Saturday, December 3, 2016
Saturday, November 5, 2016
Sunday, October 23, 2016
Let’s face it: It could be many, many months before Season 2 of Making a Murderer is released — although my book on Avery and Dassey will available April 4th. In the meantime, be sure to watch the Netflix documentary Amanda Knox. It’s just like Making a Murderer, only set in beautiful
instead of . Okay, it’s not just like it, but there are numerous, uncanny parallels between
the Amanda Knox case and the Avery and Dassey cases, including these: Manitowoc, Wisconsin
Tuesday, October 11, 2016
These so-called debates are so absurd that I can’t stand to watch them. Even when I’m at home alone, I get too embarrassed and have to turn the channel. I try to watch, but I just can’t. And these debacles don’t in any way resemble an actual debate. Rather, the participants’ goals seem to be: (1) interrupt your opponent as often as possible; (2) ignore the question whenever possible and instead talk about something completely unrelated; and (3) work in as many sound bites as possible. And the moderators don’t help either. Their two biggest problems are: (1) they seem to be participating in the debate rather than moderating it; and (2) they ask absurd questions about topics that are far beyond the reach of the office of the president. The good news, however, is that there is a simple fix. Because the Commission on Presidential Debates seems to be really dense, and has no idea how to structure debates to “provide the best possible information to viewers and listeners,” I’ll put this advice in the form of a simple numeric list.
Sunday, September 25, 2016
How often is Wisconsin criminal law and procedure front and center on the national stage? Probably once, and that is thanks to the Netflix documentary Making a Murderer. But of course, a ten-hour documentary about three criminal cases (two for Avery and one for Dassey) doesn't allow much time to explore the laws and procedures behind the convictions. Therefore, I wrote a book titled Convicting Avery: The Bizarre Laws and Broken System behind "Making a Murderer." It is being published by Prometheus Books and will hit the shelves on April 4, 2017. As the title makes clear, the book will expose the numerous flaws in Wisconsin's criminal justice system that contributed to the three convictions. In the meantime, if you're one of the few people in the world yet to see Making a Murderer, watch it now on Netflix. And if you're looking for up-to-the minute links, news, and commentary on Avery and Dassey, check out the Tick Tock Manitowoc group on Reddit. Finally, for my first two books, check out my amazon author page.
Monday, September 12, 2016
Friday, September 9, 2016
Sorry for the lack of posts as of late. I've been busy writing a law review article on other-acts evidence, and I also find myself spending far more time than expected watching and reading about this ongoing train wreck otherwise known as the presidential race. (With private servers, political donations, and now "Trump University" lawsuits, there's just so much of substance to take in.) And both of these things -- other-acts evidence and politics -- remind me of Henry Fool. With regard to politics, Henry was rather dismissive of the process: "When noble minds shrink from the task of leadership, scoundrels will rush in to fill the void." And as for other-acts evidence, Henry had firsthand knowledge of its life-long impact: "So my word is not enough; my promise worthless; the fact that I have served my time nothing but the emblem of my continuing guilt." For more of Henry's wisdom, check out Henry Fool, Fay Grim, and now part three of the trilogy, Ned Rifle. And of course, please enjoy the mesmerizing, ongoing media debate about whether Hillary or Trump is the lesser of the two evils, and should therefore be elected president.
Thursday, August 4, 2016
All "Riled" up: SCOW flops on ethics rule 1.9. In it, I discuss the Supreme Court of Wisconsin's decision on my petition to change ethics rule 1.9, as well as SCOW's recently published case In Re Riley, 2016 WI 70, where the court found a lawyer acted unethically for not violating rule 1.9! As Prosser stated in his dissent, there is "serious tension" between the ethics rules, and had the attorney decided to violate rules 1.6 and 1.9 in order to comply with the other set of rules, he could have been fired from his job and even sued by his former client. The lesson is that with Wisconsin's selectively applied, irrational, and conflicting ethics rules, no lawyer is safe from the long arm of the OLR, which, as one of our state's prosecutors noted, is "more concerned with how they look in the zealous pursuit of an attorney pelt, rather than what result should be reached." (2014 WI 31, ¶ 39.) On Wisconsin!
|Columbia L. Rev. Online|
Sunday, July 17, 2016
More than two years ago I wrote about Community’s Jeff Winger, a fictional character that faked a bachelor’s degree, went straight from high school to law school, graduated, passed the bar, practiced law, was ratted-out, was disbarred, and had to go back for a post-J.D. bachelor’s to be readmitted to the bar. (Seasons one through six on DVD here; season six online here.) I also argued that in real-life, the J.D. is nothing more than an associate’s degree, and law schools should recognize this. First, as the fictional Jeff Winger and every real-life law student prove, law school doesn’t require a single, college-level prerequisite to get in. So what’s the difference if the student spends four years and $100,000-plus for a B.A. in puppetry or skips college altogether as Jeff Winger did? And second, I argued, the third year of law school is pure silliness and should be eliminated. In fact, some schools at the time were designing two-year programs, but were still squeezing three years’ worth of tuition dollars out of their
victims students. But now that would-be law students are better
educated about the limited value of the J.D., law schools are forced to look
for creative ways to fill their seats so they can pay their faculty to write
cutting-edge legal scholarship.
Monday, June 27, 2016
|Photo by Brenda VanCuick|
I was searching the web to see if Prometheus Books had posted any type of announcement about my forthcoming book, Convicting Avery: The Bizarre Laws and Broken System behind "Making a Murderer". But before I could find anything, I came across a website called Reddit. (At least I think it’s a website; it really just seemed to be a string of comments.) There was a discussion of my recent Wisconsin Law Journal article about how the Denny rule prevented Jerry Buting and Dean Strang from putting on a third-party defense at Steven Avery’s trial. Most people in the thread liked my article. And so did a guy or gal named “Account1117” who wrote “not a bad column.” (Given there is a lot of bad writing out there, I’ll take that as praise.) However, he or she also wrote “$$$” and indicated that the dollar signs “were a criticism over the fact that a random lawyer out of
no ties to the case is writing a book with ‘Making a Murderer’ in the title.” I tried to post a response, but couldn’t
figure out how. (The problem, I’m sure,
lies with my technological ineptitude; for example, I’ve never tweeted or snapchatted
or pintrested, I’m not even on facebook, and I don’t even know what
Reddit is.) So instead, I decided to write
this post to dispel some myths and offer some tips to would-be writers:
Tuesday, June 7, 2016
|Photo by Rebecca Slye|
Friday, May 27, 2016
In a long-delayed but ironic turn of events,
has just appointed former
United States President Bill Clinton to serve as “special prosecutor” in the internal
probe of its alleged mishandling of sexual allegations. According to Baylor sources, Baylor
will be investigating Kenneth Starr — the university’s former president who has
since been stripped of that title but remains employed in other capacities. One of Clinton’s
directives, sources say, is to determine what Starr knew, when he knew it, and
what actions he took with regard to allegations that certain student athletes had
committed sex-related misdeeds. Decades earlier, of course, the roles were reversed: Starr led
a multi-year, multi-million dollar investigation ostensibly into Clinton’s
Whitewater real estate transaction; however, that investigation quickly shifted from real estate to Clinton’s
sexual indiscretions while in office.
The investigation eventually culminated in the so-called Starr Report, also
known as “Kenneth Starr’s $70 million bag of garbage.”
Saturday, May 7, 2016
Wednesday, March 23, 2016
Wisconsin Law Journal post, which discusses my recent article (coauthored with Larry White, Ph.D.) on Wisconsin's jury instruction 140. This instruction covers the burden of proof in criminal cases. In short, the Wisconsin instruction tells the jury to disregard their search for reasonable doubt in favor of a search for what they think the truth is. Multiple other state courts have warned trial courts not to give this instruction because, quite obviously, it diminishes the burden of proof. Our article explains this from a logical perspective, and also uses a controlled study to empirically test our hypothesis that jurors who receive Wisconsin's instruction will convict at a higher rate than jurors who receive a standard reasonable doubt instruction. Spoiler alert: We were right. You can find the pre-publication version of our article, Truth or Doubt? An Empirical Test of Criminal Jury Instructions, 50 U. Richmond L. Rev. ___ (forthcoming, May 2016) on the Social Science Research Network.