50 Interesting Court Cases

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26Hugh Clarke

Hugh Clarke

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

27. 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."

28. 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."

29. 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.

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

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

32. 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.

33. After being caught by casino owners and prosecuted in court for cheating, the Hyland card counting team was acquitted of all charges after the judge ruled that the players' conduct was not cheating, but merely the use of intelligent strategy.

34. A woman believed "crunch berries" in Cap'n crunch were actual fruit for years, and attempted to sue Pepsico when she found out they weren't. The judge dismissed it as "common sense" knowledge.

35. When Charles Keating was on trial, Mother Teresa sent the judge a letter asking him to do what Jesus would do. An attorney wrote back to explain how Keating stole money from others and suggested that she return Keating's donation to the victims ... as Jesus would surely do. She never replied.

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A man attempted to sue Applebee's after he leaned over a plate of sizzling fajitas to pray. A trial judge dismissed the suit, finding Applebee's was not required to warn the man "against a danger that is open and obvious."

37. After Hurricane Katrina, a group of Benedictine monks in Louisiana began selling low-cost, handmade cypress caskets. The state’s Board of Embalmers and Funeral Directors issued a cease-and-desist order, claiming that only funeral homes could sell caskets. A judge ruled in favor of the monks.

38. When Margaret Keane sued her ex-husband, Walter Keane (American plagiarist) for plagiarizing, the judge asked both of them to paint a painting in front of the courtroom. Walter declined, saying he had a sore shoulder, whereas Margaret completed her painting in 53 minutes.

39. In 1938, a Kindergarten teacher named Helen Hulick witnessed a burglary. She was jailed for 5 days because she wore a pair of slacks into court the day she was called to testify.

40. Helmuth Hübener was the youngest opponent of the Nazis to be sentenced to death by the Nazis. Upon receiving his sentence, he told the judges "Now I must die, even though I have committed no crime. So now it's my turn, but your turn will come."

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Jurors can legally return a 'not guilty' verdict if they believe the law is unjust regardless of whether or not the defendant actually committed the crime through a process called 'jury nullification' but judges rarely inform juries of this power.

42. The idea that the federal government can regulate almost any business was established in a 1942 Supreme Court case. Since a farmer could theoretically sell produce over state lines, the US government had the authority to control what he could grow.

43. In 2006, a US Soldier named Alberto B. Martinez pleaded guilty to murdering two officers in Iraq in exchange for life in prison. His plea was rejected so he could be tried at Court Martial under the death penalty, where he was found not guilty and given an Honorable Discharge.

44. In 1927, the US Supreme Court ruled it constitutional for the government to forcefully sterilize mentally handicapped people.

45. Hitler was arrested for High Treason in 1924, of which the punishment is usually execution. The judge granted him clemency however, believing Hitler had good intentions.



Mattel (Toy company) once tried to sue Aqua over their song "Barbie Girl". The judge literally told them to "chill".

47. The KKK was denied the permit to sponsor a segment of Interstate 55 in Missouri. When the federal court declared it unconstitutional and the KKK was given the sponsorship, the Missouri Legislature renamed the segment "Rosa Parks Highway".

48. F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone was arraigned by a German court after a large share acquisition by F1's holding company. He was permitted, legally, to pay $100m to have the case dropped. His charge? Bribery.

49. In 1980, the Supreme Court awarded the Sioux tribe $106 million as compensation for land that was taken from them. The Sioux refused to accept the payment, and the money remains in the US Treasury to this day, accruing interest.

50. In 1971, someone in Pennsylvania tried to sue Satan for having “threatened him, caused him misery, impeded his course in life, and generally precipitated his downfall.” The case was dismissed, partly because it couldn't be shown that Satan lived in the court's jurisdiction.

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