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The Buried Bodies Case

Friday, June 03, 2016 - 05:00 PM

(Photo Credit: Chuck Miller)
In 1973, a massive manhunt in New York's Adirondack Mountains ended when police captured a man named Robert Garrow.  And that’s when this story really gets started.
This episode we consider a string of barbaric crimes by a hated man, and the attorney who, when called to defend him, also wound up defending a core principle of our legal system.  When Frank Armani learned his client’s most gruesome secrets, he made a morally startling decision that stunned the world and goes to the heart of what it means to be a defense attorney - how far should lawyers go to provide the best defense to the worst people?

NOTE: This episode contains graphic descriptions of sexual assault and violence.

Produced by Matt Kielty and Brenna Farrell. Reported by Brenna Farrell.

Special thanks to Tom Alibrandi, author of Privileged Information, with Frank Armani, Laurence Gooley, author of Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow, Charl Bader and the students in her Criminal Defense Clinic at Fordham University, Leslie Levin and the students in her Legal Profession class at The University of Connecticut School of Law, Clark D. Cunningham at Georgia State University College of Law, Debra Armani, Mary Armani, Lohr McKinstry, Tom Scozzafava, Stephanie Jenkins, Brian Farrell, Jennifer Brumback and Nick Capodice. 



Frank Armani, Lisa Lerman, Roberta Petz and Jim Tracy

Produced by:

Brenna Farrell and Matthew Kielty


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Comments [101]


My grandfather lived in Wells, NY, where the crime that got Garrow noticed and apprehended was committed, and he served on Garrow's jury. Years ago I read the story in Tom Alabrandi and Frank Armani's book, Privileged Information. I enjoyed hearing the case covered on Radio Lab today, and it inspired me to look up my grandfather's recollections, from years afterward, relating to his small role in the case in 1973 and 1974. Thank you.

May. 23 2017 03:43 PM
Brian Witherspoon from St. Louis

I have been a prosecutor, a criminal defense attorney, and have defended coppers in civil rights cases. Many of the comments here are appalling. The lawyers did not create the system in which they work. This is America and this is our system. Should John Adams have refused to defend the British soldiers charged in the "Boston Massacre?" Should Clarence Darrow not have defended anyone? Perry Mason was fictional, but he would not have been created without the adversarial system we have. It is a crime, a felony, in many states for the lawyer to tell the client's secrets in violation of the attorney-client privilege. IT IS THE CLIENT'S PRIVILEGE. It is not the lawyer's. These moral pronouncements are fine until it is someone the moralizers here love that lands in the hot seat. They want an unyielding lawyer who knows and follows the rules when it's their kin. Please.

May. 21 2017 09:09 PM
Willie from Oxford, Mississippi

This conflict is easily solved by doing away with our adversarial system of justice and reverting to some nice summary justice system such as practiced in antiquity and/or by other cultures. Sharia law, for example, provides easy closure for victim's families but may leave a little to be desired with respect to due process.

In the novel "To Kill a Mockingbird" Atticus Finch was a hero because he defended a black man accused of raping a white woman in a place and during a time where black people were a despised minority and institutionally denied due process. In this real life story the lawyers defended a man with mental illness, a criminal with mental illness -- another despised minority. Sure he was a loathsome critter. But he was human and entitled to competent counsel (in our system of justice).

Every single day public defenders and others charged with defending the rights of despised minorities swallow bile and march into court to say the most ridiculous things trying all the while not to laugh to champion their clients. They'll never be on NPR. They themselves are sometimes despised. Without them you have the Scottsboro boys. States like Mississippi don't bother with worrying about errors of justice that only affect marginalized folks. The more progressive state of Florida has exonerated something like 28 death sentenced inmates. Do you really want to live in a country where the cops and plutocrats get to pick who lives and who dies? I don't.

May. 21 2017 07:10 PM
Another Thought from Roswell, GA

Some of the commenters have suggested that the prosecutors should have asked the parents of the murdered girls if they would "accept" (i.e., stand for) the plea deal sought by Armani and Belge in return for information about the location of the girls bodies. Ignoring the likelihood that this would have resulted in a mistrial (since asking the question reveals that the information is available), there's still an important point that's missed. That point is that Garrow was being tried for the murder of Dumblewski (sp?), not the girls. So the feelings of the (at the time) missing and presumed dead girls' parents are not really relevant to the case at hand.
Dumblewski's parents may have preferred the possibility of executing Garrow.

May. 21 2017 06:26 PM
M from MN

I am confused by the blame placed here, if I heard the story correctly, the prosecutors knew the defense team knew where there were 2 bodies shortly after they were found. The prosecutors refused to give the defense team a way to inform them (via the mental plea). The prosecution is equally to blame in case, IMO.

Regardless, I do think an anonymous tip was in order.

May. 21 2017 04:07 PM

Why was Susan Petz's mother Roberta not mentioned in the "special thanks to" section? Or did I miss something? How generous of her to offer her perspective to the producers.

May. 21 2017 12:08 AM
Bhavesh Patel from Chicago

Misplaced Blame Here...

Why is everyone blaming Frank Armani when it's clear that he was conflicted to uphold the Judicial System in the world, despite its imperfections.

The REAL ethically compromised person here is the DA. Read it again. This DA had a chance to find the bodies and still put the murderer away from harming the public again. What is his reasoning for not doing so? Political Capital

So Politics was more important to the DA than the pain and suffering of the parents. That's the real take home message.

We have a judicial system that we will continuously modify, but Mr. Armani at great emotional burden, financial burden, and physical burden made the hard, ethical choice as the law is written today. For people who are not in a profession and don't take an oath, it's easy for you to blame someone for making the choice that you disagree with.

Again, why didn't the DA just take the plea bargain? Children would have been found right away, pain and suffering would have been alleviated by the parents, the murderer would have been put away for life. It didn't happen because the DA cared too much about his reputation. He's the real ethically compromised character in this story.

Apr. 17 2017 11:57 AM

Nothing really disgusts me these days but listening to this did. The fact that this is taught as an example of ethics today makes me wonder how many other buried bodies are out there that lawyers know about?

Mar. 03 2017 06:27 PM
Karissa from Franklin, TN

The fact that this is even a debate is a bit terrifying. The law is a construct of government, not a guideline for morality. The law is most times for the benefit of citizens, but there are times when the law needs to be disregarded. In situations like these, your career, the law, and your reputation are irrelevant. You have an obligation as a human being to the actual victim, not your client. Putting law above your morals is a dangerous game that should not be played.

Feb. 27 2017 12:10 AM

I'm siding with people who may need a good lawyer at some point. It's terrible that these families lost loved ones but not respecting the law and why it is designed that way is dangerous. A lawyer is being paid to think of the client above all. Sorry.

Dec. 28 2016 06:43 PM
Tim from Los Angeles, CA

I think there has to be a better way of handling a situation like Armani and the other lawyer found themselves in. I don't believe protecting a murder and denying information to parents in agony is the "moral" thing to do regardless of the more narrow ethical duty that an attorney has to his or her client and professional responsibility tied to the justice system we must preserve as greater than an individual life. I don't think attorneys and students should proclaim Armani heroic for this, either, even if they recognize the extremely difficult circumstances. I think he could have served justice and human sympathy by somehow getting word to the authorities about where the bodies were. And finally, this isn't the best example but certainly one of many indicating the flaws in our justice system. I'm not expert in criminal justice in other countries, but I understand that other legal systems such as in the UK and France are geared to both "sides" in a case trying to reveal the truth in order to bring justice rather than the adversarial system that dominates here. Although I don't believe this case involves an attorney doing anything he can to win, that does happen thousands of times each year in our courts, and real justice is often the victim.

Dec. 09 2016 05:18 AM
Erin from Kansas City

Mr. Armani and his colleague went looking for bodies. That is what they found. I'm curious as to what the forethought was when they embarked on their quest through the woods to discover the two missing women. It would be interesting to know if they imagined being in the difficult (to put it lightly) moral / ethical dilemma this situation presented. Had they thought through this particular scenario before looking for the bodies, what would they imagined the right thing to do? (The scenario being that they were unable to rid themselves of the information via a plea bargain, thus forced to keep the information private - until of course, it was discovered by accident).

Dec. 05 2016 01:48 PM

BAM! you have a strange idea of what justice is. If defendants can't talk confidentially to a lawyer then there is no justice system, the whole thing falls apart because then all you have is lynch mobs

Nov. 07 2016 03:30 AM
Twisted Soul from New York

Randomshire from USA
The defense stipulated that they would give up the information on the locations of the bodies if they could be assured that Garrow would be sent to a mental institution instead of prison. So the life sentence is a misnomer.
The DA and Senior NYSP Investigator, both of whom sat in on the plea deal, agreed not to send him there. Mainly, because the investigator found a road map hidden in rear well of the suspects vehicle.The map had markings throughout NY and one in Hamilton Ontario. There were almost 30 markings. It also had a city marked with the words "Nut House," written, indicating a well known facility in that city. In other words, if the suspect was caught that's where he wanted to go. He had planned it out. And, of course, he later escaped prison.
The second problem with putting him in a mental home was that Garrow was suspected of many murders.
Quote from the investigator, who sat in on plea deal.
"The murders we knew of matched some of the dots. We felt he was guilty of many, many more murders than he finally admitted to, and that the dots indicated locations of those crimes.
"That was his way of life. That's what he did, travelling from place to place, murdering folks."

Aug. 04 2016 07:24 PM
Randomshire from USA

"ErinB" said what I was going to say.... The DA or Prosecuting attorney had a choice to end the search and the families worries by taking the info and the murderer still would get life. And "EE" above, the deal would include the murderer being named with "immunity" from prosecution of those the parents would know who murdered their family.

It is shocking that again RAdiolab is not intelligent to actually address this as ErinB and myself did. I find this happens a lot with their journalism style. They tell one side and don't seem to think a lot about their stories.

I would love a followup that explains if the law schools using this case for ethics actually address what the DA should have done to get the info?! AS someone who personally knows a DA and Lawyer (now turned Judge) who put an innocent man in jail to protect their small-town friend who is a child rapist... The system is flawed as long as flawed humans are allowed to run it.

Jul. 26 2016 07:13 PM

How the heck is this NOT obstruction of justice? I cannot wrap my brain around this. Clearly the attorneys obstructed the justice system with regards to the unsolved murders / missing bodies. They deserve jail time.

This story sickened me. It also sickens me that radiolab profits off this story through repeatedly contacting the mother to go on record to talk about her daughter's death. Distgusting.

Dear Radiolab -- please share this with the woman who narrated the story. Have her discuss this with others in the office with kids. By the way she approached this, clearly she doesn't have any. Afterwards, please leave a comment to confirm you have addressed this.

Jul. 21 2016 02:44 PM

I just wrote (kind of stupidly) that lawyers should be exempt from attorney-client privileges, but what I really meant to say is that they should be exempt under special circumstances. Our lives our complicated, and I get why the attorney-privilege condition needs to be in-play. It was designed to protect the innocent accused of wrong-doing, right? And it's amazing that these attorney's went through the whole ordeal with their client, and discovered how guilty their client was, and still maintained silence. That took courage.

The problem is, I think, is that these attorney's needed a way out of this defense. And our system is not setup for that. At least not in a way that is fair and just, yet.

Jul. 19 2016 10:58 PM

Well...I think lawyers should be exempt from client-lawyer privileges, from what their client's tell them, especially when it is an admission of a murder.

Jul. 19 2016 10:44 PM
Listener from us

I second the call for a stronger warning at the start of this, and I also agree that the graphic telling was not necessary to talk to the point of the story, and was unexpected.

Jul. 14 2016 12:54 PM
Tony from TX

There is so much about this story that I found infuriating, but perhaps that was the intent.
Far from being champions of justice these lawyers seem to have very selfish motivations. “If we pull this off we've got it made” says it all. Then after seeking to make a deal with the police the lawyer agreed to meet with the father of one of the murdered girls. He knew what the father would ask and he knew he would not be able to provide the information ahead of the meeting. Instead he told them to take it up with the police. His motivation for meeting with the father, far from providing any closure or comfort, was simply to selfishly gain leverage for his deal. Telling the father that the police held the key to the information he needed.
Very bias piece Radiolab.

Jun. 26 2016 04:55 PM
Ken from Los Angeles USA

Why does it take 4 people to complete one sentence? I cant stand how Radiolab edits the narration.
Its really dizzying and annoying

Too bad Criminal podcast didnt do this story.

Jun. 24 2016 12:31 AM

One glaring point jumped out at me as this podcast ended. It may have been brought up earlier but I did not see it as I skimmed the comments above...

Without attorney-client confidentiality the parents of those two women would never have known the identity of the killer!!! Garrow would not have disclosed the information as it would incriminate him in even more murders. The closure of knowing their daughters' killer was caught and punished would never have occurred. It's a terrible trade-off to make, but is it better to know immediately if your missing loved one is dead or waiting a little while and learning the full story of their fate and eventually that of the perpetrator?

Jun. 23 2016 03:05 PM
peter runrig

It would have been an even better episode if you had spent 2 minutes explaining what happened next - about how Garrow escaped from prison and went on the run, his hit list with Frank Armani's name on it and his ultimate death in a shootout. I know it was not the focus of the story, but I was left wondering what become of Garrow so took to the Internet.

Jun. 23 2016 12:42 PM
june from Colorado

hi folks. a few minutes into this piece i became confused. too many narrators - sometimes 3 or 4 to complete one sentence!!
Makes for extreme disjointedness. Hard to maintain the thread of the story.

Jun. 21 2016 06:13 PM

An excellent podcast, but they seem to have missed a main point. This application of attorney-client privilege elevated Garrow’s rights over the devastated families of those young victims, but this tragic outcome is not because privilege is intended to protect criminals. The privilege exists to encourage disclosure because the broad consensus among people who work with these issues is that disclosure is beneficial in the aggregate. We believe that society is better off--not just criminals--if clients can trust their lawyers to maintain confidences. In this case, for example, some commentators assume the attorney should obviously have reported the locations of the victims to ease the torment of the families. However, absent the promise of confidentiality the accused would not likely have identified the locations of those poor girls. If we had just this one case to consider, the best course may well be to promise confidentiality to secure the information and then break the promise. However, opening the door to violations of privilege could reasonably be assumed to inhibit future disclosures in other cases. Lawyers need such disclosure to represent clients effectively. Lawyers also need rules of ethics to guide them in these difficult conflicts. According to the podcast, the rules of ethics in New York allow attorneys to break the privilege if there is a risk of death; for example, if the young women was trapped in the mine rather than buried there. Perhaps we could argue about whether that is the right test, but I don’t see how Armani could be criticized for following the ethics rules he swore to abide by. I think he did the best he could. The problem here is that good people have not quite figured out how to deal with psychopaths.

Jun. 20 2016 03:32 PM
MAK from Cincinnati

Thanks so much for telling this story fairly. I recently quit law after 20 years, in no small part because I could no longer stand being in the middle. The attorneys in this case were in the right and as horrible as this story is they had no choice. That you made an effort to explain their no win position is a rare and wonderful piece of reporting. Thank you for resisting the urge to turn this story into a lesser one.

Jun. 20 2016 01:47 PM
Jim Tracy from Twisted Soul, New York

Thank you Robneyer. Ultimately, no matter where people stand on the actions of the defense lawyers, the key characters in this story, including the two lawyers, were on the side of the law. It was Garrow, who was on the side of crime. As hideous as the conduct of Armani, there's still a dichotomy in the story between good and evil.
Interestingly, as a side bar, the key characters got together every afternoon at Zeiser's Inn in Speculator during the long jury deliberations and trial and hashed out the case everyday over drinks. Belge, Armani, the prosecutors, Detective Henry McCabe, the judge and even reporters were there. They were all there. All on the side of the law. Garrow was up the street sitting in a cage.
As McCabe told me later: "If we were anywhere else besides Hamilton County (the least populous county in the state), and in a different era, they would declared a mistrial."
When Judge Marthen thought the conversation went too far, he removed his shoe and banged it on the bar, calling for order in the tap room.
As my book reveals, Robert Garrow fooled the system. There were so many institutions and individuals, who could have been blamed right down the line, including the NYS department of corrections as you hinted at in your comment.
Ultimately, although literary agents disagree with me, the theme of the story is the inability to recognize a personality disorder in criminals labled pyschopathic, from that of an everyday henious criminal, results in tumultuous consequences for society. At the time of the Garrow saga, the study of psychopathy was in its nacsent stages.
I think the debate on this forum is a result of the damage an unrecognized psychopath can have on all of us. Like a rock dropped into a lake, the ripples go in every direction and affect us all.

Jun. 19 2016 12:26 PM

First, big thanks for Jim Tracy for engaging with people here in a meaningful way.

Second, I'm simply agog that the producers didn't even mention the bizarre twist ending to this story, which I won't reveal here but is easily found on the web. I suppose they didn't want to just tack it on, but I would rather have heard that ending than the one we actually get here.

Otherwise a fine, balanced episode. And no, contrary to somewhat popular opinion, there aren't any "monsters" here. Just people, some terribly twisted and some terribly conflicted, all fighting their own personal wars and some not coming out on the other side.

Jun. 17 2016 11:21 PM
Elizabeth from New York

I don't practice law currently, but when I did I represented parents who had been accused of child abuse and neglect. And to those of you who say that what Mr. Armani did was immoral, and that he should have told, I would ask you - how many of you who have had occasion to need a lawyer called them up on your best day? The day you graduate or when you get engaged? Your wedding day? To let them know you had a new baby? I bet not many. You call us on your worst day. When the unimaginable has happened to you. You call us for help. And in return, we keep your secrets. We do our jobs. Our job is to be the bearer of bad news, and the keepers of your deepest darkest secrets. And the reason we can continue to help you, is because we do. If we didn't, you would never trust us to help you. How could you? If we had no obligation to hold your secrets as sacredly as you do, would you tell us the things we need to know to help you? Of course you wouldn't.

Jun. 17 2016 05:55 PM

As a long-time listener and admirer of this wonderful show, I was disappointed by the producer's failure to follow up with the prosecutor on his or her reasoning for failing the victims' families--whom THEY represented, NOT the defense--so egregiously. First of all, criminal defense attorneys and their clients are forbidden from contacting victims and their families in most cases--the prosecutors control access. But more importantly, I believe it was a breach of ethics for the prosecutor to not inquire with the victims' families whether or not the families would be willing to allow a criminal defendant to plead guilty and receive a particular sentence in return for the critical information on the whereabouts of murdered family members. I suspect Susan Petts would have agreed readily. Why was that question not posed to her? To the prosecutor? Instead the onus was placed by the producers on the criminal defense attorney, which is so deeply unfair I hardly know where to begin...

Destroying the confidentiality between attorney and client would mean the destruction of our legal system. Not just of the criminal justice system, but of the civil justice system also. Defendants would never reveal any details of their situations for fear it would be revealed to law enforcement or the plaintiff. It would mean defendants basically depend on themselves alone if defense attorneys could subjectively decide past crimes to reveal to the state; they'd no better than the prosecution. Information in exchange for deals with the prosecution...that would simply cease to exist. Which would mean most criminal cases would result in trial! Taxpayers would revolt at the cost. The wheels of justice would simply grind to a halt. Confidentiality is such a foundational principle in the law that the public's ignorance on this point is simply shameful.

Of course I agree that the mother deserves to know where her child's body is located: that is why I am so outraged that the prosecutor ignored the opportunity to provide that knowledge to the family. It was the PROSECUTOR who had that choice, NOT the defense attorney. And shame on everyone who sees it otherwise, for you are all hypocrites: it's fine to breach confidentiality when it is someone else's, but wait until you're prosecuted for something and then imagine your rage when your attorney betrays your trust and goes against your interest... You'd want him or her disbarred and rightfully so.

It is all too easy to point fingers at a criminal defense attorney; they are easy targets. But in most cases, criminal defendants plead guilty after discussing fully with their own attorneys their situation. And, in exchange for doing so, they receive slightly better sentences than they would've otherwise. The ramifications of unraveling that ethical and legal duty are tremendous and society-changing. Shame on Radiolab for not presenting a fairer picture.

Jun. 16 2016 01:31 PM
Tina Belge from Greenville, SC

I just about jumped out my seat when I heard this story, while driving no less! While of course the story itself was quite unbelievable it was more unbelievable when I heard Francis's last name. Nobody has my last name, I mean, nobody (in America, that is)! Supposedly we have family in upstate New York. Who knows? Maybe we are related? Onto some snooping.....

Jun. 15 2016 08:19 AM
Bruce from Australia

Can someone please explain any of the following to a non-legal mind such as mine:

I get that it's important to have provisions for attorney-client confidentiality BUT why do people think it's better to have a system that upholds the right of an *extremely* dangerous person to get the best possible chance of getting away with their crimes over the rights of a victim's family who is going through hell?

Why is it important that a murderer be allowed to disclose the location of their victims' bodies to their lawyer with confidentiality? Because we don't want to start creating exceptions?

If the bodies had never been independently found and the lawyers weren't allowed to disclose the information then the toll on the victims' families would have been far worse than it already was.

The DA didn't want to plea bargain because he was worried that Garrow would try to escape, and his fears turned out to be well founded. Was he wrong? Or is there another way the state could have handled this?

Is there a way the justice system could be reformed to more adequately deal with situations like this?

This case brings to mind issues like chemical castration for convicted paedophiles and those who oppose it based on the human rights of the criminal - of course psychopaths and paedophiles are blameless in the sense that their neural 'wiring' makes them unable to refrain from committing crimes, but surely the rights of those that they have damaged and are likely to damage in the future are more important, so there needs to be robust structures in place to protect the public from them once they've been caught?

Jun. 15 2016 01:09 AM

Whipsmart: Could you contact me for further discussion for my book at
Thank You

Jun. 13 2016 06:27 PM

As an avid listener, current criminal defense attorney, and former death row investigator, I was so looking forward to listening to this episode. Unfortunately, I feel - as many others in this thread - that a great opportunity to discuss the different roles in the criminal justice system was presented, and not utilized. I was so disheartened that the mother's expression of "why" Armani's focus wasn't on what was best for the victims was not countered by the understanding that that job was the STATE's, and they failed her.

Please do a follow up episode and PLEASE interview some of the many victims families that have joined restorative justice movements all over the county. I have loved the Supreme Court podcast so far, I am hopeful that it will focus quite a bit on educating people about how our justice system works. But there is a seriously biased media depiction of criminal defense attorneys - especially public defenders like myself - and we so desperately need our case to be made. Trust me you don't want to see a world without us.

Jun. 12 2016 10:45 PM
Jim Tracy Twisted Soul from New York

People v. Belge (excerpt)
There is no question but Attorney Belge's failure to bring to the attention of the authorities the whereabouts of Alicia Hauck when he first verified it, prevented bringing Garrow to the immediate bar of justice for this particular murder. This was in a sense, obstruction of justice. This duty, I am sure, loomed large in the mind of Attorney Belge. However, against this was the Fifth Amendment right of his client, Garrow, not to incriminate himself. If the Grand Jury had returned an indictment charging Mr. Belge with obstruction of justice under a proper statute, the work of this court would have been much more difficult than it is.
There must always be a conflict between the obstruction of the administration of criminal justice and the preservation of the right against self incrimination which permeates the mind of the attorney as the alter ego of his client. But that is not the situation before this court. We have the Fifth Amendment right, derived from the Constitution, on the one hand, as against the trivia of a pseudo-criminal statute on the other, which has seldom been brought into play. Clearly the latter is completely out of focus when placed alongside the client-attorney privilege. An examination of the Grand Jury testimony sheds little light on their reasoning. The testimony of Mr. Armani added nothing new to the facts as already presented to the Grand Jury. He and Mr. Belge were cocounsel. Both were answerable to the Canons of professional ethics. The Grand Jury chose to indict one and not the other. It appears as if that body were grasping at straws.

Jun. 11 2016 12:46 PM
Shane from USSA

Funny that people will express horror over stories like this, but idolize politicians (like Obama and Clinton) who destroy the lives of MILLIONS of people...

Jun. 10 2016 11:17 PM
Rob from ontario

Armani's choice only makes sense if his deciding to ignore confidentiality in this case somehow brings irreversible damage to the idea of confidentiality, or the legal system itself.

I don't see how this could possibly be the case. Politicians and lawmakers bend the rules all the time, in situations less urgent or important than this. And obviously the legal system still stands.

In fact, that's probably the best sign of the strength of a legal system, how little damage one person can do to it. So if confidentiality as a norm were actually in danger if Armani chose to talk, then it was in danger regardless.

Clearly that's not the case. Therefore Armani should've just talked, and saved himself a lot of trouble!

Jun. 10 2016 03:35 PM
Jim Tracy, twisted soul from New York

Garrow suffered from psychopathy.
A common response to reports of brutal crimes, is: “Anyone would have to be crazy to do that.” Perhaps so, but not always in the legal or the psychiatric sense of the term.
Psychopathic killers’ acts result not from a deranged mind but from a cold, calculating rationality combined with a chilling inability to treat others as thinking, feeling human beings. Such morally incomprehensible behavior, exhibited by a seemingly normal person, leaves us feeling bewildered and helpless.

Jun. 10 2016 03:32 PM
AShotz from Los Angeles, CA

I wonder if an important point may have been ignored here...which is that if the lawyer hadn't done his job by keeping his client's privilege, and it was discovered, then the case against Garrow could have gotten dismissed, right? Crossing one's t's and dotting i's ensures justice, doesn't it?

I also found myself wanting a greater exploration of what "insanity" really meant for Garrow. Whether Garrow experienced psychosis or was generally psychopathic was not clear to me from this reportage - and it's an important distinction.

Jun. 10 2016 01:50 PM
Ray from Visalia, CA

I listened to the whole story and the dilemma of ethics and morality. Frank Armani is no hero. He was doing what his job required him to do, to defend his client. The D.A., as selfish as it seems, was also doing his job. As a family member of a victim you want the perpetrator to pay for his crimes to the full extent of the law. The two girls were not the only victims here. The other surviving family members may not have wanted the D.A. to plea bargain to just to appease the parents of the girls whose whereabouts was a mystery.

Its sad to what has happened. I even had empathy for Robert Garrow, his childhood full of abuse by those who were supposed to love and protect him. I cannot imagine what horrors and pain he had suffered. That being said, I'm sure there are other children in this world that have suffered abuse equally or even more than what Robert Garrow had suffered yet they don't abuse animals or grow up to be monsters. In some cases the criminal has to be locked up forever or if you prefer, executed. This is such a case.

On another note, not all sexually abused children grow up to be pedophiles. But if the cycle continues and they also destroy the lives of others, they too must be labeled as hopeless and meet the same fate.

Jun. 10 2016 12:02 PM

Ugh! Armani DID have options other than what was presented. 1) he could have not hidden so much and let it be that he was seen and thus the bodies found. 2) could have told what he learned and recused himself. And so what if the violent murderer really wanted that particular attorney..! Another could have been appointed. Our laws have changed through the years. We used to own people for god's sake and that was the legal! We used to allow 8 year olds to work 15 hours in mills. We used to have all sorts of laws and those are ever changing. And to value that - in this case- more than the pain of these people and the children who were killed is what is actually insane. What would have been truly ethical would not to have kept this hidden but to do the right thing and be brave enough to speak out. This is the one time RadioLab that I love so much so missed the mark.

Jun. 09 2016 11:54 PM

I was really disappointed at the free pass this story gave to the DA. Let us not forget that the DA passed on the chance to end everything when he rejected the deal. They said the meeting was over in 5 minutes, he didn't even counter. That is galling arrogance. Rather than lock up a killer for life in a mental hospital and end the suffering of two families, he did what was best for his career. No one explored the fact that he should have faced a moral dilemma of his own; but his arrogance was so extreme, he never considered his own culpability. This is actually the story I have seen on more than one legal show. The defense does exactly what Armani did—because they have no other choice—and the prosecutor is left with the difficult choice: Do I bet that we can find the victims and try this guy for all the crimes he committed; or do I end the suffering of the families and expense of ongoing investigations, and give him slightly less than he may deserve?

I also feel an important detail was omitted. I'm no lawyer, but my understanding is that if Armani had told the investigators about the bodies, they wouldn't have been able to prosecute because everything came from a violation of his right to confidentiality. Had they told the DA, they would have been disbarred, and their client would have effectively been granted immunity on the girls' murders. This would likely have been the result if they tipped the police anonymously; his new lawyer would claim they are the only possible sources for that information.

Jun. 09 2016 11:04 PM
John R from Baltimore

I think what was missing was discussing differences in personal/individual morals and morals for a system. The reason that this is a case that is taught, why it brings out so many emotions in this comment board, is that we're all pretty much unanimous in the personal morals of this - you know something, someone is in emotional pain not knowing it, other people are working to solve it, expending time and money that could be better spent... what ever angle you take, for an individual human being, they should say something.
However, we have a legal system with many morals baked into it. If we all got together in a room with a white board, we'd still settle on them. And they largely come out of the basic premise of "innocent until proven guilty", which is what the system we've designed requires, and the notion that innocent people could be swept up into the system either by mistake or by government misdeed. So, we have rules to try to vet them out, and one of them is that the defendant has a right to speak to counsel, and that counsel must keep the confidentiality, both so he's not forced by the government to talk but also so they can't betray their client, thus undermining the rest of the system. (And while there is an exception, it did not apply in this case).
That is the moral of the system. It is a protection provided to everyone who is brought into the system as a potential defendant, and has to be applied to everyone.
And that's why this is a case taught in law schools, because it is a lesson that needs to be made, that they are going into a system that works in a very defined way. And there will be cases like this where everyone's instinct is to call the authorities, but the system demands that the client has rights (5th and 6th amendment) that must be followed with everyone.

Jun. 09 2016 03:21 PM
Peter Ross from San Jose

I'm being a little bit facetious but the real value of this episode of law and order is its exemplar for infinite range of granularity. Its finished reportage could technically be edited up and down the range of granularity to tell and deliver the same message to an equally infinite and granular range of listeners with an equally infinite and granular range of experience. Imagine if you could slide a status bar up and down a scale of of granularity of edited content to get the optimized ideal match between tolerance, content, and range of human experience -- get this match wrong with such a silly infinite range of painful granularity and you could either pass right over a listener's head too inexperienced for its terse content and brevity or kill them with prolixity (aka known as something just too painfully wordy and pedantic to sustain life).

Jun. 09 2016 02:51 PM
Ben from Alabama

Fantastic episode.
It challenges me in a lot of ways and I'm not sure that I would have made the same decisions, but I'm not a lawyer.
It brought about some questions that needed to be asked about our laws and how they relate to morality. There's obviously a disconnect. That happens a lot when things are handled bureaucratically. The other side of the coin is that a thorough system of checks and balances is absolutely necessary to promote fairness and to prevent emotional action when scrutiny is needed. This is a case where the former -- the disconnect between morality and law -- has been highlighted. The problem is not the morals of the people involved. They understand why laws exist and, as lawyers, observe their duty in upholding the law's sense of what is right. In that sense they did a fantastic job. They obviously struggled, and are still struggling with the position they found themselves in and I think it's important that we acknowledge that that is what is important here. The struggle with how things are verses how we FEEL they should be is paramount. When there is a disconnect, we apply weight and force ourselves to settle into the conflict until we are able to resolve it. This one isn't resolved yet. Both sides are "right" in their actions with regard dealing with a brutal killer and how he fit into our world. The hope is that the conflict will help us arrive at a larger sense of what is right.

Jun. 09 2016 11:13 AM

As someone who has experienced the pain of having immediate family murdered, I want to thank Brenna for her sensitivity in the interview with the victim's mother. I know that there is some negative feedback on this thread regarding that portion of the episode. But, having lived it, my heart broke with gratitude when Brenna asked her if she'd like to share anything else about her daughter. Too often, I want to rail against a world that would turn my mother and brother into body bags rather than honor them as people. And while it is certainly not an aspect that needs to be covered in a law class, it is exactly the 360 degree human perspective I expect of RadioLab and love so much. Thank you, Brenna, for recognizing that in storytelling we offer those left behind small moments of resurrection--and in those moments, the ability to humanize our lost loved ones can be a brief respite from the heavy lifting of grief. Mr. Armani faced a difficult moral dilemma, but even as a victim, I can see that the preservation of attorney-client privilege for us all has to sometimes come at the expense of peace and comfort on a case by case basis. The truth is, healing and justice require different systems.
And as for Brenna's comment that she wish she'd brought flowers, I can attest to muttering the same thing over my loved ones' graves...I think it comes from a place of urgent empathy more than morbid curiosity. Flowers are nice but rightfully an afterthought to honoring them with your presence. Some moments and stories are so dark and heavy they pull us unconsciously to a spot of encounter and reverence without time for propriety.
Please keep covering things like this. People who haven't experienced it won't understand and they will rail against it...because there's just no clean, right way to encounter the worst of the worst. But it's hard work worth doing and I'm grateful for it.

Jun. 09 2016 09:51 AM
Peter Ross from San Jose

Sorry for the fate and grief of victims and kin but my complaints are technical and editorial. I didn't give it a lot of time but it was hard to listen to, seemed too plodding, and the annunciation of names were annoyingly garbled and hard to hear (or maybe I'm losing my hearing). This stuff is supposed to go faster, and if it doesn't there's something wrong in my eyes and ears. Seemed labored and almost unedited. The whole thing could have been reduced by half. More is not better, and more is even worse when it's needless dead air. Sorry but it almost stunk on ice and says nothing that we don't already about law, lawyers, and murder defendants.

Jun. 09 2016 08:59 AM
ADi from Australia

I quote; "So what ensued was a very long struggle where the lawyers tried to figure out what to do with the information"... Are you #$@* kidding me, this story documents exactly why there is so much social in-justice in the world. With attitudes like this............ Perhaps???

1. Maybe quite the law service if this is the moral practice it preaches.
2. Maybe give the police or families, anybody a tip off.
3. Maybe step down from the case and not try to utilise it to promote your career.

To even consider or suggest that there is any kind of ideal to balance here is beyond reproach.

"Duty as a lawyer", disgusting...

Jun. 08 2016 11:54 PM

I am so disappointed by your approach to this story. The entire adversarial system would break down without confidentiality, but your program barely examined this critical point. The sixth amendment must apply equally to all defendants, even the ones who are accused of the most heinous crimes. Just watch Making a Murderer to see what happens when an attorney sells out his client. While it may not compare to the anguish of losing a child to violent crime, it is nonetheless tragic.

As for not telling the story of the victims behind the case, discussing victim impact is pretty much unheard of in law school case study. There simply isn't the time nor the need to delve into the endless human suffering that undoubtedly underlies the majority of criminal cases. For instance, the crime in Arizona v. Miranda was particularly troubling, but we don't expect police officers or arrestees to contemplate the underlying story every time someone is read their Miranda rights. The salient point of the case isn't the disturbing facts of the crime or the ensuing emotional trauma, but rather the law that emerged from the court's ruling and the reasoning behind it.

Jun. 08 2016 11:53 PM
jason from sydney, australia

This story needs a stronger warning at the beginning. I was almost ill listening to the the description of the murder; it is far too graphic and sensational. Not necessary to any discussion around attorney-client privilege or the ethical questions involved.

Jun. 08 2016 06:33 PM
John from Wales, UK

None of this would have happened had they not purposely hidden in a bar for 30 minutes, snuck out the back door and driven to the crime scene in a different car. They're not heroes. They're cowards.

Jun. 08 2016 06:20 PM

Anybody who thinks the attorney's are, as Matt G put it, "disgusting waste(s) of space" should read the comment made by Dan from Portland and think about what was at stake here.

What did those families lose? The lost a few months of continuing not to know. That's all. They could have lost an entire lifetime.

What would the public lose if the rules had been different? We would lose, in a very real sense, the idea of legal representation in a trial. All of us.

The world is bigger than any one individual. Precedents matter. And emotions are not the same as reason, no matter how much people want to believe it in 2016. Those attorneys were in a terrible position, one I hope to never be in, and they did the right thing: they upheld their oath and they represented their client.

Jun. 08 2016 06:08 PM

I love Radiolab, but I really struggled with this story and I really struggled with that girl telling the mother that when this is taught that they are very sensitive to the families. From what you shared in this story, I would disagree. The other lady calling him a hero, I heard no sensitivity to the family or the victims at all. I think it is horrific that these people kept the information from the families and that it is their job to do so. I find it even more horrific that they would try to use these poor children as leverage. This is a terrible system that would accept this as ok.

Jun. 08 2016 06:04 PM
Dan from Portland, Oregon

Morals, ethics, and emotions are obviously a huge part of this story, so I can't fault Radiolab for focusing on them. Still, when the story turned to how they teach this case in law school, I was very surprised that there was not even a brief discussion of the utilitarian reason--as opposed to any moral or ethical reason--why students are taught that the attorney should maintain the client confidence in circumstances like the ones discussed in this case.

The utilitarian reason is pretty simple, and based on a pretty simple premise: legal rules, including rules on legal ethics, are about more than one single case. In other words, let's play this out. Let's say that, after this case, the New York Bar and every other state bar association adopts a rule that says that the attorney must reveal the location of murder victims' remains, irrespective of any prejudice to the client.

Not all murderers are geniuses, to be sure; but they are not all morons, either. Many are going to ask their attorneys, before revealing incriminating facts: "This is going to stay confidential, right?" If the new ethics rules says, "no, it doesn't," then the attorney is going to have to inform his client of that fact in response to his question, and the client almost certainly (absent growing a conscience and saying "consequences be damned") will never reveal the where the bodies are buried. The only other option is to adopt a second new ethics rule that allows the attorney to flat-out lie in these circumstances and promise to keep a confidence that he actually has no intention of keeping. This seems both ethically dubious and, perhaps more importantly, highly unlikely to be effective, as that's exactly the type of legal rule that would likely become common knowledge among the public (especially criminals).

In short, adopting an ethics rule that requires the attorney to disclose the past crime to the authorities would just lead to the information never being revealed to anyone--not even the attorney. Forget about the client for a moment, that is quite arguably even worse for the victims' FAMILIES than the current rule. At least, with the current rule, there is some chance that the attorney ultimately will be able to reveal the information to the prosecution (in the context of a plea deal), leading to discovery of the victims' remains and some closure for the families. Here, it was fortunate that the victims' remains were discovered independently, allowing that closure. However, you can easily imagine a case where the victims' remains are so well concealed that they will never be discovered absent: (a) a disclosure from the murderer to his attorney, which will almost never happen unless it can be made in confidence; and (b) a disclosure from the attorney to the authorities/prosecution, after obtaining his client's permission to negotiate some sort of deal (e.g., taking the death penalty off the table) and being able to reach such a deal with the prosecution.

Jun. 08 2016 04:22 PM
Conor from New Orleans, LA

While I do not think the lawyers did anything unethical or illegal, I do think both they and their client would have been better served had they handled the matter differently. For example, they likely should not have interrogated their own client. After all, how does it benefit them in mounting a defense to get a confession to crimes the government knows nothing about. Also, once the client told them they did not need to go satisfy themselves what he said was true. They could have, however, gone to the DA and said, look, he MAY have information regarding two additional murders and will tell you about them, but if he does and his information turns out to be true, you have to agree to XYZ sentence. Finally, the lawyer should not have met with the victim's father as it had no benefit to his client and made him an untruthful person.

Jun. 08 2016 02:35 PM
Gabriel from Los Angeles

Very frustrating how this episode didn't even touch on the grand idea of the subject: why attorney-client privilege is important. The difficult tension between individual victims and large-scale structural systems designed to protect against big abstract concerns like tyranny and corruption. This tension has so many interesting topical applications they could have explored (for example, how torture might not be worth it in the long run even if you could save lives in the here and now).

Radiolab is supposed to be a show about ideas, not just personal stories. Feels like they forgot their mission with this episode.

Jun. 08 2016 01:52 PM
Matt G from Wellington, New Zealand

Frank Armani (and anyone like him) is a disgusting waste of space. Listening to this withered old sack of crap try and justify his decision to let the families wallow on in their living nightmare, not to mention allow the dead bodies of these missing girls lay rotting without dignity or the decency of a burial when he knew... I truly hope he dies with regret and pain in his heart.
The comment that he is some kind of a hero was simply appalling, and unfortunately just shows that there are even more sad monsters just like Frank out in the world. At the end of the day, being a lawyer is just a job, and if you put your own career before others in a situation like this, then your part of whats wrong in this world.

Jun. 08 2016 03:56 AM

greg: morality isn't distinctly human. Most social animals behave with morals, understanding difference between right and wrong. A good example is rhesus monkeys demonstrating "altruistic" behavior (

Jun. 07 2016 05:18 PM

There are times in life where you have to "do the right moral thing" no matter what the law is. Laws are always changing but morality is what makes us human.

Jun. 07 2016 01:43 PM
Shannon from San Francisco

I usually love this show, but this episode really missed the mark. The content got away from why attorney client privilege is important (see Liza's comments below). Additionally, Brenna's comments at the end were incredibly tone-deaf. Saying "I should have brought flowers or something" was both inarticulate and coarse, suggesting a lack of empathy for these families as it wasn't even clear why she was there other than morbid curiosity. This episode could have been edited and presented much better so hoping we see better work going forward.

Jun. 07 2016 01:41 PM
Kim from Norway

Have I misunderstood what the role of a lawyer is? I thought a lawyers jobb (on both sides of the table) was to make sure the defendant gets a fair trial. I think is important that everyone has the right to a lawyer and a fair trial, no mater what crimes you have committed! Doing everything in your power as a lawyer to defend your client is not the right thing to do if it he/her is clearly guilty. Especial if the defendant can get away with their crimes as a result of your actions as a lawyer. I understand that in some cases laws can be interpreted to favour both sides. But if you clearly murdered someone its not a fair trial if you get away with it...

Jun. 07 2016 11:39 AM
Espen from Norway

This case regarding the dilemma of the defending lawyer has similiarities to our mass murderer incident here in Norway jul. 22, 2011. The mass killer asked for Geir Lippestad to defend him, a man that was member of the Norwegian Labour Party, the political party he attacked that day.

I think our killer deserved the worst of torture, but it is very important that everybody get a fair trial where every step is followed 100%. If not, we push our common sense of ethics and morale in a negative direction. This is the spine for any developed and responsible country. I'm also against death penalty for the same reasons.

Lippestad did a great job defending and at the same perfectly balance his own views on the whole case in the media.

Jun. 07 2016 05:36 AM
Lorena Zeppilli from San Diego

I think what makes this case so difficult is that it is clearly a case about justice under the law. The lawyer was trying to do the right thing under the law and for justice under the law, and in that he succeeded. What I think wasn't emphasized quite enough though was that it is so so difficult to see it a story of him complying with justice under the law, because when he found the buried bodies, he then already knew he was guilty. Yes as his lawyer it is still his job to protect him to the fullest, but he even admitted at that point it became about trying to reduce his sentence or get him a mental hospital. So why not try to reduce a clearly guilty man's sentence while allowing the bodies to be found and families to cope.
Though I should say, even with that statement, I actually agree with the law and with The lawyer following it under his duty as a lawyer. It was just such a bad crime and the guy was so guilty.

Jun. 07 2016 12:10 AM
Paul Howell from Paso Robles, CA

Larry Rice: You raised an excellent question as to why there was no action taken against the prosecutor. The entire situation would have been resolved immediately had his ego and his perceived personal political fears not prevented him from not making the plea deal with the defense attorneys. Had he publicly framed it as his duty to follow the law, it would have spared time, anguish and money and still had the life sentence he wanted.

I feel great compassion for the murdered girls mother. Not knowing how to deal with such a monumentally painful situation for over forty years is a terrible way to live. I hope that she can find the path to the end of that suffering.

Jun. 06 2016 09:08 PM
barbara k

THe download link is not working.

Jun. 06 2016 04:45 PM
Jim Tracy from Twisted Soul

JPM. The kids who found the body say her leg was sticking up in the air from the knee to the foot when they found her. Their theory is that the lawyers moved her so she would be easier to find. It's plausible because they moved the head of Alicia Hauck back to her body for a photo.

Jun. 06 2016 04:18 PM

I don't understand one thing. How did the kids playing near the mine vent find her body if the attorney needed to be held upside down to see her shoe? It seemed like something difficult to see, but a few kids playing near a very dangerous shaft found her easily. Seems strange.

Jun. 06 2016 03:23 PM
Marx @Oscar from Omaha from New York

Oscar, loved your comment. I laughed myself silly. I am SS/slavery guy, by the way, aka #1 on your list. Not sure if you ignored the point or just missed it entirely. Perhaps the discussion would not seem so asinine if you actually paid attention to what people are writing instead of going directly into attack mode. The point is about using the law to justify what would by most be considered morally wrong. (e.g Nuremberg defense) I thought the examples would make the point clear to the average person. You are apparently a special case.

Jun. 06 2016 02:53 PM
Oscar from Omaha

1. We've got the guy who compares the defense attorneys to SS officers. Did the defense attorneys engineer a six-million person genocide? No. Then he goes into a slavery comparison. Did the defense attorneys claim ownership of a person, pay him/her no wages, and force him/her to do labor under threat of harm? No.

2. We've got the guy who goes on about this is the last Radiolab I'll ever listen to, because he thinks the show didn't cover each side equally. Does feeling bad for the victims and their families make you a fascist? No. Does it sacrifice one's journalistic integrity to express empathy for the victims? No. Did Radiolab advocate for rescinding the 5th and 6th amendments? No.

3. We've got the classic attorneys are scum comment. Okay, so this guy hates the defense attorneys for doing their legal duty. Does he hate the prosecutor who is trying his best to convict the killer? Does he hate the judge who remains impartial and ensures a fair trial? All attorneys, all of whom are upholding their side of justice. If any of them cave the whole thing falls apart and you've got a farce. I'm guessing this guy doesn't hate all attorneys, just the ones who aren't on his side.

I'm grateful for the show, the work they do, and for the folks here who made thoughtful, salient points. I believe the show was very even-handed and provoked discussion. The only disappointing part is how asinine much of that discussion is.

Jun. 06 2016 01:49 PM
AC from SacTown

Heartbreaking.....simply hearbreaking. :(

Jun. 06 2016 11:44 AM
Marx from New York

Sorry, but this was about this guys ego. He himself answered the question "Why not make an anonymous tip?" His response was 'if I was going to do something I was going to do it openly'. So basically 'If I cant do it my way I'm not going to do it'. There was nothing to legally prevent him from making an anonymous tip. The bodies would eventually be found anyway. What he chose to do was morally wrong whether or not it was legal or not. Sorry to bring the Nazi's into this but, weren't all the SS soldiers just doing their legal duty? How about the plantation foremen who were ordered by their bosses to beat slaves senseless? Its pathetic for him to use the law to support and excuse his lack of common sense and morality. He had no problem using the information as a bargaining chip for what HE wanted. He could have just as easily bargained for less so that the information could be made available. That was his choice and his ego 100%.

Jun. 06 2016 11:00 AM
Ashigaru_spearman from Austin

I completely disagree with the attorneys and am disgusted by the actions they took. They owed their client legal representation and to make sure he got a fair trial. To take that and extrapolate it to helping him conceal evidence of his guilt is a gross perversion of justice. In this case once the lawyers KNEW there were dead bodies around, they should have reported it. They could have kept where they got the info to themselves. A criminal who is lucky, skilled, or rich shouldn't get away with crime.

Jun. 06 2016 10:58 AM

Radiolab - love your podcast, but here you've omitted one of the most important reason why an ethical rule like this exists for attorneys. At the core here is that we, as a society, want people to speak openly with their attorneys. Why? So that people resolve their disputes through the justice system. If people don't trust their attorneys the whole system falls apart. We value this highly, above the rights of a parent in a specific case to know from a defense attorney where the body of her child is located. We value the justice system that aims to guarantee a fair trial, a fair process, and NOT a fair outcome (although a fair process is the best way we know how to try to achieve a fair outcome).

The more interesting debate is beyond the facts of this case. Do we like our justice system? Would we like the consequences of attorneys could break privilege on a subjective determination?

Jun. 06 2016 10:45 AM
IFH from Morrisville, PA

I disagree with Mrs. Armani's comparison of her husband to Atticus Finch. Atticus Finch defended Tom Robinson, an innocent man who faced overwhelming prejudice from a biased community. I think a better comparison of Mr. Armani and Mr. Belge would be to Clarence Darrow, who defended Nathan Leopold and Robert Loeb in the 1920's. Although not having the unique ethical dilemma of Armani and Belge, Darrow won life imprisonment for his clients by entering a plea of guilty and successfully arguing against giving them the death penalty.

However, for every Clarence Darrow, or real Atticuses like Bryan Stevenson, or even Armani and Belge, there are many more defense lawyers who either don't have the resources or the skill to protect their clients, innocent or guilty, from the apparatus of the state. There are even some defense attorneys, like Brendan Dassey's first, that actually collude with the state in incriminating their clients. I think there is such an imbalance in the availability of a quality defense in this country that the justice system is broken at both ends: two many guilty go free because they get the best defense possible, and two many innocent are imprisoned because they hardly get a defense at all.

I would love to see RadioLab do an episode on how we could reform our legal system. Is there a feasible alternative to our adversarial approach to criminal law? Is there a way to give juries more investigative powers, so that they are not merely blank slates to be molded by the prosecution or the defense? Could we embrace a system of restorative justice rather than retributive?

Jun. 06 2016 10:06 AM

If even the most detested individuals do not receive a fair trial, including lawyer-client confidentiality, then the legal system has failed.

Make an exception for one, and you've created an exception for all.

Jun. 06 2016 06:49 AM
Jim Tracy, twisted soul from New York

Quimbys from California.I wanted to commend you on a very keen observation, which you wrote about in the second paragraph of your comment. It's possible, as I examine in my book, that Armani's co-counsel deliberately had Garrow confess on the stand in order to exculpate themselves. The pressure was mounting on them. As a side note, Armani physically attacked Belge back at their retreat after Garrow's testimony. Later Garrow unsuccessfully sued Armani and Belge and the district attorney - who was threatening the two defense lawyers during the trial for withholding the information - for $5 million because they had him confess on the stand to four murders and eight rapes.

Jun. 05 2016 09:23 PM
quimbys from California

I think what gets to me about people who feel the lawyers acted disgracefully is that most people do not understand our legal system. Nobody seems to want to know why it's that way. This is just another symptom as to why the fascism and oligarchy are becoming more and more welcome in this country. Our country was founded by people who felt we could govern ourselves and yet it's obvious we cannot when most people do not even know how government works, nor how our legal system work and most importantly why.

Final comment: I thought Armani and what's-his-name should have been disbarred not for attempting to keep their client's confidentiality, but for actually mistakenly betraying it during the most important part of the trial. For that he acted disgracefully and probably prejudiced the jury against himself and his client.

Jun. 05 2016 08:34 PM
William Pflaum from New York

The part that bothers me is that, while interesting, the issue of attorney client privilege should not distract us from the systematic failure of the entire justice system.

Jun. 05 2016 03:33 PM

I completely agree with the mother I don't think that lawyer should idolize what he did as a case of ethical law. What is legal and illegal is defined by society in the situation society has said that lawyer confidentiality should be exempted and then later on the laws were changed. I would argue The reason you felt uncomfortable was because he knew that what he was doing was unethical he should've had a less authoritarian approach to his thinking and recognized that the law should be updated to match the current standards and if he really felt uncomfortable about it he could disbarred himself he made a choice and his choice was out of greed.he admits as much when he says that he brings his friend in to try to grow his practice he was not trying to be ethical he was purely trying to be greedy and if he was trying to be ethical he did a poor job of it

Jun. 05 2016 01:25 PM
S Cowdery from Raleigh NC

I understand the reporter's need to wrap the story up but what was to be gained by interviewing the mother of one of the victims? Of course she is still distraught, of course she is going to condemn what the lawyers did. It was cheap sensationalist journalism, no better than the lazy TV reporter who asks "How do you feel?". That Robert Garrow escaped from prison and was shot to death by police in 1978 would have been a much better ending to an otherwise well told story.

Jun. 05 2016 01:10 PM
larry rice from mountain view, ca

My question is why was the prosecutor not sued or dis-barred. He clearly acted in his best interest to not accept the plea for an obviously mental defendant in order to not not look good in public. He obviously violated the law, moral, ethics, when he disclosed that the defense previously suggested the plea for mental application for information to the public, that would clearly have shortened the suffering of families, leading to significant professional injury to the defense council who decided to follow the law/ethics at great personal peril. Why is this politically-motivated ethics departure not taught in law school.

Jun. 05 2016 12:46 PM
Cat Mice

Please make a correction and give the biggest thanks to the mother of the murdered girl. Her contribution is most important.

Jun. 05 2016 11:33 AM
Tom from Columbia, SC

The best RadioLab podcasts generate great debates and this one has done that brilliantly. This issue is deeply felt, no matter which side one is on. In the end, we all reach a point in life where we must self reflect and decide who we really are as individuals and what is the right thing to do. This podcast clearly shows how each one involved did just that. The two lawyers, the media, and, lastly the parent who was interviewed. But, let's not forget the moving end as the story teller, Brenna, walks up that steep and frozen hill, comments on the cold and mentions she wished she'd brought flowers, or something, and slowly walks away over cold crunching ground. It conveys the sadness and coldness we all feel deep within.

Jun. 05 2016 10:48 AM
Amaji from Barcelona

This is why I could never be a lawyer. It would break my soul.

Jun. 05 2016 06:09 AM
FLboy from South Florida - don't bother.

Thank you so much for your riveting liberal bs Alexander Freedom, you have set all of us straight now that we've been corrected on what we've all believed to be what the "Founding Fathers" established our great nation on. Shut the F up. Enjoy voting for Hillary, too. This was a great story and RadioLab doesn't need your crap. Expel your weak negative energy on some computer games or some fat girlfriend, and leave them alone.

Anyways, I would have loved to hear more about Garrow's post-trial occurrences, and ensuing incarceration, and death. Part 2, please?!? Thank you for inspiring my inner investigator and making me read up on another great story of the violent "others" that roam the earth alongside you & I every day.

Jun. 05 2016 03:31 AM
Art from High Desert Oregon

This was a great story -- thank you! I might have re-emphasized, when talking about teaching the confidentiality rule in law schools, that the rule is intended to implement a Constitutional right -- the 6th Amendment right to counsel when an individual is confronted with the power of the State trying to convict him or her (as the story noted early on). So the rule was not created for lawyers to "help clients," it was created by the Constitution to protect individuals. Even the most heinous criminals get Constitutional rights. If people have a problem with that, their problem is not with lawyers, it's with the Constitution.

Jun. 04 2016 08:23 PM

Calling these lawyers heroes is a disgrace. You need to be evil to become a lawyer.

Jun. 04 2016 05:25 PM
Jim Tracy Twisted Soul from New York

Nia The detective who sat in on the plea bargain, and refused to plea bargain, felt Garrow was a flight risk if placed in a mental home. The police and prosecution only had evidence to prosecute on the Domblewski murder, so if they agreed to the plea bargain they could not place him in maximum confinement. It proved prescient as Garrow later escaped prison.

Jun. 04 2016 04:41 PM
Robert Tilley from Portland OR

I just don't get the moral dilemma here.
1. Lawyers should be required to provide a defense FOR THE CRIME OF WHICH THE CLIENT IS ACCUSED ONLY. Privileged communication applies to this and this only - not to all crimes ever committed by the defendant.
2. Revealing details about any new crimes should therefore NOT be covered by attorney client privilege. If the defendant makes a choice to do so their attorneys should be obligated to reveal this as officers of the court.
3. As a defendant you must now make a choice about what to tell your attorneys. If you feel the need to hide information about prior crimes, then those are the cards you play, your choice and you accept the consequences if it comes back to bite you.

Getting an attorney doesn't provide you with a partner in hiding criminal activity (the current bizarre moral judgement we currently apply). Its just legal counsel for defense against a specific accusation for criminey sakes, not some pinnacle of a platonic ideal. Its a job with rules, nothing more.

There is no moral dilemma here whatsoever. Jeez....just provide a defense to the charges, don't over-complicate this.

Jun. 04 2016 04:35 PM
Jim Tracy Twisted Soul from New York

Juliana from Austin. You're correct. In the eyes of legal purist, no matter how you revealed the location of the bodies, without the client’s consent, it would be illegal, improper and might entitle the defendant to a dismissal of the charges against him for a violation of his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. And what’s in it for Garrow?

Jun. 04 2016 04:32 PM
Julianna from Austin

I was left with a pressing question that wasn't addressed. Had the defense attorneys come forward with the bodies, wouldn't that have been inadmissible in court? And couldn't that technical misconduct on their part have comprised the case and led to a mistrial?

Jun. 04 2016 03:57 PM
Erin from Charleston

Excellent job bringing this viscerally upsetting dilemma to life and representing all sides fairly and with sensitivity. Also, great editing and sound work, which created an unmistakable sense of place: the Adirondacks. Please bring us more stories like this!

Jun. 04 2016 03:23 PM
Dust From Stars from US citizen overseas

I can't go as far as Alexander above--I could never stop listening to Radiolab--but his core argument is correct. Attorney client privilege must be defended at all costs because the system MUST protect an innocent person who happens to get caught up in it, or it is not in any sense a justice system. Everyone with a heart feels for the parents of the murdered girls but this is not about protecting a "criminal", as the mother puts it near the end of the show. It's about protecting a person who is innocent until proven guilty. It's about protecting the system that affords all of us that right. I do feel this episode could have better presented the case for what Armani did, beyond just showing that lawyers celebrate him and it's taught in law schools. That's not compelling evidence to most people. Understanding that your ability to trust that your attorney won't sell you out if you're accused but innocent? That's something we should all relate to--and defend.

Jun. 04 2016 02:20 PM
Vivian from Chicago

I can understand the lawyers when facing such a situation. But I can't imagine how the murder had experienced through his life from childhood to be an adult. This is a huge strategy and it's such a disaster for the family who lost their children. How could human beings be strong enough to avoid developing twisted soul and pursue the truth and kindness?

Jun. 04 2016 02:11 PM

I think there's an unexamined piece of this ethical pie with the prosecutors. They didn't want to make any sort of deal because they knew "how big the case was going to be" (quoting from the narration not the prosecutor's words). They could have enabled the lawyers to reveal the locations. All lawyers (including prosecutors) share the duty to maintain confidentiality. I got the sense that their reasons for not striking a deal right away were based on personal reasons (not wanting to be seen as soft on a heinous murderer), power (not compromising in any way), politics and our incredibly messed up penal system that is based purely on punishment instead of rehabilitation. I'm not saying that Garrow could have ever returned to society but no one was suggesting that. Life in a mental institution is no different (though perhaps more comfortable) than jail. The only difference is blame but that's a construct of our society not a question of morals.

Jun. 04 2016 01:25 PM
JeanM from Los Angeles

Legal question: the exception to attorney-client privilege at the time, as I understand it, was a scenario in which someone is in imminent danger of death or bodily injury. The parents of the murdered girls were suffering unbearable anguish. That kind of mental anguish can cause physical pain and long-term health problems. (For example, severe stress is linked to heart disease, among other things.) Could the prosecutors have made the case that the defense was obligated to disclose privileged information because of potential serious injury to the victims' parents?

Just a thought, and a convoluted one at that.

Jun. 04 2016 10:29 AM
Alexander Sanchez from Freedom USA

This was the last Radiolab episode I will ever listen to. It seems that Radiolab has teamed up with some of the other forces in our country in an attempt to bring fascism to America. Radiolab is playing the same game as others who are now calling to take away Constitutional Rights from citizens by playing on people's emotions. It is because America gives so many protections to our citizens when the government levies its full might against them that this great nation has stood while others crumble and are forced to start over. It is because we do not sacrifice the rights of the hated to mob justice that our country lives on. The day America gets to a point where all the government has to do is point its finger at you to silence you is the day we have lost our Democracy. The Founding Fathers knew that being called a criminal by the government would rally the majority of the credulous population against you. They knew that this was the easiest and widest door for tyranny to walk through. And thus they enshrined in the Bill of Rights certain protections to the criminally accused. They thought those protections so important that they dedicated more space in the Bill or Rights to the protections of the criminally accused than to any other issue. Freedom of Speech is given but a few words; protections of the criminally accused are given the full measure of the 4th, the 6th and 8th Amendments, and parts of the 5th. A citizen’s right to attorney, and confidences therein, are so fundamental to our justice system, that without those basic protections, our entire Democracy crumbles. Because, without those basic protections, all the government has to do is point their finger, and freedom is lost. The first thing fascist do is demonize the most despised citizens among us and call her protections against the government gross and imply they are unnecessary. Not in recent history has this great Country been so close to fascism. Some call for banning a Religion, some call for building a wall, some call Constitutional protections “gross.” It is easy to see why Robert Garrow is an enemy of humanity; it is harder to see why Robert Krulwich is but I assure you both are of equal existential threat. Both seek the same thing, to make every citizen a subject of tyranny; Garrow to his own tyranny, Krulwich to a future tyrant. Krulwhich’s tyranny is the more dastardly as he hides his under emotion, and seeks to destroy an entire country. Demonizing the rights of the unpopular and demonizing the rights of the rest is but degrees; a slippery slope that Radiolab has helped grease. Once we give up fighting for our Constitutional protections, all we have left is to fight each other.

Jun. 04 2016 12:46 AM

one of the tags for this story is 'ethics' so i clicked the tag expecting to see related stories, but this was the only one. is this just me? cause 'worth' comes to mind as an episode soaked in ethics

Jun. 04 2016 12:29 AM

Rebecca Losh, great question. One girl's head was 10 feet from her body when they found her. With the first girl, too much time had passed as she was stabbed on July 16 and the lawyers did not find her until Septmember. But they had a duty to call an ambulance if the victims were alive.
Jim Tracy
Twisted Soul

Jun. 03 2016 11:21 PM
Rebecca Losh from Colorado

People believed to be dead have survived in the most implausible and bizarre situations, was it not incumbent upon the attorneys to engage immediately emergency medical professionals and only allow a coroner to make the determination?

Jun. 03 2016 10:20 PM

Oh my god! This a true story? I can’t believe.

Jun. 03 2016 10:02 PM

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