Court is boring. Unless you are watching “Law and Order” or following a nationally covered case, court is just a tedious and time-consuming process- or at least that’s the common conception.
However, sitting in your courthouse for a couple hours can be more entertaining than the best episode of “Law and Order.”
According to the Captain of the Courts, Gary McDaniel, District Court hears up to 300 cases a day. From petty theft to solicitation of prostitution, the judge hears it all. While some cases are over and done with in under a minute, often times they can take a weird turn. Federal Court, though more severe, can still hear some pretty strange cases.
“You wouldn’t believe some of the crimes that people are charged with. Even if they sound like normal crimes, they way in which they were committed can be rather strange,” said Assistant District Attorney, Howard Nuemann.
While it would be impossible to list out all of the weird cases that have happened even in this year alone, below is a list of three crimes and their related cases.
Impersonating a diplomat
Robert Lopez, the court reporter for Greensboro’s News & Record, constantly follows court cases and the happenings of both the District and Federal Court in Guilford County. While he typically focuses on cases dealing with major crimes or prominent people, his years as a reporter have also taught him that sometimes it’s the weirdest cases, not the biggest, that make the best stories.
“Probably the strangest case I’ve covered lately involves a guy named Terry Lee Herron, aka King Solomon II, who was arrested in December on charges of impersonating a diplomat,” said Lopez.
While everyone can be guilty of referring to themselves as royalty from time to time, most people would never actually try to convince people that it is actually true. That sounds ridiculous and way too difficult. But to some people, pretending to be a diplomat is just another day in the office.
Not only was Herron impersonating a diplomatic official of a foreign government, but according to his indictment, he was also charged with impersonating an officer or employee of the United States. He was a busy guy.
But don’t worry, he legally changed his name is King Solomon II, so that has to make it official, right?
Wrong. The law quickly caught up to him and he was discovered as a fraud. His case is still pending, and he is facing multiple years in jail along with parole and a possible fine.
Communicating threats: Siblings
Most people recognize that threatening someone can get them into trouble with the law, but did you know these included siblings as well? Growing up with brothers or sisters you quickly learn that bickering occurs, and it occurs quite often.
But take that bickering too far and turn them into legitimate threats, and you could find yourself in front a judge.
In one case, a woman appeared in District Court after telling her sister she was going to “whack her in her sleep.” The woman was charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor and was issued a fine.
In another case presented the same day as the aforementioned, a man told his brother that he was going to “shoot up his entire house” if the brother did not return his stereo.
While shooting someone over a stereo or whacking someone in their sleep may seem a bit dramatic, siblings are the people you are typically the most dramatic with.
The problem with communicating threats is that a threat can quickly escalate into an action, even among siblings.
In a recent case, a High Point resident was arrested for first-degree murder after stabbing her older brother to death.
“Presently, it appears that the motive in this incident stemmed from an argument between the siblings,” a police news release stated.
Because the sister is a juvenile, her name has not been released. However, with the severity of the crime, she could be prosecuted as an adult.
“Facebook stalking” has become a term commonly used and accepted among this generation. On any given day you can find a person, especially a female, “stalking” another person on the Internet. They want to see their pictures, who they are talking to and what they are up to.
But like any other innocent act, take it a little too far and you quickly begin walking the line of illegal.
One of the most common “Facebook stalking” scenarios involves a girl and her ex-boyfriend. Letting go of any relationship is hard, but in the case of Meaghan Murphy vs. Jason Pfister, Murphy took “Facebook stalking” to a new extreme.
She was accused of using online services to disguise her emails, phone calls and text messages to send harassing messages to Pfister.
She took it so far in fact, that she was able to manipulate the numbers with those of Pfister’s friends and family. She was also accused of breaking into Pfister’s email and Facebook accounts.
Lopez, who also covered this case, said, “Many of the calls looked like they came from his family — at least that’s what the caller ID indicated. But when he picked up, he told jurors, he would hear only silence. Occasionally, he would later get an email mentioning the song he was listening to in the background.”
Murphy was sentenced to two sentences of 30 days in jail along with two years of supervised probation.
One theme that runs throughout the three cases is that they all started as innocent actions. However an innocent acts can quickly take an illegal turn. While the aforementioned cases are rather extreme and sound unusual to a normal person, law enforcement deals with these kinds of crimes everyday.
There is no telling what will happen on a given day in the courthouse. So if you’re ever bored, take a seat in District Court and prepare yourself for the unexpected.