Tuesday, August 28, 2007

The (Im)perfect Crime

I'm irrationally excited that someone actually tried the "perfect crime" argument after committing a felony in the Montana portion of Yellowstone National Park (via Is That Legal).

The Perfect Crime is an article by Brian Kalt published in the Georgetown Law Journal two years ago, that I actually read when it came out. Basically it notes a loophole in jurisdictional law relating to Yellowstone National Park, which is primarily in Wyoming, but has small portions in Montana and Idaho. Federal law places the entire park under the jurisdiction of the district of Wyoming. But the Sixth Amendment of the constitution requires that juries in criminal cases be made up of citizens from the "state and district" where the crime was committed. In other words, if you commit a crime in the Montana portion of Yellowstone, your jurors theoretically must be drawn from people who live in both the state (Montana) and district (District of Wyoming) of the alleged act. In the case of Montana, that's 40 residents. If you hop on over to Idaho, you're in even more luck--the overlapping population there is zero.

Anyway, someone actually committed a crime in the Montana portion of Yellowstone, and seriously made the "perfect crime" argument to try and get his case dismissed--citing to Kalt's article. (Un)fortunately, the judge rejected the claim, calling the article "esoteric" and saying that applying its reasoning would create legal "no-man's land" in the relevant areas (which was the point of the piece--Kalt advocated closing the loophole). The plea agreement meant the argument can't be appealed, but Kalt says that the question is still open and eventually the 10th Circuit will have to answer it.

So, who's up for a killing spree in Idaho to do some constitutional beta-testing?


Ken Wedding said...

C. J. Box has written a murder mystery around that idea, _Free Fire Zone_.

I wrote about the book at my Reading Blog


Jim Martin said...

There is a book out by C.J. Box about this subject. Titled "Free Fire".
It's fiction, but gets into the whole perfect crime thing.

Ken Wedding said...

The book is simply _Free Fire_

And since the URL of my review didn't seem to fit into the comment, here's a TinyURL for it