Editor's Blog

Emmy Nominee Jared Harris Reads: Wait, What?: A Closing Statement

Jared Harris, nominated for an Emmy this year for his performance as Valery Legasov in the miniseries Chernobyl, reads excerpts from the idiosyncratic Closing Statement of attorney Vincent Oliver in the rape trial of his client Wyaunte Cousin. This article was first published on August 21, 2019. As I walk into Department 109 of the Criminal Courts Building, I hear the following words and my ears prick up: IT WASN'T UNTIL THE REIGN OF RICHARD THE FIRST, WHO YOU PROBABLY KNOW AS RICHARD THE LIONHEARTED,...

The Co-Creator and Executive Producer of Banshee Joins the Podcast

Today’s podcast is a conversation with Jonathan Tropper. Jonathan and I met when he pitched me an idea for a Cinemax show called Banshee. We worked together on that series and on his most recent Cinemax series Warrior. I asked Jonathan to join me for this conversation for two reasons: First, Banshee explores ideas of crime and justice in ways that are very unique in the television landscape. It is a violent and pulpy show that also examines the existential toll taken by deceit and betrayal. Second, Banshee is the show that connected...

“The Night Of” Showruner joins the Crime Story Podcast

Today’s podcast is a conversation with Steve Zaillian. Steve won an Oscar for writing the screenplay for Schindler’s List and won a Directors Guild Award for his miniseries The Night Of. The conversation was recorded as part of a series of classes that I taught at The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Each week I would host an artist for a discussion that would help us better understand the values and aims of storytellers in the world of crime and justice. I got to know Steve working as...

The Chrissy Teigen Tweet and Trump’s Turn Away from Criminal Justice Reform

Does President Trump’s Twitter tirade taunting Chrissy Teigen (and her husband, musician and activist John Legend) suggest a shift in his administration’s narrative regarding criminal justice reform? Trump’s four tweet lament (pleading that he gets no credit for the reform legislation that passed last year, while undeserving others take that credit) reeked of resentment, jealousy, and recrimination, and it may be the latest in a series of signals that — as we move into an election year — he is abandoning the “Reform” mantle in favor of a punitive, retributive...

Robert Durst Fades Away (Durst 3)

This is the third in a series of articles about the hearings before the murder trial of Robert Durst. You may click on the hyperlinked titles to read Two Hearings: Robert Durst and Armon Nelson and While Robert Durst Flips Through Photos. Robert Durst seems to be fading away. In the first hearing in his trial for the murder of Susan Berman observed by our Crime Story reporters, Robert Durst yells about the wardrobe brought for him. In the second, he sits, virtually mute, and only becomes engaged by a series...

Week 4

We brought our first month to close with a set of articles and podcasts that our readers clearly found engaging, as we surpassed our previous week in traffic and engagement.We began and ended the week with pieces by Owen Smith. Owen's An Appeal for Commutation explored the Sisyphean struggle of Delon Broussard to persuade Judge Curtis Rappe to commute his murder conviction based on a 2018 California Law.  His story Special Docket explores the efforts of Community Collaborative Courts to address the special needs of certain special defendants.Tuesday, we published the second article by Amanda Knox with Christopher Robinson. Expressions of Guilt explores...

Podcast: Criminal Minds Founding Showrunner (2 of 2 Parts)

In Part Two of the interview with Ed Bernero we zero in on two of the show’s episodes to discuss how the details of their creation offer us broader insights into the creative process that Ed established on the show. We also hear Ed’s answers to questions posed by USC students. You may find a transcript of this Podcast here.

Week 3 Update

Hi Crime Story Friends, In our third week we enjoyed intense reader interest and growth in traffic to the site. We truly appreciate your readership, support and willingness to subscribe to our communications. Early in the week, there was a lot of activity and engagement around a few stories that we published at the end of the prior week including Molly Miller’s A Chair and a Killing, my piece Wait, What? A Closing Statement, and Leland Hall’s Off the Path of Self-Destruction - our second of three pieces about our writers’...

Podcast: Criminal Minds Founding Showrunner (1 of 2 Parts)

Part One of a conversation with the co-creator of Third Watch and Executive Producer and founding showrunner of Criminal Minds, Edward Allen Bernero. Ed is a charming, funny, passionate storyteller. We hear about his unusual path into storytelling, and we learn how he came to run the show and how he built the story mythology that has allowed Criminal Minds to achieve global financial success. Here is a link to the transcript of Part One.

Part Two of Podcast with Breaking Bad Creator and Executive Producer

Today’s podcast is part two of a two part conversation with Vince Gilligan, the creator and showrunner of one of the great series in television history, Breaking Bad and one of his key collaborators on that series, director/executive producer Michelle MacLaren. In this episode, we talk about the actors and zero in on two of the show’s episodes to discuss how the details of their creation offer us broader insights into the unique creative process behind this television masterpiece. Part One of the podcast is available...

Week 2 Recap

Week 2 represented another step forward in realizing the unique opportunities that Crime Story offers to explore the many facets of crime and justice narrative. We introduced a new feature to our Crime Story Podcasts where we present recordings of our writers reading their articles. Molly Miller read The Bullet and the Door, the first of Crime Story’s articles about the trial of David Martinez. This coincided with publication of our second Martinez article, my piece called Anatomy of Doubt about the emotionally wrenching and ultimately multi-layered testimony of LASD Deputy Jim Moss.

New Podcast with Breaking Bad Creator and Executive Producer

Today’s podcast is part one of a two part conversation with Vince Gilligan, the creator and showrunner of one of the great series in television history, Breaking Bad and one of his key collaborators on that series, director/executive producer Michelle MacLaren. The conversation was recorded as part of a series of classes that I taught at The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Each week I would host an artist for a discussion that would help us better understand their values and aims as storytellers in the world...

Podcast coming: Breaking Bad creator Vince Gilligan and producer Michelle MacLaren

Subscribe to the Crime Story Podcast on your favorite podcast platform, and you will receive an alert on Thursday when we go live with our latest episode. Thursday’s podcast is part one of a two part conversation with Vince Gilligan, the creator and showrunner of one of the great series in television history, Breaking Bad and one of his key collaborators on that series, director/producer Michelle MacLaren. The conversation was recorded as part of a series of classes that I taught at The University of Southern California’s School of...

Anatomy of Doubt (Martinez 2)

Jim Moss’s job is to save lives. A 29-year veteran of the LA County Sheriff’s Department, Moss has spent 14 of those years serving as a rescue paramedic for the Special Weapons (SWAT) Team. His primary duty, he says, “is to provide advanced life support on SWAT operations.” But on May 23, 2019, Moss has a different job. His duty today is to testify for the People of the State of California in their prosecution of David Martinez for the murder of SWAT officer Shaun Diamond. Moss takes the stand wearing the LASD uniform...

The Gargiulo Verdict etc. – End of Week 1

Yesterday morning, at a little after 11 am, a Los Angeles jury returned verdicts of guilty on two counts of homicide with special circumstances and one count of attempted homicide against Michael Gargiulo.  The trial, which has lasted several months, now moves to the "sanity phase," during which Gargiulo‘s lawyers will argue that he suffers from dissociative personality disorder, and presumably that he should be sent to a psychiatric facility rather than to state prison. Crime Story reporter Chris Tarricone has been observing the trial, and has written these two pieces...

Crime Story Podcast with the Creators of Serial

Today’s podcast is a conversation with longtime members of the team at This American Life and co-creators of the podcast series Serial - Sarah Koenig and Julie Snyder. The conversation was recorded as part of a series of classes that I taught at The University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. Each week I would host an artist for a discussion that would help us better understand their values and aims as storytellers in the world of crime and justice. In addition to discussing the works and artists who shaped their creative thinking,...

A Homicide Report

I am at the Criminal Court Building to watch arraignments and pretrial hearings. As Sean Smith wrote in Slouching to Babel, these hearings can offer a good deal of drama and detail about the dynamics of the LA justice system in a relatively short period of time. But on this day, the pace in arraignments is slow, so I wander up to the legendary ninth floor. This area requires additional security clearance to enter, as it is home to the most serious and high profile criminal trials. OJ Simpson was tried on this same floor. So was Richard...

Check out Crime Story LA

I would like to call your attention to some of the stories that are in our Crime Story LA section. These stories exemplify the tone and approach of our reporting here at Crime Story. We want our pieces to be both accessible and illuminating; thoughtful and emotional; unexpected and satisfying. Sean Smith's Slouching towards Babel introduces the world of the Criminal Courts Building in downtown Los Angeles, and his Two Hearings piece juxtaposes the massive defense posse representing multi-millionaire Robert Durst in a pretrial hearing with the valiant efforts of an Alternate...

Podcasts: Attorney General William Barr; Georgetown Law Professor Paul Butler

To me justice is the right outcome... I believe a sense of justice is hardwired into human beings. Don't ask me why, but it is there… There's that scene in Dirty Harry where… Dirty Harry asks, "Where is she?" And the… guy smirks at him and he shoots him in the leg or something and the guy tells him where it is. I say, now was that an unjust or morally repellent act? Is the reason the audience applauds when that happens because the audience is morally bankrupt? Or is there something else going on there? United States Attorney...

Crime Story

In the days following the 2016 election I had an epiphany of sorts.  The immediate cause of this epiphany was not the unexpected election results, but a November 9 event hosted by Georgetown University Law Center, on whose Board of Visitors I serve. The Dean of Georgetown Law, Dean Treanor, brought together screenwriters Steve Zaillian and Richard Price and a group of legal scholars from the Law School. The panelists focused their discussion on the thematic insights that an HBO miniseries (that I oversaw) called The Night Of offered into our criminal justice system. 

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