Cohen, James — Ferguson Grand Jury: A Legal Analysis, Part Two

We continue our look into the Ferguson, Missouri, investigation of the August 9, 2014, shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old black man, shot three times in the head by the now former Ferguson police officer, Darren Wilson. 

The St. Louis County, Missouri, grand jury, convened by District Attorney and Prosecutor Robert McCulloch failed to return any criminal charges against Wilson.  This occurred after three months of weekly grand jury meetings.  Prosecutor Robert McCulloch gathered and organized the information and facts presented to the grand jury. 

Our guest is Attorney and Law Professor James A. Cohen, who has tried over 100 criminal jury trials and teaches criminal law and related topics at Fordham University Law School in New York City.  

In part one, Professor Cohen and I reviewed the evidence, including Wilson’s spoken testimony, the written police reports and medical reports presented to the St. Louis, Missouri, grand jury, by District Attorney McCulloch.

In this second part of our visit with Professor Cohen we continue a review of Officer Wilson’s testimony and the forensic evidence.  We then examine the duties of a prosecutor before a grand jury; the potential for conflicts of interest; and the prosecutor’s ethical obligations.  Professor Cohen asserts that had a special prosecutor been appointed to present the evidence of the facts surrounding Officer Wilson’s shooting of Brown, it is likely that a significantly different decision might have resulted from the grand jury’s deliberations.

In this program, recorded on December 5, 2014, we begin part two with Professor Cohen’s analysis of Officer Wilson’s testimony about why he shot Michael Brown nine times, including three shots to the young man’s head.

The books that Professor Cohen recommends are those written by Anders Ericsson:  “The Road To Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games” and “Development of Professional Expertise: Toward Measurement of Expert Performance and Design of Optimal Learning Environments.”

Click here to listen to part two or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part one.

Cohen, James — Ferguson Grand Jury: A Legal Analysis, Part One

The shooting of Michael Brown, an unarmed 18 year old black teenager, in Ferguson, Missouri, on August 9, 2014, by a since retired white Ferguson, Missouri, police office, Darren Wilson, is the subject of this, the first of two Radio Curious interviews devoted to this topic.

Our guest is Law Professor James A. Cohen, who has tried over 100 criminal jury trials and teaches criminal law and related topics at Fordham University Law School in New York City.  Professor Cohen and I review the evidence, including Wilson’s spoken testimony, the written police reports and medical reports presented to the St. Louis, Missouri, grand jury, by District Attorney Robert McCulloch.  His office exclusively organized and presented that evidence, which “with some exceptions,” according to Prosecutor McCulloch, was “made public” shortly after he announced that the grand jury failed to return criminal charges against former Officer Wilson, on November 24, 2014. 

When Professor Cohen and I visited by phone on December 5, 2014, we created a context for what occurred when the Ferguson Grand Jury met between August 20, and November 21, 2014.  We began our conversation with a brief history of grand juries, originally organized in England to protect the people from wonton acts of the King. 

The books that Professor Cohen recommends are those written by Anders Ericsson:  “The Road To Excellence: The Acquisition of Expert Performance in the Arts and Sciences, Sports, and Games” and “Development of Professional Expertise: Toward Measurement of Expert Performance and Design of Optimal Learning Environments.”

Click here to listen or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part two.

California Burning: The Mendocino Lodge Fire

California wildfires present a serious public safety concern, create fear of serious loss for many and cost millions of dollars to fight. In California each fire is given a name, as is done for hurricanes. We devote this edition of Radio Curious, to the Lodge Fire that occurred in Mendocino County, California in August 2014.  We visit with four Mendocino County people who meet the public need at times of crisis.

We begin with Mary Aigner, program director of KZYX and KZYZ, Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, the public radio station where Radio Curious was originally broadcast beginning in 1991.  She describes what local public radio is able to do at a time of crisis. We then hear from Chris Rowney, the Mendocino Unit Chief for Cal-Fire, the California fire protection agency, who explains what Cal-Fire does when confronted with a wildfire. We also hear from Mendocino County Sheriff, Tom Allman, whose responsibility it is to order a mandatory evacuation if a crisis so requires. Finally we hear from Dr. Sharon Paltin, a family physician in Laytonville, California, the community closest to the Lodge Fire.  She describes the public health effects of exposure to the extraordinary amount of smoke created by a wildfire.

We begin our conversation, recorded on August 29, 2014, with Mary Aigner from Mendocino County Public Broadcasting, describing the role of community radio when a wild fire occurs.

The book Mary Aigner recommends is “1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus,” by Charles C. Mann. The book that Chris Rowney recommends is “Young Men and Fires,” by Norman McClean. The book Dr. Sharon Paltin recommends is “A Paradise Built in Hell: The Extraordinary Communities That Arise in Disaster,” by Rebecca Solnit.

This program was recorded on August 29 and September 1, 2014.

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Von Drehle, David — Triangle, the Fire that Changed America

Until September 11, 2001, The Triangle Shirtwaist Fire of March 25, 1911 was the deadliest workplace disaster in the history of New York City.  The fire shocked the nation and exposed the life-threatening conditions in America’s sweatshop industry.  It gave energy to the labor movement and unions, and remade the Democratic Party of the time. 

Our guest, David Von Drehle, is the author of “Triangle, the Fire That Changed America,” a book that presents a detailed examination of how this single event changed the course of the 20th century politics and labor relations. In this book, Von Drehle concludes:

As for the mostly nameless young women and men who went on strike in 1909 and bravely walked those relentless picket lines through a freezing winter—and especially those remarkable young people who later died at the Triangle—their memory grows.  Their individual lives are mostly lost to us, but their monument and legacy are stitched into our world. 

David Von Drehle and I visited by phone from New York City in early September 2003, and began with his description of the fire on March 25, 1911 that changed America.

The book David Von Drehele recommends is “Plunkitt of Tammany Hall” by William Riordan. 

This program was originally broadcast on September 9, 2003.

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Hong Fincher, Leta Ph.D. — Gender Inequality in China: Part Two Workplace Disparity

Welcome to part two of our conversations about the erosion of gender equality in China with our guest Leta Hong Fincher, the author of “Leftover Women: The Resurgence of Gender Inequality in China”. Her book is based in part on her research for the Ph.D. in sociology she received in 2014 from Tsinghua University in Beijing, China.

In this 2nd conversation we discuss the extent of what if anything is done about domestic violence in China, the difference in the retirement ages for women and men and the requirement that women submit to a gynecological examination before obtaining a civil service job.

When Leta Hong Fincher and I visited by phone on August 9, 2014 we began with a discussion of domestic violence in China.

The book Leta Hong Fincher recommends is “The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory,” by Lydia H. Liu, Rebecca E. Karl and Dorothy Ko.

Click here to listen to part two of the program or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part one.

Blake, Tim — Marijuana & the California Drought Part Two

This is the second of two interviews about the nation-wide acceptance of the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana.  Our guest is Tim Blake, founder of The Emerald Cup, California’s oldest competition among outdoor growers of organic cannabis.  He shares his opinions about the future cultural and legal acceptance of marijuana. 

Tim Blake and I continued our conversation about the growing nation-wide acceptance of marijuana and why. His comments and opinions are his, and were recorded in the studios of Radio Curious on January 17, 2014.

The book Tim Blake recommends is “The Urantia Book:  Revealing the Mysteries of God, the Universe, Jesus and Ourselves,” published by the Urantia Foundation.

Tim Blake’s comments and opinions are his and not necessarily that of Radio Curious.  We’re just curious.

Click here to listen to part two or on the media player below.

Click here to listen to part one.

Benally, Leonard — A Navajo Elder Remembered

In this edition of Radio Curious assistant producer Christina Aanestad speaks with Leonard Benally, a Dine’ elder. Dine is the indigenous name for the Navajo people. Leonard Benally lived in an area called Big Mountain on the Navajo and Hopi reservations close to the Arizona-New Mexico border. He died on October 11, 2013 from cancer.

In the 1970′s a Hopi – Navajo land dispute erupted on Big Mountain; some claim it was devised to move the Navajo out of the area because Peabody Coal wanted the coal rich land below their feet. As a result, an estimated 20,000 Dine’ were displaced. A few hundred remain to this day-refusing to leave. Leonard Benally was one of them.  

In August, 2012 Leonard Benally agreed to talk about his life.  He began the conversation by describing the boarding schools he was forced to live in, as a child, one being the school for Navajo children in Tuba, Arizona.

Leonard Benally recommends people listen to XIT an indigenous rock band from the 1970′s. This conversation with Leonard Benally was recorded in August of 2012 and first aired on Radio Curious in October 2013.

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Leinen, George — A Mortician’s Philosophy

Continuing our series on the funeral industry in the United States we visit with the owner of a mortuary in a rural northern California town.  As professionals describe their work and philosophy, George Leinen, owner of Empire Mortuary in Ukiah, California since 2000,  joins us in this edition of Radio Curious to share his thoughts and experiences.  We discuss funeral industry trade associations, business practices in some sectors of the industry, and how our guest’s philosophy evolved.

In this program, recorded in the studios of Radio Curious on September 21, 2013 we began our visit when I asked George Leinen to describe embalming,  what it is, and why it’s done.

The book George Leinen recommends is “The American Way of Death,” by Jessica Mitford.

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Czifra, Steven — Eight Years in Solitary Confinement Part Two

This is our second interview with Steven Czifra, a 38 year old undergraduate student at the University of California at Berkeley who spent almost 16 years in prison beginning when he was 14 years old.  For almost eight of those years he was held in solitary confinement. 

Having been held in a solitary confinement facility known as the SHU, security housing units of California’s juvenile and adult prisons, for almost eight years, he recently participated in the hunger strikes in solidarity with current prisoners to end the use of those facilities.

In the first of a two-part series on prisons from the prisoner’s perspective, Steven Czifra shared his story and experiences.  Our first conversation ended when he was about to explain his desire to give a voice to the segment of the population which ends up in prison, and is otherwise not heard.  Who they are and why they are there. 

In this second conversation recorded from his home in Berkeley, California in September 14, 2013, Steven Czifra tells more of his personal story, his background and reflections and how he chose to turn his life around.  

The book Steven Czifra recommends is “We’re All Doing Time:  A Guide to Getting Free,” by Bo Lozoff.  

Click here to listen to part two of our interview with Steven Czifra or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.

Click here to listen to part one.

 

Czifra, Steven — Eight Years in Solitary Confinement Part One

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with Steven Czifra, a 38 year old undergraduate student at the University of California at Berkeley who spent almost 16 years in prison beginning when he was 14 years old. 

Having been held in a solitary confinement facility known as the SHU, security housing units of California’s juvenile and adult prisons, for almost eight years, he recently participated in the hunger strikes in solidarity with current prisoners to end the use of those facilities.

In the first of a two-part series on prisons from the prisoner’s perspective, Steven Czifra shares his story and experiences. In part-two we talk about his reflections and how he chose to turn his life around. 

Our conversation, recorded from his home in Berkeley, California on September 14, 2013 began when I asked him what led up to his first incarceration. 

The book Steven Czifra recommends is “The New Jim Crow:  Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness,” by Michelle Alexander.  

Click here to listen to our interview with Steven Czifra or on the media player below.

Click here to download the podcast.