Favorite Legal Podcasts for Non-Lawyers and Lawyers

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The U.S. legal system is complicated.  Even if you were born and raised in the United States, you likely didn’t get a thorough overview of our legal principles in your schooling unless you went to law school.  With legal topics frequently in the news, you may be left wondering about aspects of American law.  Why do courts decide cases the way they do?  Why don’t legal rulings always comport with what seems like common sense?

As long-time readers know, I like to listen to podcasts, particularly educational ones.  In this post, I thought I’d round up some of my favorite law-related podcasts that can help you gain a better understanding of the legal concepts that shape current events and daily life in the United States.  Readers, what are your favorite legal podcasts?  Please tell us in the comments.

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The Weekend Listen

A pair of wireless headphones for podcast listening

I listen to a lot of podcasts while driving, working out, and doing chores around the house. In this weekly feature, I’ll tell you about one episode I particularly enjoyed that week.

I try not to post about legal topics too often because I know most of my readers aren’t lawyers.  I think this subject will be interesting even to people who aren’t immersed in the law on a daily basis, though.  This week’s podcast recommendation is the ABA Journal’s Modern Law Library episode What Can Neuroscience Tell Us About Crime?  This episode is an interview of Kevin Davis about his new book, The Brain Defense: Murder in Manhattan and the Dawn of Neuroscience in America’s Courtrooms.  He discusses how jurors perceive and understand science and the potential benefits and drawbacks of using brain scans in court.

Are you listening to a podcast I haven’t mentioned yet?  Let us know about it in the comments!

Five Things Your Lawyer Can’t Do

This post is not intended as legal advice. Please read the Disclaimer posted above.

Lawyers get a bad rap. I’ve had the “lawyers and liars are the same thing” jab thrown at me before, and there’s no short supply of jokes painting lawyers as bad guys. Are there less-than-honest lawyers in the world? Sure–there are bad apples in any bunch. But day in and day out, I see dedicated, hardworking attorneys counseling clients to do the right thing and fighting for their clients’ rights in court.

Non-lawyers might be surprised to know that attorneys are governed by strict ethical rules, and violations of the rules are taken seriously. Attorneys and judges are encouraged to report violations to disciplinary boards, and investigations often lead to suspension of lawyers’ licenses to practice or disbarment.

Here are five things your lawyer can’t do:

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Ask Alexis: What’s a Federal Case?

The following information is not intended as legal advice. Please see the disclaimer posted above.

If you’ve ever heard the saying, “Don’t make a federal case out of it,” you may have been left with the impression that federal cases are the most serious kinds of legal cases. Actually, federal cases aren’t inherently more serious than cases in state courts. In the U.S., some kinds of cases will always be heard in federal court, while others will always be heard in state court, and some can be heard in either.

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What I’ve Learned from Being Neutral

Side view of the author gazing to her left on a beach with mountains and houses in the background
Photo by Emilios.

The idea for today’s post came from Sarah F. Thanks for the suggestion, Sarah!

Unlike most of my fellow citizens, I had to sit out the recent election cycle. I voted, but I did not display a yard sign, put a bumper sticker on my car, contribute to a campaign, or like any candidate’s Facebook page. As a federal judicial employee, I’m prohibited from engaging in any political activity at any level. I’m not permitted to campaign on anyone’s behalf, nor am I allowed to publicly endorse any candidate. I cannot like a partisan post on social media, or attend rallies, and in most cases, I can’t participate in issue advocacy. At least for as long as I serve in my current role, you will not see any politically focused posts on this website.

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In Defense of Jury Duty

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People often tell me about the jury summons they received or their experiences serving as a juror, usually with a groan.  If they’ve been summonsed, they want to get out of it, and if they’ve been called to serve in the past, many express relief that the case was resolved before trial or that they weren’t selected and got to go home after a few hours.

I’ve never served on a jury myself, and I probably never will now that I’m a lawyer.  Most American adults, in fact, will not be called for jury duty.  According to one source, less than a third of American adults have ever served on a jury, and the number of federal jury trials is declining.

I have, however, worked in several courts and sat through a number of jury trials.  In this post, I hope to demystify jury duty and maybe even convince you to be excited about your next jury summons.  My discussion will mostly center on the federal courts, as each state does things a little differently.

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