gallery20 Biggest Trials of Past 20 Years07.07.11gallery20 Biggest Trials of Past 20 YearsCasey Anthony’s murder trial is over, but how does it compare to America’s other legal circuses? The Daily Beast ranks the 20 biggest trials, by media saturation, of the past two decades.07.07.11 4:00 AM ETVINCE BUCCI1, O.J. SimpsonJune 1994 – October 1995 The trial that set the bar for round-the-clock media coverage, and the case that made one network—Court TV (now truTV)—a household name. This wasn’t just the O.J. show, kicked off by a low-speed police chase with the Juice lying in the back of the infamous white Ford Bronco. This case was full of characters good, evil, and devious, from Johnnie Cochran to Judge Ito, Kato Kaelin to Mark Fuhrman—even a certain black leather glove got its fifteen minutes, and then some. Today, the O.J. Simpson trial is still the standard bearer when it comes to sensational court cases. Indeed, seemingly the entire country gasped on October 3, 1995, when the jury returned its verdict: not guilty. What other trial can say it sucked the air out of a nation? Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images2, Martha StewartJune 2003 – July 2004 Martha Stewart’s crime wasn’t particularly heinous—charges related to insider trading of ImClone Systems stock—but with her squeaky clean image newspapers and television news shows jumped over themselves to provide wall-to-wall coverage of her fall from grace. Who could have that imagined America’s perfect hostess, who built a media empire out of how to make ordinary twigs into a lovely centerpiece, would ever end up in prison duds? That’s what happened in July 2004, when Stewart was sentenced to five months in the big house. Kevork Djansezian / WireImage3, Michael JacksonNovember 2003 – June 2005 For all of Michael Jackson’s talent and hard work, his legacy will forever be tainted by one ugly and recurring storyline. The first allegations of child molestation against the King of Pop arose in 1993, though charges fell apart under scrutiny. Nearly a decade later footage taken for a documentary by Martin Bashir had enough questionable content that Jackson was arrested in November 2003 and indicted on seven counts of child molestation and other charges. Jackson was acquitted on all charges less than two years later. 4, Timothy McVeighAugust 1995 – June 1997 America’s most notorious homegrown terrorist, Timothy McVeigh was one of the masterminds, along with co-conspirator Terry Nichols, behind the Oklahoma City bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal building, which killed 168 people in April 1995. Until the attacks of September 11, 2001, it was the deadliest terrorist act on U.S. soil. Michael Tercha / Chicago Tribune / MCT5, Rod BlagojevichDecember 2008 – June 27, 2011 Former Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich found out the hard way that the grease-palmed politics of yesteryear just don’t fly anymore. In June Blagojevich was found guilty of 17 corruption charges, including soliciting bribes to fill Barack Obama’s senate seat. Win McNamee / Getty Images6, I. Lewis “Scooter” LibbyThe media didn’t just cover Scooter Libby’s trial—the media were in the thick of things from the very beginning. Dick Cheney’s chief of staff went down hard when he was convicted of leaking confidential information about CIA agent Valerie Plame to the New York Times. The story—covert agent working in service of the United States people outed by high up White House officer—was rich and gained traction at all levels of the media molehill. John Moore / Getty Images7, Saddam HusseinDecember 2003 –November 2006 In name recognition alone, newspaper and television reporters couldn’t have picked a better subject to go on trial. The location of the trial, in front of a tribunal in Baghdad? Not so much. While the location made it difficult to get play-by-play coverage, the Hussein trial is still one of the most covered. Derided by human rights activists as a sham proceeding whose conclusion was foregone, the former Iraqi dictator was ultimately served the death penalty. In true modern media fashion, where everyone can be a witness to history, the aftermath was replete with a leaked, unedited cell phone video of the execution. Justin Sullivan / Getty Images8, Scott PetersonApril 2003 – March 2005 Handsome husband kills pregnant wife over money and self-interest? The Scott Peterson trial was a case tailor-made for the likes of the Dateline NBC crowd, with a prosecution witness even engaging the services of the loquacious Gloria Allred. Peterson was found guilty of killing his wife and unborn child, and is being held on death row at San Quentin prison. Dave Einsel / Getty Images9, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey SkillingJuly 2004 – October 2006 One of the most notorious white-collar criminals ever, Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling engaged in massive securities, wire, and accounting fraud that brought down their $100 billion company, Enron, which at one time employed more than 20,000 people. The aftershocks from Lay’s and Skilling’s fraud affected many more people (the venerable Arthur Andersen accounting firm went bust) and lost many more dollars than even Bernie Madoff’s scam—and led to documentaries and countless hours of media coverage. Lay died of a heart attack before sentencing, while Skilling was sentenced to nearly a quarter century behind bars. JEFF SINER10, Rae CarruthNovember 1999 – January 2001 A once-promising wide receiver in the National Football League, Rae Carruth inexplicably had his pregnant girlfriend gunned down at a traffic light in Charlotte, North Carolina, and took part in the crime by stopping his vehicle in front of hers so the gunman could get a clear shot. After playing in parts of three seasons for the Carolina Panthers, Carruth was sentenced in 2001 to spend at least the next 18 years locked up. Gene Shaw11, John GottiDecember 1990 – June 1992 Prosecutors finally found a chink in the armor of the Teflon Don, one of the media world’s favorite mobster sociopaths, after former business associate “Sammy the Bull” Gravano went stoolie and snitched to the FBI. Gotti was sentenced to life in prison in June 1992 after convictions on murder and racketeering charges. Perhaps the New York Post said it best with their 1992 headline: “Don Gone.” Ben Sklar / Getty Images12, Tom DelaySeptember 2005 – January 2011 It’s a funny thing: when you’re the former Majority Leader of the House of Representatives hauled in on corruption charges and you plant a big old smile on your face in your mugshot, the media’s going to take notice. Even after a stint on Dancing with the Stars, it’s that image of Delay’s defiant visage that is perhaps most memorable. Delay was convicted last year of money laundering and was sentenced to three years in jail, but is out on bail awaiting appeal. J. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo13, Lorena BobbittJuly 1993 – June 1994 Before Anthony Weiner there was—nevermind. John Bobbitt became the subject of countless late night jokes when wife Lorena cut of part of his penis in retaliation for years of alleged sexual abuse. The jury believed her story, and she was acquitted by reason of insanity. Lorena mostly withdrew from the public eye, while John, ever immodest with his successfully reattached member, went on to star in the adult films John Wayne Bobbitt: Uncut, and Frankenpenis. At least his sense of humor was still intact. Bill Pugliano14, Jack KevorkianAnother case of the media becoming part of the story, Jack Kevorkian had for years avoided conviction for helping terminally ill patients end their lives, but in 1998 60 Minutes aired a video of Kevorkian actually injecting a patient with a lethal substance. After just two days of trial during which Kevorkian represented himself, Doctor Death was found guilty of second-degree murder. The issue of doctor-assisted suicide struck a nerve among the American public, and raised questions that have remain unanswered. Kevorkian was paroled in June 2007 and died in June of this year. Nick Ut15, Lyle and Erik MenendezMarch 1990 – January 1994 Another made-for-TV-murder case, the Menendez brothers were convicted of murdering their parents with shotgun blasts in 1989, and during trial alleged years of parental abuse as the reason. Another coup for Court TV, which covered the trial extensively, the Menendez brothers are currently serving life terms in prison. 16, John Allen MuhammadOctober 2002 – November 2003 The Beltway scene was terrorized in October 2002 when John Allen Muhammad and accomplice Lee Malvo killed 10 people and wounded 3 others during a 3-week sniper spree. Despite appeals and countless self-proclaimed justifications for his actions, Muhammad was killed by lethal injection in November 2009, while Lee Malvo received life in prison without the possibility of parole. Nick Ut17, Stacey Koon, Theodore Briseno, Laurence Powell, Timothy WindMarch 1991 – April 29, 1992 It seemed like a slam-dunk. There weren’t just witnesses—the four officers at the maelstrom of the Rodney King case were videotaped continually attacking an apparently defenseless King, who had been pulled over following a high speed chase. The jury could see for itself that the man on the ground truly was a victim in this graphic case of police brutality—or could it? While the trial itself was well-covered, it was the aftermath following the officers’ acquittal on April 19, 1992—the Los Angeles riots—that really kept the nation glued to its television sets and newspapers. Nick Ut / AP Photo18, Robert BlakeApril 2002 – March 2005 Robert Blake of Baretta fame was no longer a well-known actor when he was charged with murdering his wife in 2002, but he was still well-known enough that the media glommed on to his trial. Los Angeles District Attorney didn’t take to kindly to Blake’s acquittal three years later, calling jurors “incredibly stupid.” The jurors explained to reporters after the trial that there simply wasn’t enough direct evidence that Blake had committed the crime. Kevin Larkin19, Colin FergusonJanuary 1994 – March 1995 The infamous massacre on the Long Island Railroad one 1993 evening killed six people but spawned a movement when one victim’s wife, Carolyn McCarthy, won election to the House of Representatives and became an outspoken advocate of gun control. Ferguson, for his part, vigorously denied an insanity defense and ultimately decided to represent himself. “We have an insane defendant rejecting an insanity defense for an insane reason,” Ferguson’s one-time attorney Ron Kuby said. Ferguson was sentenced to more than 300 years in prison. Mark Wilson / Getty Images20, Bernard EbbersAugust 2003 – July 2005 After the Enron debacle, would the American public have room for another white collar criminal scandal? Sure, there’s always more room for paper-pushers gone wrong. Once listed as worth more than $1 billion, Bernie Ebbers, founder of former telecom giant WorldComm, was the biggest one-man wrecking crew until Bernie Madoff came along. Ebbers, a faithful Baptist, was found guilty of accounting fraud amounting to billions of dollars and is currently serving a 25-year prison term.