1926. Famed magician, Harry Houdini dies days after a college student punches him in the stomach to test the legend that Houdini could withstand blows. No charges were filed.
1975. Fifteen-year old Martha Moxley is murdered in Greenwich, Connecticut. Kennedy cousin, Michael Skakel was suspected of the crime, but wasn't arrested until 25 years later. Click here for full trial coverage.
1919. Congress enacts the Volstead Act, enforcing prohibition. The act, which became the 18th amendment to the Constitution, banned the import, export, manufacturing or sale of intoxicating liquors. The act was passed by Congress over a veto by President Woodrow Wilson and was repealed in 1933.
1787. The New York Independent Journal publishes the first of the Federalist Papers urging the ratification of the Constitution. The essays, credited to the pen name, "Publius," were authored by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay.
1774. The First Continental Congress which included representatives from every colony but Georgia, adjourns in Philadelphia after beginning the sessions on September 5. The delegates decided to cut off trade with England to protest the Intolerable Acts. They voted to meet again in Philadelphia again on May 10, 1775.
1994. Susan Smith tells South Carolina authorities that her two young children are missing after her vehicle is car-jacked. Smith later revealed that she drove her car into a lake to kill her children. She was convicted on two counts of murder and sentenced to life in prison.
1947. Walt Disney testifies before the House Un-American Activities Committee about communist infiltration in Hollywood. Four anti-Hitler propaganda films were produced at the Walt Disney Studio, and Disney testified that this was the first time the studio had ever allowed "those types of films to be made." Disney also discussed a strike that occurred at the studio, which he believed was started by the Communist Party in their attempt to influence his artists.
1998. NBC broadcaster Marv Albert receives a 12-month suspended sentence after pleading guilty to assault and battery charges in a
sex-related case brought against him by his mistress, Vanessa
Perhach, in 1997. The NBC sportscaster was fired by NBC after his plea
and resigned as the announcer for the Madison Square Garden Network.
1999. An Israeli court sentences American teenager Samuel Sheinbein to 24 years in prison for the murder of Alfredo Tello, Jr., in Maryland. Scheinbein fled the United States to claim Israeli citizenship.
1987. The Senate rejects the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court. Prior to his nomination by President Reagan served as a
Circuit judge to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from 1982 until 1988.
1995. A Houston jury convicts Yolanda Saldivar for the murder of 23-year-old Tejano singing star Selena. Saldivar was sentenced to life in prison for the crime of murder in the first degree and will be eligible for parole after serving 30 years.
1996. O.J. Simpson's civil trial begins in California. Although he was acquitted in criminal court the year before, Simpson is found liable for the deaths of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman. For more information on the trial, check out Famous Cases.
1997. Three Native Americans are arrested after staging a protest over the Cleveland Indian's mascot, Chief Wahoo, which depicts a red-faced cartoon-like smiling Native American wearing a feathered cap. The charges were later dismissed. Some of the protesters later sued the city for wrongful arrest, but lost. Click here for full trial coverage.
1990. President George Bush vetoes a civil rights bill designed to fight Supreme Court decisions making it harder for individuals to win job discrimination suits. The veto was upheld by only one vote in the Senate.
1971. William Rehnquist is nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court by President Richard Nixon. After a nomination by President Ronald Reagan, he became the high court's 16th chief justice in 1986. Rehnquist was only the second chief justice in history to preside over a presidential impeachment trial, in his case for President Clinton.
1995. Inmates surrender control of a Greenville prison dormitory ending a bloody one-day riot.
1990. Three members of the rap group 2 Live Crew are acquitted by a Florida jury on charges of violating obscenity laws during an adults-only concert. Police officers recorded the event months earlier, but produced a tape in court that was indecipherable. Although 2 Live Crew got off on this charge, store owner Charles Freeman was not so lucky. He was arrested and later convicted by a jury for selling the group's album, "As Nasty As They Wanna Be." 2 Live Crew were one of the first groups in the recording industry to put warning labels on all of their albums.
1765. The Stamp Act Congress meets in New York to draft a declaration of rights and liberties for the American Colonies. The Stamp Act, issued by the British Parliament, was intended to decrease the empire's defense costs by issuing stamps from the British government to be used on all documents. Colonists opposed the act as taxation without representation and staged several protests, including the Boston Tea Party. The Stamp Act was repealed in 1770, but the British Parliament retained a small tax on tea, which lead to the famous Boston Tea party incident.
Dr. Sam Sheppard's first criminal trial begins in Ohio. The inspiration for "The Fugitive" was convicted of killing his wife Marilyn, but was later found not guilty in a retrial. Sheppard insisted that another man had attacked his wife on the night she was killed; the attacker had knocked him unconscious when he tried to apprehend him. The circus-like media coverage of the trial worked against Sheppard. The press often made unfounded personal attacks on him and had near-exclusive access to the jury, who were not properly instructed on dealing with the media. The Supreme Court granted Sheppard's 1966 retrial, citing the excessive media coverage and the initial judge's lack of control over his courtroom. For more information on Sheppard, click here.
Charles Van Doren and 13 other contestants and producers on the quiz show "Twenty One" are arrested on perjury charges after falsely testifying that the show did not provide answers to contestants in advance. Van Doren, a well-bred academic from an intellectual family, was the game show's undefeated champion winning an unprecedented $138,000, a staggering sum in those days until he was upset by Vivienne Nearing in 1957. When the scandal broke that "Twenty One" was scripted, Van Doren vehemently denied that producers fed him the answers. He finally confessed in November 1959. The "Twenty One" scandal was recreated in the 1994 movie Quiz Show, starring Ralph Fiennes and John Turturro.
Al Capone is convicted on federal charges of tax evasion in Chicago. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Capone was a notorious gangster who ruled the Chicago mob in the 1920s. In his prime, he was a celebrity who successfully deflected arrests, legal prosecution and internal coups within his organization. After Capone ordered the infamous Valentines' Day massacre in which seven members of a rival gang were brutally murdered, authorities had had enough and began an aggressive campaign to dethrone Capone. He was arrested and charged with gun possession, a minor charge that kept Capone in prison for a year. But a year was all the authorities needed to find a new weapon in their fight against Capone. While in prison, a new law came into effect that made income from illegal activities taxable. Capone was released in 1930 and shortly thereafter became the target of an IRS investigation that resulted in the tax evasion charges. For more information on Capone, click here.
1946. Ten Nazi war criminals are hanged after being convicted at the Nuremberg trials. The international military tribunal in Nuremberg, Germany, found 22 Nazis guilty for war crimes committed during the Holocaust. The U.S., Great Britain, France and Russia had issued an indictment against 24 men and six organizations. For more information on the Nuremberg trials,
1991. The U.S. Senate narrowly confirms the appointment of Clarence Thomas to the U.S. Supreme Court despite Anita Hill's allegations of sexual harassment, during the period that Thomas was Hill's boss at a law firm. Thomas was appointed associate justice by President George Bush and was sworn in Oct. 23, 1991. For more information, click here.
1912. Theodore Roosevelt is shot in the chest by gunman John F. Schrank while campaigning for the presidency in Milwaukee. Schrank attempted to assassinate the president, who was delivering a speech. The bullet repelled off an eyeglass case inside the president's pocket. Schrank was admitted to a mental hospital for his actions.
1998. Eric Rudolph is officially charged for the Olympic Park bombing in Atlanta. Rudolph, still at large, is on the FBI's 10 most wanted list and a $1 million reward is still being offered for information leading to his arrest. Rudolph has also been charged in connection with bombing a health clinic in Alabama and for two bombings in Atlanta.
1999. The grand jury investigating the murder of Jon Benet Ramsay is officially dismissed after prosecutors decide there is not enough evidence to charge anyone with her killing. This came almost three years after the former child beauty queen was found murdered in the basement of her family's Boulder, Colo., mansion. A handwritten ransom note was found in the family's home. Unfamiliar with conducting a murder investigation, the inexperienced police made a slew of mistakes that would later impede their search for the killer. With hardly any leads and a strong suspicion that the victim's parents, John and Patsy Ramsay, had something to hide, investigators announced that the Ramsays were their prime suspects.
1998. University of Wyoming student Matthew Sheppard dies following a brutal attack. Russel Henderson and Aaron McKinney both received life in prison for the gay-related hate crime. Henderson and McKinney pretended to be gay and lured Sheppard with the intention of robbing him. They attacked Sheppard and tied him to a fence. Sheppard was found 18 hours later, and died after five days in a coma.
1995. O.J. Simpson backs out of a scheduled live interview on NBC hours before it is to air. Simpson, who was to be questioned by Katie Couric and Tom Brokaw, cited "pending litigation" as the reason for cancellation.
Simpson was found not guilty of killing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown-Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. For more information on the trial, check out Famous Cases.
1973. Vice President Spiro Agnew, accused of accepting bribes, pleads no contest to federal tax evasion and resigns from office. Agnew, who served in President Nixon's administration for two terms, was fined $10,000, sentenced to three years probation and was disbarred in Maryland the following year.
1991. One day after killing his former supervisor, fired U.S. postal worker Joseph Harris shoots and kills two former co-workers in Ridgewood, N.J. Harris was later convicted and sentenced to death, but died of natural causes.
1995. An Amtrak train derails in Arizona, killing one and injuring almost one hundred others. Investigators later found evidence that the tracks had been tampered with.
1934. Bruno Richard Hauptmann is indicted for kidnapping and murdering Charles Lindbergh's baby. Using a homemade ladder made from wood in his apartment, Hauptmann climbed into the Lindbergh house, kidnapped the child and left a ransom note. Hauptmann was later executed for the crime.
1988. Actress Robin Givens files for divorce from her husband, heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. Givens alleged that Tyson was abusive toward her. A week earlier, she made an appearance on a nationally televised talk show and claimed that she feared Tyson and that he was a manic-depressive. He counter-sued one week later.
1988. A grand jury concludes there is no evidence of sexual assault in the case of Tawana Brawley. Brawley, a black high school student, alleged that several white police officers attacked her in Upstate New York. For more information on the case, see Legal Documents.
1941. Luis Brandeis, the first Jewish justice to serve on the Supreme Court, dies at the age of 84. Brandeis was nominated by President Woodrow Wilson.
1953. Earl Warren is sworn in as the 14th chief justice of the Supreme Court. Before his nomination by President Richard Nixon, Warren served as governor of California for three consecutive terms from 1942-53.
He retired in 1969.
1990. A Cincinnati art gallery is acquitted of obscenity charges after exhibiting the sexually graphic photographs of Robert Mapplethorpe.
1978. Country music star Tammy Wynette is allegedly abducted form her car in Nashville, Tenn. Wynette, who suffered a broken cheekbone, was later accused of fabricating the event for publicity.
1988. Televangelist Jim Bakker is indicted on federal charges for mail and wire fraud, and conspiring to defraud the public.. He later served eight years in prison.
1995. A California jury finds O.J. Simpson not guilty of the killing of his ex-wife, Nicole Brown-Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. The jury reached its verdict after only four hours of deliberations. For more information on the trial, check out Famous Cases.
1967. Thurgood Marshall is sworn in as associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. A major force behind advocating civil rights, he is the first black appointed to the high court. Before his appointment by President Lyndon Johnson, Marshall was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals by President John F. Kennedy in 1961 and then became the U.S. solicitor general in 1965.
1978. Actor Tim Allen is arrested after attempting to sell narcotics to an undercover policeman in Kalamazoo, Mich.
1999. The Brooklyn Museum of Art opens the controversial exhibit, "Sensation," setting off a legal battle with New York mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who objected to artist Chris Ofili's portrayal of a black Virgin Mary decorated with elephant dung. The artists' parents were Nigerian, and he said he used the substance to express African influences in his artwork. Giuliani stopped city funding for the exhibition and threatened to evict the museum.
1993. Twelve-year-old Polly Klass is abducted and murdered by paroled sex offender Richard Allen Davis in California. Davis kidnapped the girl from a slumber party and later led police to the location where he left her body. He was convicted of kidnapping, burglary, robbery and attempting a lewd act on a child. Davis was sentenced to death.
1995. Ten defendants, including Egyptian cleric Sheik Abdel-Rahman, are convicted of conspiring to attack the United States after plotting to bomb several New York landmarks including the World Trade Center, the FBI and United Nations headquarters and the Lincoln and Holland tunnels.
Legal Flashback Archives