ARTICLE: SCREWS, KOON, AND ROUTINE ABERRATIONS:THE USE OF FICTIONAL NARRATIVES IN FEDERAL POLICE BRUTALITY PROSECUTIONS Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 1999 New York University Law Review
New York University Law Review

ARTICLE: SCREWS, KOON, AND ROUTINE ABERRATIONS:THE USE
OF FICTIONAL NARRATIVES IN FEDERAL POLICE BRUTALITY PROSECUTIONS

April, 1999

New York University Law Review

74 N.Y.U.L. Rev. 18

Author

David Dante Troutt *

Excerpt



Depite periodic outcries in response to particular outrages, it remains notoriously difficult to prosecute police brutality. In this form-shattering Article, Professor Troutt attributes much of this difficulty to the overwhelming power of the stories mainstream American culture tells about the encounters leading to police violence. In this piece. Professor Troutt lays bare these authority narratives - particularly their racialized dimension - and demonstrates how they have been used to defeat, if not silence, the counternarratives related by victims and their representatives.

Professor Troutt focuses on the limited, though important, role that fictional counterstories can have in challenging the epistemological apparatus by which police brutality is supported. To illustrate this point, he offers a fictionalized narration of the events leading up to one of the most significant police brutality prosecutions of this century, Screws v. United States. Using his story as a starting point, Professor Troutt moves on to two broader discussions: First, he compares his account with the dominant narratives of the Screws case, adopted either explicitly or implicitly by almost all of the legal and jurisprudential actors who participated in that case. Second, he examines the theoretical justifications many of his colleagues offer for the use of storytelling in legal writing, highlighting the ways in which his narrative illustrates the possibilities for such storytelling and identifying several additional benefits not emphasized in the existing literature. He concludes with a discussion of the most famous police brutality case of recent times, the Rodney King beating case, Koon v. ...
 
 
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