Seth Stevenson Doesn’t Understand Jury Duty

In 1998, a young Slate reporter serving jury duty followed the law. He listened to what the judge told him about accomplice liability, and even though he didn't like it, he correctly applied it to the facts and returned a conviction. Now that reporter, Seth Stevenson, feels bad for the defendant he convicted and wrote... Continue Reading →


Prison Prosecutions

Rene "Boxer" Enriquez, a famous ex-Mexican Mafia killer, explained prison prosecutions this way: It was also clear that prosecutions for prison yard hits were rare. For one thing, there were no video cameras on the yards at the time. There was also a sense among law enforcement of what was referred to as the NHI... Continue Reading →

Orange Juice and Trial Tactics

Vincent Bugliosi likes orange juice but hates OJ. When "the sun is shining brightly in the morning and the orange juice is good" he's "in a very generous and magnanimous mood." He was not in such a mood when he wrote Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away with Murder. If you are a lawyer, particularly a lawyer in criminal law, this book... Continue Reading →

A Failure to Communicate

The victim lived in a trailer park in the desert. In her trailer, immobile for years now, she kept an etagere with her collection of dolls next to her collection of Jack Daniels' whiskey. She had been strangled, probably with a belt, but maybe smothered, the medical examiner was unsure. She was found a few... Continue Reading →

You Should Go to Jail Then

Robert Mueller doesn't like defending the guilty. Mueller, now 73, began his Department of Justice career in 1976 as an assistant US attorney in San Francisco, and during the decades that followed took only two breaks to try out the private sector, each lasting no more than a couple of years.  The stints were so... Continue Reading →

The Anatomy of Violence

I read The Anatomy of Violence by Adrian Raine, all 373 pages, for the trivia.  The book was interesting enough by itself, but the most engaging part of the book, and the reason I kept reading, was the little criminological factoids sprinkled throughout.  You are more likely to be killed on they day you are born... Continue Reading →

Looking at Murders

Murder in ordinary cases, where the sympathy is wholly directed to the case of the murdered person, is an incident of coarse and vulgar horror; and for this reason, that it flings the interest exclusively upon the natural but ignoble instinct by which we cleave to life; an instinct, which, as being indispensable to the... Continue Reading →

The Heavy Gate

We all start in misdemeanors.  If you are going to get locked up over a misdemeanor, you are sent to jail.  Usually, you spend no more than 180 days there.  The most common sentences are for 30-60 days.  So you stand at counsel table and plea bargain with defense lawyers over these numbers.  You might... Continue Reading →

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