Original Jurisdiction
Original Jurisdiction
The Dan Markel Case: An Interview With Ruth Markel

The Dan Markel Case: An Interview With Ruth Markel

Ruth Markel is the author of a deeply moving new memoir, The Unveiling: A Mother's Reflection on Murder, Grief, and Trial Life.

Welcome to Original Jurisdiction, the latest legal publication by me, David Lat. You can learn more about Original Jurisdiction by reading its About page, and you can email me at davidlat@substack.com. This is a reader-supported publication; you can subscribe by clicking on the button below. Thanks!

Burying your own child is one of the most difficult experiences to endure. Burying your own child because he was murdered is even more horrific.

Just ask Ruth Markel. She was the mother of my friend Dan Markel, the renowned professor of criminal law who was shot in his garage on the morning of July 18, 2014. At the time of his death, Dan was only 41, the father of two young boys. Now Ruth has written a powerful, deeply moving memoir about her life since that fateful day, The Unveiling: A Mother's Reflection on Murder, Grief, and Trial Life.

I was honored to have Ruth as my guest on the Original Jurisdiction podcast. We discussed what the past eight years have been like for her, why she wrote The Unveiling, how she got Florida to pass a landmark law about grandparental rights, and the latest in the Markel case—not just the legal proceedings, which are far from over, but also her struggle to win access to her grandsons, whom she was not allowed to see for six years. You can listen to our conversation by clicking on the embed above.

[UPDATE (11/17/2022, 3:35 a.m.): Yesterday brought big news in the case: after staying silent for the more than six years since her arrest, Katherine Magbanua, who served as the go-between connecting the Adelsons and hit men Sigfredo Garcia and Luis Rivera, has agreed to talk to the authorities. Here’s the order from Judge Robert Wheeler providing for her transfer from prison to the Leon County State Attorney’ss Office for a proffer on or before November 28 to 30.]

Show Notes:

Prefer reading to listening? A transcript of the entire episode appears below.

Ruth Markel (courtesy photo)

Two quick notes:

  1. This transcript has been cleaned up from the audio in ways that don’t alter meaning—e.g., by deleting verbal filler or adding a word here or there to clarify meaning.

  2. Because of length constraints, this newsletter may be truncated in email. To view the entire post, simply click on "View entire message" in your email app.

David Lat: Hello, and welcome to the Original Jurisdiction podcast. I’m your host David Lat, author of a Substack newsletter about law and the legal profession also named Original Jurisdiction, which you can read and subscribe to by visiting davidlat.substack.com.

You’re listening to the fifth episode of this podcast, recorded on Tuesday, November 8. My normal schedule is to post episodes every other Wednesday.

My plan for this podcast is to have at least two categories of guests. The first consists of high-profile lawyers, like Alex Spiro, Paul Clement, and Robbie Kaplan. The second consists of individuals with expertise in topics that are important to me and my audience.

One such topic is the 2014 murder of law professor Dan Markel. Dan was a friend of mine from college, when we worked together at the Harvard Crimson, and from the early days of legal blogging, when he founded PrawfsBlawg and I founded Above the Law. I have been following the quest to bring his killers to justice for more than eight years, here at Original Jurisdiction and at Above the Law before that.

For my third podcast episode, I had as my guest Steven Epstein, author of Extreme Punishment: The Chilling True Story of Acclaimed Law Professor Dan Markel’s Murder. For this latest episode, I’m honored to have as my guest Ruth Markel, who has the most personal connection of all to the case: Dan Markel was her son. And like Steve Epstein, Ruth is also the author of an important and acclaimed new book about the case, The Unveiling: A Mother's Reflection on Murder, Grief, and Trial Life.

Ruth is a noted author, public speaker, and the president of RNM Enterprises, a leading management consulting firm. She has worked in senior management positions in both private and public sectors for the past forty years. The Unveiling is actually her tenth book; some of her earlier works include Moving Up: A Woman’s Guide To A Better Future At Work, published by HarperCollins in 1988, and Room At The Top: A Woman’s Guide To Moving Up In Business, published by Penguin in 1985. In connection with the Markel case, she has appeared on such prominent programs as 20/20, Inside Edition, and Dateline NBC.

In our conversation, Ruth and I discussed what the eight years since the murder have been like for her; why she wrote The Unveiling; how she got Florida to pass the Markel Act, an important piece of legislation about grandparental rights; and the latest developments in terms of both the legal proceedings in the Markel case and her ability to see her two grandsons, who were cruelly kept from her for years after the murder.

Without further ado, here’s my interview of Ruth Markel.

DL: First of all, Ruth, congratulations on the book, which I have read and I highly recommend, and condolences on both Dan's passing and the journey you have been on these past eight-plus years. I think one point that you make in the book repeatedly is that this type of situation is not one discrete loss, but it's a suffering that recurs again and again as you go through what you refer to as the “trial life.” So again, just my condolences and thank you for trying to seek justice for Dan's murderers and also getting legislation passed to help other grandparents.

Ruth Markel: Thank you so much, David. I first of all have to thank you, a long and special thank-you, because I know you've written so much about Dan's murder, and I know that you knew him too. And whatever you've written is very accomplished and very thorough, and I appreciate your hands and eyes on the case, because we always need people who really know what's happening, rather than just reporting on separate incidents. So I really, really have a lot of gratitude to say to you—on the part of the family, it isn't just me, but it's all of us who want to thank you.

DL: It's the least I can do. As I've written before, I knew Dan—I knew him from college, when we worked on the Harvard Crimson, and then we reconnected again as bloggers, when he founded the extremely successful PrawfsBlawg and I started Above the Law.

One thing I wanted to ask you about—and I know you've talked about this in past interviews—many of us know Dan as a brilliant legal scholar, a prolific blogger, an academic, but what can you tell us about his childhood? What was he like growing up? I think some readers will be interested in hearing that maybe he wasn't what we [might have expected].

RM: No, not at all. I think if anybody had any contradictions from their later life to their earlier life, that would be Dan Markel, the late Dan Markel. Danny was a bum when he was younger. He was Dennis the Menace at his core—very, very high-energy as a child. He never liked normal toys. His favorite objects at 18 months, two years, were a pail, a mop-and-pail type of thing, and a stepladder. And a stepladder was his favorite toy. When he was really young, he would go up on the kitchen counter not to look for cookies, like many kids go into the pantry, but [for] the challenge of climbing it up and climbing it down, and so forth.

We lived in Montreal. First, we're Canadian. Many people don't even know that we're Canadian, that Dan was Canadian. And there's a lot of places that write that he was born in Toronto, but that's not true—he was born in Montreal. We lived there until he started school, kindergarten, when he was five, and then moved to Toronto.

And he was still [unfocused] in the first few years of school, even until eight, nine years old. The funny story is the school had an aptitude test in grade three, and they called me and they said he had the highest score in the school—not only the highest score in the school, but the highest score that [they] ever saw from this aptitude test. And then [the principal] said to me, bluntly, she says, “Why is he only getting an A-minus or A, what’s wrong with him? He's not performing at this high peak.” So I said to her—it was a very funny conversation with the principal—I said, “You know what? Wait another year. I promise you, by when he's nine or ten, he'll settle down. Because he read all the comics from me, at five or six, his reading, his skills were there. But [he tended to] wander off, he had high energy, which really was, as you know, the trait for the rest of his life and so forth.

So he really got serious about nine, 10 years old. And then he became really not serious in his choice of outside activities—he skied, he played baseball. But I would say, you know how there's the expression, “he settled down”—he settled down around 10, 11, and you could see he was going to be, I wouldn't call it scholarly yet, but that high level of achievement.

DL: And then I know of course, and we all know of course, about his résumé and his credentials. He went to Harvard College. He studied abroad in Cambridge. He went to Harvard Law School. He clerked for Judge [Michael Daly] Hawkins on the Ninth Circuit. He worked at a very prestigious law firm, now known as Kellogg Hansen, and then he went into academia. But as I recall from past interviews, you've said that his success as a lawyer or as an academic is actually not what you're most proud of about him as an adult.

RM: That's true. I'm most proud of him as a father and as what all his friends call the
”connector” part, the friend part. But let me talk about the father part for a minute. He was really amazing—his love for his children was so special. He would go to their daycare centers when they were small and he would have breakfast with the kids. He would read. As a dad he had a strong Jewish identity, and he would often at the daycare center say, this Jewish holiday is coming up, this is Christmas, this is Hanukkah. He would read stories, and they really liked that aspect of him.

He also was amazing because when the children would do any artwork, Danny put up a clothesline, he had a very open space across his living room, and he hung all their artwork. And what was so funny is when some of the students—he invited all the students who went with him to the final-level criminal courses [over] for dinner—and they were shocked because they thought, oh my, they're coming to the stuffy professor's house, and if they didn't trip over the toys, they were lucky. Right across the room was all this artwork, and I used to tease him: he started a new design category called “Preschool Decor.”

He was funny. He was really—as you know, Danny had an academic side—but his social side was so, so strong and so much a part of him that everywhere he went—and he lived in a lot of places, you mentioned a few, New York, Tel Aviv, London, Boston, San Francisco, Toronto—he always stayed connected. And he used to say, “Oh, my best friend here.” So we used to tease him—you have a hundred best friends in New York, a hundred here, a hundred there. And it was true actually. When he passed away, the memorializing [took place] all over the world. So he was blessed. We were blessed in that whole aspect of his life.

DL: Fast forwarding now to the terrible events of July 2014, which again you talk about in detail in your book, what was it like when you heard the news that Dan had been shot? I think you said in the book that it was like an out-of-body experience, that it was just really surreal for you?

RM: Right. I had several experiences. The first is numbness, and in the book I do talk about the purpose of the book. Maybe I should say it now because it'll give you really where I'm going. So I wrote the book, which is called The Unveiling: A Mother's Reflection on Murder, Grief, and the Trial Life, and the reason I wrote it and called it [that] is what's so significant here.

The title of the book is The Unveiling. In Jewish life, the unveiling is the time after a person is buried, the gravesite has been settled, the funeral is over, [and] there's different cultural customs, but we chose about eight months after the [funeral for the] unveiling. On the tombstone is writing. And we spent a lot of time as a family writing what's called the inscription. The Jewish tradition is you leave this piece of fabric cover[ing] the tombstone until the day that you actually have a ritual or a service called the unveiling…. And so why I called it The Unveiling is because my real grief process—which is very important, which I want the public to know about, not just me, there's so many school shootings, and I'll come to this in the second part of the reason I wrote the book—but the first part is that was [the start of] my grief journey, the real deep, deep grief. And before that, I did have what you would call an out-of-body experience. I was numb. I was in a daze.

The next reason for writing the book is more important to the public, and that's really to lift the curtain on what it is to be in a victim experience, particularly a victim experience in the criminal system. So there's two parts, and they're very important in the follow-through of not just my own personal experience.

I'm not sure if you're familiar with it, but there's a term called “homicide survivors.” Homicide survivors are different. It’s a different loss and a different trauma than illness and so forth, and the homicide-survivor trauma lasts longer because it doesn't get resolved. In addition, it's the violent, sudden finality of the death, which other types of trauma don't have. Even the pathway afterwards is very different than other losses because now I'll go to the second point, which is the criminal system, and the victim experience of the criminal system, [coupled] with the fact that the psychological component of the trauma is very different, the criminal system doesn't end.

And there's no such thing… the word “closure,” I've said it before, it's a word in the dictionary. All those words are not meaningful. You're dealing now with a psychological factor, which is impaired, let's call it, because of the level of grief and the long-term effect and the interaction of the criminal system, which is everlasting. Look, here we are, it's eight years, we're nowhere finished. So it's that combination that really makes this whole experience different.

DL: You've actually just answered some of the questions I wanted to raise….

RM: Oh, good.

DL: … as to why you wrote the book and why you named it The Unveiling, which I think is a very powerful title. Let me ask you this. Some readers might not know, but this is far from your first book—it's your 10th, but your prior books were very different. They were focused on business and career and professional subjects. You've just talked about having to relive that pain and reopen that wound. Were you really convinced to write this book, given that it would involve reliving this trauma that you've just described?

RM: No, this was hard. I'll tell you how I started to write the book. You're very right about the other books. [It’s a] foreign language when you do a personal-trauma story, it's a foreign language as to business management books, where it's charts and checklists and a whole different kind of process.

So how did I write the book, and why did I write the book? Right after Danny's murder—I hate to say the word—we were privileged with the media, as you know well, and you were part of it. There were tons and tons of things happening. I normally wasn't thinking initially of anything like this kind of book, but I did have—so I'm a little older—I did have a box, and I would photocopy and print [stories]. Nobody does that today. But I got this box filled up, which gave me a chronology. I could get the chronology on the internet, as you know, and I did as well, but it was just that, an earlier phase, and I was not planning this kind of book. I knew maybe I would write a book, but not the level that I wrote the trauma about. But, as time progressed, a lot of time actually, because we were preoccupied with the justice system, then it was about a year and a half or two years before the pandemic, which probably was a good thing because I used the pandemic to write, I have to tell you that. So in the period before I started to feel, I have a message, I guess it's because I've written before, whatever, but I started to feel really, I have a message about victims and trauma and grief. And there's not that much out there, and not that much with a personal story. So that was the real sort of the fork in the road. And I decided, okay, now it's serious.

Then, as you know, you would know, you go out, you have to get a publisher, an agent, the whole thing. It was after [hitman Sigfredo] Garcia’s [trial]… I needed to get, I guess, to Garcia’s and [go-between] Katherine [Magbanua]'s trial of 2019…. The trial ended in October and in November, I was in New York looking for, starting the regular routine of pitching the publisher and not the publisher, really, but the agent at that point. And then the pandemic came, January [2020]. I live in Canada, and we locked down very, very early, so it was different here, a whole different climate. We locked down much more, I don’t want to say seriously, but I would say more uniformly.

Now I'm a person who's always doing something—I’m like Dan or Dan's like me, I don't know which one is which—but the point is I said, oh, now I better get this together. And that's what I did. I really wrote in the pandemic, the first year, because it was a good time to write—not smart time, maybe, because you are isolated. I hardly saw my grandkids, Canadian grandkids in that time, but I was, yes, the fact is that I was busy and I was occupied, but it was very hard. The first part of the book on the grief and the murder and the finding out, it was more than challenging.

DL: Did you find the book therapeutic in terms of writing it and talking to other survivors of homicide? I know, for example, you mentioned in the book you had a coach, someone who had gone through a similarly awful experience. Did you find some solace in writing the book?

RM: I wouldn't call it solace. I did have support. The coach was terrific and we had excellent expertise and legal support, as you know, from Gibson Dunn and others, and a lot of Danny's friends. So we were definitely privileged.

I can’t tell you… I can’t tell you that the book in any way has added any closure. I don't use the word, but any help, “therapeutic”—has there been any cathartic benefit? Not yet. When we'll come to the grandparent legislation, the answer is totally different. And that's what's fascinating because I'm in the process still of the criminal system, I think because I'm still a victim.

Look, I'm going to put it out in—I don’t know if you want to go into the case, who's arrested and when, but we went through, now Garcia was arrested in 2016, later [hitman Luis] Rivera, later Katherine Magbanua. We didn't have any trial until 2019. And then there's the appeal of Garcia. What we just went through, just to give you the current view, is really amazing. We just did the trial from a point of view of calendar for Katherine Magbanua. We just finished it right in May, in July was sentencing, and Shelly, my daughter, had to do the victim impact statement. Then following that, Charlie Adelson was arrested, just before Katherine Magbanua’s trial. Then he had the Arthur [bail] hearing. Now Katherine is appealing, and you know, the public doesn't see all this, but we are in full-blown systems and movements and conversations and communications about what's happening. And so that's why I think in all fairness, the book has not yet been as cathartic, let's call it. It's very helpful for me now to go out and talk about the victim experience, but because I'm still so immersed, I don't know if I have that feeling [of catharsis]. I'm still like a student in school. I didn't graduate yet. I'm studying still, if you know what I'm trying to say. It's continuous.

DL: And you mentioned that throughout the book. You talk about, for example, even the different vocabulary words that you're learning as part of the legal process. And the book is interesting. There's an update at the end on the legal proceedings where you talk about how Katherine is about to be retried, and then of course now we know she was convicted on the retrial and sentenced. And then, of course, since the publication there has been another series of developments—for example, denial of Charlie Adelson's bail request, [after] the so-called Arthur hearing under Florida law.

How would you say you feel in a general sense, given the state of developments right now? You have three people who have been convicted and put behind bars, and you have this pending appeal from Katherine, but honestly I don't think it's going anywhere, knock on wood. And then you have, of course, Charlie's looming trial for the first part of 2023. I know you may want to be a little guarded in some of the things you say, but what would you say you just feel generally about where the state of the legal proceedings is right now?

RM: I think for us, for me… 2022 has been a great year, in the sense—and I'll explain why it has been very, very good. After 2016, after the arrest—I'm going to go into the grandparent issue for a minute because it relates to why 2022 has been very important—after the arrest in 2016, Wendi, Danny's ex-wife, cut us off from visiting the children. We tried behind the scenes, the lawyers and so forth, and we even used the media. Now, just to put it in perspective, we are privileged with the media, but Phil and I, Dan’s father, we never went [to the media right after] Dan was murdered. Most parents and most lawyers, they bring their clients out into public view, and we didn't—we didn't need to, because Danny had quite a bit of international acclaim, he was memorialized all over the world, and [going public] was really not our way of grieving.

However, after we were unable to see the boys, Benjamin and Lincoln, Dan’s children, we decided, let's try whatever we can to get some exposure to the fact that we are not able to see these young children. So that's what we did. We went [to the media], we were going to anyway, the programs were running, as you know, 20/20 had two sessions, Dateline had two two-hour sessions, then the [Over My Dead Body] podcast came out, and so forth. So it's been an unusual journey [in having] so much media available to us.

Then also, which really is a privilege, Jason Solomon started Justice For Dan. And he even started a petition on Justice For Dan to have people sign, and there were a lot of Canadians, a lot of Americans who signed [in support of] us to be able to see the children. Anyway, needless to say, that was effective, but not enough—it gave us a voice, but not a change in dynamics, let's call it.

Anyway, so what happened was after Garcia's trial, it was October 12th, 2019, I'm in Tallahassee, it's my birthday, I'm in the hairdresser, and this young woman [Karen Halperin Cyphers] comes over to me and she says, “Can I give you a hug?” And I don't really know her, I don't recognize her as one of Dan's friends, but I could see she's his age, I thought maybe she saw me on TV. And then she told me who she was and so we went for coffee. And then she said to me….

Now this is really important in the process of grief, I'm going to explain to you—I was advised by my New York lawyer, Matt Benjamin from Gibson Dunn, “Ruth, you're going to have to write a bill” [if you want to address the problem of grandparent alienation]. I'm sitting in Toronto. This is in 2016, after we went on Dateline and 20/20. A bill. I’m sitting in Toronto. What do I know? I’m in Canada. Although I had advocacy experience in my early, early social-work career, I did not know the American system, and also we are a little different in Canada, it didn't occur to me even that that [might be] the solution. And then my other friend said, “It’s all-American—you have to get lobbyists.” So I prepped, I’m getting the buzz in my ear, but I didn't do anything for three years. And why I think this is important—I'll get back to the journey—the reason it's important is because many families that are grieving, they want to memorialize their child, they want to start a foundation, they want to do something, but they don't break out of it from out of their head.

So here was my experience, I was sitting on it for three years, but Karen Halperin Cyphers says to me, right in the coffee shop [in October 2019], “Okay, what can I do for you?” And I just blurt out, “Grandparent alienation.” And she says, “Done.” So here I am, fortunate that Karen had all of these contacts through her position—at the time she was a partner in a media firm in Tallahassee—and this was only in October 2019. In January of 2020, Karen already organized in the Senate, [Florida State Senator] Jeff Brandes actually wrote a bill, got it passed in the Senate, but we couldn't get it into the other house in 2020. So this is another part. Try, try, and try again….

This is why we're coming back to 2022. Why is it such an exceptional year? In the first part of 2022, [Florida House Speaker] Chris Sprowls decided that he would get a representation in the House and the Senate at the same time, and he really organized. Anyway, the best news in the world: the Senate passed it unanimously, and the House was, I think, 112-3. And in the end, Governor DeSantis signed it on June 24. So that's the first part of 2022—and a really big part of the success that we feel. So the mood is changing, is what I'm trying to tell you.

Now, the next good part of 2022. So Katherine Magbanua was scheduled to have her retrial in February. That was postponed. The word is “continued”—I love the word “continue” when it meets “canceled,” but we won't go into law language—anyway, and it's till May 16th. In the same period, I get an email from Wendi Adelson, that's Danny's ex-wife, the mother of his children: “Ruth, we’re making a bar mitzvah for Benjamin around May 14th”—two days before the actual Katherine Magbanua trial—”and we're inviting you all then.” “All” means us plus Shelly’s family.

I couldn’t be more delighted. And I said, yes, we're coming for sure, and then I suggested, “Can we have an in-person visit on May 13th, the day before the bar mitzvah? The kids have not seen us now [for a long time].” So she writes back right away, “You know what? If you want an in-person visit, come in April.” First the date she selected was the Passover date, then she wrote back, apologies, come April 20th. And we said, we're on. We came April 20th. We saw the kids. We had a wonderful visit. We get back to Toronto, let's say, 1 a.m. on April 21st, at 6 a.m. I get a call from law enforcement in Tallahassee—well, they’re not in Tallahassee, now they're down in Broward [County in South Florida]—and they just arrested Charlie Adelson. In 24 hours, a lot on the children and on the case.

So 2022, this is the big year, right…. it's an actually an important story piece because families wait and, and certainly for us, the waiting and uncertainty are really the characteristics of the victim experience. But this is just an example of sometimes when the waiting does materialize into something that's very fruitful.

DL: Just to rewind a little bit, you mentioned the passage and the signing into law of the Markel Act, which deals with the problem of grandparent alienation. Can you say briefly to listeners what the Markel Act permits?

RM: The Markel Act, actually, is not a broad-based, all-encompassing act for any grandparent who's alienated or any grandparent who has difficulty. Florida laws are very restrictive, [some] of the most restrictive ones in North America, and considering they have all these elderly people, their grandparent legislation is very, very restrictive. And there's a piece in there that people have to understand. The reason it's restricted is because the natural parent in Florida has the right for autonomy and privacy [in child rearing], and that is huge, and that trumps anything else, and it always has to be reviewed against what are their rights.

So what happened with the Grandparent Act? When it was developed, it was developed to meet a very specific set of circumstances, which is if one of the partners in the marriage or ex-marriage or whatever divorced relationship was deceased or is deceased, and the other partner has some civil or criminal findings against them, that gives the grandparents rights to go to the courts and request a visit, and the request is less conditional than under other circumstances because those findings have to be met. So to that extent, it's very restrictive.

Having said that, and one of the most amazing things of why I said earlier on, I have to say that having passed this legislation has really given me—I would say I always have hope, but it has given me more satisfaction on a different level—do you know how many people write to me now asking how to use the Markel Act, telling me about grandparent alienation, and what's really sad is how many circumstances there are in Florida where [the Act might apply].

[There is also a 2015 law about grandparent visitation rights, which] is something else which I did another presentation on… like if your child has committed a felony. It's not the same. It's not the Markel Act, I have to say. But the point is, what happens? These adult children come out of prison, and the grandparents have taken care of the kids all these years, and [the adult children] tell [the grandparents], “Bye bye, Charlie.” So the grandparents lose out, and the children really lose that because that's their new family. But those families can get help—not necessarily [from] the strength of the grandparent legislation, but there are places to help them, and also they should know to go to Legal Aid as well.

DL: That's really important, and I'm glad you're sharing that information with people. One of the things that's interesting to note—it's very selfless in a way, what you've done, because the Markel Act, as I understand it, does not at the current time apply to your particular case. But on the bright side, I do note that very shortly after its passage, you were invited by Wendi to meet with the boys.

So I see we're almost out of time. In closing, can you talk about how much contact you have with the boys right now? Because for those of us reading the book, that was in many ways one of the most heartbreaking things—that for years, you were kept away from your grandsons after this horrific event. Can you talk a bit about how often you get to see them now and under what circumstances?

RM: We're only at a stage where the door is open, like a crack in the door. We did try to get some Zooms on the boys' birthdays to wish them happy birthday. We were successful. We made other attempts to get visits, which didn't materialize, but just recently, I asked Wendi for a visit in December, and she approved, she confirmed it. So that'll be the next visit. We saw the boys, we had contact with them in April, and now I'm really hopeful that I will get to see them in December. So we're, you know, it's a rocky ship still, but it's more open communication. And although small, but it's working in the right direction, very incremental, small steps. And so forth.

DL: As you mentioned, 2022 was a big, big year for you and your family. My final question is, what are you hoping for or expecting from 2023? Which is not that far away, less than two months until the start of the new year. What are you looking forward to in the coming year?

RM: I'm looking forward to, look, right now, I'll put it this way, the grandparent priority is a little bit, I don't want to say on the back burner at all, but it's less. Now we have to get justice in the criminal system, which has always been the competing priority…. So that's really one of the things I do want to say that I'm also looking at now, and in 2023 I want to make sure that people understand the victim experience, and particularly the legal and professional people who help—psychologists, lawyers, clergy, whatever, have to understand the victim experience. How can you learn to develop compassion for the victim in all these professions?

I have an agenda, I guess I'm a person who has agendas, and this is really because I really think it's an undervalued [experience]. And there's a statement, I read this in one of the reports in Canada, the [statement] is “the victim is the orphan of the criminal system.” And so that's my new challenge, and I hope that there are some lawyers, legal schools, law firms listening today. I have a lot of programs that I would really like to talk about in terms of an educational format to get the sensitization to what the victim experiences in the criminal system.

DL: Well, I think you've been doing a wonderful job of advancing your agenda, just in terms of getting people to understand that victim experience. And of course getting legislation passed to help other grandparents in similar situations. And of course spearheading and enduring this long, long quest for justice for Dan's murderers.

So again, on behalf of my listeners, on behalf of all of us who knew and cared for Dan, thank you, Ruth, for everything you've done. You are really an inspiration—just how you have endured this tragedy with such dignity and grace and how you have managed to try and find some things positive out of an unspeakable tragedy. So thank you.

RM: Thank you very much, and please continue writing. You're doing a great job.

DL: Will do.

RM: I always welcome your articles and your support, so thank you.

DL: Thanks again to Ruth for joining me. As I have said before, her resilience and strength over these past eight-plus years, as well as how she has used her experience to help both other victims and other grandparents, is nothing short of inspiring.

As always, thanks to Tommy Harron, my sound engineer here at Original Jurisdiction, and thanks to you, my listeners and readers, for tuning in. If you’d like to connect with me, you can email me at davidlat@substack.com, and you can find me on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, at davidlat, and on Instagram at davidbenjaminlat.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, please rate, review, and subscribe to Original Jurisdiction. Since this podcast is new, please help spread the word by telling your friends about it. Please subscribe to the Original Jurisdiction newsletter if you don’t already, over at davidlat.substack.com. This podcast is free, as is most of the newsletter content, but it is made possible by your paid subscriptions to the newsletter.

The next episode of the Original Jurisdiction podcast should appear two weeks from now, on or about Wednesday, November 30. Until then, may your thinking be original and your jurisdiction free of defects.

Thanks for reading Original Jurisdiction, and thanks to my paid subscribers for making this publication possible. Subscribers get (1) access to Judicial Notice, my time-saving weekly roundup of the most notable news in the legal world; (2) additional stories reserved for paid subscribers; and (3) the ability to comment on posts. You can email me at davidlat@substack.com with questions or comments, and you can share this post or subscribe using the buttons below.


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Original Jurisdiction
Original Jurisdiction
Original Jurisdiction, a podcast about law and the legal profession, features host David Lat interviewing some of the most interesting, influential, and important people in the world of law. It's the companion podcast to Lat's Substack newsletter of the same name. You can follow David on Twitter (@DavidLat) or email him at davidlat@substack.com, and you can subscribe to his newsletter at davidlat.substack.com.