CourtSide - The FindLaw Breaking Legal News Blog

February 2010 Archives

Splitsville for SC Gov. Mark Sanford and First Lady Jenny Sanford

A judge in Charleston, South Carolina officially called it splitsville for South Carolina First Lady Jenny Sanford and her adulterous spouse, Gov. Mark Sanford -- at least in another month when the judge signs the official paperwork after a legal waiting period.

Family Court Judge Jocelyn Cate ruled that Gov. Sanford's candid admission about his affair with Argentinian journalist Maria Belén Chapur was grounds for the First Lady to divorce her unfaithful husband.

NYC's Subway Terror Plot: Others Tried, Failed, and Succeeded

Days after Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty for his role in an al Qaeda terror conspiracy to bomb New York City's subway system, two of his alleged co-conspirators were indicted by a federal grand jury on five felony counts of conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction to blow up subways in Manhattan sometime between September 14 - 16, 2009.

Zarein Ahmedzay and Adis Medunjanin, both 25 year-old U.S. citizens living in Queens, could get life in prison if convicted of the terror charges (see below).

This is not the first attempt, however, to attack a congested subway system and its passengers in a major metropolitan area. Some have been unsuccessful, while others succeeeded with deadly consequences.

Toyota Safety Subpoena: Inquiring Lawmakers Want to Know

A congressional committee issued a subpoena today for a former Toyota in-house lawyer to testify and bring any supporting materials he has "relating to Toyota motor vehicle safety" as well as "Toyota's handling of alleged motor vehicle defects" and lawsuits concerning such alleged Toyota defects."

The subpoena (see below) was issued by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform for Dimitrios Biller seeking to learn what the former Toyota attorney new about the carmaker's handling of lawsuits and litigation alleging safety defects and problems with Toyotas.

Bernard Kerik, ex-NYPD Top Cop, Faces Sentencing Thursday

Bernard 'Bernie' Kerik, the disgraced former NYPD Police Commissioner convicted of eight felonies including lying to New York City and federal investigators about his association with a company and its figureheads who were being investigated for ties to organized crime, is going to jail.

On Thursday, February 18, 2010, Kerik faces between 27 and 33 months in federal prison, a sentencing guideline recommendation stemming from his Nov. 5, 2009 plea agreement with federal prosecutors.

Not surprisingly, there is a stark contrast between the government's sentencing memo which slams Kerik for believing that he was above the law, and the pre-sentencing memo submitted by Kerik's lawyers depicting his troubled early childhood with "his mother's prostitution and alcoholism," and his "enormous debt and mounting legal fees" that he has brought upon his current wife and the couple's two children.

Toyota Recall Lawsuits: a Rundown

With millions of Toyota cars, SUVs, and trucks recalled by the Japanese automaker, FindLaw obtained a number of lawsuits that have been filed against Toyota around the country.

Here's a quick overview of allegations raised in some of these recall lawsuits:

Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's former personal physician, was charged with one felony count of involuntary manslaughter in Los Angeles criminal court today for the pop star's death.

You can read Murray's criminal charges here:

Jury Convicts U.S. Trained Scientist of Trying to Kill Americans

A federal jury in New York City convicted Pakistani-born Aafia Siddiqui of assault and trying to murder Americans who tried to interrogate her in Afghanistan after she was taken into custody in 2008 by Afghan National Police.

Before she was apprehended, the 37-year-old Siddiqui was on the FBI's "10 Most Wanted" list.

According to Siddiqui's federal indictment (below), she had in her possession handwritten notes referring to a "mass casualty attack," notes about making "dirty bombs," chemical and biological weapons, and listed different locations in the United States, including the Empire State Building, the Plum Island Animal Disease Center, the Brooklyn Bridge, Wall Street, and the Statue of Liberty. The indictment also maintains that she had a computer 'thumb drive' in her possession with information about different 'cells,' 'attacks,' and 'enemies.'

Toyota Lawsuit Filed Alleging ETCS-i Acceleration Defects

A lawsuit was filed against Toyota in Texas on Friday seeking class-action status on behalf of car owners who have experienced acceleration problems, allegedly due to defects in the Japanese car manufacturer's Electronic Throttle Control System with Intelligence ('ETCS-i') and Electronic Throttle Control System 'ETCS').

Plaintiffs Albert Pena and Sylvia Pena maintain that the 2008 Toyota Avalon they purchased as a new car has ETCS-i and ETCS defects that, in two separate incidents, caused a crash, and unexpected accelration when the car should have slowed down.