Attorney, host and creator Paul Townsend examines some of the most famous and infamous - and often misunderstood - court cases to make headlines across America. In doing so, he provides listeners with a true and unbiased understanding of the underlying facts as the judge or jury would have heard them at the time, explains what the role of each party was, breaks down the legal arguments presented, and gives the final word on who ultimately prevailed and why.
United States v. Eugene Debs
Sometimes, when we fulfill our commitment to abiding by the bill of rights, it means we end up protecting the rights of people to say or do things that make us uncomfortable. Perhaps the greatest example of this is free speech. It is incumbent on all citizens to ensure that speech remains free, but in doing that, it necessarily requires the average person to affirm the rights of people to say things that we, as a society, do not necessarily like.
In this episode, Paul breaks down the case of Eugene Debs. Debs was a nationally renowned socialist agitator. He spoke out in the early 20th century against WWI and advocated for peaceful government change to a populist/socialist order. President Woodrow Wilson's department of justice had instituted the Espionage Act, which criminalized speaking out publicly against the war or the draft.
Join the discussion about why free speech matters, why it is not a partisan issue, and why it is so fundamentally important for people to be able to speak their mind and conscience without fear that a government agency will jail them for it. The Espionage Act represents one of the most unamerican pieces of legislation we have ever passed, and it is still on the books. Listen to why it was so dangerous, how Eugene Debs stood up for the right to speak his mind, and why we should all encourage an open and robust marketplace of ideas rather than government approved speech.
United States v. Robert Kelly (R. Kelly)
Special Guest Episode!
In this episode, Paul brings on seasoned sex crimes prosecutor and dynamic defense attorney (and wife) Sarena Townsend to discuss the RICO prosecution of R&B superstar R. Kelly.
Wait...RICO? Yes, RICO. R. Kelly was accused of committing sex abuse and sex crimes in several states a in time period spanning roughly 20 years. But rather than charge Kelly with the individual sex offenses in state court, Kelly was charged in Brooklyn federal court with RICO under the theory that he and his entourage were a criminal enterprise created for the purpose of grooming and abusing young women.
Paul and Sarena break down the allegations and specific charges, and then discuss the propriety of the federal RICO charge and how fame and notoriety may have affected the prosecution decisions. So often on this show, we discuss how narratives are presented, and who has a better, more compelling, story for the jury. Listen to the arguments that were made, and why the defense was ultimately not as persuasive as the prosecution.
Thanks so much for listening, and if you have any feedback for the show, please send any thoughts to Paul at email@example.com, @insummationpod on twitter, or insummation on instagram. Paul does his best to respond to all messages as quickly as possible and genuinely loves it when listeners reach out.
Kentucky v. Brett Hankison (Breonna Taylor Raid)
Welcome back, friends of the show. In this episode, we look at the Breonna Taylor raid in Jefferson County, Kentucky. We are NOT examining the officer who fired the shot which ultimately killed Taylor, that officer was never indicted. However, another officer at the scene, Brett Hankison, discharged his firearm approximately 10 times through Taylors living room wall, into her neighbor's apartment, where a couple and their young child were sleeping.
As a result, Officer Hankison was arrested and charged with three counts of Wanton and Reckless Endangerment.
This episode had so much to talk about I had to bring in a special guest. My former colleague at the DA's office and friend, Adam Uris, comes on the show to talk search warrants, trial strategy, and the effect of national attention on juror's sensibilities. It's a really great discussion and I encourage you to rate and share if you enjoy it.
Thanks for listening!
Florida v. Tommie Lee Andrews (First DNA Case in United States)
Hello friends of the show!
This episode comes as a recommendation from my wife, Sarena, who thought it would be interesting to take a look at the first case in American history where the prosecutor used DNA evidence. It turns out this was a fascinating case which took place in Florida (of course it did). It involved the same prosecutor who tried the Casey Anthony case, and the defense attorney was actually involved in the George Zimmerman trial, so there is a lot of crossover.
Here, we look at serial rapist Tommie Lee Andrews, who terrorized women around the Orlando area in 1986. Andrews left his biological material at approximately 20 different rape or attempted sexual assault scenes. The trial we focus on today concerns his first victim, where Andrews was a little sloppy, leaving a fingerprint and not thinking to wear a mask in addition to leaving his DNA behind.
What follows is a creative prosecutor who serendipitously sees a magazine advertisement for a lab-conducted paternity test, and wonders whether that technology could be applied to comparing evidence samples.
A brief warning, because we are talking DNA in this episode, there is a few minutes of explaining the DNA extraction and profile creation process as it existed in 1986. I thought it would be interesting to include, but I'm not a scientist, I am a lawyer, so I tried to keep it brief and focus on what I know.
Please keep the feedback coming! Thanks for listening.
Massachusetts v. Michelle Carter
In this episode, we look at whether words can kill someone in a very literal sense. 17 year old Michelle Carter encouraged her 18 year old boyfriend, Conrad Roy, to kill himself. When Roy's body was discovered in his truck filled with toxic fumes, the investigation uncovered that Carter had been pushing Roy to kill himself for weeks, and was ordering Roy to end his own life as he was potentially changing his mind about doing so.
But Carter was nowhere near Roy when this happened. She was 35 miles away, speaking to him on the phone. So the question in this case, when it finally crystalized, was whether Carter committed involuntary manslaughter by advocating for Roy to commit suicide, knowing that he was suicidal and had already attempted to kill himself before.
This case made national headlines in 2014 and sparked a lot of controversy over whether instructing someone to do something means that the person caused it to happen. What is role of free will if a person's commands are considered so obligatory as to result in criminal liability if they're followed?
Listen as Paul breaks down the arguments for and against imposing liability, explains the role of precedent and how judge's rely on past cases, and gives his thoughts on whether the outcome of this case was actually justice. If you enjoy the show, subscribe, and check out our website at www.insummation.com.
Miranda V. Arizona (Right to Remain Silent)
Virtually every adult in the United States is familiar with their Miranda rights. Our culture is obsessed with crime, we love movies and television shows about law enforcement and shady organizations which spar against federal agents.
As a result, we have all become familiar with variations of the lines "you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can - and will - be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, once will be provided to you at no cost."
In America, before any law enforcement officer can conduct a custodial interrogation of a suspect, whether they're under arrest or not, they are required to inform that individual of these rights and secure a voluntary waiver, indicating that the individual understands his or her rights and is willing to speak to law enforcement under the current conditions.
But have you ever stopped to think about why law enforcement is required to affirmatively tell you about the rights you have? It's actually quite counter-intuitive. The police or the FBI is required to tell you that you can refuse to answer any questions before they are permitted to ask you anything. Shouldn't it be an individual's responsibility to know, and assert, their own rights?
In this episode, we look at the origins of the requirement that law enforcement inform suspects and defendants of their rights to remain silent and right to counsel. Listen to the story of Ernesto Miranda, who was arrested for kidnapping and rape, voluntary answered questions and ended up confessing without ever knowing that the had the right to refuse to answer or the right to have a lawyer there with him. His appeal became the catalyst for one of the most transformative Supreme Court opinions of all time.
With the episode, the goal is to provide some insights into the origins of one of the most sacred and cherished rights for American criminal law. And show how close it was to never existing.
That Paul Townsend is so hot right now.
Awesome awesome awesome!
I know nothing about law and this podcast is great. Super interesting cases made simple. I could imagine this podcast being a goldmine for law students.
Terrific! Great perspectives and analyses
This Paul Townsend guy really has something special...