The Odd Law Project

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In addition to reporting strange legal news, I try to collect stuff like the opinions in the Case Law Hall of Fame (see also Comical Case Names, Noteworthy Court Orders and Useful Pleadings). My new project is to collect odd, dumb and/or unnecessary laws, and I'm hoping you will help me do that.

There are sources out there that claim to do this, but they aren't very consistent. Often the laws they mention don't really exist, as far as I can tell, or have just been taken out of context. For example, it seems like cheating to say it's "against the law to tie a gorilla to a fire hydrant" if the law just says "fire hydrants shall be kept clear of obstructions." So this is intended to be, to my knowledge, the first such compilation in which the existence and stupidity of every stupid thing mentioned will have been confirmed by at least one lawyer and supported by a citation.

I believe this is something the world needs.

But the only way for me to get this done in the foreseeable future is to ask for your help. So, if you are or become aware of a law you think would qualify, please email me here with the subject line: "Odd Law Project." (Hyphen deliberately omitted for ambiguity because this is both an odd-law project and an odd law project.)

Here are the guidelines:

  • Please send the item only if you have a Solid Reason to think it really exists.
  • "Solid Reasons" include, but are not limited to: you are looking at it; you are looking at a reference to it in a source you consider reliable, or you can remember doing one of the foregoing.
  • "Solid Reasons" do not include: it was mentioned in one of the thousands of "funny emails" your aunt forwards you every year.
  • Although it would be great if you had a citation or even a copy, that's not required — we (meaning my research assistant) will confirm these anyway. But see Solid Reasons, supra.
  • I will happily accept items from any country or jurisdiction. Where there are laws, there are odd laws.
  • I will happily accept items from any level of government, from international space treaties down to ordinances passed by your local city council. (In particular, if you happen across a definition of "buttocks" that exceeds 296 words, I'd like to hear from you.)
  • Note: I will also accept proposed legislation, even if it did not become law, as long as it was actually formally introduced.
  • Q&A: "How do I know what is sufficiently odd and/or funny to pass on?" I wouldn't worry about that. You wouldn't be here if you didn't have a pretty good idea.
  • "Will there be a book?" Hopefully, yes.
  • "Will I share in the glory of said book?" If any, yes. Reflected, anonymous glory, but yes.
  • "Will I share in the profits from said book?" If any, yes, but only to the extent of reimbursing you for what you have paid to access this site; i.e., no.
  • "Okay, but will you appreciate it and treasure our Internet friendship?" I already do that.