Object Anyway: Striking Potential Jury Members for Race

At the trial of James Batson in 1982, the prosecution eliminated all the black jurors from the jury pool. Batson objected, setting off a complicated discussion about jury selection that would make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court. On this episode of More Perfect, the Supreme Court ruling that was supposed to prevent race-based jury selection, but may have only made the problem worse.

How Dostoyevsky Predicted the ‘True Crime’ Craze

today’s true crime resurgence has an antecedent in the works of Fyodor Dostoyevsky, the Russian author of numerous novels about murder including, most famously, “Crime and Punishment.” Dostoyevsky was obsessed with the judiciary. He spent considerable time watching trials, debating with lawyers about the nature of innocence and guilt, visiting the accused in prison and trying to sway public opinion about certain cases.

.. Unlike contemporary consumers of true crime, who find themselves in the middle of a larger national conversation about police brutality and racial bias in sentencing, Dostoyevsky was writing at a time of tremendous enthusiasm and hope regarding the future of Russian jurisprudence. In 1864, Czar Alexander II instituted sweeping changes to the legal code, the most radical of which was the introduction of the jury trial. Dostoyevsky shared the country’s excitement over the changes, writing to a friend: “We will have just courts everywhere. What a great regeneration that will be!

.. Dostoyevsky himself had been victim to an overzealous judicial system. In 1849, he was sentenced to death for participating in the Petrashevsky Circle, an intellectual society influenced by the French utopian socialists.

.. he began to have serious doubts about the courts. For one, Russian juries produced an unusually high number of acquittals (about 40 percent in all cases).

.. Where was the space, he wondered, to properly attend to the moral regeneration of those who had committed acts of violence?

.. Dostoyevsky ultimately wanted people to feel more at ease with the concept of guilt, to embrace it as a feature of common humanity and to recognize our own complicity in the everyday acts of violence (cruelty, lack of love, stinginess) that drive people to moral transgressions.

.. He devoted his final novel, “The Brothers Karamazov,” to developing the idea of “collective guilt.” At the book’s center is the murder of Fyodor Karamazov, a derelict father who was violent, abusive and selfish, leading all his sons to, consciously or subconsciously, desire his demise.

.. Though ultimately killed by his illegitimate son, the other children all come to accept their own culpability in the steps that led to their father’s murder.

.. As true crime shows continue to proliferate today, Dostoyevsky’s evolution as a crime writer could prove instructive in expanding the genre’s reformist potential.

.. equal attention should be paid to stories of restorative justice, like that exemplified by podcasts like “Ear Hustle,” which is produced by inmates in San Quentin State Prison in California.

..  it is not only our task to support the innocent or wrongly convicted but also to recognize the humanity of the guilty and the shared sense of responsibility that we have for one another.

Radiolab Presents: More Perfect – Object Anyway

At the trial of James Batson in 1982, the prosecution eliminated all the black jurors from the jury pool. Batson objected, setting off a complicated discussion about jury selection that would make its way all the way up to the Supreme Court. On this episode of More Perfect, the Supreme Court ruling that was supposed to prevent race-based jury selection, but may have only made the problem worse.

Can Taylor Swift Lead America Out of the Campus Title IX Wars?

Denver radio personality named David Mueller. At issue is a brief encounter in June 2013. Mueller and his girlfriend took a picture with Swift after a concert. Swift said that Mueller groped her by putting his hand on her behind.

.. Incredibly — and in spite of the awkward pictorial evidence — Mueller sued Swift, attempting to hold her responsible for his lost salary and other business opportunities. Rather than settle the case quietly, Swift did something unusual. She countersued — asking for only $1 in damages — and demanded a jury trial.

.. Swift is showing America — in the most public way possible — that when it comes to adjudicating claims of sexual assault, the choice isn’t a binary one between criminal prosecution and campus kangaroo courts. There’s a third option: civil litigation.

.. Accused students are often denied any substantial legal assistance, access to witnesses, full information about the charges against them, the power to conduct legal discovery, and the ability to effectively question their accusers.

.. completely ignore standard rules of evidence.

.. Civil litigation requires plaintiffs to prove their case only by a “preponderance of the evidence.” Moreover, a plaintiff runs her own case. She can choose to file, she can choose her lawyers, and she can choose to settle. Courts also have far more power than campus tribunals. Unlike a campus court, they can issue injunctions and order defendants to pay compensatory and monetary damages.

.. At the same time, however, the accused enjoys the full array of due-process rights. He can use a lawyer. He has a right to see the evidence against him, a right to question witnesses, and a right confront his accuser. Oh, and the case goes before an impartial judge and a jury of his peers, not an ideologically stacked tribunal of social-justice warriors. The civil-litigation system corrects all the due-process flaws of campus kangaroo courts while also granting the accuser far more power to seek justice for wrongdoing.

.. when the court case is over, the university could take action based on the results — results obtained through the use of full and appropriate due process.

.. There’s simply no way to easily, cheaply, and justly adjudicate sexual-misconduct claims. And there’s certainly no way to painlessly try these cases. It took bravery for Swift to make her claims. But bravery can be contagious ..

Mueller’s Grand Jury: What It Means

There are virtually no limits on the investigative powers of the grand jury. Under our law, a grand jury may conduct a probe simply to satisfy itself that no crimes have been committed. That is to say, there is no evidentiary threshold that must be crossed before a grand jury can begin investigating. Contrast that with, for example, a search warrant or an eavesdropping warrant; those investigative techniques may not be used unless a court has first been satisfied that there is probable cause to believe a crime has been committed.

.. Media coverage of an investigation tends to rely on the people most at liberty to discuss it. That means coverage skews in favor of lawyers for the subjects, who obviously have a motive to minimize the prosecution’s proof.

.. Prosecutors do not seek the assistance of the grand jury’s subpoena power, and do not contemplate presenting evidence to a grand jury, unless they see a realistic possibility of filing criminal charges.

.. Having spent many years in law enforcement, most of them as a prosecutor, I can attest that criminal investigators are presumptuous. Because of the premium our society places on the rule of law, prosecutors tend to think that nothing could be more important than their investigations and prosecutions. It was not until I worked on national-security investigations — many years into my career as a prosecutor — when it dawned on me that some things (e.g., protecting life-saving intelligence methods and sources) might be more vital to the public interest than my cases.

.. Prosecutors never want to give out information about their investigations. The less that is publicly known, the easier it is to interview witnesses, determine whether they are being truthful (rather than mimicking what they’ve heard in the press), and bring the investigation to an efficient conclusion. So the desire for secrecy is understandable, and in most instances it is desirable.

.. The Justice Department told the public that this was a counterintelligence investigation; thus, neither the American people nor the people implicated in the investigation were given notice that crimes were suspected, much less what particular crimes and who the suspects are.

That is intolerable now that we are formally in a criminal-investigation mode.

.. But in the higher interest of his capacity to function as president and our capacity to hold our political representatives accountable, President Trump and the American people should be told whether he is suspected of criminal wrongdoing and, if so, what wrongdoing.

Why Mueller’s use of a grand jury confirms what we already knew

The grand jury has the subpoena power that prosecutors need to compel reluctant witnesses to testify under oath. Grand jury subpoenas are also how prosecutors gather documents such as bank records, emails and corporate papers from entities or people who might not produce them voluntarily.

.. But someone who receives a subpoena to testify or produce documents is not bound by those secrecy rules. They are free to disclose — to the media or to anyone else — that they received a grand jury subpoena or testified in the grand jury. It may be that someone who just received a subpoena contacted a reporter and that has resulted in the “breaking news” stories.