#102 Prosecution at the Crossroads

American prosecutors have always been powerful figures in our justice system: they decide the charges, and offer the plea bargains. But our guest says they have become far too powerful – resulting in mass incarceration and the wrecking of human lives over trivial offenses.

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Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Banks?

Two very different views on how and when to prosecute financial fraudsters and corporate criminals: Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara says plausible deniability makes it all but impossible to go after high-level executives like those who caused the 2008 housing collapse and ensuing crises. Others, like journalist Jesse Eisinger and Bharara’s own SDNY predecessor (one James Comey), say effective deterrence means taking on tough cases even when there’s a risk of losing.

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Bonus: Interrogating the Mueller Report

Reaction was swift and intense when news broke that special counsel Robert Mueller had concluded his investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. While Donald Trump takes a victory lap, both his opponents and his supporters are leaping to conclusions based on a four-page summary issued by AG William Barr. But until Mueller's full report is released, there's simply not enough information to properly characterize the investigation's outcome.

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Bonus: Beyond Reason

As discussed recently on Criminal Injustice, California may soon revisit the "reasonable objective officer" standard for use of force by police. The story caught the attention of NPR's Martin Kaste, who called Dave up to ask how that would work. Their conversation turned into a March 12 story on All Things Considered. Hear their full, unedited interview here.

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Bonus: When Prosecuting Cops, Nothing's a Slam Dunk


Michael Rosfeld, the former East Pittsburgh police officer seen on video shooting 17-year-old Antwon Rose in the back as he runs away, has been found not guilty of the unarmed teen's murder. While Friday's verdict angered many and surprised some, it's only the latest in a long string of cases demonstrating the near-impossibility, under current statute and case law, of successfully prosecuting police officers for homicide.

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#100 How High-Tech Policing Fails

When policing has a major crisis – the 1980s crime wave, or the killings of unarmed black men by police in 2014 and 2015 – we often grab for a high-tech fix. But technology seldom becomes the silver bullet we hope for. Our guest has put this trend under the microscope. We talk with veteran investigative journalist Matt Stroud about his new book, Thin Blue Lie: The Failure of High-Tech Policing, published in April of 2019.

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#98 Holistic Criminal Defense

We try to solve the problem of mass incarceration by eliminating mandatory sentences, or by getting rid of cash bail. But what about a better method of providing criminal defense services? Could this cut prison and jail populations, AND secure public safety? There’s a way to do this: use a holistic model for criminal defense services.

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