Tarnished Twenty- The FindLaw Sports Law Blog

December 2014 Archives

Tarnished Twenty's Top 10 Legal Sports Stories of 2014

Sports and law intersect more often than one may expect. In 2014, several high-profile athletes were charged with crimes or involved in criminal proceedings. But legal troubles weren't just limited to athletes. Cheerleaders and team owners also got into the mix with headline-grabbing legal issues of their own.

What were this year's biggest sports-related legal stories? Here are the 10 most popular posts from FindLaw's Tarnished Twenty in 2014:

Judge Rejects NCAA's Class-Action Concussion Settlement

The NCAA's class-action concussion settlement was rejected last week, with a federal judge questioning if the settlement amounts were sufficient.

The NCAA had offered to settle allegations that its policies had led to concussion-related injuries by offering about $70 million to create a medical monitoring program for NCAA athletes as well as $5 million for concussion research. The New York Times reports that federal Judge John Z. Lee questioned whether these numbers were adequate to "cover medical screening for all athletes."

What can the NCAA do now that the settlement has been rejected?

Jameis Winston Cleared in FSU Hearing Over Alleged Rape

Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston was cleared Sunday of allegations that he violated the student conduct code by sexually assaulting another student.

A two-day Student Conduct Code hearing was held earlier this month in front of former Florida Supreme Court justice Major Harding. In a letter to Winston, Harding wrote that the evidence in the case was "insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof," reports ESPN.

That decision comes more than a year after a similar decision by Florida prosecutors not to charge Winston with a crime in the alleged 2012 sexual assault.

Michael Phelps Gets Probation in DUI Plea Deal

Olympic gold-medal swimmer Michael Phelps pleaded guilty to driving under the influence in a Baltimore court this morning.

The swimmer appeared in court after being arrested on September 30 for DUI, reports The Associated Press. Following his arrest, Phelps' attorney told the court that the 18-time gold medal winner had enrolled in a 45-day treatment program in Arizona and had continued attending Alcoholics Anonymous meetings upon his return to Maryland.

Was Phelps' contrition enough to keep him out of jail?

Fighters Sue UFC's Owners for Antitrust Violations

The owners of the Ultimate Fighting Championship are being sued by current and former UFC fighters over claims that the company violated antitrust laws.

Zuffa LLC, the parent company of the UFC, was sued in California state court on Tuesday, alleging that it prevented fighters from working with other mixed martial arts (MMA) promoters and made itself a monopoly. According to ESPN, the Federal Trade Commission started investigating the UFC for antitrust violations in 2011, but stopped in early 2012.

What are the specific claims of this UFC lawsuit, and what do the fighters want?

R.I. Man's Goal: Find Ronaldo to Serve Underwear Lawsuit

A Rhode Island man who's suing Cristiano Ronaldo over the soccer star's upcoming underwear line has run into a problem: Ronaldo is seemingly nowhere to be found.

Christopher Renzi filed a trademark lawsuit earlier this year against Ronaldo and Danish underwear company JBS Textile Group after learning the company had planned to market underwear in the U.S. using Ronaldo's "CR7" nickname, reports The Associated Press. Although Ronaldo sells clothing and underwear in Europe under the CR7 name, Renzi owns the U.S. trademark for CR7 in for his own line of products.

But Renzi's efforts to enforce his trademark against Ronaldo have so far been stifled by an inability to track down the Real Madrid soccer star.

Aaron Hernandez Gets Prior Killings, Text Messages Tossed Out

Aaron Hernandez's legal team scored a victory Friday after a judge ruled that jurors at his upcoming murder trial will not hear evidence about prior killings or the victim's final text messages.

Judge E. Susan Garsh heard arguments from both sides about allowing this evidence to be admitted before siding with the defense. According to ESPN, Judge Garsh also prohibited prosecutors from introducing evidence of a Florida incident (and accompanying lawsuit) in which Hernandez allegedly shot a man in the face.

Why would the judge throw out this evidence in Hernandez's murder trial?

5-Time NFL Pro Bowl Safety Darren Sharper Indicted for More Rapes

Fourteen years in the NFL. Three teams. One Super Bowl championship. Five trips to the Pro Bowl.

None of those statistics matter when you are suspected of at least eight sexual assaults and 11 druggings in four states. Darren Sharper, who is currently being held without bond in Los Angeles as he awaits trial on two rape charges there, also has two charges pending in Tempe, Arizona. And this morning, he was charged, along with two accomplices, with two more counts of aggravated sexual assault, this time in New Orleans, reports USA Today.

If Sharper is convicted of aggravated rape in Louisiana, the 38-year-old former player and NFL Network analyst could face a life sentence.

Okla. Judge Asked to Settle High School Football Dispute

Some high schools take football seriously, but seriously enough to get an actual judge involved?

Oklahoma City's Douglass High School Trojans claim that they would have prevailed over the Locust Grove Pirates were it not for a bad call made one minute before the game's end. After appealing to the Oklahoma Secondary School Activities Association (OSSAA) for a replay of the game, Douglass asked a judge to review the disputed call, reports CBS Radio.

Is high school football really something state judges should be dealing with?

Aaron Hernandez Seeks to Keep 2012 Killings Out of Murder Trial

It's hard to keep a jury focused on the murder you're currently accused of when they're presented with evidence of even more potential murders. That's the struggle for ex-New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez, as he fights to keep the jury in his upcoming murder trial from hearing about allegations of his involvement in the fatal shootings of two men in 2012.

Hernandez's trial for the murder of semi-pro football player Odin Lloyd begins in January, but will his jury get to hear about these 2012 killings?

Jameis Winston's FSU Hearing: 5 Things You Should Know

A disciplinary hearing into whether Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston violated the school's student conduct code by allegedly sexually assaulting a former FSU student continued today.

Winston was accused of raping the student in 2012, reports USA Today. Following an investigation into the allegations, the Florida State Attorney's office declined to file charges against Winston, citing "memory lapse" issues and other potential holes in the case that would have prevented prosecutors from convicting Winston of any criminal charges.

What do you need to know about Winston's hearing? Here are five important facts:

Aaron Hernandez Murder Trial: 305 Potential State Witnesses

Aaron Hernandez is scheduled for his murder trial in January, and the prosecution plans on potentially calling more than 300 witnesses.

Among the hundreds of potential prosecution witnesses are Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, team owner Robert Kraft, and former LB Brandon Spikes. According to the Boston Herald, the defense had attempted to get the 305-person witness list pared down, but that request was denied last week.

Is Hernandez going to have to face to these hundreds of potential witnesses?