As a student, I loved Syllabus Day.

I appreciated the professors who embraced the practice of easing into the semester; dipping a toe rather than plunging into the deep-end. It eased anxiety, reduced stress, and, let’s be honest, ensured that one-fifteenth of the semester would be easy.

Now, as a…


During the first week of my classes, I always talk about frames of reference.

I share with my students elements of my own background. My own history. This typically includes personal characteristics; that I’m a white, heterosexual, cisgender man. But I also tell them that my life has been split…


Yesterday, Missouri executed Walter Barton via lethal injection for the 1991 killing of his former landlord, 81-year-old Gladys Kuehler.

An execution in the Midwest would not typically be newsworthy on a broad scale, but Barton’s execution has captured the national consciousness. Of course, these are not normal times. Barton was…


*Note: This essay contains major spoilers for Joker. Read at your own risk

In the climactic scene from Joker, the classic villain finally makes his long-awaited appearance on Murray Franklin’s television show.

For the titular character, it was a long time coming.

See, for most of the film, Joaquin Phoenix…


*Note: These impressions are mostly spoiler-free. Most of them are broad. However, I do discuss some specific imagery that was shown in the film’s trailers.

A man sits, watching the painted white face staring back at him in the mirror. He reaches one index finger into each corner of his…


After a sixteen-year hiatus, the Trump Administration announced that the Federal government will resume executions in late 2019 and early 2020, reinvigorating the public and political discourse around capital punishment. Support for the decision is mixed, but a few things are clear.

Source: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Flickr

First, in the democratized world, the death penalty…


On May 31, Netflix premiered a new show called When They See Us, a four-episode series depicting the injustice of the Central Park Jogger case. The show became an overnight cultural phenomenon. …


Donald Trump was back at it again, releasing a fury of tweets denouncing an illegal and expensive “witch hunt” carried out by Democrats.

This, of course, is nothing new for the President, whose claims to victimhood in this “witch hunt” have been a common refrain.

My focus…


Compensation for the wrongly convicted has been in the news recently. Just over a week ago, Indiana became the 34th state to pass a compensation law for exonerees — those found to be innocent of the crimes for which they were convicted.

That’s great — it really is. For a…


A few days ago, the New York Times ran a story about the case of Sedley Alley, who convicted and sentenced to death for a 1985 rape and murder in Tennessee. …

Robert J. Norris, PhD

Author, professor. Writing about law, justice, politics, culture. Books: Exonerated (tinyurl.com/y4jfqsaj) & When Justice Fails (tinyurl.com/yyen4ggf).

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