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2017: The Year in Strange Law

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

In 2017, things got a little weird. Criminal and civil law has always attracted some odd characters and some odd scenarios, but this year seemed to take the cake.

Here are some of the oddest legal stories from 2017:

1. Are Elephants People Too?

Sure, the answer may seem simple, until you remember that corporations are people when it comes to the law. And the first lawsuit demanding that an elephant's legal right to be treated as a thing and not be imprisoned argued that pachyderms should be afforded the same legal recognition as people.

2. Can You Crowdfund a Senator's Vote? GoFundMe Campaigns Target Trump Nominees

Hey, if lobbyists can influence a congressperson's vote with cash, why not a crowd-funded campaign? After all, most of President Donald Trump's picks for cabinet positions were major contributors to the campaigns for senators who were then tasked with confirming those picks. And an ingenious GoFundMe campaign sought to buy more than a few senators' confirmation votes.

3. Middle Fingers and Free Speech: Who Can You Flip the Bird To, and When?

Cops? Yes. Your pastor? Sure. Christmas lights in the shape of the bird? Go for it. But giving the one-finger salute to a judge? Nope.

4. Is Your Uber Driver Sober?

Not a question that you want the wrong answer to, so most of us avoid ever asking it in the first place. But after California's Consumer Protection and Enforcement Division got over 2,000 complaints about inebriated Uber drivers, you might want to travel with a portable breathalyzer, just in case.

5. Can I Order Pizza to My Jail Cell?

Not all incarceration facilities will be as generous as Chicago's Cook County Jail when it comes to getting a piping hot pepperoni pie delivered to your cell block. But under the county's "Recipe for Change" program, inmates can order four different pizzas, priced between $5 and $7, for delivery to their cell, cooked (possibly) by their cellmates.

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