What Is The ‘Zone of Death’ Where Any Crime Can Legally Be Committed?
This is definitely your "What The Trash?" moment of the week. I recently learned about this place called the "Zone of Death" where any crime could legally be committed and had to do a little investigating. The name "Zone of Death" was given to a 50 square mile section of Idaho inside of Yellowstone National Park where by, because of a loophole in the U.S. Constitution, someone could theoretically get away with any crime, including murder. Now, no such crimes have ever taken place in this area, but it's interesting to look at.
This was actually discovered by a law professor at Michigan State University, Brian C. Kalt. He was preparing to write an essay about technicalities of the Sixth Amendment, which entitles citizens to a fair and quick trial. When thinking of a place where there weren't enough eligible citizens to form a jury, he discovered the Idaho section of Yellowstone National Park, where such a place actually exists. According to the Wikipedia page, this is how the loophole works:
The Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution decrees that juries in federal criminal cases must be made up of citizens who are from both the district and state where the crime was committed. Because of this, charges for a crime alleged to have been committed in the area of the park in Idaho would have to be tried before a jury consisting entirely of residents of that area, and the trial would also have to take place in that area. As the Idaho portion of the park has no courthouses and is uninhabited, no such jury could be assembled. Thus the defendant would be unable to have a fair trial, and could not receive legal punishment for any alleged crimes.
It is important to note that Congress has shot down a bill that would end the loophole multiple times through efforts made by Kalt. Now, this doesn't mean you should take someone out there and "off" em', but it's crazy our own government doesn't find it necessary to end this loophole. To this day, the loophole still stands.
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