Here’s a recap of legal news from this week:
Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s nephew Michael Skakel was granted a new trial for a case in which he is accused of killing his 15 year-old neighbor Martha Moxley. He was originally sentenced to twenty years in prison, but now he is being granted a retrial because the judge ruled that his defense in the 2002 trial had been inadequate.
Virginia’s Democratic Party posted racy posters on college campuses to inform students about Republican Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli II’s support for the commonwealth’s controversial anti-sodomy law that was declared unconstitutional by the US Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. However, the Democratic Party is now working on removing the posters from the campuses due to their offensive nature.
In Danvers, Massachusetts, fourteen year-old student Philip Chism was charged with murdering his high school teacher Colleen Ritzer. The boy was arraigned for murder on Wednesday and a grand jury will decide whether he can be charged as an adult.
On Friday, previously sealed papers were released indicating that a 1999 grand jury voted to indict the parents of murdered 6-year-old JonBenet Ramsey on charges of child abuse resulting in death and being accessories to a crime. However, the district attorney chose not to file charges due to a lack of evidence. In 2008, DNA evidence was released indicating that the parents and brother of JonBenet were innocent. The district attorney is still hoping one day to be able to put together a case once they have collected more evidence and suspects.
Last week there was an event called “Today’s Supreme Court: Tradition v. Technology and Transparency.” The panel discussed how tradition in Supreme Courts often trump new technology. For instance, the US Supreme Court never allows televised hearings, although some state Supreme Courts do. In addition, courts do not supply petitions and amicus briefs; other online websites do. Justices do not have to publish their reasoning for recusing themselves from cases and their schedules are not often distributed. The panel discussed a gap between the public’s perception that the court is mysterious and the justices’ belief that they are the most “transparent” branch of government. Many people are now calling for the courts to change their traditional ways to be more accepting of the technology age.