Expert Witness

Paul Butler: Pandemic Policing: Hands Off; Don’t Arrest?

For people of color who want to left alone by the cops, the public health emergency represents the best of times and, potentially, the worst of times.   The silver lining in the coronavirus cloud is that it has altered policing in urban areas.  The rough treatment that many minority group members routinely experience – random stops and frisks, arbitrary arrests, excessive force- is on the wane.  The police are chilling out not because their regular methods are unconstitutional or bad for their relationship with the community, although both of...

Amanda Knox Interview: The Impact of Quarantine on the Formerly Incarcerated

“These are creative times”Obie Anthony, Founder, Exonerated Nation Social distancing and self-quarantine are difficult measures for everyone, but especially for the formerly incarcerated. Having your ability to gather restricted and being forced indoors is triggering. With the necessary cancellation of the annual Innocence Network Conference, many exonerees are feeling adrift and alone. I reached out to Obie Anthony, founder of Exonerated Nation, a nonprofit organization that assists exonerees in reintegrating into society, to talk about how he’s facilitating community in these uncertain times. Amanda Knox

Amanda Knox: The Too-Steep Climb to Righting Wrongful Convictions

Chris and I got married on February 29th, 2020—just in time, it seems. Only two of our guests cancelled at the last minute for fear of travel due to the coronavirus. This was before Governor Inslee called for the cancellation of any event with over fifty participants. Now, just two weeks later, Chris and I are grateful that we’ve only had to cancel our honeymoon. We were planning on travelling to Germany to visit Jens Soering who, after 33 years wrongfully imprisoned, has reentered the world at a very strange time. We were hoping to write about meeting him in...

Amanda Knox Interview: The Threat to Habeas Corpus

"Without it…the Game is Over": Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project, on the DOJ's move to suspend habeus corpus On March 21, 2020, Politico reported that the Trump administration Justice Department submitted documents to Congress requesting lawmakers to grant the Attorney General power to ask the chief judge of any district court to pause court proceedings “whenever the district court is fully or partially closed by virtue of any natural disaster, civil disobedience, or other emergency situation.” This broad authority to pause court...

Recently-Retired Los Angeles Crime Judge Endorses George Gascón for District Attorney

On February 19, 2020, Katherine Mader retired after serving for nearly two decades as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. Before she joined the bench in 2001, she also practiced criminal defense from 1973-1985, was a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney from 1985-1996 and 1999-2001, and was the first LAPD inspector general from 1996-1999. Why I Support George Gascón for District Attorney By Katherine Mader, Los Angeles Criminal Court judge, retired February, 2020 Having spent the last forty-five years participating in the Los...

Episode 117: Recently-Retired Los Angeles Crime Judge Endorses George Gascón for District Attorney

On February 19, 2020, Katherine Mader retired after serving for nearly two decades as a Los Angeles Superior Court judge. Before she joined the bench in 2001, she also practiced criminal defense from 1973-1985, was a Los Angeles County deputy district attorney from 1985-1996 and 1999-2001, and was the first LAPD inspector general from 1996-1999. Why I Support George Gascón for District Attorney By Katherine Mader, Los Angeles Criminal Court judge, retired February, 2020 Having spent the last forty-five years participating in the Los...

Paul Butler: The Real Target of The Jussie Smollett Charges Is A Progressive Prosecutor

Jussie Smollett is the target of new charges, but his case is no longer mainly about him. Who is really on trial are progressive prosecutors, like Kim Foxx, the Chicago State’s Attorney, whose office made the decision to drop the original charges brought against Smollett. What is really on trial is whether African Americans – as elected prosecutors and as criminal defendants – are entitled to equal justice under the law.   This week Smollett was charged with six counts of disorderly conduct, for allegedly lying about being the victim of...

Amanda Knox Week: A Crime Story Compilation

Since August of last year, Amanda Knox with Christopher Robinson have contributed four pieces to Crime Story. Each offers a unique perspective on how our society approaches crime, justice and punishment. Today on The Crime Story Podcast we offer all four of those pieces in one presentation. The Injustice of Nancy Grace In Oxygen’s Injustice with Nancy Grace, Grace promises to investigate “cases that inspire other victims to believe it ain’t over yet. Somebody still cares.” In other words, Grace is reprising...

Paul Butler Reads: The Promise and Failure of “Queen & Slim”

Black protest – especially against police violence – scares some people. The Attorney General of the United States, for example, does not think the police should be criticized.  Last week William Barr issued a  threat:  if certain communities don’t start showing the police “support and respect” they “might find themselves without the police protection they need.”   In an earlier speech to the Fraternal Order of Police, Barr claimed “the anti-police narrative is fanning disrespect for the law.” This is, of course, a lie. The movement for black lives is about holding the police accountable, to...

High Crimes Story

The following piece was first published on the website for the Miller Center, a nonpartisan affiliate of the University of Virginia that specializes in presidential scholarship, public policy, and political history. It was written by the Miller Center’s Director and CEO, William Antholis, who is the brother of Crime Story’s Publisher and Editor, Kary Antholis. Impeachment is the central issue gripping the presidency today.  It has been 10 weeks since Speaker Pelosi announced that she was beginning an impeachment inquiry against President Trump....

Amanda Knox: The Case for E-carceration

…at least, for now. For years, my view of the outside world was reduced to what I could see out of one barred window: the barren stretches between prison buildings, the walls topped with barbed wire, and beyond, a line of cypress trees on a remote hill. One of my few joys was the rare sight of a wild rabbit scurrying through the grass in springtime ― a reminder that out there, life carried on, even if I couldn’t be a part of it. 

Trump, Jussie Smollett and “Embarrassment to our Nation”

Last week President Donald Trump spoke in Chicago at the annual convention of the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Trump used the occasion to call out the actor Jussie Smollett, who had been accused of filing a false police report claiming that he was the victim of a racist and homophobic hate crime. Trump said that Smollett had perpetrated a scam, and that Congress’ impeachment investigation was a scam too.  Earlier in the year it appeared that Donald Trump and Jussie Smollett had some things in common. Each was the...

Jamal’s Story

On a hot summer day in 2012, Jamal Smith* and two friends robbed three different groups of people at gunpoint. Some were white and some were black. Some were old, and some young. They had nothing in common except that they were each undoubtedly terrified to have a gun in their face, and they cooperated with his demands. But he was scared also. As he says now, “I hated it. I was scared that they might have a gun, or I might use mine. I knew I was making them scared too.” But he was desperate. Desperate to earn for the gang he...

Amanda Knox: Conviction and Apology

A D.A., a Judge, and an Alford Plea In January 2006, 60-year-old Malcolm Burrows was lured from his home in Tracy City, Tennessee by a man who claimed he was having car trouble. The man beat Burrows to death, then returned to Burrows's home and attacked his sister, Becky Hill. She survived the assault only because her son, Kirk Braden, intervened and fought the man off. Hill and Braden reported to police that their attacker was a boyish, red-haired man driving a gold-colored vehicle. Investigators honed in...

Felicity Huffman’s Smarter Choices (Updated with Huffman Sentencing)

Update: Just before publication of this story, actress Felicity Huffman was sentenced to 14 days in jail and was fined $30,000 for her role in the college admissions cheating scandal. Last week, federal prosecutors asked United States District Judge Indira Talwani to impose a one-month jail sentence on actress Felicity Huffman, who pleaded guilty to mail fraud last May in “Operation Varsity Blues,” the bribery investigation that rendered Americans even more cynical about college admissions. It’s a light sentence for a hefty nationwide scandal, and she probably won’t even serve it. Huffman...

Amanda Knox: Expressions of Guilt

Emotion Recognition in the Criminal Justice System A young man is on trial for murder. His defense says he’s being railroaded. The prosecution paints him as a deceiving psychopath. Is he lying when he says he wasn’t there that night? We don’t have to look into his eyes to figure that out; the Emotion Recognition System does that for us. With dozens of cameras; thermal, pulse, and respiration measurements; sophisticated facial expression recognition algorithms, with billions of hours of human observation as background data; and thousands of hours of...

Ugly Politics is Feeding the Power of MS-13

It was broad daylight in East Boston when a 16-year-old homeboy for MS-13, a high school freshman nicknamed Animal, spotted a 15-year-old boy in a red shirt. He smirked, pulled out a knife, and began running down Princeton Street, oblivious to the children and families all around him. The victim, Irvin DePaz, felt Animal at his back and began darting through the crowded sidewalks trying to get away. He didn’t run fast enough. Animal caught up, the knife glistening at his side, and pounced on his slightly built adversary. Without hesitation Animal...

First Days: Tragedy and Transformation in Juvenile Justice

We watch the video footage. These are the moments leading up to the discovery of the boy’s suicide. The grainy, black-and-white images show a staff member looking in the boy’s cell, calling for help, opening the cell door, and, with the assistance of some other residents, pulling the boy's limp body out onto the floor of the dayroom.  After watching the video, members of the Attorney General’s office and my staff jump into a conversation about the ongoing internal investigation into his death. I stop them mid-sentence and ask those present to tell me about...

Amanda Knox reads: The Injustice of Nancy Grace

In Oxygen’s Injustice with Nancy Grace, Grace promises to investigate “cases that inspire other victims to believe it ain’t over yet. Somebody still cares.” In other words, Grace is reprising her self-appointed role of “voice of the victim,” and presumably ― Grace says the show will focus on wrongful accusations and botched investigations ― she’s finally including wrongly convicted people within that definition. If so, it’s a big step for Grace, who historically has treated people like me as monsters. I first learned of Grace’s new show when Ryan Ferguson,...

Top Stories