Miami lawyer Stephen Gutierrez was in court defending an alleged arsonist when his pants literally caught on fire. However, please don't assume that Gutierrez is a liar, liar. Apparently he had been playing with an e-cigarette in his pocket. From the Miami Herald:
Stephen Gutierrez, who was arguing that his client’s car spontaneously combusted and was not intentionally set on fire, had been fiddling in his pocket as he was about to address jurors when smoke began billowing out his right pocket, witnesses told the Miami Herald.
He rushed out of the Miami courtroom, leaving spectators stunned. After jurors were ushered out, Gutierrez returned unharmed, with a singed pocket, and insisted it wasn’t a staged defense demonstration gone wrong, observers said.
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A building council in Vancouver, BC commercial building are reportedly refusing to allow one of the building owners to lease to Moby Dick's Restaurant, a fish-and-chips franchise, in part because of its name. According to a lawsuit, the building council claims that “that the word ‘Dick’ in Moby Dick was an offensive term" and "also claimed a Moby Dick sign would hurt the value of neighboring properties, and that the restaurant would bring increased litter and violate city laws on odor." From Courthouse News Service:
“It was clear by the end of August 2016 that the Strata intended to refuse any signage proposals belonging to Moby Dick which resembled its traditional trademark and brand,” the complaint states. “Instead, the Strata demanded that Moby Dick adopt a signage that was ‘minimalist’ both in color and design. As such, the Strata wrongfully denied Moby Dick’s use of its logo, brand name, and goodwill recognition at the commercial property.”
Mengfa seeks declaratory judgment and damages for interference with business relations.
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A federal jury in Los Angeles has just ruled that Led Zeppelin did not swipe the opening to "Stairway to Heaven" from the Spirit song "Taurus." From the New York Times:
Mr. Plant and Mr. Page both testified that “Stairway to Heaven” had been composed independently, and that while both bands had played on the same bill a handful of times, they did not recall ever seeing Spirit perform and had no familiarity with “Taurus” until the lawsuit was brought.
“I didn’t remember it then, and I don’t remember it now,” Mr. Plant said.
The jury found that, although Mr. Page and Mr. Plant had access to “Taurus” before the release of “Stairway to Heaven,” the two songs’ original elements did not contain enough similarities. Before reaching the verdict on Thursday, the jury asked to listen to audio recordings of the introductions to both songs twice.
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Weird Universe alerts us to the curious case of Gerald Mayo, who in 1971 filed a class action lawsuit in the Western District of Pennsylvania against Satan "and his staff."
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A state judge in the Brazilian state of Sergipe has ordered
all mobile phone operators in the country to block Facebook-owned WhatsApp for 72 hours, nationwide. Those five telecom providers put the ban into effect today, and it affects about 100 million people. In Brazil, WhatsApp is the most popular messaging app.
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Louann Clem of Trenton, New Jersey, is suing her and her husband Rich's former employee, Case Pork Roll Co., claiming that he was fired for farting too much. Both the Clems complained to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), but her case was dismissed so she decided to sue while her husband's EEOC complaint is pending. According to the suit, Rich Clem had gastric bypass surgery that led to “extreme gas and uncontrollable diarrhea.” That was when the owner of the company, Thomas Dolan, began harassing them, she says. Some of Dolan's alleged comments that Louiann Clem references in the lawsuit:
“We have to do something about Rich. This can’t go on.”
“Why is Rich having these side effects?”
“Is Rich following his doctor’s recommendations?”
“We can’t run an office and have visitors with the odor in the office.”
“Tell Rich that we are getting complaints from visitors who have problems with the odors.”
The company's owner claims the Clems weren't fired but rather quit after refusing to take a pay cut when the company fell on hard times.
(MyCentralJersey.com) Read the rest
According to The Tampa Bay Times, Circuit Judge Pamela Campbell said on Monday that she will permit Hulk Hogan one "plain bandana" during his trial against Gawker for posting excerpts from a secretly-taped sex video. "This is not going to be a carnival," she said several times.
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Signage at York County, Pennsylvania District Judge Ronald J. Haskell's court. (York Daily Record, via Weird Universe) Read the rest
More than 100 Americans die each day from prescription drug overdoses, mostly painkillers. That's more daily deaths than from car accidents, gunshot wounds, or suicides.
In California, two county District Attorneys are suing five of the biggest drug companies in the world, and the lawsuits include the same kind of arguments once used against big tobacco industry, demanding "public protection."
Warren Olney's "To the Point" radio show has a segment on the topic today:
The companies are accused of a "campaign of deception" to persuade doctors that narcotic painkillers are safer than they really are. But the narcotic painkillers involved have been approved by the FDA. Is a government agency helping create a "population of addicts?" What's the role of physicians who write the prescriptions? Are they ill-informed, poorly trained or trying to make money?
More on the case at advocacy group harmreduction.org
, and there's a Los Angeles Times writeup here
. Read the rest
A Utah judge fined an attorney $3,000 after he zapped a witness with a trick shock pen during a trial. The case is about about whether emissions from a power plant are harming nearby dairy cows.
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Attorney fined for zapping witness with trick pen at dairy cow trial Read the rest
In an order released this week, 4th District Judge James Brady wrote that electricity expert Athanasios Meliopoulos was testifying against dairy farmers who claim that "stray" currents from Intermountain Power Plant in Delta were harming cattle.
As part of his testimony, Meliopoulos claimed that 1.5 volts, the equivalent of a AAA battery, could not be felt by a person. Los Angeles-based attorney Don Howarth, who represented the dairy farmers, gave a child’s gag pen to Meliopoulos. According to the package label, the retractable pen zaps the user with "a harmless powerful shock," Brady wrote.
Howarth told Meliopoulos that the pen contained a 1.5-volt AAA battery and challenged Meliopoulos to "go ahead and push the back of the pen and tell the jury whether you feel it or not," Brady wrote.
Meliopoulos, a Georgia Tech professor, pushed the pen and "received a strong electric shock, which caused his body to jerk and to drop the pen," Brady wrote.
California State Attorney General Kamala D. Harris today announced the arrest of a man said to have owned and operated a so-called revenge porn website. According to the arrest warrant (PDF), the site operated by Kevin Christopher Bollaert published over 10,000 sexually explicit photos. The young women who appeared in these images, some of whom were minors at the time they were taken, were charged up to $350 each to be removed from the site.
California Department of Justice agents arrested Bollaert, 27, in San Diego where he lived. He is in San Diego County jail on $50,000 bail, and has been charged with 31 felony counts of conspiracy, identity theft and extortion. If he is convicted, penalties may include jail time and fines.
The arrest warrant is well worth a read. It includes the stories of a number of young women who ended up physically exposed and personally identified on the internet against their will. In some cases, private photos made their way online after their accounts were hacked or phones snatched. The women speak about how that violation damaged their lives and destroyed their sense of privacy.
During an in-person interview with two special agents, Bollaert bemoaned the burden of all those emails he was receiving from young women and teens, asking for images to be removed -- a service he charged hundreds of bucks for.
"At the beginning this was like fun and entertaining," he said to the agents, "But now it's ruining my life." At the end of the meeting, the agents served him with search warrants. Read the rest
Mark Dery on his essay about the death of Trayvon Martin: "It’s a polemic, it’s cultural criticism, it’s Southern Gothic in the greasy faced, lynching-postcard mode, it’s the muck that came up when I dredged the deepest, darkest places in the river bottom of the American psyche." Of course it is. From the essay, titled "Skin in the Game," over at Thought Catalog:
Americans hate history lessons because Americans hate history.
It’s the dead weight of centuries, jettisoned (we thought) when we left Europe, a drag coefficient on forward movement. And who doesn’t want to move forward in this land of boundless opportunity, bullish investors, consumer confidence, housing starts, Achieving Your Personal Best, and if all else fails, Reinventing Yourself?
But history, especially the night terrors of slavery and Reconstruction and the century after, refuse to stay buried. There are so many rooms in this old house, some of them bricked up, others perfectly preserved, visions of antique elegance and gentility except for those unsettling spatter patterns, not quite faded, on the cabbage-rose wallpaper.
I’m old enough to remember driving through Mississippi in 1965, the year of the Bloody Sunday march on Selma, two years after Medgar Evers’s murder, one year after the slaying of the CORE field workers by the Klan. I was five, a white middle-class kid nose-deep in his comic books, oblivious to current events, but I’ve never forgotten a non-event that was somehow eventful…
"Skin in the Game: An American Gothic, in Black and White
" Read the rest
This entire interaction between Penelope Soto, 18, who was arrested on possession of Xanax, and Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Rodriguez-Chomat rivals Wapner and Judge Judy in its absurdity.