Duped: Why Innocent People Confess – and Why We Believe Their Confessions

In 1992, Willie Veasy confessed to a murder, a confession a jury accepted despite a time card showing him to have been at work as a dishwasher 8 miles away.  In 2001, Jermel Lewis signed a confession admitting to participating in Philadelphia’s worst mass killing – the seven homicides in what was known as the

TRIAL LAWYER

TRIAL LAWYER by Richard Zitrin “Trial Lawyer.”  That phrase is an epithet, itself a word that can mean either an honoring description or a curse or slander.  For Richard Zitrin, it s a life-long calling, one nurtured in the arena of criminal law and the well of the courtroom and later improved with a parallel

JUNK SCIENCE

The Realm of Junk Science   Search the internet, and you can find links to articles and discussions of ‘lip print’ and ‘ear print’ comparison as forensic tools for identifying perpetrators.  Or search U.S. decisional law, and you may find a transcript of testimony like the following: Q:…[D]o you have an opinion as to the

TRIAL ADVOCACY BASICS – 3RD EDITION (NITA)

In December 2016, when reviewing the second edition of BASIC TRIAL ADVOCACY, I wrote the following: NITA – the National Institute for Trial Advocacy – deserves great credit for providing [advocacy lessons] in a concise, reader-friendly form in TRIAL ADVOCACY BASICS (NITA, 2016) by Molly Townes O’Brien and Gary S. Gildin.    BASICS is an effective

POINT WELL MADE: PERSUASIVE ORAL ADVOCACY (second edition)

  When I reviewed POINT WELL MADE, a NIITA 2016 publication, I wrote that it is a “wonderfully succinct text of 159 pages, it is packed with insight upon insight that individually and collectively will improve motions practice.  The authors have the know-how.  Nancy Viadik was a trial level judge and now is on a

A DESCENDING SPIRAL: EXPOSING THE DEATH PENALTY IN 12 ESSAYS

The information world – books, essays, online discussions and posts – is awash with discussions of the death penalty.  There are “death penalty fast facts,” https://www.cnn.com/2013/07/19/us/death-penalty-fast-facts/index.html ; statistics https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=tp&tid=18 ; a museum tour https://www.crimemuseum.org/crime-library/execution/origins-of-capital-punishment/ ; encyclopedic overviews of caselaw https://deathpenalty.procon.org/major-death-penalty-cases-in-the-us-supreme-court/ ; debates https://www.thoughtco.com/pros-cons-capital-punishment-3367815 ; policy https://policy-perspectives.org/2019/12/16/the-us-federal-government-and-capital-punishment/ ; advocacy https://www.amnestyusa.org/10-reasons-to-abolish-the-death-penalty/ ; essential information https://deathpenaltyinfo.org/ ; and

THE TRIAL LAWYER: WHAT IT TAKES TO WIN (2nd Edition)

Depending upon what circle one travels in, the name “Dave Berg” may mean nothing, may link to the classic cartoons in MAD MAGAZINE, or may call to mind a stellar contemporary trial lawyer.   It is the last, trial lawyer David Berg, who penned THE TRIAL LAWYER; and in doing so he crafted a book with

THE DEFENDER

The words still resonate – “I don’t want a Public Defender, I want a real lawyer.”  They underpinned the backhanded compliment of “hey PD, you’re good.  You should go to law school.”  But it has been the case for decades that a person accused of a crime – adult or juvenile – was better off

ASSERTION AND HEARSAY

Hearsay.  A simple word, one misunderstood by lawyers and many judges.  To some, repetition of words (or even sounds) is automatically hearsay, a clearly over-inclusive approach; to others, the view is under-inclusive, failing to recognize some words as having assertive quality. Hearsay scholarship is extraordinarily varied, but little has started off from the point addressed

BIASED TRIALS

A book titled “Biased Trials” will invariably draw the attention of those who take courtroom advocacy seriously, who teach advocacy, or are driven by concerns over disparate treatment.  This was a ‘moth to the candle’ attraction.  But this book is more than what a trial lawyer needs.  It is a study in behavioral economics, a