CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal Documents Blog

CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog


In an explanation that may have seemed self-evident, the U.S. Supreme Court has clarified that dumping undersized red grouper overboard in an attempt to deceive fish and game officials is not the same as shredding financial documents to mislead auditors, regulators, and shareholders.

The Court reversed a ruling from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that held the Sarbanes-Oxley Act's prohibition on destruction or concealment of "any record, document, or tangible object" applied to commercial fishermen who threw undersized fish back in the Gulf of Mexico after inspection by National Marine Fisheries officers.

Colorado's neighbors aren't the only ones upset about the Centennial State's marijuana legalization laws. A Washington, D.C.-based anti-drug group is suing several Colorado defendants in U.S. District Court, claiming the defendants' plans to sell marijuana under state legalization laws constitutes a violation of federal RICO statutes.

Safe Streets Alliance, along with the owners of a Holiday Inn in Frisco, Colorado, are alleging that defendants' plans to open a pot shop next door to the hotel constitutes racketeering.

The National Association of the Deaf filed two federal class actions complaints today. The suits -- against Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) -- allege that the universities discriminate against the deaf because their online content is not captioned, or is poorly or illegibly captioned.

This lack of captioning, according to the plaintiffs, deprives the 48 million deaf or hard-of-hearing Americans of the same educational opportunities as those who can hear. It also violates federal law, the lawsuits assert.

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: