Wednesday, April 19, 2017

WPR - NPR Interview

Click the link to listen to my latest radio interview -- this one on Wisconsin Public Radio's "Central Time."  In it, we discuss my new book, Convicting Avery (Prometheus books, 2017), along with several aspects of Wisconsin's criminal justice system including our unconstitutionally low burden of proof, police interrogation tactics, and false confessions.  One of the callers, a former juror, raised a great point about Wisconsin's jury instruction on reasonable doubt.  Paraphrasing, he said: "The judge told us 'not to search for doubt.'  I had doubts about the case, but they weren't things that the lawyers had brought up.  So was I not supposed to consider those unless the attorneys raised them first?"  Finally, for more on my research and controlled studies on Wisconsin's unconstitutional jury instruction on the burden of proof, visit my articles page of  

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Guest blog post on Criminal Element

Check out my guest blog post, Steven Avery and the Criminal Justice Machinery, over at Criminal Element.  (Many thanks to the folks at Criminal Element for having me on as a guest blogger.)  In the post I give a brief overview of some of the serious flaws in Wisconsin's criminal justice system that led to the conviction of Steven Avery.  Whether you think Avery did it or was framed (or both or something else entirely), one thing is for sure: the jury's irrational, split verdict -- based on Wisconsin's constitutionally defective burden of proof, no less -- tells us absolutely nothing.

And for other true crime stories, including posts on Amanda Knox and excerpts from several books, visit Criminal Element's "True Crime Thursday" section.  Enjoy!        

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

New York Journal of Books: Review of Convicting Avery

More praise for Convicting Avery (Prometheus Books), this time from the New York Journal of Books:

"Cicchini skillfully examines and explains the legal how’s and why’s of these controversial convictions . . . while convincingly demonstrating that the injustices perpetrated against Avery and others were not an unusual occurrence.   . . . [T]he author’s writing style and concise analysis allows those not familiar with legal terminology to easily comprehend the complexities of the case.  Overall, Convicting Avery is a revealing and fascinating read that will interest readers of true crime, criminal law, or American legal procedures."

Anything you say (or don't say) can be used against you

We all know that people confess to the police because they think they're helping themselves.  Sometimes these confessions are true and sometimes they're false, but in both cases people confess because they are (wrongly) convinced that doing so is in their best interest.  For example, the police often minimize the event by saying, "If you admit your involvement now, everything will be okay and it's not a big deal; but if you keep lying to us by denying it, then you'll really be in trouble."  Or, sometimes the police present the classic false dichotomy: "You have only two choices: (1) You did this, you meant to do it, you're a monster, and you're going to prison for the rest of your life; or (2) You didn't mean to do this, so-and-so is really the one who did it, you're involvement was minimal, and if you help us out we'll take care of you and you'll be just fine."

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Convicting Avery: The Bizarre Laws and Broken System behind "Making a Murderer" (Prometheus Books)

My new book, Convicting Avery, is now available.  You can find the book at retailers everywhere, including at amazon.  The book has received several positive reviews, including those from the New York Journal of Books, Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, and Blog Critics.  Enjoy!

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Thank the Marquette Warriors for March Madness

Only fifteen teams have won multiple national titles.  In this year’s Final Four, Oregon will be going for its second, North Carolina for its sixth.  But March wasn’t always Mad, and the tournament was always “the tournament.”  When Oregon won its first title in 1939, the Big Dance was anything but: it was an eight-team field played in a tiny gym with only a couple thousand fans in attendance.  And for many decades, the NIT was the more prestigious tournament.  The NIT fielded more teams and better teams, and it was played in a high-profile venue at Madison Square Garden.  Well into the 1970s, getting much-desired media coverage and good recruits depended on getting into the NIT and being seen in New York.