Trials

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

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

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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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Putting killer animals on trial.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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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Analysis of the trial from future Supreme Court justice.

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How Anne Sinclair stuck by Dominique Strauss-Kahn.

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On the rise of witness intimidation in Baltimore.

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

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

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

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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 case that brought leaks to the popular consciousness.

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

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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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Featuring the debut of the “Ghost Sex Defense.”

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

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

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

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

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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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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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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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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 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.