Beyond reasonable doubt is misunderstood

The Pennsylvania jury in the Bill Cosby trial has been deadlocked for five days and asked the judge for the meaning of the term “reasonable doubt” as in “beyond reasonable doubt.”  Based on my service on four juries, I suggest that lawyers and legal observers misunderstand how the typical citizen-juror thinks about the concept. Two years ago while a juror in a “criminally negligent manslaughter” case, a single juror held out over the concept “beyond a reasonable doubt.” He said “I think the defendant is guilty but I always have “reasonable doubt” about serious questions. Therefore, if the test is “beyond that point,” I vote “not guilty.”  To him, the key term seemed to be BEYOND not “reasonable” in the phrase “beyond reasonable doubt.”  Yet, whenever I’ve heard judges and lawyers talk about the concept they focus on “reasonable” not on “beyond.” Continue reading

My Visit to National Museum of African American History and Culture

On May 23, 2017 I visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the newest part of the Smithsonian Museums in Washington, DC.

Despite what I had heard about the impossibility of getting admission tickets for less than three months in advance, I was able to get a same-day ticket online at 6:30 AM that morning. They were all gone by 8:30 that morning. There are also “walk up tickets” available at 1:00 PM until they are gone. Continue reading

The Commencement Address I Sorta Gave

Not surprising, I was never invited to give a real,  official commencement address on the Quad or in the basketball arena, so I wrote my own for my capstone seminars in 2002, 2007, and 2010.

Congratulations on completing your college education. You might not think graduating from college is a big deal, I didn’t think so in 1973 either, but your parents and society thinks so. So do I. You are among the top quarter of American society who have either been given, or made the opportunity for,  at least four years of post-high school study.

Continue reading

Notes and Links about Lorraine Hansberry and A RAISIN IN THE SUN

The next “film community discussion” will be Monday, May 8 at 7 PM at the Boone Home (4th Street next to Second Baptist) in Columbia,Missouri  to hear reactions to “A Raisin in the Sun” that will be playing at the  Maplewood Barn Theater April 27 thru April 30  and May 4th thru May 7 at 8 PM.

For tickets,

Below are links to several interviews and reviews that I enjoyed.

A Raisin in the Sun: An Introduction

An introduction to the play, with interviews with Phylicia Rashad, the actors, and a number of scholars of Lorraine Hansberry and African American literature. This video guide includes commentary on the play’s path to Broadway, biographical information about the Hansberry family’s fight for housing, the play’s cultural significance and Hansberry’s lasting legacy.


Author unknown, “To be Young, Gifted, and Black”


A mini documentary


There are several full texts of the play online. Here is one:


Review of the original 1959 Broadway play from the New York TIMES.


Review of 2016 London performance from The Guardian

Earth Day: Effective in promoting environmental protection?

I like nature. I hike and have a garden. I know the Missouri state flower is the hawthorn and the state tree is the flowering dogwood. I like to drink clean water and breathe clean water. I buy dolphin safe tuna.  Call me a crazy environmentalist, if you must. But wait: I  doubt the efficacy of Earth Day.  I’ve been dubious about it since April 22, 1970 despite spending several days with the late-Senator Gaylord Nelson, the founder of Earth Day, and bringing him to Columbia in 1997. Earth Day did not “start it all.”

Below is my op ed published in the St. Louis Post Dispatch in April 2010. Continue reading