Tarnished Twenty - FindLaw Sports Law Blog

Tarnished Twenty - The FindLaw Sports Law Blog - features sports law news and info about sports figures in trouble with the law


For NASCAR champion Tony Stewart, who struck and killed fellow race-car driver Kevin Ward Jr. in August, his future in criminal court lies in the hands of a New York grand jury.

Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo announced this week that his office would be submitting the case to a grand jury "in the near future," reports The New York Times. The grand jury's determination could mean the difference between a murder indictment and avoiding criminal charges altogether.

So what should NASCAR fans know about this grand jury announcement?

Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer became the latest NFL player to face criminal charges after he was arrested Wednesday and charged with aggravated assault.

The arrest stems from a pair of incidents in July when Dwyer allegedly assaulted a woman and an 18-month-old child at his Phoenix home, reports ESPN. The arrest also comes less than a week after another NFL running back, Adrian Peterson, was indicted for child abuse after allegedly injuring his 4-year-old son and amid the continuing controversy surrounding the recently released video footage of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his wife in an elevator earlier this year.

What are the details behind the NFL's latest off-field troubles?

Pro football and the U.S. Constitution are not typically mentioned in the same sentence, let alone the same blog post.

But with a recent string of NFL players being hit with criminal charges for their conduct off the field -- including all-pro running back Adrian Peterson, who was indicted on child abuse charges over the weekend -- the constitutional concept of due process has entered the football lexicon. The phrase has been used by team officials to explain why players charged with crimes, such as 49ers defensive lineman Ray McDonald, have remained on the field, as well as by players fighting suspensions for their off-the-field conduct, like Ravens running back Ray Rice.

So what exactly is due process? And how does it apply to NFL players facing serious criminal charges?

Football star Adrian Peterson was booked and released from a Texas jail over the weekend after being indicted on charges of negligent injury to a child.

Peterson's indictment follows an investigation into injuries suffered by Peterson's 4-year-old son when the Minnesota Vikings running back allegedly disciplined the boy, reports Houston's KILT radio. Peterson admitted to police that he twice gave the boy a "whooping" with a "switch" -- a colloquialism for striking someone with a tree branch stripped of its leaves -- and told police he felt "very confident with my actions because I know my intent."

Police, however, believe Peterson took his discipline too far, crossing the line into child abuse.

Seven ex-NFL players have lost their appeal to stop a settlement between the NFL and concussion victims and their families.

The 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals rejected an appeal Thursday to reconsider the NFL settlement that had been preliminarily approved in July. This settlement will potentially offer up to $5 million to former players and their families for ailments due to concussions, but the appealing players felt that this wasn't enough, Reuters reports.

What argument did these ex-players try to use, and what's next for the settlement?

Oscar Pistorius, the South African track star known as the "Blade Runner," has been found guilty of culpable homicide in the shooting death of his girlfriend.

Following a six-month trial, the former Olympic athlete was convicted of culpable homicide -- the South African equivalent of manslaughter -- for killing his girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp last year, reports USA Today. Pistorius was also convicted on a weapons charge related to firing a handgun in a restaurant only weeks before Steenkamp's death.

What led the judge to convict Pistorius of homicide, and what criminal penalties might he now face?

South African Olympic athlete Oscar Pistorius has been acquitted of murdering his girlfriend following a six-month trial.

The judge presiding over the trial said that Pistorius had been "negligent" in firing a gun four times through a bathroom door at what he claims he thought was an intruder. Ultimately, however, the judge said she was not convinced that he had intended to kill Reeva Steenkamp, reports the Los Angeles Times.

Here are five things you should know about the Pistorius verdict:

Not only did the Oakland Raiders lose on the field last week (19-14 to the New York Jets), but they also admitted defeat in a legal battle with their own cheerleading squad.

The Raiders agreed last week to settle a class action wage theft lawsuit filed on behalf of 90 current and former members of the Raiderettes, reports the Los Angeles Times. If approved by the court, the $1.25 million settlement will include a pay raise for current Raiderettes and thousands of dollars in back pay for those worked as cheerleaders over the last four seasons.

What do the cheerleaders claim the Raiders did wrong?

The Baltimore Ravens terminated Ray Rice's contract Monday, just hours after a newly released video showed him slugging his then-fiancee in an elevator.

The video appears to shed new light on an incident in February, when Rice was caught on video dragging his unconscious fiancee out of an elevator in an Atlantic City casino. The new video shows Rice and Janay Palmer (now Janay Rice) inside the elevator, with Rice throwing a punch at his future wife, reports the Baltimore Sun.

Many fans may be wondering, is there a way for Rice to face (more) charges for allegedly smacking around his current wife?

On the heels of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling's forced exile from the NBA for making racist comments, another NBA team owner is giving up his stake in a team after a racially insensitive email regarding the team's fan base was made public.

Atlanta Hawks co-owner Bruce Levenson self-reported the existence of the email -- in which he wrote that he believed black Hawks fans attending games were scaring away affluent white fans -- to league officials, reports The Daily Beast. But Levenson may just be the first NBA owner to have comments made over email come to light. As Sports Illustrated legal analyst Michael McCann notes, as the lawsuit filed by Sterling's against the league makes its way through court, other incriminating statements by league owners may come to light through the legal process of discovery.

What is discovery, and how might it expose the conversations between league owners and officials? Here are three things to consider: