As with every year, 2012 brought us headline legal news that will live far beyond 2012. From pedophiles, pardons, presidential candidates, contempt proceedings to Standing Your Ground defense, 2012 was an interesting and unforgettable legal year.
The name of Trayvon Martin will be remembered worldwide for the teenager armed with Skittles and ice tea who was shot and killed by George Zimmerman, a wanna be detective who is nothing more than a neighborhood watcher. As most people know by now, Zimmerman thought Trayvon Martin, a young black teenager, was a suspicious person while walking home from the store in the neighborhood of his father. Trayvon was returning to his father’s house when Zimmerman encountered him. Instead of waiting for the police to arrive after contacting 911, Zimmerman armed with a gun chose to follow Martin who was shot and killed in the encounter. It took more than 40 days before the Orlando police would arrest Zimmerman after questioning him on the night of the killing.
George Zimmerman’s trial is scheduled for June, 2013. International news outlets covered the case of Trayvon Martin. Below is the TV appearance of Debbie Hines on CBC – Canadian Broadcast network discussing Zimmerman’s first appearance in court. The case is notable for the Stand Your Ground defense that Zimmerman is invoking as a defense. And in light of the recent gun violence across the country, the case will be heated due to racial and gun rights issues.
Penn State, renowned for its winning college football team, found itself amidst a decades long pedophile, former coaching assistant Jerry Sandusky. The college found itself harboring a sexual abuser—pedophile who preyed on young innocent teen boys who were seeking mentoring and support from Sandusky through his organization the Second Mile. Due to the wide range of the conspiracy to hide a pedophile, the decades long coach, Joe Paterno and the president of the University were among the casualties in being fired. Sandusky received enough jail time that he will die in jail. And Penn State was stripped of its college wins under coach Joe Paterno and made to pay massive fines.
John Edwards, once a presidential candidate and vice presidential candidate under John Kerry found himself in a baby mama, lying drama under the guise of federal violation of campaign violation laws. In essence, he was charged with violating campaign finance laws due to funds provided to hide and harbor his mistress. While the case was high drama, in the end, neither Edwards nor his mistress testified. But the jury found him not guilty of any violations. The following is a TV clip of Hines’ commentary on Edwards’ chances of going free.
The next legal story never made it to a court of law. In June, for the first time. Congress held a sitting Attorney General in contempt of Congress. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was cited in contempt by the Republican controlled Congress for his failure to turn over documents relating to the Fast and Furious investigation. In the end, President Obama invoked Executive Privilege. That act did nothing to deter the GOP controlled Congress from making a mockery of the law.
Lastly, as reported in an earlier post this week, the granting of the pardon of the Wilmington 10 must be named the number one legal story of 2012—albeit occurring on the last day of the year. NC Governor Perdue did the right thing by granting full long overdue pardons to the Wilmington 10 whose convictions were overturned almost 40 years ago—but never pardoned until December 31, 2012.