Why Legislators and Doctors Don’t Always Agree on the Definition of Death

While Patients' Families Think Life Ends With Your Last Breath, 50 States Point to Brain Activity

How can you truly know when someone is dead? Historically, death was determined by holding a mirror up to a person’s mouth to see if they were breathing. But this method was not foolproof, so safety coffins outfitted with a string attached to a bell were used to allow someone who woke up after burial to easily send out a distress signal.

Today, the most commonly accepted definition of death is irreversible cardiopulmonary arrest—when a person no longer has a palpable pulse, an audible heartbeat, or sounds of breathing. …

How William the Conqueror Became England’s Peacemaker

The Norman Was Ruthless in Battle, but His Reign Brought Stability and Rule of Law

Since the publication of my William the Conqueror in the Yale University Press English Monarchs series in October 2016, I have often been asked how long it took me to …

How California’s Open Meetings Law Became a Gag Rule

Local Government Has Changed So Much That the Historic Brown Act Is Silencing Us, Not Protecting Us

The Ralph M. Brown Act, first approved in 1953, is celebrated for its supposed guarantees that we citizens have a voice in the decisions of all our local governments.

But today, …

The Supreme Court Ruled Wrong, Then Right, on Japanese American Internment

The Only "Precedent” for the Proposed Muslim Registry Is Conflicted Legal Thinking

In 2014, a group of law students at the University of Hawaii asked Justice Antonin Scalia to comment on the Korematsu case, the infamous 1944 Supreme Court decision that upheld …

In California, Big Data Is Getting the Wrong People Arrested

Blame the Software—and a Lack of Incentives to Check for Errors

Managing information is central to the criminal justice system, and so it’s inevitable that mistakes happen. Names get confused, files lost. When these errors occur, the police can mistakenly arrest …

Winning Freedom From Guantánamo With Forbearance and Trust

In the Shadow of Torture and Isolation, an American Lawyer and an Afghan Prisoner Bond Over Melted Mocha Ice Cream

I first visited Obaidullah at Guantánamo Bay in the spring of 2009. Before that first meeting, all I knew were the disturbing accusations against him, that he had fired his …