Weird and Wacky Wednesdays: Volume One Hundred Two

This week on Weird and Wacky Wednesdays, we look at a blast from the past case that has resurfaced again. It involves a police raid on a suspected cannabis grow operation… that turned out to be anything but. Then, we examine some struggles around the language of “takeout only” in a McDonald’s restaurant. And, finally, we land a little closer to home with a city bylaw that is not clowning around.

Follow the jump to read this week’s roundup of weird and wacky legal cases from around the globe.

Reading Tea Leaves

While this case is old in the sense that the underlying activity took place back in 2012, the case has resurfaced after a civil settlement has been made. The settlement is about a ridiculous as the facts that led to the settlement in the first place.

Robert Harte was innocently buying tomato growing supplies at a hydroponic shop, so that he could start a tomato garden with his son. It sounds like the most wholesome situation ever. But if you’re a criminal lawyer, you’ve probably already guessed what came next. Upon seeing Harte’s purchase, police figured he must be up to no good because hydroponic equipment could have only one purpose: drugs.

Rather than do a background check on Harte – to discover that he and his wife were former CIA officers – the police simply lumped him into their major grow-op bust sting. The police investigation consisted of going through the garbage outside Harte’s house a few times until a leafy green substance was found.

Even though police fully believed it was tea and not cannabis, they did a field test. And, if you’re a criminal lawyer, you know just how unreliable those are. Boom. Positive reading. And so police kept digging through the trash until they found another leafy green deposit. No test this time; instead they got a warrant.

Oh, but it gets worse.

 After getting the warrant, police executed it at 7:30 a.m. on 4/20. While the Harte’s young children were home. One of the children was seized and mandated into counselling. And a search of the house turned up, well… nothing.  

The case has resurfaced this week because there has finally been a settlement in the civil suit for what I can only assume is a negligent investigation and a seriously shoddy execution of the search warrant. As I understand, police were in full tactical gear and armed… without having done a background check.

And that civil suit result is what qualifies this further for some Weird and Wacky Wednesday feature. Despite a horrifying and traumatic incident in their home, that surely scarred their children, the family received a measly $150,000. And it took seven years of litigation to get that.

That’s Not What Was Meant by Takeout

In British Columbia, we had to deal with the impact of COVID-19 closing restaurants relatively early on. Many converted to take-out only, and offered limited menus. This became a global pattern. Including in a McDonald’s restaurant in Oklahoma City.

Unfortunately, it seems that one individual did not get the message about what was meant by “takeout” and literally attempted to take out the McDonald’s.

The woman attended the restaurant, ordered her food, and then headed for a seat in the dine-in area. Because the area was closed, she was asked not to sit there. But, as expected in this series, she refused to comply. Staff attempted to remove her, and this led to a physical altercation (so much for social distancing, I guess). As she was being physically removed from the restaurant, the woman produced a firearm and started shooting into the restaurant. 

In her defence, the woman said that she did not know the dining area was closed, and that she thought the employees were attacking here. We’ll monitor this to see where it goes, but for now just remember that when a store indicates that it is take out only, that is not an invitation to attempt to take it out.   

Penticton is not Clowning Around

Some people just don’t know how to have fun. And this applies to the City of Penticton, apparently.

Relying on its “good neighbour” bylaw, which appears to me to be vague and overbroad, the City requested a citizen remove their yard art. The bylaw allows city officers to order the removal of anything that is “objectionable to the public.” In this case, the offending material was a scarecrow, dressed as scary clown, with a shirt covered in blood.

Frankly, I don’t understand why this “objectionable material” is somehow perfectly allowable in the month of October but the rest of the time has to be removed lest some people get scared. And since the scarecrow’s job is literally to scare, it is hard to see how a statue that is achieving that is somehow objectionable.

But, nevertheless, the City of Penticton has spoken. The scary clown must come down.

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