CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal Documents Blog

CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog


New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver has been indicted on five criminal counts involving millions of dollars in alleged bribes and kickbacks.

The criminal complaint filed Wednesday in federal court accuses Silver, 70, of receiving more than $6 million from two law firms since 2002 through various schemes, reports the New York Daily News. The money allegedly includes more than $3 million in referral fees for directing clients involved in asbestos litigation to one of the law firms.

According to prosecutors, Silver directed state funds to a doctor doing asbestos research in exchange for referrals from this doctor of asbestos cases to the law firm.

The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments from plaintiffs in four states on the question of whether the Constitution requires a state to allow or recognize gay marriage.

The Court announced today that it was granting petitions appealing a circuit court ruling upholding gay marriage bans in four states: Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan. That decision by the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals late last year ended a streak of legal victories for gay marriage advocates.

By agreeing to hear the case, the Supreme Court is set to decide on the constitutionality of gay marriage in not just those four states, but in the country as a whole.

The Supreme Court ruled today that homeowners can back out of mortgages by writing a letter to the lender.

The unanimous ruling was in favor of Larry and Cheryle Jesinoski, a Minnesota couple who sued Countrywide Home Loans, Reuters reports. Countrywide, now owned by Bank of America, had refused to rescind the couple's $611,000 mortgage, claiming that the Jesinoskis were required to file a lawsuit in order to rescind the mortgage, which they had failed to do by the statutory deadline.

Transcripts of convicted murderer Jody Arias' closed-door testimony during her sentencing retrial have been released.

Arias was convicted of murdering her boyfriend in 2013, but a jury was unable to decide whether she should be sentenced to death or life in prison. A new jury was impaneled in September to decide Arias' fate, but controversy arose after the judge closed the courtroom to the press and the public for the testimony of an unidentified witness, reports The Arizona Republic.

That witness was later identified as Arias herself.

Honda has agreed to pay a $70 million fine for failing to properly disclose more than 1,700 reports of deaths, injuries, and other incidents to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as required by federal law.

The fine is the largest auto safety fine in U.S. history, reports The Detroit News. The unreported incidents date back as far as 2003, and include eight reports of injuries or death involving the Takata airbag inflators that have led the carmaker to recall more than 9 million vehicles since 2008.

What led to this record-setting fine against Honda?

A member of the grand jury that declined to press charges against former Ferguson, Missouri, police officer Darren Wilson for the death of Michael Brown has filed a lawsuit against St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert P. McCulloch.

The anonymous juror, known only as "Grand Juror Doe," is seeking the right to speak publicly about what went on during the grand jury's investigation, reports The Huffington Post.

According to the lawsuit, the evidence presented to the grand jury was done in a way that was "muddled and untimely" and "differed markedly and in significant ways" from how evidence was presented to the grand jury in previous cases.

This has been quite a year for breaking legal stories; 2014 has produced some shocking court decisions, grand jury hearings, celebrity deaths, and shady settlements.

Here are the 10 most-viewed breaking legal documents from FindLaw's Courtside blog in 2014:

Oklahoma and Nebraska are suing Colorado over its legalization of marijuana, and the U.S. Supreme Court gets to be the first court to hear it.

The complaint filed Thursday claims that under Colorado's new marijuana scheme, the state has created "a dangerous gap in the federal drug control system" and has allowed the drug to flow into neighboring states. According to The New York Times, law enforcement on the borders of Colorado have complained that marijuana arrests are stretching jail budgets too thin.

What is the legal argument against Colorado's law and why is this issue before the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has filed a lawsuit against Sprint, alleging the company illegally billed wireless customers for millions of dollars in unauthorized charges through a practice known as "cramming."

The lawsuit is the third such action the government has taken to combat "cramming" charges on cellphone bills this year, Reuters reports. In October, the Federal Trade Commission reached a $105 million settlement with AT&T over its cramming practices after earlier filing a lawsuit against T-Mobile.

What does the government allege in its latest lawsuit against Sprint?

Victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting are suing a gun manufacturer and its distributors for those killed and injured in the tragedy.

According to Slate, at least nine families and one teacher have joined the lawsuit filed Monday, which will attempt to hold Bushmaster, the manufacturer of the XM15-E2S semi-automatic rifle used to kill 26 at Sandy Hook, legally responsible. The suit also names dozens of other companies believed to have been involved in distributing or selling the particular rifle used in the Sandy Hook massacre.

Critics worry that this Sandy Hook suit won't get off the ground, but what are the obstacles in its path?