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Monday, July 30, 2012

Author of "99 Problems" Legal Breakdown Explains Why Drug Dealers Should Know Their Rights and How Hip-Hop Helps

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2012 at 11:03 AM

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One of the reasons we feel free is that we have an expectation that we're not going to be just grabbed, arrested and searched randomly, without a good reason that can hold up in court.

The police don't want to be seen as just the toughest gang on the block. If the police tried to operate in an environment in which people only obeyed them because of fear, it would be a lot harder to actually investigate crime, to prevent crime. Which is why the biggest nightmare for cops, prosecutors and Federal agents is always when you have some scandal that exposes malfeasance on the part of the practitioners in the investigation of crime. It just kills you, because you have to rebuild that reputation and that trust.

You said you wrote this as an exercise for your students; is that something that you've explored before, using pop culture to explore legal issues?

Oh God yes. All the time. My job is to teach students how the rules of criminal procedure govern a case. There are a whole bunch of constitutional rules that govern how the police can investigate crime, and the rights that people have.

One of the classes I teach is searches and interrogation. Those are obviously big themes in pop culture - I try to use it as much as possible.

What are some of the other examples you've used?

One of the movies and also books I like is Clockers. There are just some excellent scenes from the perspective of both sides. Those are the ones I look for, the ones that have some things from the perspective of the cops and some from the perspective of the dealers, in this case.

So this was the first time you had done hip-hop lyrics?

Yes. A lot of what we talk about are incidents that were triggered with traffic stops. So we have a lot of scenarios like this. I had a research assistant who said, "Well, it's just like doing 55 in a 54.'" And I had another student who loaned me the autobiography [Decoded]. I actually really loved the book.

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