The Perfect Crime Scene

Pictured above is a map of Yellowstone National Park in the United States. Most of it is within the borders of Wyoming, but northern and western slivers lie within Montana and Idaho. University of Michigan law professor Brian C. Kalt has written a paper about why the piece within Idaho is the perfect place to commit a crime. Dan Lewis summarizes:

Let's say you, heaven forbid, are charged with a crime. The Constitution itself (Article III, Section 2 for those who wish to look it up) requires that the "Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed." Pretty straight forward. The 6th Amendment requires that the jury must be "of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed." Again, pretty clear. The only confusing part, unless you're a lawyer, is probably the term "district."

The U.S. Federal Courts are divided into zones called "districts" which correlate almost perfectly with states themselves. Connecticut has one district: the District of Connecticut. New York has four, using ordinal directions, e.g. "Southern District of New York" which includes Manhattan, the Bronx, and six counties in the state. Wyoming has one, as well, which includes the entire state -- and, in addition, the parts of Yellowstone National Park which are in Idaho and Montana. And that's where the perfect crime scene appears.

So that crime you're charged with? Imagine you committed it in the part of Yellowstone which is actually in Idaho. Where would your jury come from? It would have to be from the state (Idaho) and district (the District of Wyoming) in which the crime was commited -- in other words, from that same part of Yellowstone which is in Idaho. The population of that area?


Link via Dan Lewis | Legal Article | Image: USGS

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