Neelesh Phadnis, 24, acting as his own lawyer, earned himself a conviction in Seattle in October for killing his parents, in large part (according to a Seattle Times story) because of his defense that the crimes were committed by, first, a gang of 400-pound Samoans, later augmented during his testimony to include their girlfriends, two whites, two blacks, a Native American and a transsexual, and later still, to be described as more than 30 armed Samoans. (They were all slow runners, too, for Phadnis said he outran them all to escape, despite being seriously wounded. When he finally summoned the police, he told the arriving officers that he was too tired and hungry to talk about his parents' bodies and that they should "go home.") [Seattle Times, 10-7-05, 10-8-05]
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Chicago lawyer Stephen Diamond has filed about 100 lawsuits since 2002 against companies for failing to charge him sales tax on items he bought, earning himself about $500,000 in settlements and judgments, according to an October Wall Street Journal report. Diamond has exploited a law in Illinois that allows citizens to receive part of the proceeds from certain law violations, including from companies that might be authorized to collect sales tax on Internet purchases but have chosen not to because the law is not completely settled. (Tennessee and Virginia, which have similar laws, have amended them to prevent lawsuits like Diamond's.) [Wall Street Journal, 10-14-05]
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How to Be a Police Department: In California, a police department can be created if a local government gives a transportation contract to a private company, automatically empowering that company to hire its own cops, who, though not allowed to make arrests, can carry guns, access police databases, and receive government anti-terrorist grants. The law achieved notoriety in February when Internet millionaire Stefan Eriksson's Ferrari crashed in Malibu, and he later made confusing statements, including the revelation that he is the "deputy commissioner" of the "San Gabriel Valley Transit Authority" police, a post he acquired by starting a modest bus service for the elderly. [Los Angeles Times, 3-8-06]