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.”

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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.”

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Click here to listen to part two.

Edge, Jerome — Unity and Healing After a School Shooting: A Native American Perspective

The shooting and deaths at Marysville-Pilchuck High School in Marysville, Washington, on October 24, 2014, brought sadness, fear, unity and a special form of healing to the Tulalip and other Native people of the area. 

In this edition of Radio Curious we visit with Jerome Edge, a Native American of Swinomish and Upper Skagit heritage, hip-hop activist and radio host at KSVR-FM in Mt. Vernon, Washington. When Jerome Edge and I visited from his home in Mt. Vernon, Washington, we discussed the trauma and sadness caused by the shootings and the turn toward healing that then occurred.  We also discussed a developing hip-hop focus — a way to instill values of personal and community respect and strength.  The song “Rise Up,” which you will hear in the program sung by Shaundiin Zollner, is used by permission.

Jerome Edge and I began our conversation on November 16, 2014, when I asked him to put the shootings in a context of time and place.

The book Jerome Edge recommends is “The Indians of Skagit County,” by Martin J. Sampson.

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Cochran, Gregory — The 10,000 Year Explosion – How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution Part Two

In this, the second of two Radio Curious interviews, we continue our discussion of human evolution with Gregory Cochran an aerospace physicist and professor of anthropology at the University of Utah; his expertise is in genetic anthropology. Gregory Cochran along with Henry Harpending, also a Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah, are the co-authors of the 2009 book “The 10,000 Year Explosion – How Civilization Accelerated Human Evolution.” This book explores how humans appear to have evolved over the last 10,000 years, largely driven by civilization-the place, culture and lifestyle of the time.

In this two part conversation, recorded by phone with Gregory Cochran from his home in Albuquerque, New Mexico on February 23rd, 2009, we discuss how humans have genetically evolved.

In part one we discussed the changes in human biology such as lactose tolerance and resistance to malaria that represent human evolution accelerated by civilization. We also discussed the intermixing of neanderthals and humans and the genetic benefits in our species that continue to this day.

In part two, Cochran discusses how gene mutations have allowed specific human advantages in different locations around the world.   We began with his discussion of the migration of the human species out of Africa, which resulted in some people living in the northern latitudes.  People born in these areas with a random genetic mutation resulting in skin of a lighter color allowed them to absorb more vitamin D from the sun, thus giving them better health and a greater opportunity to have off spring. We also discuss the genetic mutations that contribute to certain types of intelligence.

The book Gregory Cochran recommends is”Tthe Princeton Companion to Mathematics,” edited by Timothy Gowers.

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Kennedy, Randall — Interracial Intimacies

Fears of interracial relationships, influenced over the centuries by racial biases and fantasies, still widely linger in American Society today.

Randall Kennedy, a professor at Harvard University Law School is the author of “Interracial Intimacies: Sex, Marriage, Identity, and Adoption,” in which he takes an in depth look at the issue of black and white relationships set against the ever-changing social mores and laws of this country.  From pre-civil war to the present, this book explores the historical, sociological, legal and moral issues that continue to feed and complicate those fears.

Professor Kennedy and I visited by phone in March 2003 and began by our conversation with his description of what he calls a “pigmentocracy” in the United States.  

The book Professor Randall Kennedy recommends is “The Biography of Walter White,” by Robert Jankin.

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Luke, Gregorio — The Day of the Dead

Most countries in the world send ambassadors to talk about and promote what their country is like and to carry on political affairs between and along other nations.  These ambassadors often have assistants known as “cultural attaches.”  They bring and share their nation’s culture, history and the folklore with their host countries. 

The cultural event known as Halloween in the United States is celebrated annually on November 1st as the Day of the Dead in Mexico and other Latin American Counties.

In 1997 Radio Curious invited Gregorio Luke, the cultural attache from the Republic of Mexico based in Los Angeles, California, to our studios when he was the Consul for Cultural Affairs. His job at that time was to broaden the Mexican cultural presence in the United States.

Our conversation began when I asked Gregorio Luke to describe the cultural gaps he sought to bridge in presenting Mexican and to tell us about the Day of The Dead.

The book Gregorio Luke recommends is ”The Crystal Frontier,” by Carlos Fuentes.

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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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Fuller, Alexandra — Growing Up White in Africa

In the late summer of 2003 Radio Curious visited with Alexandra Fuller who, as a child lived in Rhodesia, Malawi and Zambia in southeast Africa between 1972 and 1990.  After her father sided with the white government in the Rhodesian civil war, he was often away from home.   Fuller’s resilient and self-sufficient mother immersed herself in their rural and rugged life. She taught her children to have strong wills and opinions, and to whole-heartedly embrace life, despite and because of their difficult circumstances.  Alexandra Fuller, author of “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood,” known as Bobo to her family, developed a love of reading and story telling early on in her life.  

When I spoke with Alexandra Fuller in September 2003 her home was in rural Wyoming.  We visited by phone and began our conversation when I asked her how she choose the title for her book, “Don’t Let’s Go To The Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood.”

The book Alexandra Fuller recommends is “Echoing Silences,” by Alexander Canigone.  

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Bateson, Mary Catherine –- Do We Really Know the People Around Us?

Do we really know the people around us? Our children? Our family? Our friends? Or are we strangers in our own community? Mary Catherine Bateson, the author of a book entitled, “Full Circles: Overlapping Lives, Culture and Generation in Transition,” believes that we are strangers. She describes us as immigrants in time, rather than space.In this interview from the archives of Radio Curious, recorded in April 2000, we visit with Mary Catherine Bateson, the daughter of two distinguished anthropologists, Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson.

Originally Broadcast: April 17, 2000.

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Lerner, Gerda Ph.D. — The Foremother of Women’s History

The history of women has existed as long as humans have, but it was not until the last half of the 20th Century that women’s history received recognized academic attention.  Our guest, Professor Gerda Lerner was a pioneer in the movement to study and record the history of women.

Gerda Lerner led an extraordinary life from April 30, 1920 to January 2, 2013.  She was a historian, author and teacher, and ultimately a professor emeritus of history at the University of Wisconsin.  Her academic work was characterized by the attention she drew to the differences among women in class, race and sexual orientation.

Professor Lerner and I visited by phone in October 2002, began with her description why the distinctions among women of class, race and sexual orientation are important.

Originally Broadcast: October 1, 2002.

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