The People of Puerto Rico

About This Episode

We talk with appellate lawyer Chris Landau who represented Puerto Rico in two cases before the Supreme Cost last term. We focus on one of them, in which Puerto Rican criminal convictions were challenged on double jeopardy grounds: that Puerto Rico could not prosecute the defendants because they had already been convicted in federal court on essentially the same charges. This in turn depends on whether Puerto Rico has the same separate sovereign status as the states, whether it itself is the source of its laws or whether the United States is always a silent but superior authority. At bottom this case raised questions about the very identity of this island nation. In the wake of a devastating hurricane and a controversial federal response, we talk about law and sovereign identity - in our usual fashion, going between theory, pragmatic litigation issues, and, in this case, a complicated and fascinating history.

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