This week brought a big announcement of a new Crime Story scripted TV series. We presented a story marking the 30th Anniversary of the Rodney King beating. We continued our presentation of the series by Katherine Mader and offered another update from Mike Romano.
Welcome to our summary of the week’s events at CrimeStory.com and The Crime Story Podcast.
Yesterday, Deadline broke the story that the Creator of The Wire, David Simon, and his fellow Executive Producer from that show, George Pelecanos are teaming up with Crime Story for a new HBO limited series set back in the world of the Baltimore Police Department. The series is based on Justin Fenton’s book We Own this City: A True Story of Crime, Cops and Corruption.
On Monday’s Crime Story Podcast, I interviewed Fenton, who covers the crime beat for the Baltimore Sun, and whose work I began to follow four years ago as I read his reporting on the scandal that is the focus of this book.
I found Justin’s reporting to be clarifying and insightful amid the murkiness and confusion. In fact, his reporting reminded me of the journalistic work of David Simon, whose own reporting led to the TV series Homicide: Life on the Streets and The Corner, and made me think that there may be a scripted TV series in the story. I approached David and George with the idea and they agreed to take it on.
You can read my four-part interview with David here. My interview with David’s fellow Executive Producer on The Wire, George Pelecanos, is here. And my interview with Homicide: Life on the Streets Showrunner, Tom Fontana, is here.
This is the third announced scripted series for Crime Story since the beginning of the year, following the stories about the projects at Apple TV+ with Dennis Lehane and HBO with LeBron James.
On Tuesday and Wedsday, we continued our Crime Story series excerpting Inside the Robe: A Judge’s Candid Tale of Criminal Justice in America, by Judge Katherine Mader (Ret.) which best selling author Michael Connelly called: “a perfect book: engrossing and telling at the same time.”
In Part 25 of Inside the Robe, Judge Mader offers two anecdotes about a defense attorney who pushes ethical boundaries by baselessly attacking the integrity of police officers and by cornering jurors after an adverse verdict. She also explores the limits of a judge’s power during the sentencing phase of a trial.
In Part 26, the Judge uses the opportunity of another jury trial to explore the process of jury selection in greater depth, including how a judge deals with juror excuses and mischievous attorney tactics.
On Friday we presented Mike Romano’s update on the release of Three Strikes Project Rodrigo Escarcega from a life sentence after Los Angeles prosecutors, who had opposed Escarcega’s release for years, recently dropped their opposition.
And on Thursday, we published this City News Service piece, reflecting on the legacy of the Rodney King Beating, 30 years after it happened.
Below we present Hannah Teich’s condensed curation of the week’s more interesting stories from Crime Story Daily. (Read Hannah’s full essay including links to the mentioned articles.)
On the criminal justice policy front: Nine months since George Floyd’s death in Minneapolis police custody last spring, a piece from Politico asks, “What’s changed?”. NPR reports on the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, a sweeping police reform bill passed by House lawmakers earlier this week. And a piece for USA Today by Congresswoman Karen Bass, sponsor of the George Floyd legislation, reflects on the anniversary of the Rodney King video and her three-decade struggle for police reform.
In muckraker/watchdog reporting: A piece from the Washington Post highlights some grim statistics on mass incarceration in the US. The New York Times goes inside the federal prison system, where, as COVID continues to take a devastating toll, many vulnerable inmates feel they have been left behind. And pieces from Time and the Intercept highlight the pandemic’s impacts on the criminal legal system, which have pushed justice out of reach for victims and defendants alike.
In complex crime storytelling: A piece from the Intercept explores the life and unsolved murder of an anti-fascist activist. In the wake of the Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol, a piece from the Boston Review asks, “Who deserves to be forgiven?”. And “Cat and Mouse,” a longform true-crime story from the Atavist, recounts the disturbing saga of the Croydon Cat Killer.
In culture/true crime: The New York Times highlights two new nonfiction books about policing: We Own This City, by Baltimore Sun reporter Justin Fenton (also see announcement above), and Tangled Up in Blue, by Georgetown law professor Rosa Brooks. The Chicago Sun-Times reviews “Murder Among the Mormons,” a new true-crime documentary from Netflix. Deadline reviews “Ted K,” a new film that delves deep into the world of “Unabomber” Ted Kaczynski. And Hyperallergic highlights the prison drawings of incarcerated artist Frank Jones.
Again, you can read Hannah’s full weekly essay and find links to each of the mentioned articles.
And finally, here is your opportunity to catch up on previous Crime Story Newsletters.
Thanks again for reading and listening.
Publisher/Editor, Crime Story