Sean Smith

A screenwriter and creative executive, Sean moved to LA years ago and refuses to leave. He misses Al’s Bar, Hop Louie and the chickens of Echo Park. Sean is a graduate of Harvard, Stanford and USC’s School of Cinema-Television.


Stay on top of Crime Story


“Your Honor? I’m Here to Give Myself Up.”

It’s late on a Friday morning in Department 117. The docket has been cleared and court personnel are straightening up their things in preparation for the lunch break. Judge Katherine Mader glances up at the mostly deserted gallery and spots her.  Late 40s. Restless.  And her hand is up in the air, like a student with an answer to a question no one asked. “Yes?” “Your Honor?” A long beat as the woman hesitates at the crossroads, then decides to do what...

The RightWay To Shut Off the Foster Care to Prison Pipeline

Leo has been in 21 foster homes, three psych wards, and one group home. One of his foster mothers would pull him out of bed in the middle of the night in order to whip him and then force him outside like a dog. Belle was beaten so severely by her new housemate that she couldn’t see out of her swollen eyes. She somehow made her way to Los Angeles Trade-Technical College, where she curled up in a ball on the floor outside her counselor’s office. She remembers that she saw terror in the...

The McDonald’s Uniform and the Scalded Child with Sean Smith Reading

Editor’s note: Out of respect for the privacy of one of the people depicted in this story, we have changed that person’s name. In the fifth-floor hallway, a middle-aged white guy is speaking into his iPhone. Late 40s, ruddy, he looks like someone you’d stand behind in line for beer at a Dodgers game. “I mistakenly fucked up,” he confides, “so I’m sorry….” Mistake. Fuck up. Sorry. The mea culpas pile up like cars on a fog-shrouded Interstate 5. Apologies are par for the course in the...

Two Hearings: Robert Durst and Armon Nelson (Durst 1)

Even through the closed door of the witness interview room, the voices are loud, ratcheting up the tension in the courtroom. An unseen female insists: “I brought the white shirt… and the blue jacket!” The reply is lost as the court reporter raps on the door, leans in, and warns the people in the room that they can be heard. There’s a long beat, and then a middle-aged, blonde woman emerges from the room, looking flustered. She takes a seat immediately behind the defense team. “He cut his hair again,” she announces, perturbed.

Slouching towards Babel

Genesis 11 tells a story of thwarted civic ambitions. The people of Shinar shared a single common language and flaunted this gift by constructing a massive tower, tall enough to reach the heavens. This monument to mutual understanding was to be the hallmark of a great city called Babel. The Lord, perceiving the tower as prideful and idolatrous, responded severely. He descended upon Shinar, scrambled its language – “so that they will not understand one another’s speech” – and scattered its denizens “over the face of all the earth.” Babel the monolingual dream city was no more....