Robert Durst is escorted into Orleans Parish Prison after his arraignment in Orleans Parish Criminal District Court in New Orleans, March 17, 2015. 
Photo by Gerald Herbert/AP

MSNBC’s 5 best legal analyses of 2015

What do Cecil the Lion, Bob Durst and Donald Trump have in common? They’re the subjects of some of MSNBC’s best legal analyses of 2015.

1. Remember Cecil? He was the African lion at the center of a firestorm of controversy this year after an American dentist and recreational big-game hunter killed him with a rifle in Zimbabwe. Cecil’s killer – Walter Palmer – quickly became the Internet’s favorite person to hate, fielding all kinds of menacing comments from online haters. In turn, MSNBC’s own Lisa Green posed the question: Is there any recourse against online threats? When do hostile posts cross the line into actionable, even criminal behavior? Read her analysis here.

2. After November’s terror attacks in Paris, a majority of American governors expressed at least some degree of opposition to the Obama administration’s plan to relocate thousands of Syrian refugees. But is it even legal for a governor to block entry to refugees against the federal government’s will? MSNBC’s Chief Legal Correspondent Ari Melber had the answer. Read his take here.

3. HBO’s thrilling miniseries “The Jinx: The Life and Deaths of Robert Durst” had everyone talking about real estate heir and accused murderer Bob Durst. Not only was Durst the fascinating subject of writer-director Andrew Jarecki’s hit show, he became the center of new legal drama after the “The Jinx” aired, seemingly as a result of Jarecki’s journalism. But did Durst get away with murder? And if so, could he still be convicted? Top New York attorney Charles Stillman answered all of your most burning questions. Read his breakdown here.

4. If an infinite number of monkeys banged randomly on typewriters for an infinite amount of time, one of them would eventually produce a pretty good sonnet. But would the monkey own a copyright in the sonnet? According to People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA, the answer is yes. Copyright expert Christopher Buccafusco explained why. Read his interpretation of 2015’s famous “monkey selfie” case here.

5. No 2016 roundup would be complete without mentioning – who else – Donald Trump. The real estate mogul-turned-2016 hopeful dominated headlines since declaring his candidacy for the nation’s top office back in June. And along the way, he’s made some outrageous claims and proposed some even more outrageous policies. Among them: Just this month, he called for a “complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States.” Predictably, the proposal was met with fury and support alike. But could it stand up to judicial scrutiny? Once again, MSNBC’s Ari Melber investigated. Read his interview Harvard professor Laurence Tribe here.