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The world’s most infamous court cases

16th July 2015

The most infamous court cases

This week a German court convicted Oskar Groening of being an accessory to the murder of over 300,000 people and jailed for four years. He is a 94-year-old former guard at the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz and was also known as the Auschwitz book-keeper.

This case will go down in history as being one of the most infamous court cases. With this in mind we have delved into history and picked out some of the world’s most infamous court cases. So if you are currently looking for lawyer jobs and want some inspiration during your search, are an aspiring lawyer or are just interested in the topic, then read on to see some of the most infamous and high-profile crown court cases ever.

The O.J. Simpson murder trial

OJ Simspon murder trial

The murder case of Orenthal James Simpson, a former Heisman Trophy winner and star NFL running back, fascinated viewers across the U.S. and the rest of the world for months. He was accused of murdering his former wife Nicole Brown and her friend Ron Goldman.

Back in June 1994 Simpson and Brown attended a play in Los Angeles that their daughter was in and after both went their separate ways after the show. Brown went to dinner with friends and Simpson went to pack for a flight to Chicago. The following morning, Brown and Goldman were found murdered outside of Brown’s Los Angeles home.

The news sent shockwaves across the U.S., especially when live television pictures showed Simpson being chased by Police through the streets of L.A. The evidence put O.J. Simpson as the prime suspect as blood was found on some of his belongings, but after four months’ worth of court proceedings that saw Simpson’s lead defence lawyer Johnnie Cochran suggest that his client was the victim of racism from the lead police detective, Simpson was acquitted of both counts of murder.

See some of the infamous verdict below.

The Nuremberg Trials

Nuremberg Trials

Following the end of World War II a series of 13 trials were carried out in Nuremberg in Germany from 1945 to 1949 to bring Nazi war criminals to justice.

The trials saw defendants who were high-ranking military officials, Nazi Party officials, doctors, lawyers and industrialists stand trial for crimes against peace and crimes against humanity.

Although Adolf Hitler himself committed suicide and never stood trial, other major figures such as Herman Goering, Albert Speer and Rudolph Hess were all put on trial.

Many regard the Nuremberg Trials as the main reason for a permanent international court being established and a precedent for dealing with other examples of genocide and other crimes against humanity.

Find out more about the Nuremberg Trials on the History Channel website.

Lee Harvey Oswald and Jack Ruby trials

John F. Kennedy assassination

Many regard the trials and investigations of President John F. Kennedy’s (JFK) assassination as the most controversial in U.S. history.

JFK was shot three times on 24th November 1963, and Lee Harvey Oswald was arrested for the assassination after his fingerprints were found on a rifle hidden between two boxes and on empty cartridges in the Texas Book Depository. Two days later Jack Ruby killed Lee Harvey Oswald and was sentenced to death by electric chair, however this ruling was overturned by the Texas Supreme Court because the high-profile nature of the case obstructed Ruby’s right to a fair hearing.

Before being tried for a second time Jack Ruby died from cancer in 1967. The Warren Commission and the House Select Committee on Assassinations have since raised questions over the assassination and have suggested that Oswald was part of a conspiracy. Read more about the trial here.

John Hinckley Jr. trial

The attempted assassination of President Ronald Reagan

John Hinckley Jr. shot President Ronald Reagan on 30th March 1981 in Washington D.C., but surprisingly he was not trying to kill President Reagan because of political reasons. He was instead looking to impress actress Jodie Foster after becoming infatuated with her following the film Taxi Driver.

After Hinckley tried to communicate with Foster to no avail he wrote her a note saying that he would try to kill President Reagan to prove himself to her. John Hinckley Jr.’s defence team pleaded that he was insane, whilst the prosecution argued that he was sane enough to plan the assassination attempt and therefore was in fact not insane.

The jury gave a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity, which caused outrage across America.

The Factortame case

Factortame case

The Factortame case is probably well-known by most that have done a law degree in the UK as it is commonly used as an example on many law courses about EU law.

A company of Spanish fishermen took out a case against the British government by claiming that the UK had breached European Union law by demanding ships had a majority of British owners to fish in British waters.

The case ruled that Spanish fishermen could fish in British waters and confirmed that European laws had priority over UK acts of parliament.

Michael Jackson trial

Michael Jackson trial

Back across the pond, another trial that hit the headlines across the world was when Michael Jackson, the former King of Pop, was accused of child molestation.

The first allegation arose in 1993, but these charges fell apart until a decade later after a documentary by Martin Bashir rose a number of questions about Jackson.

Following the documentary there was enough questionable content that Michael Jackson was arrested in 2003 and charged with seven counts of child molestation and other charges.

Two years later Jackson was found not guilty on all charges.

Image Credit: Charles LeBlanc, Marion Doss, Cliff, Hernán Piñera, Zoran Veselinovic (