Newsletter: New Episode, Bit of an Edge

November 4, 2015

11/03 Episode: BIT OF AN EDGE


In the US, if you’re accused of a crime, you can rest assured you will be offered a trial and in the end, your guilt or innocence will be decided by a jury of your peers. Sounds fair. But who decides who your peers, are going to be?

The business of picking a jury or “jury selection” is a 400 million dollar industry. In a world of high priced jury consultants what will a jury of your peers look like?

“I never trust anyone that wears a bowtie. It’s a thing with me. If you wear a bowtie and you’re not wearing it to be funny, I automatically have doubts about you,” says lawyer Randall Caldwell on picking a juror.

This week, Life of the Law reporter Ashley Cleek takes us behind the scenes, into the world of jury consultants and jury selection. Listen to BIT OF AN EDGE here.

Radio ststion managers and programmers can find our new episode on PRX, Public Radio Exchange, here.

Racism Highlighted in Green Marker

United States Supreme Court Justices - Courtesy Tim Sloan - AP/Getty Images

While we’ve been investigating jury selection, the United States Supreme Court has been considering a case on the very subject. Can lawyers exclude people from the jury box on the basis of race?

From Slate, writer Dahlia Lithwick takes a closer look at the Georgia death penalty case that seems to be riling up the Justices.


Looking Forward: a New Season


You may not know this, but Life of the Law‘s production team is based all over the US. Our Editors live in Seattle, Maine and Los Angeles and our producers live in New Haven, Birmingham, San Francisco, Philadelphia, Brooklyn, and Berkeley. It can be challenging producing and publishing a feature episode every two weeks, but the huge upside is we can hear and listen to what’s happening all over the country and tell those stories.

To make it as-perfect-as-it-can-be, twice a year we fly in from all points to meet face to face. Yesterday, it was NYC.  The Open Society Foundations which has supported Life of the Law since our inception in 2012, offered us a beautiful meeting room for the day. We heard story pitches and made decisions for our upcoming Spring season. It’s one of the most exciting parts of building Life of the Law.

In 2016, we’re exploring the strange laws of immigration, the origin and evolution of the Voting Rights Act, sterilization, groupies, and we’ll be working on a fascinating 5 part series that looks at the influence of funding and finance on the state courts. We’re calling it “A Fair Fight For a Fair Court.”  Stay tuned…


LIVE LAW: Truth or Dare? Brooklyn


Would you tell the truth? Or would you take a dare?

First french kiss? Midnight trek to see an electric chair inside an abandoned prison? Kicked out of immigration detention center for being too spiritual? A book that told too much truth?

Last night, LIVE LAW BROOKLYN presented nine brave souls who told their secret truth or dare stories on stage at the Knitting Factory.  They took us into their lives and made us all think about the things we do, the chances we take, and the laws we live with.

If you missed it, we’ll be featuring the stories in a special upcoming episode of Life of the Law.


Staff Review: “The Man in the High Castle”


This week’s staff review comes from Kirsten Jusewicz-Haidle, our social media editor and segments producer.

Sometimes a TV show comes around and right from the get go you know you’re it’s target audience. This year, that new show for me is an Amazon Original Series, “The Man in the High Castle” based off of the novel of the same name by Philip K Dick. I was all in right from the first moment I heard Jeanette Olsson singing “Edelweiss” for the theme.

This show takes place in a dystopian 1962 where instead of an Allied Powers victory in World War II, the Axis Powers win. FDR is assassinated in 1933 and America’s politicians decide to maintain an isolationist policy. When the Allies call for help, America doesn’t have sufficient troops to give them. And after Japan destroys Pearl Harbor, the Axis powers win the war with ease and split the United States up. The Eastern half of the United States is a German puppet state, Japan rules over the West, and there’s a thin Neutral Zone separating the two.

In the Eastern part of the country, there’s trouble in paradise for the Nazis as Hitler tries to hide his Parkinson’s, and the top Nazi officers start infighting to grab the power that will be available when he dies. In day to day life society seems to have fully accepted, if not embraced the new Nazi order, but there is a small (and growing smaller) underground resistance.

In the West, tensions are palpable  between the Japanese rulers, the former American citizens, and the Nazi diplomats in the city. Japan doesn’t necessarily support all the Nazi’s policies (like it’s anti-Jewish policies), but it’s willing to play along to try and dissuade whoever the next German dictator is from dropping a nuclear bomb on them.

The Neutral Zone is where undesirables in both regimes go to live with slightly less fear of death. There isn’t total freedom, but it’s the kind of place where banned books can be secretly exchanged with less fear of winding up dead. But, the Neutral Zone also stands on the precipice of nonexistence as it stands in the middle of a new Cold War between Germany and Japan.

This is the world we’re introduced to and this is the world our main characters live in. For some of them, it’s almost all they know. It’s in this world that two people from opposite sides of the country travel to the neutral zone, both carrying outlawed videos, both not knowing why. It’s a fascinating look at what could have been given very different circumstances and I for one can’t wait to see what the rest of this world holds. Plus I’ve got to find out just who exactly is the man in the high castle? The mystery is only 2 episodes deep so far, but the rest of the series is available starting November 13th.


Stay tuned for next week’s LIVE LAW story: “DIY Bankruptcy Court”