Legal news roundup, April 8

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The online trending legal stories for the week ending April 8 were all over the map - from the potential government shutdown to the Barry Bonds' perjury trial going to the jury. Let's get to it.

The online trending legal stories for the week ending April 8 were all over the map – from the potential government shutdown to the Barry Bonds' perjury trial going to the jury. Let's get to it.

Unless a deal is made between Republicans and Democrats by midnight tonight, there will be a government shutdown, meaning that all non-essential operations will be halted. PBS reports that the two parties are wrangling over budget cuts that appear to affect ideological issues such as funding for Planned Parenthood.

Leaders from both political parties, including Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Republican House Majority Leader John Boehner, say that the differences between the two groups have narrowed over the past few days, but the threat of a government shutdown is real. This will likely affect a number of government functions and lead to the closure of national parks. It could also cause delays in pay to soldiers.

The public appears to be following this story with interest as “US government shutdown 2011” was the third hottest search on Friday, April 8, according to Google Trends.

Another political issue that is at the forefront of the week's legal stories is the Wisconsin Supreme Court election. Seen as a referendum of sorts on Governor Scott Walker's controversial bill that stripped public employees of many collective bargaining rights, the race between incumbent conservative David Prosser and liberal challenger JoAnne Kloppenburg has been tight.

On Wednesday, it appeared that Kloppenburg had won the election by 204 votes but election officials in conservative Waukesha County said that an error lead to a number of votes not being tallied, according to ABC News. With these 7,582 “lost” votes, Prosser appears to be in line for a victory. A Democratic official in the county said that the latest results appear to be accurate.

Online searchers are following the race closely, with searches for “Wisconsin election” peaking on Wednesday, April 6.

In the world of litigation, the Barry Bonds perjury trial was sent to the jury after lawyers for both sides argued their cases for 12 days. The home run king stands accused of lying to a grand jury in 2003, saying that he did not knowingly take steroids, reports The Associated Press. The prosecution has been pursing bonds for more than seven years now, hoping to pin the use of performance enhancers on the slugger. The defense has argued that federal prosecutors are going after Bonds for his celebrity status, and they claim that prosecutors have cut deals with a number of shady figures, including the athlete's former girlfriend, in order to put Bonds away.

“When the government forms alliances with some of the people you've seen here, things can go haywire,” lead defense lawyer Allen Ruby told the jury. “And the system relies on you to make sure the system doesn't go haywire.”

The media have been covering the story intently, with a Google News search for “Barry Bonds trial” returning more than 3,500 articles.

The legal world and the sports world also briefly crossed paths in connection to the Masters, golf's first major championship of the year, which got underway on Thursday. According to the Irish Independent, Tiger Woods is dating a woman named Alyse Lahti Johnston about a year after his reported $100 million divorce from Elin Nordegren. The news provider said that last year Johnston was arrested by Florida police under suspicion of a DUI.

Any legal controversy surrounding his potential new squeeze doesn't appear to be affecting Tiger too much, as he entered Friday tied for 24th after posting a one-under round of 71 at Augusta on Thursday.

Searchers appear to be eager to check in on the exploits of the world's top golfers as they attempt to win the green jacket, with “Masters 2011” being the third hottest search on Thursday, March 8, according to Google Trends.

That's the online trending legal news for the week ending April 8.

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