Top 10 Weird Cases 2015 During the year, the courtrooms of the world have again hosted some remarkable stories of human oddity. Here are ten of the strangest cases from 2015.
In Germany, a tenant sued his landlord for retaining 1,900 euros of a deposit to replace marble flooring in a bathroom that had been eroded by the tenant’s urine. The court pondered whether the damage had flowed from culpably abnormal conduct. For the landlord, the issue of urinative posture was both relevant, and no piddling matter. The court heard that sitzpinklers (men who sit down to urinate) are preferable to stehpinklers (men who urinate standing) such as his former tenant. The court ruled in favour of the tenant, concluding that standing to urinate was not legally culpable.
Heather Cho was prosecuted in Seoul for ordering a departing Korean Air Lines plane in which she was a first- class passenger to return to the gate because she objected to the way that macadamia nuts had been served to her. The plane was taxiing to take off when Ms Cho broke into a nut tantrum. She crunched the cabin crew, shouting that macadamia nuts she had been served in a bag should have been given to her in a bowl. Mindful, perhaps, of the fact that she was head of in-flight service at Korean Air Lines, and that the chairman of the company is her father, she ordered the crew to kneel before her in contrition. Aviation law, however, cruises at an altitude well above personality turbulence, and Ms Cho was sentenced to a year in jail.
In Pennsylvania, the Office of Attorney General brought charges against Ms Kimberly Kitchen, pausing her ten-year career an attorney. She had become a partner at her law firm in Pittsburgh, and was president of the Huntingdon County Bar Association. Fees for her work flowed into her firm’s accounts. All was going well until it was discovered that she was not a lawyer at all. Ms Kitchen was prosecuted for forgery, unauthorised practice of law and felonious tampering with records.
In Australia, Luke Brett Moore was prosecuted after he took too literal an approach to his “Complete Freedom” account at the St George bank.
Following an error at the bank, Mr Moore, who was unemployed, withdrew A$2.1 million in cash over three years. At Goulburn district court, in Sydney, Mr Brett Moore was convicted of obtaining a financial advantage by deception, and knowingly dealing with the proceeds of crime. Clues the police followed included the unusual array of retail items Mr Brett Moore had purchased, including a Maserati, an Aston Martin, and a Stessl Sea Hawk speedboat, which he kept outside his modest home.
In the celestial setting of a New York court, it was accepted that there is room for more than one god in Brooklyn. God Gazarov, a US citizen originally from Russia, asked a credit information company to give him a report of his credit status. The corporation, however, repeatedly declined to do so, rejecting Mr Gazarov’s first name as inappropriate even though it is a Russian name. He supplied his driver’s licence and social security card to prove his identity but company officials did not exactly move heaven and earth to help God. The parties settled the case and God used his settlement sum purchase a divine BMW.
In Ohio, the Court of Appeals overturned a conviction because a comma that was mistakenly omitted from a local parking law meant that the rules did not apply to most vehicles. Andrea Cammelleri had her Ford pickup truck towed away by police for violating a West Jefferson ordinance that stated that it was unlawful for any person to park on any street “any motor vehicle camper, trailer, farm implement and/or non-motorised vehicle” for a continuous period of 24 hours. The law should have said “motor vehicle, camper” but the absence of that comma meant the rule applied only to “motor vehicle campers” and other items in the list. In law, the comma is so much more than a prissy squiggle.
In New Jersey, a legal battle was commenced between Harris Faulkner, an award-winning Fox News anchor, and Harris Faulkner, a small plastic hamster. Harris Faulkner, a journalist who has won six Emmys, is suing the toy company Hasbro Inc for $5 million for creating a toy hamster called “Harris Faulkner” which, she alleges, bears a “physical resemblance” to her “traditional professional appearance”. As a journalist, Ms Faulkner does not and cannot endorse commercial products. The toy manufacturer has not yet received complaints from namesakes of other figures in the same product range: Basil Featherstone, a peacock, and Fletcher von Trunk, an elephant.
In New York, after being broadcast asleep amid an uproarious crowd watching the New York Yankees play their baseball rivals the Boston Red Sox, Andrew Rector woke up to the litigation possibilities, and sued four big-hitters — the TV company, its commentators, the New York Yankees and a sports website. He sought $10 million for defamation. Mr Rector asserted that the defendants had made untruthful statements including that he is “an unintelligent and stupid individual”. The defendants asked the judge to dismiss the lawsuit. Mr Rector knocked none of the defence arguments out of the park, and duly lost his action.
At Luton crown court, Waqas Khan made one key mistake in choosing what personal items he should take to court when appearing in the dock on charges of conspiracy to supply Class A drugs. He had on him in the dock a bag containing a large quantity of cocaine.
In Texas, in a civil debt case, Susan Cammack declared that she had her own law court, and summoned the judge to attend it. Ms Cammack claimed to be a citizen of a sovereign nation called “the Republic of Texas”. She instructed David Kroupa, a man with a double-jointed career as a chiropractor and as “chief justice of the Republic of Texas” to issue orders against a mortgage company that was suing her, and the judge who was presiding in the case. “Chief justice Kroupa” turned out to more pliant than some of the backs on which he must have worked. He yielded quickly to the state of Texas, pleaded guilty, and testified against his colluder, Ms Cammack, who was then convicted of simulating legal.