s request, the judge wrote “The Court cannot think of any good reason why any parent would refuse to agree in writing for his or her children to go to Disneyland . . . . If in fact Father has refused Mother’s travel requests, then Father’s refusal for the sake of refusal is nothing more than a Mickey Mouse litigation tactic, and just plain Goofy.”  Well said, judge!

I Don’t Know Why She Didn’t See This Coming

Self-professed psychic Jennifer Williams and her Los Angeles company Psychic Readings by Yana have been sued.  The lawsuit by Klarissa Castro claims that the self-styled medium fraudulently took $11,000 from Castro, promising to lift a “love curse.”  The purported psychic was the one who alerted Castro to the “curse” on her love life, and offered to fix it with a series of psychic sessions and the commissioning of a $5,000 painting (to be done by Williams) that would aid in lifting the curse.  Unfortunately, according to the lawsuit, the only thing that got lifted was money from Ms. Castro’s wallet.

 Too Stupid to be a Criminal

There are entrance exams for a lot of jobs, setting a minimum standard of proficiency.  Maybe there needs to be one for would-be criminals as well.  Zachary Tentoni of Southington, Connecticut was recently arrested for the theft of a woman’s wallet in Dorchester, Massachusetts.  How did the police track down the alleged thief—forensic investigation like “CSI,” old-fashioned detective work, or an anonymous informant?  Nope.  It seems that in snatching the wallet, the thief dropped a bag he was holding; in it was the birth certificate of 26 year-old Tentoni and a letter addressed to him from his mother.  Don’t worry, Zachary; you may be too stupid to be a thief, but there’s always the TSA.

I’ve Heard of Taking a Haircut on Fees, But This is Ridiculous

Have you ever needed to get legal advice, but also needed to stop by a barbershop?  Then search no more, my friends, “Legal Cuts” is open for business as a combination barbershop/law office in New Britain, Connecticut.  Attorney Don Howard, who does criminal defense and personal injury law, has an office in the back of the shop.  The Chicago native went to barber school in Illinois before his studies took him to Mississippi State and Wyoming, where he cut hair while studying.  After relocating to Connecticut, he decided to combine his two passions.  Howard says “I love cutting hair and people often talk about their problems in a barbershop.  I think the barbershop is the perfect place to marry law with hair cutting.”  Good luck, Mr. Howard—hopefully no clients will ask you to trim back your legal fees.

Coincidence, or Shrewd Business Development?

The stereotype of the sleazy lawyer is the one who chases ambulances and shows up at accident scenes, pressing business cards into the hands of victims.  But what if the accidents keep coming to you?  For the seventh time (over the past 10 years), the small Iowa City, Iowa law firm of Bray & Klockau has been the victim of a traffic accident.  In the latest incident, an errant taxi cab swerved onto the law firm’s property and crashed into its front porch, damaging it and the foundation.  Previous incidents have resulted in pedestrian injuries and power outages.  The building itself was built in 1902, and sits at what has become a busy intersection.  While the law firm partners have asked the city to put in a four-way stop sign, the city to date has declined.

Now That’s Dedication

How far would a lawyer go to make sure he doesn’t miss a crucial hearing where his client’s interests are at stake.?  Well, if you’re Toronto attorney Howard Levitt, the answer is “pretty far.”  The prominent Canadian employment lawyer was on his way to catch a flight for an important hearing in Ottawa in early July.  Driving through heavy rain that quickly led to a freak storm and flooding, Levitt tried to follow several other cars through an area that looked like a puddle.  Unfortunately, because his $200,000 Ferrari California rides extremely close to the ground, it took just a few inches of water to stop the beautiful machine dead in its tracks.  As the flood water rose, and realizing the tow truck he’d called wasn’t going to arrive in time, Levitt abandoned the vehicle and took a cab to the airport.  After finding out that all flights had been cancelled, Levitt went to a different airport where he got “the last seat of the day” to Ottawa.  He won the next morning in court, though.  Levitt said, “It’s a good ending, except for my poor car.  I guess that’s what insurance companies are for.  But the bottom line was, I had a case to get to.  You can’t let the client down, no matter what personal emergencies you might have.”

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