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And when it's not enough to rally people against the idea of the criminal, you can rally them against the idea of McNulty. I want to have an Alan, OK, are you ready? Yes. Welcome to You're Wrong about the podcast where we're soft on everything except tough on crime prosecutors.
That's very good. Boom, boom, boom, boom.
Yeah, we're sticking it to Nancy.
Well, I think, you know, that sounds mean, but we're critiquing her ideas and her and delving deep into her book. Yes.
We're taking her book seriously.
I ruined it. It was fun. And now it's all and now it's all blurry. I'm Sarah Marshall. I'm working on a book about The Satanic Panic. And I'm Michael Hobbs. I'm a reporter for The Huffington Post.
And if you want to support the show, you can get bonus episodes and other fun stuff on Patreon at Patrón dot com slash. You're wrong about Andron people and we've made a bunch of cute T-shirts. If you want to check those out. There's links in the description and we haven't said in a while that it's super chill not to support us.
Oh yeah, that's true. You know, I feel like we were saying that during the the apocalypse phase and now we're in the chronic meltdown phase and it's just nice to have occasional maintenance reminders, the like. You don't owe us anything. Yes.
And that times are tough and they're getting tougher and it's all dark and weird. And there are a million other things to support right now. And you don't have to feel bad if you just want to listen to the show. And that's it.
Take me now, baby, here as I am. Hold me close. Try to understand love is a banquet at which we feed. I was listening to because the night on the radio yesterday and what you were saying about times being tough made me think of that.
But I thought I was going to like Thomas Aquinas or something that works too.
And today we're talking about Nancy Grace again.
I guess. I guess I'm so sorry. We're doing the thing I promised before and which I think is a nice antidote to my feelings of needing to put my episodes off again and again until I'm finally satisfied with them. Because what I'm trying to do here is emulate Nancy herself and the style of one of her recent sections, which we talked about in a past installment of this show in which Nancy presented her case against defense attorneys. I am going to present a case against prosecutors and it is going to be a flimsy list of things that I don't like very much.
You've learned from the best.
Yeah, just sort of random, flaky examples. But I think what's going to happen is that even with this random flaky list, we're going to end up with a more coherent idea of maybe some of the things that are problematic and prosecutor culture. Oh, that Nancy was able to give us and her takedown of defense attorney culture or maybe not. But we'll see.
I'm so excited. This sounds great. So, yeah. What what do we learn so far, Mike?
The central to things that we have learned so far are that the criminal justice system is too soft on criminals, especially habitual criminals.
And the only examples of that that matter are celebrity trials, which are indicative of the entire criminal justice system, apparently.
And who is Nancy Grace? What is she like? Who is our protagonist?
She's a lady who was a prosecutor in Georgia. She was inspired to become a prosecutor after the genuinely very sad murder of her fiancee, which she subsequently twisted and described in ways that weren't really supported by the facts. And she sort of crafted this creation myth for herself that made the murder of her fiancee fit the parameters of the type of crime that she wants us to get tough on. And since then, she became a basically a TV pundit, someone who's had various shows she shows up on as a commentator on various cable news programs to talk about individual cases.
And the cases that she usually focuses on are big, sensational cases, things like Casey Anthony and Scott Peterson, and things that tend to get outsized media attention compared to the grinding, quotidian criminal justice injustice that we see much more of when you actually look at statistics.
You and I have spent more time on this show since the last time we were conversing with Nancy. We spent a lot of time talking about the Wayfarer conspiracy theories and about new developments and human trafficking conspiracy theories. And we've seen the rhetorical tools on display there. And I think one of the things that has stuck out to me is noticing how the author or the speaker is managing to sort of keep the audience's feelings eternally activated and keeping the reader, the listener in a state of some kind of emotional distress.
Really. Right. You know, the excitement of anger, the feeling of predators being out there, you know, feelings of anger, feelings of fear like these are both feelings of like emotional arousal. Right, and take you to a place where, like, your critical thinking is compromised, right, you got to put another log on the fire, right? Yeah.
So, yeah, where are we diving into Nancy this week or are we diving into you? What's what's our structure?
We're driving back in. Nancy, we're just going to pick up where we left off. So Chapter four is called Blood Money. And I'm going to read you the opening paragraph of this because I guarantee you we're going to have no idea where this is going. Oh, no. At the end of every felony trial, when I read out the word guilty in open court, I felt no jubilation. But at least I drove home those nights believing naively that I had helped set things right in some way.
I believe that the system had given a small degree of peace to a family torn apart by violent crime. I had no idea that the persecution of innocent victims once avenged by a jury verdict of guilty continues on. In a very real sense. I was shocked to discover there is a whole new meaning to victimization in which that same family can be victimized over and over again. And at the moment there is not a darn thing we can do about it.
I'm talking about murderabilia. What sold through the Internet? Murderabilia.
Yeah, it's just like people selling T-shirts with, like Charles Manson's face on them or something.
It's that it's sales of various kinds of commemorative items relating to murder. So that could be things owned by a serial killer like their correspondence, things from a place where a murder happened or like T-shirts are, I don't know at this point etsi stuff, I'm sure so. Yeah. Or as Nancy Grace says, get yourself some ginger ale and soda crackers, because I predict you'll soon be as nauseated as I was when I discovered the truth. Nauseated.
She's putting logs on the fire. It's like prepare to be nauseated.
Yeah. Here we go. Started this chapter like I was really ready for it to be, you know, not a good argument, but something that involves some real kind of threat to public safety as opposed to, you know, people selling T-shirts with serial killers on them, which I think is problematic. Yeah, don't do that. But it's it's not it's not leading to further violence.
And it's not an issue in the criminal justice system because it's like three trials a year. But it is upsetting. Sure. So it's it's worth several pages. And this book, of course, here's an example. The movie Psycho has a cult like following. Now, the inspiration for the movie Wisconsin Farmer again, is immortalized online through a range of bizarre items such as a wood fragment from his farmhouse and a crucifix game made in a mental hospital. A scrapbook of newspaper clippings detailing his murders dating back to 1957 sold online for nearly two hundred dollars.
So like, yeah, this is an interesting book and that it's like the kind of data points we get range from details of actual murder trials to something that happened on eBay once. Right.
And also these these aren't necessarily glorifying of the serial killer. These are just historically important items. Yeah.
So we got murderabilia, which goes on for a while, and then you think it's gone over and then it's like the world's most twisted toy store and it's like dolls of serial killers, like, OK, we have Chapter five Airbrushing the awful truth, for we again bring in an OJ Simpson trial anecdote.
This about how the jury was taken to see O.J. Simpson's house because it was relevant to them understanding the scene of the crime and the defense remade it to be more appealing to the jurors. So, for example, they removed a nude photo of Paula Barbieri from his bedroom. And, yeah, that's an interesting point. That really has nothing to do with her argument. But, yeah, I find the O.J. Simpson trial interesting. So every so often I'm reading this book and I'm like, oh, yeah, thank you, Nancy.
Nancy, we come back again to the idea of criminals getting makeovers like that from here on out, like it's she's just kind of repeating themes. Yes. The murderous Menendez brothers got quite a makeover before their first trial in nineteen ninety three because they were nice pastel colored sweaters. And if you're accused of murder, you shouldn't be allowed to wear a nice sweater. Yep. Oh, she interviews Eric Menendez, his wife. Oh wow.
She did some actual reporting. I know. Well, this is a television transcript. Oh. From Larry King Live from when Nancy was on that show in 2004 and interviewed Tammi Menendez. But so Nancy is interviewing Tammi Menendez, Erik Menendez, his wife, who married him after he had been convicted and sent to prison. So Nancy Grace says, I respect Mrs. Menendez. She seems like a kind and gentle person, but I worry about the little girl and what possessed Mrs.
Menendez to uproot her little girl and move her down the street from a jail.
Oh, don't pretend to be about the children. It's so fucking Cynthia. Dude, also the imagery in that sentence, it's like the little girl lives down the street from a jail. Yeah, yeah. It's like they're in jail, they're inside the building. She looks out her little window and sees the chain gang cutting up rocks like, God, I hate this.
She just wants to judge this person for Marion inmate and she doesn't get it. And she's not allowed to sort of admit publicly that I'm judging this person's personal relationship choices. So she pretends that it's about the child. I think I think it's so fucking gross.
Nancy Grace is the phrase bless your heart uniform drive safe. This is three lines of text. And we go from I respect Mrs. Menendez to what possessed Mrs. Menendez to uproot her little girl and move her down the street from a jail. She has mastered the art of like the hairpin turn.
Believe me, I know you know, start out by saying I'm not trying to eviscerate this person, but I'm just going to do exactly that. Yeah. And so Tammi Menendez says that's a difficult question to answer. You know, for a while I did not bring her into the prison system. I kept her away from being subjected to that. It's not as bad as what people think as far as a visiting room. She loves to go and she doesn't have problems with it right now, Larry King says.
But she's going to grow up with some understanding of who her stepfather is. And Tammi Menendez says she will. She sees him on TV every now and then. I don't let her watch anything that's on. But she knows that he is, you know, popular and she deals with it very well.
And then Nancy Grace's book voice comes back and she says, This exchange proved to me that not all airbrushing begins and ends in the courtroom. When I think back on the interview with Erik Menendez, his wife, I extend her mindset to potential jurors. It strikes fear in my heart. I fear that those and a search for truth responsible for the implementation of justice could be like Tammi Menendez, black by choice. I pray it isn't so. Oh, no sympathy.
What a nightmare. Hey, what do you think about that? I just it's. Oh, it's just it's such bullshit to be like, oh, I'm so concerned about this child. And also I want to join in the nationwide pile on of making fun of this person's relationship.
Even if this person married the Menendez brother, like maybe she does have some mental illness stuff going on, who knows? It's really none of our business.
But if that's the case, is her daughter's situation helped by Nancy Grace, heaping scorn on the mother? If you're concerned about the child, it seems like you should just try to keep as much media off of this person as possible.
Here's a thought. I mean, a lot of people are married to people who are in prison. And it's a weird thing the pathology is at this point because so many people are in prison and also a lot of people fall in love with people through letters, text chats.
I mean, this is something that happens and then adding to it to be like, oh, I'm so concerned about the child.
Get the fuck out of here, Nancy.
Right. Like, it's not your business to decide whether it's fitting for a mother to bring her child to a prison to visit her stepfather or her father or someone who is dear to the family, who they have to go into a prison to see. Like you're concerned about that than like ask her yourself, how many children are having to spend time in prisons in order to visit? I know parental figures are people they love and like. If you're upset by that, then like, oh, boy, Nancy, like I have IBS.
I mean, and also, what is her like gymnastics? Double twist, tuck into this jury argument. What is this.
Yeah, she seems crazy. Yeah, I know. And she's not a juror. She says wife.
Right. Oh Nancy. Nancy. But the point is that you're supposed to recoil at the idea of Erik Menendez getting to have a wife.
Exactly. That's the project here. That's the log. That's the outrage log.
Hmm. We have a section just called Dog Bite, which I'm not even going to read to you. I guess going you wonder about that.
Oh, and then model moms like, why not? And then opens with could anybody ever forget Pam Smart, who arranged to have her husband murdered by a teenage lover to actually I would add the footnote, allegedly, allegedly Susan Smith, who killed her two boys into their car seats before drowning them and blaming a, quote, unknown black man for the crime. Those two presented like school librarians in court. And then we're going to just hear about how women they look normal, they look like normal moms.
But there he is, Nancy Encel.
It's like rhetoric. What is she talking about? You can't trust them.
They're always lying. They don't seem as evil as they actually are on the inside. I have seen this. It is from 4chan. Nancy Logoff.
Speaking of soccer moms, the ultimate acting award should probably go to Betty Broderick.
Lots of you know. It is let's let Nancy tell us, because she does a good job here. So Nancy writes, Broderick basically lived in a jealous rage after her husband, Dan Broderick, a prominent California lawyer, divorced her and married a younger woman. Being angry about the turn of events is understandable, but leaving hundreds of obscene messages on the newlyweds answering machine and then plowing her car through their front door was a little over the top.
Wow. On November 5th, 1989, Broderick broke into their home late one night and executed the couple and they slept in their bed.
She was a woman seething with out of control rage. Oh, my God. Cassie Broderick in court, though, with her sensible blonde Bob Understated makeup and classic sweater set.
You think she was on her way to volunteer as a pink lady at the hospital?
Broderick stood trial for the murders twice. The first trial in October 1990 ended in a hung jury 12 months later. The jury from the second trial convicted on two counts of second degree murder. Wow. And it became a celebrity trial for the kind of Nancy Grace reasons the right thing about she was this middle class white lady, and yet she had committed this murder. So I feel like Nancy Grace is like getting at this thing that's like the alleged paradox of true crime TV, which is like how can someone who seems so normal commit murder?
Right. And it's like I have no idea. Like, how in this country could a woman who has, you know, through her very normalcy poured her youth and her life and her energy into burying this man's children and ironing his shirts for all of her most beautiful years. And now he's acquired a newer model. He's like he's done with her like that. That can't be it. Betty Broderick Mazurkas pretending to be normal. But really, she was something else the whole time.
She was a little sketch of Satan the entire time with the little girl cause she was a little cute Satan with an apron on holding a tray of cookies. Oh, but then this is good. Nancy says that so that we are not fooled by the facades of people like Betty Broderick. That's why we should have publicly available mug shots. Oh, of course, she says, remember those mug shots of a drunken McNulty, Diana Ross and Glen Campbell? Someone couldn't think of a third example.
They may look pretty, but straight laced in court, but the police photos tell the jury the real story about the night of the arrest. And can they hurt driving those mug shots and those videotaped statements should be admitted into evidence. They enhance the testimony of cops and eyewitnesses like nothing else. Don't believe me. Go online and check out Nick Nolte, his mug shot. I rest my case. Unbelievable. Oh, my God, Nancy.
This is actually like extremely dangerous ideology. Yes. What she's saying is she's directly using these celebrity trials, people who have access to all these resources, people who have like personal trainers and makeup artists and do present this facade to the world. And she's saying we can look past them to the real person. Yes. But because the vast majority of trials in America are not of celebrities and we do not have pre-existing ideas about who people are, she's advocating for a policy that makes it very easy to get images that make people look like criminals.
And so that is the only image of them that we have. Yes, guilty. We have all this other information about who he is.
We have all seen 48 hours. Yes.
Where he actually looks like he's in a mugshot the entire time. This is exactly the problem with Nancy Grace and all of this tough on crime bullshit. These policies are not going to affect Nick Nolte, going to affect random ass people.
But I think what I find also troubling here is the idea that there is a population that you expect to commit crime and a population you don't expect to commit a crime. And so that Betty Broderick, because she has her sensible blonde, Bob understated makeup and classic sweater vest, doesn't look like a criminal. And interestingly, the Melendez brothers do look like criminals when they wear sweaters, their sweaters say, I did it on them. But I think when you describe that idea, you are maybe unconsciously owning up to believing that there is an appearance that you register when you look at someone and think, oh, yeah, I bet that person committed crimes, right?
Oh, yeah, I bet that person committed a murder. Right. And I think that's the Nancy Grace belief system. And I think that's I don't want to generalize and say that's the prosecutorial belief system, but it certainly seems to be a belief system that many individual prosecutors have.
Right. It's also essential to the functioning of the criminal justice system, because this is this is exactly the logic behind three strikes laws, right.
That you've committed crimes three times, even if they're relatively minor. We basically decide that like you're unredeemable.
Yes. Yes. Chapter six, this is where we've been driving this whole time. The power of the state is a myth. Oh, yeah.
You mentioned this when you read the table of contents to me. And I was like both Zink's balls, like, I have no idea what she's talking about.
So she talks about a couple of high profile cases at the start, including a. O.J. Simpson, which I think is just like getting your kindling into a pyramid, she's peddling her little moped so she can get the motor going. So Nancy says the reality is that the state is the individual prosecutor making the case and taking the heat in order to buy the defense's conspiracy theory. You must believe that the individual, the local county prosecutor, wants desperately to send the wrong person to jail and that the prosecutor is somehow morally dedicated to a conviction, regardless of whether it's right or wrong.
That's completely absurd. I have great faith in the Constitution, which was conceived and created in part to protect the accused, the defendant on trial from the power of the state. The trial related personal freedoms in the Bill of Rights protect the defendant, not the victim, and certainly not the prosecution.
Did she did she just say, I respect the Constitution? And then two sentences later, she said, like, the Constitution is bullshit because it doesn't protect victims.
Like I respect the Constitution, which has never done a thing for me in my entire life, which sucks ass.
Plus, the Constitution is hard when it comes down to what goes on in the courtroom. It's the state versus the massive power of the defendants constitutional protections.
But the defense, even with multi-million dollar pockets for investigators and experts, will argue to a jury that the prosecution's the one with unlimited resources and manpower to prosecute the little guy.
Oh, my fucking God, Nancy. It's like she's complaining about speed limits by talking about, like, Formula One drivers.
Right. That's a really good comparison. Cars are capable of going this fast somewhere in the world. Right. And therefore, that's that's what's going to happen on the street where your child is playing hockey.
Right. That's not how ninety nine point nine percent of trials work.
Let's really get into the sentence, though. I'll read it to you again. When it comes down to what goes on in the courtroom, it's the state versus the massive power of the defendant's constitutional protections.
She hates the Constitution so much.
Find someone who loves you as much as Nancy Grace hates the Constitution.
So where does she go with this? Surely she has examples. OK.
Well, actually, this is great. She goes right into her favorite guy. Oh, no. We also saw this argument in the Peterson case. In truth, Geragos ended up with some of the world's most renowned experts, like Dr. Henry Lee and Cyril Wecht at his beck and call. It's like, I guess, Mark Geragos.
Yes, my nemesis and two forensic scientists that I've definitely heard of.
Also, like since we released our previous Nancy Grace episodes, several people have tweeted at me and been like, Mark Geragos does suck, though. And I've been like, you know what? I bet you're right.
Well, we've established that Nancy is technically correct about everything that she's saying. It's just irrelevant.
It's just that it doesn't matter. Yes. Yeah. What's interesting is that she's actually making her entire book is an argument about how the rich have a different justice system than other people, because even if you're not necessarily rich, once your trial becomes a media sensation, you will often get like some super duper duper high powered lawyer because they want the media attention.
So basically, all of these cases, all of them are actually just illustrating the flaws in the justice system for rich defendants, like the way that high powered lawyers have perverted the criminal justice system, like she could write a really good book about like white collar crime and rich people justice.
But she's saying this thing that happens, two point one percent of defendants is a problem for everyone else. And we need to change the system to make it harder on rich people, even though those rich people are going to wiggle out of it anyway and it's only going to end up harming poor people.
Yeah, and in the same way that I think the way that, you know, our cultural understanding of sociopaths and serial killers allows people to assume that prisons are getting so full because people are just so bad out there. And really what it works out to is like we imagine these terrifying, monstrous figures that we have to defend ourselves against, but these very powerful laws. But the laws are made to like crush small resource list defendants with very little effort.
It reminds me of my favorite well, actually of twenty twenty, which is a year as a reaction.
Well, actually says the bubonic plague is were through because I don't know, I didn't want that to get that across, but I went there.
I'm sorry. We're having a plague here.
There's been a couple of editorials, columns written in right wing journals like National Review and Wall Street Journal that will publish like, well, you know, all these wing people are complaining about racial bias among the police and they're saying that so many black people are killed by police.
Actually, more white people are killed by police every year than black people.
Right. That is true because there are more white people in the population than black people, right? It's supposed to be this like great own, like, oh, shit, I'd better drop off my woak social justice stuff, but it's like, yeah, they are the police are problematic.
Like maybe the police shouldn't be murdering anyone. Yes. Yeah. Just like a minimum of killing.
A minimum of killing from the people whose job it is to minimize the amount of killing in our communities would be great.
Yes. I think and yeah, like Nancy Grace is saying, look how these high powered lawyers warp the criminal justice system. And it's like, yes, Nancy.
Well, and also it's funny because, like, one of the things that I take away from the O.J. Simpson trial story is that I do think that the O.J. Simpson trial is much, much closer to the way the legal system should be functioning in this country than the standard proceeding where the defendant is sort of moved through the the trial system like a piece of food.
It's through the digestive system, you know, and where most charges results in a plea deal, where you are much more likely to end up with a lawyer with far too few resources than with too many, whatever that looks like. And just the idea that the prosecution is ever going to, in our wildest dreams, come close to being steamrolled by the defense in any big general way in this country. It's just it's it would be so great if that were close to something we should be concerned about, but I really don't think it is.
So where is she going with this? What is the sort of thesis of this entire chapter?
All right. We're in for a Nancy Woe is Me story. OK, so I guess get ready. Oh, no. I was on my way to answer a calendar call where the first case of the day was a murder trial. The shooting had left one man dead and another with a colostomy bag for life all over a handful of dope ropes, gold chains on display in the showcase of a pawnshop en route.
I had to wait at a red light several miles away from the courthouse while my car was stopped. Dark, foul smelling smoke began pouring out from under the hood of my Honda. I didn't have the time or the money to fix the thing, so I just kept driving, hoping it would keep running. I looked over to the left, expecting to see another driver staring at my smoking hood and holding his nose. But instead there was a huge tractor trailer sitting there.
He can either go straight or turn left. I could only turn right, but when the light changed, he took a right turn, his giant wheels literally rolling over the top of my car lot. Guess what? The state screeched to a halt that morning because I wasn't there to present its case. The state was stuck at a red light with a tractor trailer on its head. The state that has spoken of so anonymously is that it's the secret agency is really a collection of people who are public servants pursuing justice.
In this case, the state was a person standing in front of the jury with big, dark circles under her eyes and resoled shoes. Wow.
It's interesting how no defendant has ever had trouble getting to the courthouse to car trouble or maybe work appointments, something like that.
You know, what I love about this anecdote is that it's like, you know what? It would be perfect for the start of a romantic comedy. This is the footage of her and then her like eventual love interest is like also having a difficult morning.
And it's all set to like this will be marvelous, too. Yeah.
Like this is how you set up an underdog protagonist and two thirds then she finally takes off her glasses and oh my God, she's beautiful.
Remember how in the nineties every movie with a strong female protagonist, they had to show her like kickboxing at some point in the process, her emotions say she comes home and checkboxes. So this is the opening of Amazing Grace, a movie about a struggling Atlanta prosecutor. It is not an argument in a book about how the defense has too many resources on its side.
It's also one of those things that it's like it's so Google able to look up how many indigent defendants go to jail every year.
Like, it's really not hard, but it's not like the person who was on trial got off because of this, right?
No, she's not implying that anything went wrong because that she was late and she probably got chewed out over this, I would imagine.
But this is the power imbalance, right? Because if a prosecutor doesn't show up to court, they just postpone it for the next day. Whereas if a defendant doesn't show up for court, oftentimes they just get the punishment that's coming to them.
Yes. Yeah, exactly. Yeah. She says, guess what? The state screeched to a halt that morning. Yeah. Because I wasn't there to present its case as if that's bad. Yeah.
And imagine if I were, you know, going to trial for a crime that I had allegedly committed and I couldn't be there like I wouldn't write in my memoir, like. And then. Everything ground to a halt, and there will, like the defendants, not here through no fault of her own, so we can't do it right now. People lose cases when their lawyers file things like 20 minutes after the midnight deadline. Yeah, the system is stacked against defendants having these kinds of completely ordinary life problems, sort of like getting the flu or having car trouble.
Yeah, it's her setting herself up as a plucky protagonist. That's all it is. Totally. So speaking of prosecutors and storytelling, I have a couple of good quotes from my interview with Andrew Fleischmann, who is a post conviction lawyer in Georgia and a friend of the show and a friend of the show.
And I reached out to him is like an antique, Nancy Grace, because he works in Georgia and because he is a post conviction defense attorney. So he and Nancy are nemeses.
He actually was driving the tractor that day and she stopped her from going to that trial.
He says, I would say certainty is a form of charisma. And the prosecutors we see are very certain. And defense attorneys by definition have to be a little more nuanced.
It's like the difference between putting false statistics about child trafficking on the Internet versus making an hour long, excruciating podcast debunking those statistics.
That's a very good comparison, Mike. It's like you have a meme versus the podcast. Yeah.
Which one's going to do numbers? I know. Here's some other thoughts for us to reflect on. Prosecutors who lose cases get fired, and they're often not the ones who cheat. Bad prosecutors get promoted. If you cheat to win cases, you don't get fired. Hmm.
That's interesting. That's another parallel to white collar crime, too.
Yeah. I mean, and I think that one of the things we can certainly say about prosecutors in this country, I think without overly generalizing, is that when a prosecutor is revealed to be guilty of some form of misconduct, what often appears as a contributing factor is an office culture very focused on winning and on maintaining winning streaks and on being the winningest prosecutor around. Right. And also on getting re-elected based on your ability to be tough on crime. Right.
I just don't think it's that difficult to imagine how that kind of culture could lead you to find yourself trying a case where you may begin to have doubts. Right. And if you have won 19 cases and are sort of reaching toward the prospect of winning your 20th, I can understand how that could contribute to you cutting some corners.
Right, right. All right. And then let's close with Nancy's thoughts on on the real power of the state.
I wonder what she says. Another popular strategy among defense attorneys is to characterize the prosecutor as the Darth Vader ish figure whose limitless power is hell bent on persecuting and destroying helpless defendants with a single motion. I promise you, I never felt that sense of invincibility trudging through housing projects in my thirty nine dollars dress from Chadwicks, trying to deliver subpoenas to witnesses who weren't exactly happy to see me at their front door. I did, though, always draw great strength from believing deeply that I had right on my side.
I felt the same way every time I entered a courtroom speaking directly to a jury. As I began my opening statement at trial, I would always be reminded that the real power of the state is the power of right, the power to do right. That is the one real power of the state.
But again, she's she's demonstrating exactly the things she's saying doesn't exist. Go on. I mean, she's saying that she's morally right at all times and those are the most dangerous people.
Right. Her argument is that, you know, the one real power she has is being on the side of justice and truth. And it's like that is the one form of power you don't really have, actually. And you render yourself more dangerous by having all this power that you refuse to acknowledge you have. It's like the defense is Jason chasing you through the sewers and you're the final girl, like hitting him with your soft little fists, you know?
And so you have to use all the powers available to you because you're the underdog. Right. And that's such a great way of disguising from yourself the fact that, no, you're Jason like you're the one who can end someone with, like a flick of your machete holding wrists. Right. And because you aren't aware of how much stronger you are than the people with whom you're doing battle, you are behaving with with disproportionate force. Right. I'm just very wary of just any narrative that the state sells itself about its own powerlessness.
Right. And I think it's troubling that so many of the things that Nancy Grace says, so much of her rhetoric is familiar to us, like the thing about how the Menendez brothers shouldn't be wearing nice sweaters because they're trying to look innocent and not like, you know, the parent murderers that they are. That's based on the premise that you already know the outcome of the very trial at which they're wearing these sweaters. Right.
It's like that's why we're here, Nancy. And so the case is that Nancy Grace describes as dangerous because they involve some kind of real. Presumption of innocence like that's not dangerous. Right, right. That's the purpose, that's supposed to be your job. That's supposed to be everybody's job.
OK, your tax dollars at work. Oh, no. Another misconception about the power of the state is the myth that the government, the evil empire, is taking in billions and billions of dollars in taxes that somehow go to help convicting innocent people of crimes they didn't commit.
That's simply ridiculous.
I've often wondered what happens to all the money I've been paying in taxes all these years. What I see is Congress spending millions and millions of dollars on an outrageous list of projects that are nothing more than political boondoggles. Oh my God.
As I write this, I have just learned that Oregon prisoners now have flat screen TVs.
Oh, my real privacy of their own jail cells. Although the Oregon State Correctional Institutions administrator Randy Geer contends that the televisions are not a luxury item. The fact is the Salem prisoners now get to kick back on their bunks and enjoy a brand new flat screen TVs that most of us on the outside don't have.
Oh, my fucking. The seven evening cassettes are copies of flat screen models and cars and airplanes. Did she say seven inch?
Yes. Well, they have seven inch TVs. Who fucking cares that they're flat screen? Seven inch TVs is not a luxury item. That's like a Nintendo switch. Yes.
Most of us don't have seven inch TVs because we don't live on airplanes. This is actually the only thing we know about prison conditions.
Like there's been no facts released except for the seven inch flat screen TVs in Oregon. They're watching Madagascar two and it's an outrage.
Sure, Nancy. I love that she throws in fucking like earmarks into this. Throw that in there.
It's like a jambalaya. It's like whatever is in the fridge, you chop it up, throw it in.
I also love she does this a lot. She had a thing earlier about, you know, it is ridiculous to argue that prosecutors are driven by the desire to convict innocent people of crimes they didn't commit. And it's like people aren't really arguing that prosecutors are knowingly doing that. Right. That happens sometimes. But like what seems to be more the case is that the culture of prosecutors offices incentivizes winning right to such a degree that pursuing the truth becomes something that might jeopardize your career.
Right. Like, no one is saying that you have malice in your heart, Nancy. We're saying that the heroism in your heart is more appealing to you than logic at times.
I mean, I think, Nancy, as malice in her heart. But go ahead.
Well, sure. But we have to make that argument. We don't have to prove what's going on in her heart. Yes. To show that she's doing something that's harming people, which is also something that Nancy doesn't seem to know that you can do. Right.
Seven inch TVs, man, seven inch TV is worth it. Not going to see your kids grow older. I know from high school and slowly forget what you look like, but you have your seven inch TV Christ.
And then she she also has like tax dollars that are being spent pointlessly just on a random list that has nothing to do with what she has been talking about. So 50 million dollars to build an indoor rainforest in Iowa.
Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. This is this is like every libertarian speech ever. They're like we're studying the mating habits of tree frogs.
Like they'll yes. They'll pick these random things that happen to get government funding and be like, this is so ridiculous.
It's so cherry picked. It doesn't prove anything. And a lot of it I look at and I'm like, this doesn't seem like a bad idea. Like one of them has four hundred ninety nine thousand dollars for swine waste management in North Carolina. And like for my limited perspective on the issue, I know that there are a lot of swine and Carolina and that's why and waste management is one of the major issues facing America's swine farmers. So, like that certainly seems worth half a million dollars.
And it's also funny that whenever you get these lists, no one ever puts the military on them, which is the number one thing on.
And it's extremely wasteful. No, no, no, no. We need that. We need all that stuff. We're very scared. We have to keep going to see movies about how scared we should be, how only the military can save us, and how couples counseling won't do for your marriage. What's saving your wife and children from terrorists? Well, exactly. And that she also I appreciate this. And her list, she has two hundred and seventy three thousand dollars to help Missouri combat goth culture.
That would I agree with her that was wasteful.
Yeah, I think it's important to find the moments where we're on the same page with Nancy.
I am desperate to know what they spent that on, though, right? Combat Goth culture wars. I mean, there's like walking around clubbing goths with like a blackjack goth clubbing should involve barrelhouse, not violent.
That's. Come on. That was very good. Oh, boy.
Here, here's a section. I'm just going to read you the title and the first sentence and then we're going. Move on with our lives forever. All right, you ready? Thank God. Title slave wages, first sentence. Cops and prosecutors are underpaid and overworked.
I sort of agree with her.
I mean, it's a decent point, but the title certainly to me obviates her argument.
But say more about that. It's such a hard thing to talk about because it seems so obvious that like high salaries for people in the criminal justice system is like so gross, cops should not be doing these like overtime loopholes schemes to be making like four hundred thousand dollars a year.
Like, that's completely bananas.
But when you lower salaries, you get like worse people.
Well, yeah. I mean, I think one of your points here is that if people are underpaid, then they are vulnerable to corruption. Exactly. Yeah, but yeah. But where's Nancy going with this scared.
I mean, she is making this argument that low pay causes corruption. Yeah. And she says, forget what you've seen in the movies. Prosecutors, unlike their silk stocking opponents on the other side of the courtroom, very often do not have an army of flunkies and assistants to prepare for a morning calendar call of, say, 100 cases. I would sit in my office and dig through five or six boxes from the district attorney's office trying to find the 80 files I needed for the next day's arraignment.
Without fail, they'd be in the wrong offices or lost in the filing room. I guess picking like John Cusack and broadcast news now. All right. God, yeah. There were no secretaries, no assistants, no paralegals. I wish I had a nickel for every time I had to go to the crime lab to drop something off or pick something up. I'd be rich if I had a dollar for all the days I had to drive to the police station where I'd be hassled about where I parked when I was there to pick up fingerprint cards or a police report or simply drop off a subpoena.
I believe all this is like she's making up the idea that she was fighting against a side that had all the resources and power that she didn't have and these harried moments of having to run these prosecutorial errands herself. And that's not the point.
Right. Also, I am looking up public defender salaries.
Give me some data. Maybe the first link that comes up for this is the average public defender early in their career entry level makes fifty three thousand dollars a year.
That's not like wearing silk socks to court money.
I don't know who is doing that exactly.
Again, easily gullible through this is the first fucking link that comes up. Defense lawyers are not raking in the dough. Celebrity defense lawyers are, but not the typical defense lawyer.
Unlike a low level, whatever drug possession case, like the vast majority of cases that go through the criminal justice system, she could have done like perfunctory work and found extremely obvious counter arguments to her points.
Yeah, she knows. She she knows. She knows what the arguments are. She doesn't not know this. Like, the point is to distract us, you know, and and it is distracting to have Nancy. She has to read hundreds of cases and there's all these boxes and he's running around. And where is the defense attorneys are wearing silk stockings, you know, and like we can speak to the validity of her points. Like, we can be like, gosh, like if you felt, like, continually overwhelmed as a career prosecutor, maybe that's bad.
Like maybe the prosecutors shouldn't be overwhelmed, like setting aside the rare instances where the prosecutor is more overwhelmed, overworked and under-resourced than the defense team. Yeah, it's probably the case based on what you're saying to me, Nancy, that, like, everyone is overworked and underpaid and senario and like, that's bad.
I actually think a lot of public servants should be getting paid way more like teachers and librarians are the obvious ones. But like more prosecutors, like if that allows prosecutors to spend more time actually ascertaining the truth and be less vulnerable to graft.
And if that comes with, like very different incentive structures, I'm actually fine with reforming the criminal justice system in a way that pays higher salaries.
Throwing money at a problem actually does work. And a lot of instances you guys have to throw it at the right areas. Yes.
And it has to come with accountability. I mean, so much of this the problem is that there's no accountability mechanisms for prosecutors so that if it was like, hey, look, we're going to pay you like 50 percent more and it's going to be much easier to fire you in cases of malfeasance. So you have to be extremely careful to work for the side of actual justice, not just for the side of convictions. I would actually be fine with those reforms.
Like there are worse ways to reform the criminal justice system.
Yeah, if we incentivize truth seeking as far as the thing prosecutors do, then I think there would be more truth seeking. Yes. Ironically, it's the same thing we have to do for defendants, like if we incentivize good behavior and if we incentivize criminality by actually giving people living wages not. Surveilling them to a degree that resembles torture when they're on probation, not making it financially, physically impossible for them to not return to criminality on release, like all these things, like if we make it easier to make good choices, then more people will make more good choices.
That's true of criminals exactly as much as it's true of lawyers, probably. Right.
So, again, we agree with Nancy, but we have a yes and yes and Nancy. All right. I'm going to find something to wrap up on, OK? She says, When I first came to the district attorney's office, there were very few female cops and lawyers. Female judges were even harder to find at the time. Women were usually assigned to work juvenile cases, which are not jury trials and do not apply many of the standard rules of evidence.
We were usually going after deadbeat dads, writing appeals or acting as assistants to trial lawyers. Practically everybody involved in the actual trial of cases was a man except the jury and in many cases the victim. I've been called little lady, young lady, lady, lawyer and other not so nice names right in front of juries by defense lawyers, experts and judges. Every time it happened, I would look that person right in the eye and act as if I hadn't heard it.
I'd inevitably catch at least one woman on the jury with a look of disgust on her face, as if to say she couldn't believe that someone had said something that condescending.
I wonder if there are minority groups that Nancy Grace doesn't belong to who also receive condescending treatment.
I mean, she doesn't mention any. So the problem is probably not true. They aren't any fake news. Sometimes the sexism was far more insidious during a 1995 trial in which I was prosecuting a defendant on rape, sodomy and murder charges. I was working late one night when I heard the sounds of someone outside my office. An investigator for the defense had gotten into the building and delivered a motion under my door. It was a motion filed to join me from wearing skirts, a specific number of inches above my knee.
Holy shit. Or a blouse that was too low cut. It also enjoyed me from bending over in front of the jury facing either way. No way. I felt completely humiliated. All court documents are public. Anyone find out anything about a case by going down to the courthouse? I'm looking it up. I cried behind closed doors, of course, because it was a public embarrassment to be accused of dressing inappropriately and it was flat out not true.
I still have every one of my ten trial dresses that I wore over and over and over. Every one of them covered me from neck to rest. To me, I was personally attacked on a groundless charge that was meant to deflect attention away from the trial.
I mean, I feel sympathy for her. Yeah, this sucks.
Yeah, it feels bad to be accused of something you didn't do, Nancy.
Yeah. It's interesting that so many years later, it remains so upsetting to think about a time when you were treated as if you had done something you knew yourself to be innocent. Right. And maybe you weren't accused of that out of malice, but still her. Yeah. So this is from a nineteen ninety six Atlanta magazine article about Nancy Grace called The Prosecution Never Rests. And first we get a depiction of Nancy in action. Walking over to the defense table, she points toward the defendant with a pained expression.
This man, she practically shouts, is a savage. A large part of my job is making an emotional connection with the jury, she says. Later, after winning the conviction, the technical evidence may prove guilt, but a lot of that stuff goes over the jury's head. As Greece's undefeated streak stretches toward one hundred cases, every defense attorney in town would give a month's pay to beat her. Her combative ways and animated Southern Belle style have won her few friends among defense attorneys, and many charged that her record is inflated because she drops any case that she could possibly lose.
Her occasional flamboyance also rub some the wrong way, such as the time she called a drug sniffing dog as a witness in a cocaine trafficking case last year, defense counsel Dennis Scheib caused a stir by filing a pre-trial motion asking that Grace be prevented from wearing, quote, inappropriate attire such as low cut blouses and short skirts that show off her figure Grace, who typically, whereas conservative suits and dresses to court, dismissed the motion as meaningless subterfuge, she won yet another murder conviction.
OK, I think the story is interesting because it's one of the moments in the book when I feel, you know, just on an individual level, the most compassion for Nancy Grace, because that sucks. Yeah. And I feel like, you know, she's telling us the story in a way that is effective because it's a story where she had to triumph against sexism and where her career itself and her success and her winning streak is a triumph against sexism.
I think it's just important to acknowledge the power of that rhetoric. Yeah. You know, if sexism is one of the obstacles that is keeping you potentially from having the same winning streak as a male prosecutor, then like that's the rare case where sexism isn't preventing something good from happening.
Right. It's also interesting that she doesn't extend her experience to empathy for people elsewhere in the criminal justice system that might be experiencing this right that she mentions, all the judges are men, all the lawyers are men. Oftentimes the juries are men. I wonder how that affects female defendants. Right.
And there's all these other forms of bias, too. She's she's taking this, like, micro example of sexism against herself, but she doesn't seem to be asking, like, are there other places in the system where that could be happening or other ways that that's playing out that I'm not noticing? Like, there's this weird in curiosity in it.
Yeah. And I think that the kind of unspoken logic here is that she is worthy of compassion because she is good, like because she is a crusader for, you know, for the things she calls justice. She's therefore worthy of empathy. And if the same thing happened to a defendant, we can already send the defendant to be a bad person. So why worry about that? Right.
And it's not like Nancy has a flat screen, like the most unforgivable sin owning a flat screen.
Nancy wears a thirty nine dollars dress from Chadwicks, whatever the heck that is. So, yeah.
So, yeah, I guess feel like it's also important to acknowledge that, like you can hear that story and be like that sucks for a little baby prosecutor, Nancy Grace.
Yeah. People don't deserve that treatment, regardless of how I feel about their personal ethics.
Yeah. Things can be bad even if they happen to people I don't like and people can do bad things even if they are also underdogs. And the same story where they are doing something that is hurting someone else. Yes.
Beware of people who cast themselves as underdogs. Yeah. So beware of America. Really. Yes, exactly. And flat screen TVs. Yes.
If you got a seven inch flat screen TV, you will be living in the lap of luxury and none of the other bad stuff in your life will matter. So, God, I guess I'm getting one.