As was the case last week, most of the trending online legal news over the past seven days has involved Julian Assange. The Wikileaks founder has faced legal scrutiny not […]

As was the case last week, most of the trending online legal news over the past seven days has involved Julian Assange. The Wikileaks founder has faced legal scrutiny not only from Swedish courts over alleged sex crimes but also from the United States, which is currently mulling the prospect of indicting the Australian native for espionage. In addition, there have been a number of major court activities both domestically and abroad that led the legal news for the week ending December 10.

Perhaps the most prominent international legal story this week, aside from Assange's arrest, was a French court's conviction of Continental Airlines and one of its mechanics for involuntary homicide relating to the crash of an Air France Concorde supersonic jet in 2000, reports the New York Times. The crash outside Paris claimed the lives of all 113 people on board. Internet search volume for "concorde" peaked on Monday, December 6, the date of the decision.

However, no story could wrest the attention from Julian Assange and his arrest for the eyebrow-raising crime of "sex by surprise." Searches for this potential felony peaked on Tuesday, according to Google trends data. The New York Times reports that Assange was jailed in Britain on December 7 after Swedish authorities requested he be detained on charges of "rape, sexual molestation and unlawful coercion."

Assange may be facing more than just sex crime charges however, as ABC News reports the man's lawyers are preparing for his potential prosecution in the U.S. related to the Espionage Act. Assange's attorney, Jennifer Robinson, told the news source on December 10 that her client's indictment was imminent. Internet searchers seem to not be able to get enough of the white-haired Aussie as Google is showing more than 13.5 million web results for "Julian Assange".

In other legal news happening within America's borders, a hearing on the death penalty in Texas that the Associated Press described as unusual has been suspended by a criminal court after prosecutors requested that it be stopped. The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals said that the hearing should stop to allow litigators on both sides to file motions regarding whether it should continue.

In other state-level news that has a national impact, a federal appeals court heard arguments regarding California's Proposition 8, a voter approved ballot measure that banned same-sex marriages, according to ABC News. Earlier this year, a district court struck down the measure, ruling it was unconstitutional. Now a three-judge panel is deciding on questions regarding the appeal of that decision. Internet searches for "proposition 8" peaked this week on December 6, the first day of the panel convened.

The week ending December 17 promises to also present some exciting online legal news as Assange is scheduled to appear in court on December 14 for the renewal of his bail bid, reports the Times. 

Doug is Brafton's legal editor. He studied journalism in college and has worked for a number of media establishments.