Monday, February 21, 2011

Point of Inquiry: Michael Cicchini - Myths, Misconceptions, and the Law

Listen to my interview with host Karen Stollznow on Point of Inquiry.  Launched in 2005, Point of Inquiry is the premier podcast of the Center for Inquiry, drawing on CFI's relationship with the leading minds of the day including Nobel Prize-winning scientists, public intellectuals, social critics and thinkers, and renowned entertainers.  Each episode combines incisive interviews, features and commentary focusing on CFI’s issues: religion, human values and the borderlands of science.”  Prior guests include author and journalist Christopher Hitchens, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, Yale law professor Dan Kahan, and neuroscientist Sam Harris. 

The Cicchini-Stollznow interview covers a broad range of topics, including the sometimes irrational nature of the law, the concept of “evidence” in criminal trials, the over-criminalization of our behavior, the influence of religion on the law, and some of the more interesting legal myths and misconceptions.  More information about Point of Inquiry and the Center for Inquiry, as well as the podcast, can be found here.  Just scroll to the bottom of the text and click "Download MP3" to listen, or "Subscribe via iTunes." 

Thursday, February 10, 2011

What ever happened to Omot?

I recently wrote a blog post, titled Guilt by association, where I discussed two defendants in two different cases who were convicted not for what they did, but for what their roommates did.  One of those defendants was Cham Omot, who was convicted of a felony drug crime because his roommate had marijuana in his (the roommate’s) dresser drawer.  Then, on appeal, the rarest of events occurred: The appellate court reversed the conviction because, even after giving the state every benefit and every inference, there simply was no evidence whatsoever to support the jury’s guilty verdict. 

To most of us, Mr. Omot was just another faceless defendant who had been ground-up in the criminal justice system and wrongfully convicted.  However, from my perspective Mr. Omot “came to life” when I got a letter from Tyler Wickman, the outstanding appellate attorney who won Omot’s appeal.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

But they didn’t read me my rights!

My coauthor Amy Kushner and I just got a great review of our book, But They Didn’t Read Me My Rights! Myths, Oddities and Lies about Our Legal System.  I was pleased to learn that the reviewer was not only entertained, but also picked up on the book’s underlying theme, which he described as disturbing.  Here’s an excerpt of the review:

“Regardless of political persuasion or current interest in law, I predict that you will enjoy this book. You may also become disturbed. Aside from trying to be more involved in lawmaking, especially at the local and state levels, I’m not sure what we can do about it.”

The review is available here.  Additional reviews and commentary are available here.  The book can be purchased here.