Electric Chair

Lead: Caught up in the frenzy of competition in the early days of electric power, Thomas Edison gave impetus to development of the twentieth century’s most fearsome form of judicial execution, the electric chair.

Intro. : A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In the 1880s, inventor Thomas Edison and industrialist George Westinghouse were locked in a fierce competition over the future of electric power. The issue was transmission. Edison championed direct current, Westinghouse, in alliance with the brilliant and erratic Nikola Tesla, was an advocate of alternating current. Westinghouse eventually prevailed because AC, with its more efficient distribution over longer distances, was clearly the superior choice.

Mr. Justice Marshall II (Federal Court System)

Lead: In Marbury v. Madison Chief Justice John Marshall made the federal court system an equal partner in national affairs.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1803 Marshall gave teeth to the Federal court system by declaring a law passed by Congress, signed by the President, to be unconstitutional. He established the principal of judicial review. Just before leaving office in 1801 President John Adams had appointed a large number of his party, the Federalists, to office. One of these so-called "midnight judges" was John Marshall, another was William Marbury, appointed Justice of the Peace of the District of Columbia. He was confirmed by the Senate, but his commission was not delivered. The new President, Thomas Jefferson refused to deliver it. Marbury sued to force its delivery. Such an order was a writ of mandamus, a command order.

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Mr. Justice Marshall I (Federal Court System)

Lead: In the beginning the United States weren't very united.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: As originally conceived, the Federal Union was at best a loose confederation of sovereign states, governed by those very jealous for their state's rights. The Constitution of 1787 was a series of compromises: big state versus small state, slave versus free, commercial areas versus agricultural regions. No one knew how the political settlement would work.

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Dillinger and Hoover II

Lead: Like two combatants, John Dillinger and J. Edgar Hoover circled around each other during Dillinger’s year-long crime spree in the 1930s. They used each other for publicity and public relations.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: In 1917 Edgar Hoover was hired as a file clerk by the Department of Justice. Within two years he had secured a position as Special Assistant Attorney General Mitchell Palmer. It was in this capacity that Hoover oversaw deportations and arrests of many Bolsheviks during the Red Scare of the 1920s. By 1924 he was temporary head of the Bureau of Investigation and was confirmed several months later. Gradually, Edgar Hoover transformed the agency into a professional powerhouse. Agents were recruited on the basis of merit, the world’s largest fingerprint file assisted in the apprehension of criminals, the FBI labs provided law enforcement agencies with world class forensic assistance, and the FBI National Academy trained top cops from around the country.

Dillinger and Hoover I

Lead: In the 1930s two men came to represent the struggle between forces of law and lawlessness. Dillinger and Hoover used the popular press to portray themselves to the public.

Intro: A Moment In Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: John Herbert Dillinger was perhaps America's most famous bank robber. He was raised on a farm in Mooresville, Indiana. After a turn in the U.S. Navy, from which he deserted, Dillinger was caught after a botched holdup and served nine years in various state prisons. He learned the craft of bank robbery at the hands of the professionals while incarcerated, and shortly after his release began a round of bank heists, five in four months. He gained his first national notoriety. He was daring, physically commanding, and was known for being a sharp dresser.

The Miranda Case

Lead: In 1966 John Flynn, a public defender from Arizona argued before the U.S. Supreme Court that his client was not given a clear description of his legal rights. The case was an important milestone in American justice.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Ernesto Miranda was a confessed rapist and kidnapper incarcerated in the state prison in Florence, Arizona. He had signed a confession acknowledging his legal rights, but had not specifically been told he had the right to counsel. Working for the American Civil Liberties Union, John Flynn appealed Miranda's conviction to the Supreme Court. Writing for the Court majority, Chief Justice Earl Warren insisted that prosecutors must provide certain safeguards to defendants before statements taken in custody can be used as evidence in a trial. From that point, those placed under arrest in real life or in countless television and movie presentations, had to be read their rights often from a so-called Miranda Card: to remain silent, that anything they say may be used as evidence, that they have the right to an attorney.


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FDR and Court Packing IV

Lead: Emboldened by the most powerful election victory in memory, Franklin Delano Roosevelt tried to invalidate a hostile majority on the Supreme Court by packing the Court with new Justices.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: The Court majority led by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes was opposed to a significant number of Roosevelt's New Deal laws and declared them unconstitutional. Instead of trying to amend the Constitution to get his legislation through, the President decided to pack the Supreme Court with several new justices more attuned to his way of doing business. It was a political disaster.

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FDR and Court Packing III

Lead: With a hostile Supreme Court majority, Franklin Delano Roosevelt faced the real possibility that the New Deal would be destroyed.

Intro.: A Moment in Time with Dan Roberts.

Content: Under the United States Constitution, it is given to the U.S. Supreme Court, the responsibility to interpret provisions of the constitution and judge the validity of laws passed by state and federal governments. In 1935 and 1936 the Supreme Court began taking apart the New Deal. At first, the damage was only theoretical. The Court upheld, but only barely, Roosevelt's 1933 termination of gold convertibility.

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