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News of the Weird 2/28/13

Guilt That Lingers An Arizona appeals court ruled in February that someone can be guilty of driving under the influence of marijuana even though its psychoactive ingredient has long left his system. Since tests of marijuana measure both active and inactive ingredients, and since the active substance vanishes quickly but the inactive one remains in the body for weeks, a marijuana consumer may test positive even though not the least bit impaired. (In fact, since neighboring Colorado recently legalized some marijuana possession, a Colorado driver motoring through Arizona weeks later could be guilty of DUI for a completely legal, harmless act, as could the 35,000 Arizona medical-marijuana users.) The appeals court majority reasoned that since the legislature did not distinguish the inactive ingredient from the active, neither would the court.

Compelling Explanations Richard Blake took the witness stand in Ottawa, Ontario, in January to deny that it was he who had invaded a home and stabbed two people numerous times. With a straight face, he had an answer for all of the incriminating evidence. He had the perps car because a stranger had just handed him the keys; he didnt recall what the stranger looked like (but guessed that he probably resembled Blake, because for some reason Blake got picked out of the lineup); he donned the strangers bloody knit cap (abandoning his own cap); he handled the strangers knife and bloody glove, and thats why his DNA was on them; he fled at the first sight of police, ramming a cruiser to escape (even though he had done nothing wrong); he fled on foot after the collision and hid in a tree (but only to get away from a swarm of black flies). After deliberating politely for a day, the jury found him guilty.

/ 61-year-old man in southern Sweden beat a DUI charge in February even though his blood-alcohol was five times over the legal limit. The man told the judge he is a hearty drinker and normally starts in even before work every day, with no effect on his performance. According to the Skanskan newspaper, that must have impressed the judge, who was so awed that he tossed out the charge.

Ironies A longtime high school teacher of French and Spanish is suing the Mariemont, Ohio, school district for having pressured her to resign in the face of what she calls her phobia, a fear of kids disorder, which she says should be protected by disability-discrimination law. Maria Waltherr-Willard, 61, had been reassigned to teach some junior high students, but doctors said she suffered hypertension, nightmares, chest pains and vomiting when around the younger-age children.

﹩isa Birons recent biography shows her to be a licensed lawyer in two states, practicing in Manchester, N.H., and also affiliated with a group of volunteer lawyers that advocates religious liberty, the sanctity of life, and marriage and family, and issues warnings about the homosexual agenda. (She recently represented a church in Concord, N.H., and served on the board of directors of a Christian school in Manchester.) In January, Biron was convicted in federal court in Concord on nine counts involving taking her teenage daughter to Canada and creating child pornography.

The Litigious Society In September 2010, a speeding, intoxicated driver ran a stop sign near Dade City, Fla., careened off a highway, and rammed two trees along a private road, instantly killing himself and his passenger. In January, the estate of the passenger filed a lawsuit for wrongful death, charging the residents along the private road with letting the trees grow in a dangerous location where they could be easily hit, especially since the residents had failed to light the area adequately. How its our fault, I have no idea, said one surprised resident, who noted that the entire neighborhood had mourned the strangers at the time of the sad, traumatic collision.

℉eith Brown and four other inmates at Idahos Kuna prison filed a lawsuit in December against eight major beer and liquor manufacturers for having sold them alcohol at an early age without warning of its addictiveness — and are thus responsible for the mens subsequent lives of crime. Brown, 52, said he personally has been locked up a total of 30 years and is now serving time for manslaughter. (The Oglala Sioux tribe has sued beer distributors and the state of Nebraska for enabling easy access to nearby beer even though it was banned on the reservation. The lawsuit was dismissed on jurisdictional issues, but the tribe may refile soon.)

℃ason Starn, formerly a law student at the Laurence Drivon School of Law in Stockton, Calif., filed a lawsuit recently against three Stockton-Modesto-area head shops that had sold him Whip-It nitrous oxide, which led him to overindulge and eventually suffer spinal-cord degeneration. Starns attorney told the Sacramento Bee, At first, he felt a little embarrassed about filing the lawsuit (but managed to overcome the shame in order to warn all the other nitrous-oxide abusers). {in}