Why Climb Mountains?

Is the killing of Harambe the gorilla a crime, or not?

Cincinnati – A male gorilla in the Cincinnati Zoo was killed by keepers on Saturday after he dragged around a 4-year-old boy who fell into the enclosure, a zoo official said.

The boy crawled through a barrier and fell about 3.7m into a moat surrounding the habitat, where Harambe, a 181kg western lowland gorilla, grabbed him, Cincinnati Zoo Director Thane Maynard told reporters.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

Do you consider it a crime that this gorilla was killed?   Let’s discuss…


A Judge vs. A Jury System

As a South African researching American court cases [Steven Avery, Jodi Arias, O.J. Simpson], I’ve been alarmed, surprised, impressed and entertained by the criminal law system in America.  Having covered the Oscar Pistorius case firsthand, and seeing what it feels like to have judges [five in the case of the Supreme Court of Appeal] face off with a gallery packed with media, family and interested observers [including Lisa and myself], one gets a more subtle sense of emotions at play beyond the court case.  But the Oscar trial is a case in point: the judge inexplicably got the verdict and the sentencing completely wrong.

Recently in South Africa, a white judge [Mabel Jansen] has come under fire for making allegedly racist comments on Facebook, saying that in her experience as a judge, there’s a rape culture amongst black South Africans.  This has unleashed a furor in South Africa where mostly black men have demanded her head on a plate [not literally of course].  While Jansen is on special leave, there’s been some sober reflection on her “racist” comments.  South Africa happens to be the rape capital of the world, and children, even infants, are regularly raped [and killed in the process] by their fathers, relatives or family friends].  Typically these are black individuals.

In South Africa there’s also a tribal belief that AIDS [a sexual scourge in South Africa, which has amongst the world’s highest infection rates, in the millions] can be healed by having sex with a baby.  I’m not sure how one can’t impute that this amounts to a “rape culture”, however niche.  In any event, Jansen, it turns out has adopted black children, which suggests to me, whether her comments were too general or completely unacceptable, her heart appears to be [to me] in the right place.  But is that enough?

Coming back to the original question, can we be so bold as to trust the fates of black criminals to white judges and vice versa?  In Masipa’s case, was her attempt to be fair to Oscar not influenced by a racial dynamic.  Besides being slightly disabled herself, Masipa may have felt careful not to be too excessive in meting out justice.  Giving Oscar a severe sentence  [Masipa may have reasoned] might have been greeted with accusations of racism.  Lisa and I have demonstrated in our JUICE narratives the alarming power of racism to sway entire juries, as we saw in the O.J. Simpson trial.

So how does one get around the problem of “compromised” judges, and “compromised” juries.  How do we get a judge or a jury we can trust, and what exactly is a judge or a jury of our peers, whether in the States, Britain, Australia and New Zealand [all based on the jury system], or South Africa?

What sentence will Oscar Pistorius receive next month?

oscar blog

Even though the Appeal Court overturned Oscar’s previous verdict, and in the eyes of the law he’s now a murderer, will Judge Masipa continue to show him mercy?  Essentially all the court has done so far is change Oscar’s label.

Here’s something to keep in mind…

“Masipa’s findings are still her findings. Nothing has changed.”  – Judge Greenland


What do you think the outcome of the sentencing hearing will be after time served and mitigation are applied?  Take the poll, and then share your comments below.  I’d like to know if you think justice will only be served once Oscar does the mandatory sentence (15 years) behind bars.  Or, is there justice in the Dolus Eventualis conviction alone?  Let’s discuss.


Follow Lisa on Twitter @lisawj13


Welcome to #SHAKEDOWN

Welcome to #SHAKEDOWN

If you’re one of our loyal readers then you know that #SHAKEDOWN is made up of me, Lisa Wilson a.k.a Juror13, and my partner in true crime writing, Nick van der Leek.

Nick and I are storytellers.  We’re not mainstream media, we don’t work for a publication, writingand we’re not lawyers (although we’ve been accused of that in the past.)  We are prolific researchers with a mutual passion for psychology and criminology.  Crime is about victims, and justice for victims.  But we’re also inspired by the other side of tragedy – the healing, the growing, the restoration – that comes from the deep interrogation and introspection of individuals. The deeply interactive nature of our narratives is what sets our true crime books apart from the others.

Did you know that according to Time Magazine’s 50 most influential gadgets of all-time list, the Amazon Kindle is #28?  Our stories are specifically crafted to take advantage of the capabilities of the Kindle App.  But you don’t need a Kindle to read, any digital device will do – smartphone, laptop, PC, tablet.

MagnifierSpeaking of technology and interconnectivity, Nick and I live 10,000 miles apart.  In the two years I’ve known him, we’ve only spent three weeks together in the same place.  Yet, we share a tremendous camaraderie and have built this successful writing partnership because we have technology to support us.  That same technology can keep us connected to you.  That’s what this new space is about.  Having a place for all of us to connect with other creative and intelligent people; to discuss, debate and grow together.  We also want to have some fun, we want to laugh and yes we do swear.  I counted 52 instances of profanity in JUICE III [since edited down]. You’ve been warned.

Seeing this website come to life is particularly exciting for me because it marks a turning point in my career.   For the past two years while I’ve been collaborating with Nick I’ve also held a full time job during the day.  If you’ve listened to our podcasts which we often record in the middle of the night, you’ve probably had the joy of hearing me bitch about sleep deprivation.  Hopefully (most) of those days will soon be in the past as I’m officially making this labor of love my career.  I’ll still be doing other work, but #SHAKEDOWN will now be my primary focus.  photographer

The good news for our followers is that with both Nick and I at the helm, we can bring you more new content on a regular basis.  In addition to the many book series that we have planned,  like SICKOS [the Karla Homolka and Paul Bernardo story], Robert Durst, and JonBenet Ramsey, to name a few, we’ll also be blogging about various cases and other topics every week.  That content can be found on our Coming Soon, True Crime Blog and Forum pages.

We’ll also be hitting the road on occasion to bring you stories and photography from around the world.  Nick and I will be making videos and podcasts so be sure to check out #SHAKEtube and Soundcloud.   Our ultimate goal is to connect with producers, so #SHAKEDOWN can be the source code for exciting new True Crime documentaries.  If we’re lucky, we’ll also get more fiction writing out of Nick.  To find out about his epic Bloodline series, click on the Fiction tab above.

microphoneOn my end, I’ll be working on bringing you audio [ACX] and print versions of all our current and future narratives.  We’ll continue to sell from Amazon, but plan to branch out to other retailers, including Apple iBooks, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, Nook and eventually Google Books.  We’re also gearing up to sell directly from our site which means we can pass down cost savings to you, our loyal readers.

If you want to learn how you can do all of this too, Nick and I will be teaching a variety of How-to-write and How-to-write-for-Kindle Workshops.  Sign up for email alerts from our Home page so you can be informed of all the latest and greatest happenings on the site.  Another way to connect with us, beyond this site and social media, is via our Whatsapp group.   If you’d like to join those discussions, please private message your name and phone number to me @LisawJ13 and I’ll get you added to our list.

I now send you off to go explore and have fun.  Please sniff around our site.  We’ll be making frequent additions and updates, and we welcome your commentary and opinions. If you see anything you like, please also hook us up with your social media. Justice isn’t an individual thing, it’s a group thing, so we hope you’ll join us in our journey to find justice in the court of public opinion.