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Legal Loophole May Allow Crime to Pay

Yellowstone National Park is a breathtaking panorama of scenic beauty and flourishing wildlife. Millions of tourists visit it each year.

But it might also be the place to commit the perfect crime.

University of Michigan law professor Brian Calt says that because Yellowstone covers parts of three states, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, a legal technicality of Constitutional law leaves an area in the park as a ‘dead zone’ — an area where Federal law may not be able to function.

He explains: “Since Yellowstone falls under Federal jurisdiction, a crime serious enough to warrant a trial by jury committed there has to be done under a state’s auspices — but which state? The Constitution forbids one state from interfering with another state’s jury trials; so if a crime were committed in the Idaho part of the park and the culprit was brought before the Wyoming judicial system, he or she could get off scot-free. In theory.”

So far as he knows, that theory has never been tested in a criminal court.

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