Does a police officer have the right to search your car if you don't laugh when he asks you if you have any "firearms, drugs, cats, dogs, alligators, and weapons" in your car? The court said no.
United States v. Holloway, 2023 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 187752 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 18, 2023):
Officer Smart testified that he regularly asks individuals a question concerning possession of "firearms, drugs, cats, dogs, alligators, and weapons" at vehicle stops because it "helps [him] read people's body language and their demeanor." … He further testified that he was trained by other officers to infer that an individual who does not laugh at such a question is nervous about either firearms or narcotics … and that he typically receives a "laughing response" to that question ….
While courts "do give considerable deference to police officers' determinations of reasonable suspicion, … courts do not owe them blind deference." United States v. Alvin, 701 F. App'x 151, 156 (3d Cir. 2017) (internal quotations omitted). The Court does not find that laughing at a law enforcement officer while being questioned about drugs and weapons would be an appropriate response. Moreover, failing to laugh at a bizarre question while being questioned about drugs and weapons does not create reasonable suspicion to remove an individual from a car after a traffic violation.
We've previously posted about a British case involving cruelty to goldfish. Here the British courts took up the question of whether it's possible to be cruel to prawns (aka shrimp), but dropped the case when it decided that prawns were insects and so not covered by anti-cruelty laws. They're actually crustaceans, but close enough I guess.
In 1941, when Dolores Moran was 15, she worked as a waitress at a drive-in restaurant in San Jose, California. One day she served a local farmer some coffee and hamburger. The next year Moran left San Jose and moved to Hollywood where she achieved brief fame as an actress.
By the 1960s her acting career had ended. But then, in 1968, Moran learned that the farmer she had served at the drive-in 27 years ago had died, leaving her his apricot orchard valued at around $300,000 (or $2.5 million in today's money).
Moran had no memory of serving the farmer, whose name was Anthony Ponce. Nor had the two ever communicated since then. She said, "for the life of me I can't remember the man." But evidently she had made a big impression on him.
Monroe News Star - Dec 18, 1968
Ponce's relatives contested the will, arguing that he was not of sound mind when he made it. I haven't been able to find out how the case was settled, but I'm guessing Moran got to keep the orchard since it's usually fairly difficult to invalidate a will.
If she did get to keep it, then that would have to count as one of the biggest gratuities of all time. Perhaps the biggest? Especially for an order of coffee and hamburger.
May 1966: The charges of indecent exposure, brought against 21-year-old Mary Lou Hood for mowing her lawn while wearing a bikini, were all dropped. The judge determined there was insufficient evidence of lewdness or indecent exposure to support the charges.
The case was said to be the hottest issue in the college town of Edmond, Ohlahoma "since canned beer." The judge delivered his decision to a standing-room-only crowd. The case also received widespread national media coverage even though, as Hood's lawyer noted, the case didn't actually establish a legal precedent for a right to wear a bikini while mowing the lawn.
Muncie Evening Press - May 20, 1966
Spokesman Review - May 20, 1966
Ogden Standard Examiner - May 20, 1966
Mary Lou Hood, with her husband, at the courthouse May 20, 1966. Source.
When British dentist Philip Grundy died in 1974, he left the bulk of his estate, slightly over $400,000, to Amelia Whaite, the receptionist at his practice. But with some unusual conditions. He forbid her from wearing lipstick or makeup, or going out with any men, for five years.
$400,000 in 1974, adjusted for inflation, would be over $2,000,000 today. So a nice chunk of money.
However, Grunday also made Whaite the sole executor of his estate "with the responsibility to see the will's conditions are kept." So if she didn't follow the conditions was she supposed to self-report herself?
There were two doors in the dentists room one in and one out, so no one ever saw the end result of his work I swear I've given birth twice and it didn't hurt as much as that butchers work on my mouth.
My worst horror story was when I had to have 2 teeth pulled and complained about the gas, Grundy did'nt bat an eyelid and promptly yanked them out without anything. I did'nt get a vote, and never complained again, I was 14 at the time.
GRUNDY'S! there was a trail of blood from the door, past the bus stop and round the corner; You couldn't get out of the waiting room once you were in as the door only opened inwards- some brave souls escaped when someone was entering, nearly knocking them over. Waiting room full of smoke and old copies of The Beano in yellowed celluloid covers; view of a sad square of lawn; anyone escaping by the usual way out had to go past, and be accosted by a Forbidding Receptionist.Some sort of liaison here, as Grundy left her all his money, on condition that she never wear lipstick!
Some more info about Grundy and Whaite from a 1974 Associated Press article:
In July 1962, a special dental court found Grundy and Miss Whaite guilty of conspiring to defraud the state-run National Health Service by charging unjustified fees. Both were fined.
Four years later, Grundy was accused of addiction to inhaling anesthetic gas and was forbidden to practice for five years.
He resumed his practice in 1971 and built it into a flourishing enterprise with a staff of 14. . .
Miss Whaite now runs the practice, still with a 14-member staff.
Where the jurors after retiring to consider of their verdict attempted to sing and one of them was unable to carry the "base," it is not ground for a new trial that a man who was not a member of the jury joined them and gave them "the proper air."
Apparently so. Some googling reveals that this situation seems to happen fairly regularly.
Most recently, there was the case of Judge Thomas Ensor of Colorado whose wife served as a juror in his court. During the trial the judge repeatedly cracked jokes about the presence of his wife, such as, "Be nice to Juror 25. My dinner is on the line."
Inevitably the case was appealed, but in June 2020 the Colorado Supreme Court ruled that it was legal for Ensor's wife to be on the jury, noting that the defense lawyer could have objected to her sitting as a juror, but didn't. (Though the defense lawyer had said that he was afraid to challenge her.)
Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.