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Trials

61 articles
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Trouble in Paradise

Pitcairn Island is impossibly remote, populated by descendants of a ship of British mutineers. Revelations that child molestation and rape had been a way of life for generations exposed them to the outside world.

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Anatomy of a Commercial Interruption

A filmmaker goes to court to fight the television commercial break.

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The Ghosts of Emmett Till

Jurors from the Emmett Till trial revisit the case 50 years later.

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The Smartest Girls in the Room

How an obscure Australian judge and a hard-charging lawyer put the S&P on trial for the global financial collapse.

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Wild Justice

Putting killer animals on trial.

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Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man

On the O.J. Simpson verdict and the Million Man March.

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An Odd Bird

When U.S. customs law met abstract art in the form of a bird, “shimmering and soaring toward the ceiling while the lawyers debated whether it was an ‘original sculpture’ or a metal ‘article or ware not specially provided for’ under the 1922 Tariff Act.”

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The Politics of Killing

Two men named Nathan committed murders. Only one received a death sentence.

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Injustice for All

John MacNeil was convicted by the state of Massachusetts of second-degree murder. He was given a life sentence. He escaped. He was caught. Through an incredible feat of jailhouse lawyering, he somehow got himself paroled and exiled to Canada. Then he came home.

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The Bravest Woman in Seattle

She survived an evil, gruesome attack. Her partner did not. An account of a victim, a widow, telling her story on the witness stand.

Update, 4/16/12: This piece was just awarded the 2012 Pulitzer Prize for Feature Writing.
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The Penge Mystery: the murder of Harriet Staunton

On a Victorian-era murder case, and the novel it inspired.

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A Struggle with the Police & the Law

A Supreme Court Justice revisits a rape trial from the 1950s.

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Ivan the Recumbent, or Demjanjuk in Munich

A report from the trial of Ivan Demjanjuk—a.k.a. “The Last Nazi”—who died on March 17.

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Disarming Viktor Bout

A profile of the world’s most notorious weapons trafficker.

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Two Men in Texas

What really happened between the plaintiffs in Lawrence vs. Texas, the case that ended anti-sodomy laws?

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Gold Coins: The Mystery of the Double Eagle

The hunt for rare 1933 Double Eagle coins:

The U.S. Secret Service, responsible for protecting the nation’s currency, has been pursuing them for nearly 70 years, through 13 Administrations and 12 different directors. The investigation has spanned three continents and involved some of the most famous coin collectors in the world, a confidential informant, a playboy king, and a sting operation at the Waldorf Astoria in Manhattan. It has inspired two novels, two nonfiction books, and a television documentary. And much of it has centered around a coin dealer, dead since 1990, whose shop is still open in South Philadelphia, run by his 82-year-old daughter.

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Reversal of Fortune

Steven Donziger, an American lawyer, headed up a successful lawsuit against Chevron on behalf of Ecuadorans. Then the legal tables turned on him.

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The Survivor

When your family is murdered, and the home you had made together is destroyed, and you yourself are beaten and left for dead — as happened to Bill Petit on the morning of July 23, 2007 — it may as well be the end of the world. It is hard to see how a man survives the end of the world. The basics of life — waking up, walking, talking — become alien tasks, and almost impossibly heavy, as you are more dead than alive. Just how does a man go about surviving such a thing? How does a man go on?
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The Mitigator

How mitigation specialists are changing the application of the death penalty:

In Texas, the most prominent mitigation strategist is a lawyer named Danalynn Recer, the executive director of the Gulf Region Advocacy Center. Based in Houston, GRACE has represented defendants in death-penalty cases since 2002. “The idea was to improve the way capital trials were done in Texas, to start an office that would bring the best practices from other places and put them to work here,” Recer said recently. “This is not some unknowable thing. This is not curing cancer. We know how to do this. It is possible to persuade a jury to value someone’s life.”

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Shaken-Baby Syndrome Faces New Questions in Court

The history of – and recent controversy over – the diagnosis.

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The Girl from Trails End

In Cleveland, TX, nineteen men and boys gang raped an eleven-year-old girl in an abandoned trailer. This is the story of the victim and her community.

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The Case of Sacco And Vanzetti

Analysis of the trial from future Supreme Court justice.

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The Womanizer's Wife

How Anne Sinclair stuck by Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

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The Story of a Snitch

On the rise of witness intimidation in Baltimore.

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On the Jury

The jury room was a gray-green, institutional rectangle: coat hooks on the wall, two small bathrooms off to one side, a long, scarred table surrounded by wooden armchairs, wastebaskets, and a floor superficially clean, deeply filthy. We entered this room on a Friday at noon, most of us expecting to be gone from it by four or five that same day. We did not see the last of it until a full twelve hours had elapsed, by which time the grimy oppressiveness of the place had become, for me at least, inextricably bound up with psychological defeat.
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The Art of the Deal

David Headley helped plot the Mumbai terror attacks. Now his best friend is on trial for conspiring with him. The prosecution’s key witness: David Headley. The story of an informant trying to save his own life from the witness stand.

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The Prince Who Blew Through Billions

On the brother of the Sultan of Brunei, Prince Jefri Bolkiah, who has “probably gone through more cash than any other human being on earth.”

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The Brain on Trial

Eagleman, a neuroscientist, describes how groundbreaking advances in the science of brain have changed our understanding of volition in criminal acts, and may erode the underpinnings of our justice system.

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The Laci Peterson Murder Case

An attractive, young, pregnant woman disappears, her husband begins to act strangely, and one of the largest media circuses in history descends on the sleepy community of Modesto, CA.

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The Long Interrogation

In the 1970s, Kelbessa Negewo was a midlevel administrator in Ethiopia’s brutal Red Terror regime. In the 1990s, he was a bellhop in an Atlanta hotel. Then someone he had tortured back home recognized him.

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The Trial of Bobby Seale

An annotated transcript:

MR. SEALE: [The marshals are carrying him through the door to the lockup.] I still want an immediate trial. You can’t call it a mistrial. I’m put in jail for four years for nothing? I want my coat.

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John Demjanjuk: The Last Nazi

John Demjanjuk has had a huge year. Twenty years after being sentenced to die, he finally climbed to the pinnacle of the Wiesenthal Center's list of Nazi war criminals this April, shortly after the Germans filed the arrest warrant that allowed the OSI to put him on the jet to Munich.
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Manson: An Oral History

The story of the 1969 murder spree by Charles Manson and “Family” as told by those close to the case.

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Sex Thief

One part rapist, one part con-man; the story of the seemingly unconvictable Hy Doan.

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Nightmare on Elm Drive

A comprehensive history of the case against the Menendez brothers, built primarily on secret audio recording made by their self-promoting therapist.

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A Father’s Pain, a Judge’s Duty, and a Justice Beyond Their Reach

Paul Wayment made a profound mistake, left his 2-year-old son alone in his truck as he tracked deer in the wilderness. The boy was gone when he returned. The story of a collective struggle to find a just punishment.

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The Incredible Story of the Collar Bomb Heist

In 2003, a man robbed a bank with a bomb around his neck. It exploded shortly thereafter, taking his life and leaving authorities to piece together who had put it there.

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Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

A jury foreman on the messy effectiveness of the American justice system.

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Blindsided

His wife murdered his mother, tried to do the same to him, and was prepared to orphan their 8-month-old child. The attempt left him blind. Then he defended her in court.

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The Pentagon Papers Trial

The case that brought leaks to the popular consciousness.

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The Wronged Man

“Twenty-two years after being sent to prison for an unspeakable crime he did not commit, Calvin Willis walked out a free man, the 138th American exonerated by DNA evidence. He has won his freedom, yes, but how does a falsely accused man reclaim his life?”

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On the Death Sentence

In 1976, newly appointed Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens voted to reinstate capital punishment in the United States. Thirty years later, he argued that it’s unconstitutional. Here, he explains why he changed his mind.

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The Wrong Man

The cops thought they had captured a fugitive. They had not. Elias Fishburne was a hairdresser from Maryland and was going to jail.

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Cases Crumble, Killers Go Free

An 18-month investigation proves reveals how easy it is to get away with murder in Baltimore.

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The Boomtown, the Gringo, the Girl, and Her Murder

A writer starts a vacation in San Juan del Sur, a seaside village of 20,000 in Nicaragua, just in time to see an expat charged with the murder of a local.

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More Dispatches from the R. Kelly Trial

Featuring the debut of the “Ghost Sex Defense.”

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Dispatches from the R. Kelly Trial

The “Shaggy Defense,” the “Little Man Defense,” and more—live from R. Kelly’s 2008 child pornography trial.

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In the Face of Death

There was no doubt: Jeremy Gross had brutally murdered a convenience store clerk. All that was left to decide was his punishment. Death or life without parole? The story of a capital murder trial, as seen from the jury box.

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Welcome to the Monkey House

In 1906, Enrico Caruso was arrested for molesting a young woman inside the Monkey House of Central Park Zoo, paving the way for the first celebrity trial of the 20th century.

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The Trials of "Dr. Sam"

A Wikipedia-style dissection of the case that inspired The Fugitive. The accused, Dr. Sam Sheppard, claimed to have struggled with an intruder before being knocked out and dumped on a beach, his wife’s left corpse in their house.

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Innocence Lost

In 1992, Anthony Graves was arrested for brutally murdering a family in the middle of night. He had no motive. There was no physical evidence. The only witness recanted. And yet Graves remains behind bars.

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See No Evil

Three Dallas prostitutes were found dead in as many months. Charles Albright might be the last person you’d suspect–unless you knew about his unique, lifelong obsession.

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Getting Off

Inside the competitive, lucrative, swashbuckling world of DWI attorneys in Houston.

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Justice

Dominick Dunne’s account of the trial of his daughter’s murderer.

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Trial By Fire

The arson case that may have led Texas to execute an innocent man.

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No Angel, No Devil (Part II)

The second installment of the Gaile Owens story. A former churchgoing mother of two from suburban Memphis, Owens is the first woman to be given the death penalty in Tennessee in nearly 200 years.

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No Angel, No Devil

Gaile Owens was a churchgoing mother of two boys in suburban Memphis. Now she’s the first woman sentenced to die in Tennessee in nearly 200 years. The jury never heard her whole story; this is it.

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Too Weird for The Wire

When the Feds sought the death penalty for four African-American drug dealers in Baltimore, the accused found a defense in the unlikeliest of places: the legal theories of white supremacists.

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A Troubled Rape Case

A rape case against a Deputy D.A. brought by a co-worker opens a window into a shockingly kinky and dysfunctional District Attorney’s office, brimming with conflict of interest.