CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal Documents Blog

CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog


Transcripts of the Ferguson grand jury hearings have been released to the public following the announcement that Darren Wilson would not be indicted on any criminal charges for the shooting death of Michael Brown.

This is somewhat unusual, as grand jury proceedings are typically held in secret, and when no indictment is reached, the public isn't privy to what testimony was heard. However, as CNN reports, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch agreed to release thousands of pages that were the basis of the grand jury's decision not to indict Wilson for Brown's killing.

Part of that record is the grand jury testimony of Darren Wilson, contained in the document below.

Former Massey Energy CEO Don Blankenship was indicted Thursday for allegedly conspiring to violate mine safety laws. The charges come after a grand jury investigation into the Upper Big Branch mine explosion which killed 29 miners in 2010.

Massey Energy owned the Upper Big Branch mine near Montcoal, West Virginia. According to NPR, prosecutors have accused Blakenship of lying to federal regulators about the safety of the mine and its workers. If convicted of the charges contained in Thursday's indictment, the ex-CEO could face up to 31 years in prison.

What does the 43-page indictment assert about Blankenship's involvement in the Upper Big Branch mine disaster and the 29 miners' deaths?

Accused cop killer Eric Frein now faces two terrorism charges on accompanying allegations that he killed a Pennsylvania state trooper as part of a "revolution."

Prosecutors added these new criminal charges Thursday, joining several other charges relating to the shooting death of one police officer and the severe wounding of another by Frein. NBC News reports that the terror allegations arose after investigators uncovered a suspicious letter on Frein's hard drive; the letter allegedly stated that "only passing through the crucible for another revolution can get us back to the liberties we once had."

How does this letter and other allegations explain the charges against Frein?

The U.S. Supreme Court has issued an order allowing gay marriage to begin in Kansas, despite attempts to appeal the issue in federal court.

In a one-page order released Wednesday, the High Court noted the emergency stay that was granted by Justice Sonia Sotomayor on Monday was now lifted, meaning the state can no longer continue to enforce its prohibition on same-sex marriage. The initial halt on gay marriage in Kansas came after federal Judge Daniel Crabtree last Wednesday found the state's ban to be unconstitutional.

Now, only a week after Crabtree's ruling, the Supreme Court's terse order has allowed gay marriages to begin. What else does this brief Supreme Court order tell us?

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld gay marriage bans in the four states in its jurisdiction: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.

In a 2-1 decision, the three-judge panel decided that these bans did not violate the constitutional rights of same-sex couples in those states, becoming the sole circuit court to uphold prohibitions on gay marriage. The sole dissenter, Judge Martha Daughtrey, called the majority decision "a largely irrelevant discourse on democracy and federalism" that avoided the real constitutional question.

This ruling is certainly not the end of the gay marriage issue in these states, as the issue may soon be taken up by the U.S. Supreme Court.

A judge in Maine has reversed a temporary in-home quarantine order for a nurse who treated Ebola victims in West Africa. The judge's new order, issued Friday, removes many of the restrictions initially placed on the nurse's movement.

Judge Charles C. LaVerdiere had issued a temporary order Thursday, requiring nurse Kaci Hickox to submit to in-home monitoring and be subject to restrictions on her movement. The order was in response to a petition filed by the state, reports the Portland Press Herald.

Hickox had refused to abide by the state's request that she voluntarily restrict her movements, and even went out for a bike ride Thursday. So far, Hickox has tested negative for the Ebola virus and has not shown any symptoms of potential infection.

A group of Chinese high rollers is accusing the FBI of posing as Internet repairmen in order to secretly infiltrate and search their Las Vegas villa.

As part of a motion to suppress evidence filed in federal criminal court on Tuesday, the men accused of running an illegal gambling operation out of their hotel assert that FBI agents illegally snuck in to investigate. The document warns that the next time your Internet or phone service goes out, it could actually be an elaborate plot by federal agents trying to gain access to your home.

Can FBI agents legally do this sort of alleged "repairmen" ploy?

You might recognize Frank Sivero from such films as "Goodfellas" and "The Godfather Part II." But what about "The Simpsons"?

Sivero apparently recognized himself in a semi-recurring character on Fox's animated television series "The Simpsons." Sivero has filed a $250 million lawsuit against Fox claiming that the character Louie, who has appeared in 16 episodes of the long-running hit show, is based on the character Sivero "developed and played" in the 1990 mob film "Goodfellas."

What's the basis of Sivero's eye-popping lawsuit?

Arizona gays and lesbians can get married now pursuant to a letter by Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne.

The letter, issued early Friday, instructs the Grand Canyon State's 15 county clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately, following a recent decision by a federal district court that demanded Arizona stop enforcing its gay marriage ban. The Arizona Republic reports that Horne issued a statement Friday declaring that an appeal on the issue would be "an exercise in futility" and a waste of taxpayer money.

So what is the legal effect of A.G. Tom Horne's letter for gay marriage in Arizona?

Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell has been granted a temporary restraining order to prevent the disposal of ashes from the incineration of an Ebola victim's possessions in a Louisiana landfill.

The TRO was granted by a Louisiana judge on Monday, reports The Washington Post. The order blocks the potential disposal in the state of ashes generated by the incineration of Ebola victim Thomas Eric Duncan's possessions. Duncan died earlier this month in Dallas, and his possessions were incinerated in order to prevent the potential spread of the virus.

What led to Caldwell's concern about the ashes?