Michigan State University Professor Stumbles onto a Legal Loophole Where You Can Get Away With Murder
We suggest you never become the test case for this legal theory - a Michigan State University law professor thinks there's one spot in America where you could commit a murder and get away with it thanks to a legal loop hole.
That one spot is Yellowstone Park in Idaho, so goes the theory from MSU law professor Brian Kalt developed in 2004. The theory is based on a clause in the 6th Amendment to the Constitution and jurisdictions where a case can be tried. Here's how the Yellowstone loophole comes to be according to Kalt's paper 'The Perfect Crime,'
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
So a murder, or any crime, committed in this specific geographic area could not be prosecuted without violating the 6th Amendment rights of the accused. Does that make it the perfect location for a crime?
The idea of this murder free-for-all zone was used as the basis for the novel Free Fire by CJ Box part of his Joe Pickett series,
Joe Pickett’s been hired to investigate one of the most cold-blooded mass killings in Wyoming history. Attorney Clay McCann admitted to slaughtering four campers in a back-country corner of Yellowstone National Park—a “free-fire” zone with no residents or jurisdiction. In this remote fifty-square-mile stretch a man can literally get away with murder. Now McCann’s a free man, and Pickett’s about to discover his motive—one buried in Yellowstone’s rugged terrain, and as dangerous as the man who wants to keep it hidden.
Kalt hopes that Congress will close the obscure legal loop hole he uncovered.