Saturday, July 21, 2018

Who can save Marquette University?

Other than poking fun at Marquette Law School’s space-eating, $85 million building featuring a massive “library without borders”—a structure erected in the internet age when nearly every legal document and law review article is available online—I don’t think I’ve ever said anything too negative about my alma mater Marquette (MBA ’94, JD ’99).  Well, on second thought, that’s not true.  I was highly critical of the university’s response to alumni requests to bring back the name Warriors.  The bureaucrats didn’t just deny the request.  Instead, they changed our name to Gold.  It’s as if they wanted to punish us just for asking.

Inexplicably, Marquette leaders thought that Gold was “strong” and “competitive,” and “contained all the elements of a Warrior.”  That’s the kind of nonsensical babble you might expect from a twelve year old who got into his dad’s bottle of Vodka, not from the leaders of a university with a multi-million dollar endowment and budget.  It doesn’t make sense in any imaginable way.  A color doesn’t have strength nor does it compete—not even with other colors, let alone with other schools.   

Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Where's the crime?

In Tried and Convicted I wrote about how Wisconsin’s criminal injustice industrial complex spends staggering sums of money to arrest, charge, prosecute, convict, lockup, and then supervise its citizens—often for the better part of their lives.  Our state’s love of punishment and perpetual monitoring is well-known, and stands in stark contrast to other states like our neighbor to the west, Minnesota.  Even conservative states like Idaho are coming to terms with the “evils of big government” associated with such irrational policies; the Red States appear downright progressive when compared to Wisconsin.  But what crimes, exactly, are Wisconsinites committing?  What justifies such massive expenditures, year after year, that could otherwise be put to better use?

In an excellent law review article titled The Use of Wisconsin’s Bail Jumping Statute: A Legal and Quantitative Analysis, 2018 Wis. L. Rev. 619, 636, Amy Johnson includes a table listing the “top ten charged offenses in 2016.”  I’ve combined a couple of categories to list the top five, below.

Saturday, July 14, 2018

A creative explanation of reasonable doubt

My favorite explanation of reasonable doubt came from a Nevada prosecutor during closing arguments to the jury: “you have a gut feeling hes guilty; he’s guilty.”  But I just came across this explanation from an Illinois judge.  It’s pretty creative.  A recently published law review article (here, p. 943-44) describes it this way:  

[T]he judge placed a rubber band around a glass of water and told [the jury] that the rubber band represented reasonable doubt. He then explained metaphorically, the defendant is like a chip of wood in the bottom of the glass and the prosecution must pour in enough evidence, like water, to float the defendant to the rubber band to prove his guilt.