Laws happen for a reason. They have to, right?


Somewhere after cursing out my fantasy baseball team and trying to learn how to juggle chicken tenders on YouTube during an Internet marathon the other night, I stumbled across an interesting series of blogs written by Janet Lindenmuth on the Widener University law library website.

Lindenmuth did some search-engine work on odd laws in the state of Delaware, and then did the requisite legwork to confirm whether or not the laws do indeed exist. It would appear from reading these blogs that not everything you read on the Internet is actually true, which leaves me just as bewildered as you most certainly are reading this.

Now I’m left to wonder if Samuel L. Jackson is actually from Saturn, if Joe Montana is making a comeback with the Buffalo Bills or if Coastal Point sports reporter Tripp Colonell is genuinely a “love machine who enjoys long walks on the beach and snuggling with birds while between solo missions to outer space as a special-operations ninja” as he purports online.

Regardless, Lindenmuth was able to debunk a few of the “odd laws” that were reported to be on the books in Delaware, but, maybe more importantly, she confirmed that some of them are actually factual. Now, these blogs were written between 2011 and 2013, so there’s a chance that some of these have been re-worked or stricken from the records, but I am no lawyer, so this is what I’m working with today.

Without further adieu, I present to you the research I stole from Lindenmuth:

• “In Delaware it is against the law to sell a wooden leg at a pawn broker.”

She found this to be “mostly true,” as the law reads that “No pawnbroker ... shall take or receive as a pledge or pawn any artifical limb or wheelchair.” Lindenmuth went on to explain that it isn’t illegal for someone to pawn his or her wooden leg, but it is illegal for the pawnbroker to accept it. She also said that when the law was originally passed in 1907 it also prohibited pawnbrokers from accepting workman’s tools, but that has since been dropped.

You do realize that for lawmakers to go to the trouble of passing this law, it had to be a genuine concern at the time, right? This speaks to both the prevalence of artificial limbs in 1907 and the financial desparation people had to be under to sell said artificial limbs. The “workman’s tools” part? Yeah, I can’t even fire out a guess at that. Maybe tools and wooden legs were hot items for thieves in 1907? Ah, the good ol’ days.

• “In Delaware you may not sell dead people for money without a license.”

Lindenmuth found this to be not true. She said she found it cited “all over the Internet,” but she couldn’t find any Delaware law, current or old, that said this. She did find a law that says it is illegal to trade in “unlawfully removed human remains,” but it doesn’t specifically mention licenses.

I’m guessing it’s still frowned upon to sell a dead person you might find along the side of the road. Or, maybe, it’s just illegal for a pawnbroker to accept it.

• “In Delaware getting married on a dare is grounds for annulment.”

True. This is true. As one of the grounds for annulment of a marriage in Delaware, she quotes, “One or both parties entered into the marriage as a jest or dare.”

She did not list any kind of statute of limitations on this disclosure, but I’m guessing that those of you lost in thought about the possibilities right now will be sorely disappointed if you try to claim “dare” after 35 years of marriage. And I say “sorely” because your spouse might hurt you.

• “No person shall change clothes in his or her vehicle,” in Rehoboth Beach.

She says this is mostly true, as the law prohibits you from changing in your car if it is in a public place. If the car is in your garage, you can change your clothes to your heart’s content.

But, really, where’s the thrill in that? Besides, most people I know can’t even fit their car into their garages because of all the junk in there. I mean, between clothes the baby has grown out of to Christmas decorations to dead bodies you’re not allowed to sell...

But I digress.

• “One may not whisper in church.” Again, a Rehoboth Beach law.

She rates this one as mostly true, as it’s only illegal if you are disrupting the congregation. If everyone is whispering, it’s fine. But if everybody is whispering, you might want to find a different place to worship, as either nobody is paying attention to what’s being said, or your church is full of secrets.

• One last blast in Rehoboth Beach. “No person shall pretend to sleep on a bench on the boardwalk.”

This is true, and Lindenmuth hypothesizes that it is because local judges got tired of hearing the “I wasn’t really sleeping” defense. I’m pretty sure that... you know what? Let’s just stick with that theory.