Most of the week's online trending legal news revolved around the shootings in Tucson and the suspected gunman Jared Loughner. However, there were also a number of other developments in […]

Most of the week's online trending legal news revolved around the shootings in Tucson and the suspected gunman Jared Loughner. However, there were also a number of other developments in the legal world that caught online news consumers' interest during the week ending January 14.

On Saturday, January 8, a gunman opened fire into a crowd outside a supermarket in Tucson, Arizona. U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head during the attack. She survived, however six others, including U.S. District Judge John Roll and a 9-year-old girl, were killed. The New York Times reports that Giffords is progressing but still in critical condition. Searches for "Gabrielle Giffords" peaked on January 8, according to Google Trends, but Google Realtime search results reveal that the incident continues to generate online conversation.

Throughout the week details continued to emerge about Jared Loughner, the 22-year-old accused of the shootings. The Associated Press reported that neighbors said Loughner mostly kept to himself. According to Google Trends, internet searches for "Jared Loughner" hit their high on January 9.

A number of legal issues emerged in the wake of the Tucson shooting. The New York Times reports that Loughner will be represented by Judy Clarke, who defended the Unabomber. A Reuters article notes that Arizona law may have allowed Loughner to be detained on psychiatric grounds prior to his alleged involvement with the shootings.

The gravity of the Tucson shootings allowed a number of important legal stories to seemingly slip under the radar, not least of which was a judge sentencing former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to three years in prison for illegally using corporate money in Texas elections, reports The Associated Press. Google Trends data indicates that searches for "Tom DeLay" peaked this week on January 10. He was the No.1 search on Google that day.

Two major stories involving the death penalty emerged this week. According to the Wall Street Journal's Law Blog, the highest criminal court in Texas ordered a judge who had scheduled a hearing on the constitutionality of the death penalty to dismiss the legal challenge from a death row inmate whose case spurred the hearing.

Another death penalty development farther north generated online chatter, as well. In Illinois, legislation to end the death penalty in the state passed through both houses of the state legislature and now it is up to Governor Pat Quinn to decide on the fate of the bill, according to the Chicago Tribune.

However, not all legal news in the Prairie State was so serious. Police were called to Mullets Sports Bar and Restaurant in Homer Glen, Illinois, after a patron smashed a framed photo of Saved by the Bell's A.C. Slater that was placed above a urinal, reports the Chicago Tribune.

"I just don't like Slater," the customer reportedly told the bar's owner. The Slater hater was allowed to leave after another patron gave the owner $11 for the damage.

That's Brafton's take on the trending online legal news for the week ending January 14. Check back next week for more developments in the legal world and have a good Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

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