The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Feel Like Murdering Someone?

At the Volokh Conspiracy, Orin Kerr notes a law review article written by Michigan State Law Professor Brian Kalt. Professor Kalt has noticed that, due to a quirk of Federal and Constitutional law, you can commit basically any crime in the Idaho region of Yellowstone Park. His case is fairly solid:

Say that you are in the Idaho portion of Yellowstone, and you decide to spice up your vacation by going on a crime spree. You make some moonshine, you poach some wildlife, you strangle some people and steal their picnic baskets. You are arrested, arraigned in the park, and bound over for trial in Cheyenne, Wyoming before a jury drawn from the Cheyenne area. But Article III, Section 2 plainly requires that the trial be held in Idaho, the state in which the crime was committed. Perhaps if you fuss convincingly enough about it, the case would be sent to Idaho. But the Sixth Amendment then requires that the jury be from the state (Idaho) and the district (Wyoming) in which the crime was committed. In other words, the jury would have to be drawn from the Idaho portion of Yellowstone National Park, which, according to the 2000 Census, has a population of precisely zero. (The Montana portion--should you choose to rampage there--has an adult population of a few dozen, which might nevertheless present Sixth Amendment problems as well. )

The Constitution entitles you to a jury trial and an impartial jury of inhabitants of the state and district where the crime was committed. The U.S. Code steps on the rusty nail; it makes it impossible to satisfy both provisions in the case of the Yellowstone State-Line Strangler.

Assuming that you do not feel like consenting to trial in Cheyenne, you should go free.

I highly recommend reading the whole thing, and staying out of the non-Wyoming sections of Yellowstone for a while. You can download the article here.


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