41 Fascinating Legal Court Cases That’ll Make Your Head Spin

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1Supreme Court

In 1971, a woman petitioned a Judge for permission to sterilize her "somewhat retarded" daughter. Without a hearing, evidence, or representation for the daughter, the judge granted permission. The daughter later tried to sue the judge, but the Supreme Court voted 5-3 to grant the judicial immunity.


2. A Colorado judge named Paul Sacco sentenced violators who were brought to court for blasting loud music to an hour of listening to Barry Manilow at high volume.


3. In 1960, a 5-year-old orphan named José Luis Painecur was sacrificed in the coastal village Collileufu, Chile after the largest earthquake ever recorded. The two charged were released after 2 years, as the judge ruled they "acted without free will, driven by an irresistible natural force of ancestral tradition."


4. In the 1920s a Chicago man convinced his wife to pull out all her teeth then refused to get her dentures because it was 'cheaper to feed her with soup than solid food'. She took him to court and he was ordered to get her 2 new sets of teeth and a beefsteak a week.


5. Daniel Balsam is a US man who got so infuriated with constant email spam that he quit his job, got a law degree and has so far earned over $1 million in court judgments against the spammers.


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6Stefan Lanka

A German biologist named Stefan Lanka claimed measles is psychosomatic and offered 100,000 Euros to anyone who proved measles is a virus. A German doctor named David Barden presented evidence of the virus. The biologist dismissed the evidence, but the local court ordered him to pay up.


7. The line "drugs are bad, m'kay?" from South Park's Mr. Mackey, was referenced by a judge in a marijuana-related court case who said Mr. Mackey's words were immortal.


8. A group of friends faked a case to get on Judge Judy and got $1500 out of it.


9. American con artist Steven Jay Russell once impersonated a prison guard to simply walk out of prison. Upon recapture Russell lowered and paid his bail by pretending to be a judge, escaped his next capture by impersonating a doctor, and did so again by faking his death, eventually landing him a 144-year sentence.


10. A witness in a Scottish court who had answered "aye" to confirm he was the person summoned was told by the Sheriff that he must answer either "yes" or "no". His name was read again and he was asked to confirm it, he answered "aye" again, and was imprisoned for 90 minutes for contempt of court.


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11OJ Simpson trial

During the 1995 OJ Simpson trial, the ABC, NBC and CBS networks nightly news broadcasts gave more airtime to the details of that case than to the Bosnian War and the Oklahoma City bombing combined.


12. US president Stephen Grover Cleveland developed a close relationship with his friend's baby daughter (Frances Folsom Cleveland Preston). When his friend died, a court-appointed him to administer the estate, making him closer to the then 11 year-old-girl. When she graduated university at 21, Cleveland (49-year-old) married her while President.


13. In Japan, if someone on trial is filmed while in handcuffs their hands have to be pixelated to be shown on TV. This is because a man named Kazuyoshi Miura brought a successful case to court arguing the image of him in handcuffs implied guilt and had prejudiced his trial.


14. A man found a newborn baby in the subway, and when he was in family court to give a statement the judge surprised him by asking if he and his partner wanted to adopt. They said yes.


15. Katie Holmes' father negotiated a prenuptial agreement for her that reportedly filled five bankers’ boxes. Because of it, when Katie Holmes made her bombshell announcement that she was divorcing Tom Cruise, the case was able to be resolved in a mere 11 days.


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16Alice Randall

In 2001, the United States Court of Appeals upheld the right of Alice Randall (American author) to publish a parody of 'Gone with the Wind' called 'The Wind Done Gone', which told the same story from the point of view of Scarlett O'Hara's (Fictional character) slaves, who were glad to be rid of her.


17. Nissan.com is not owned by the car company, but by a single guy named Uzi Nissan. He has been fighting the car company in court since 1999.


18. Robert H. Richards IV, who inherited the Du Pont family fortune after the death of John du Pont (of Foxcatcher fame), was convicted in 2009 of sexually abusing his 3-year-old daughter. His 8 year sentence was suspended, as the judge claimed he would "not fare well" in prison.


19. A Michigan judge named Hugh Clarke held himself in contempt after smartphone rang in court.


20. In 1993, Creedence Clearwater Revival's record label sued former lead singer John Fogerty because his song "The Old Man Down the Road" sounded similar to "Run Through the Jungle." Although Fogerty was awarded attorney fees, the judge found that "an artist can't plagiarize himself."


21Michael A. Cicconetti

An Ohio judge named Michael A. Cicconetti sentenced a woman to sit in the smelliest area of a garbage dump for 8 hours, for she was accused of animal abuse. He even said, "If you puke, you puke."


22. Author Nathaniel Hawthorne added a W to his last name to hide his relation to his great-great-grandfather John Hathorne, the only judge in the Salem Witch Trials to never repent his actions.


23. The director of Cannibal Holocaust had to prove in court that the actors were still alive and didn't get killed during the movie.


24. Website UrbanDictionary.com has been used in court cases to define slang words that are not found in dictionaries.


25. Louis Le Prince, who filmed the first ever motion pictures, disappeared without a trace in 1890. Thomas Edison soon took credit as the first and sole inventor of cinema and even took Le Prince's son to court to dispute it. A few years later, the son also died under mysterious circumstances.

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