CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog

January 2015 Archives

N.Y. Politician Sheldon Silver Indicted on 5 Counts of Corruption

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.

U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Gay Marriage Appeals From 4 States

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.

Supreme Court: To Rescind Mortgage, a Letter Can Suffice

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.

Jodi Arias' 'Secret Testimony' Transcripts Released

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.

Largest Auto Safety Fine in U.S. History: Honda to Pay $70M

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?

Ferguson Grand Juror Sues Over 'Lifetime Gag Order'

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.