In the United States, juries are often seen as democracy in action. Twelve men and women are asked to hear an entire case, and ultimately, decide another person’s fate. But in Alabama, in capital murder cases, the jury’s decision between life and death is only a recommendation.

This story begins back in 2008, when a violent crime was committed in the small town of Auburn, Alabama. It was in the evening, at the start of spring. Shannon Rae McKenzie was at home with her kids.


Overruled was reported by Ashley Cleek and edited by Annie Murphy with sound design by Shani Aviram. The music in this episode is from Blue Dot Sessions, Aaron Oppenheim/Andrew Weathers, Trigg and Gusset, Chris Zabriskie, and Peripheral Living.

Special thanks to our Advising Scholar Valerie Hans, Professor of Law at Cornell Law School for her scholarship and production support on the story. Professor Hans teaches courses on law and social science, empirical legal studies, torts, and the contemporary American jury. 

Full transcript of Overruled


dividerThis episode of Life of the Law was funded in part by our listeners and by grants from the Open Society Foundation, the Law and Society Association, the Proteus Fund and the National Science Foundation.

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