How you could get away with murder in Yellowstone’s “Zone of Death”
Articles Blog

How you could get away with murder in Yellowstone’s “Zone of Death”

August 24, 2019


This is a map of Yellowstone National Park. For the most part the park is in Wyoming, but it extends a bit into Montana and Idaho. This little 50 square miles section in Idaho is what concerns us. It’s called the zone of death, because of a loophole that exists in the Constitution of the United States. If someone were to exploit that loophole they might be able to get away with murder. Yellowstone was established in 1872 before Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana joined the Union. It’s federal land and always has been, but federal land across the U.S. is split up and divided into its corresponding state district courts. Except for Yellowstone. And this is where the loophole begins. Law professor Brian C. Kalt points out in his 2005 paper, “The Perfect Crime”, that Yellowstone National Park was assigned fully to Wyoming’s district court, even though small portions fall into Montana and Idaho. “Unlike every other district, the district of Wyoming includes land in other states.” So Kalt asks the question: what happens if you’re caught for a crime you committed in that 50 square mile Idaho region of the park? The first thing law enforcement would do is bring you to Cheyenne, the hub of the district court of Wyoming, because the crime technically happened within Wyoming’s jurisdiction. But Article 3 Section 2 of the United States Constitution says that the trial should happen in the state where you committed the crime. If you’re a savvy murderer you’ll invoke your right to a trial in Idaho. So they bring you back to Idaho no big deal. “In the sixth amendment they said that they would require local juries and the language they use is that the jury has to be from the state and district where the crime was committed.” This is called the Vicinage Clause. That leaves you with a sort of venn diagram. You have the right to demand jury from that middle area, where the state in which you committed the crime, that’s Idaho, overlaps with the judicial jurisdiction where you committed the crime: the Wyoming district that has jurisdiction over Yellowstone National Park. And here’s the problem: “nobody lives there. There’s there’s no way for them to give you a trial and so I argue they should have to let you go.” This could also happen in the Montana portion of the park, except a few dozen people do live there, so a jury could theoretically be called. Kalt has proposed numerous solutions to Congress to fix the loophole, but they have yet to act. “All they have to do is redraw the district line so that the district of Wyoming is Wyoming, the district of Idaho is Idaho, and the district of Montana is Montana and if they do that this all goes away.” So if you’re planning a gathering of your adversaries, exes, and debtors, maybe try Yosemite.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. Problem: no law zone

    Me🤔: hmph… well theoretically if the guy got caught killing someone in the death zone the police could kidnap him take him to that area and kill him the police will be charged for kidnapping (assuming that the murderer wasn't in the death zone when he was kidnapped) he will then get bailed out with like government money or sumthin case closed

    Intelligence: 100

  2. The 5th hour of this movie had me cracking up, best plot twist ofall time, when the daughter got revenge… priceless

  3. It has NOT always been federal land, as stated at the beginning of the video. It was originally Native land, prior to federal land.

  4. Aren't there just special circumstances where trials are relocated when appropriate juries can't be formed?

  5. Great now ill take my sister to a vacation in yellow stone and then kill her cuz she broke my ps4 !!!!!!

  6. If an illegal immigrant is an exploiter and murders someone there they are gonna get banned from the server.

  7. Something I absolutely did not need to know but, here I am absorbing in information that I most likely remember every time Yellowstone National Park or anything relate to that is brought up,

  8. So… Uh… I may have some business in that area if someone wouldn’t mind giving me a ride and wouldn’t mind my extra large duffel bag that occasionally moves and screams?

  9. I feel like the authorities would quickly come up with an alternative if this ever actually led to a murder.

  10. Is this why Yellowstone has a courthouse? I went about a week ago, and I saw a courthouse there. Made me wonder at the time, but now it makes kind of sense.

  11. Why….. why would you fuel the imagination of the feeble-minded and the psychotic!?!?

  12. Why yosemite not yellowstone at the end? Is this supposed to be a misinstruction so people commit nonperfect crime in the wrong park?

  13. Once the police decide they have to release you they wait for the victims next of kin to be there, armed and ready.

  14. Thank you for this information. Time to go on a road trip with a person I hate and pretend it's all cool

  15. Good luck getting congress to do anything. States should just rebel against the central gov’t—the feds are so useless

  16. huh ironic talking about death right next to one of the soon tbe destroyers of man in the history of the world…the didn't get that joke in Pompei either…

  17. With 3 million views, some actual murderers or future murderers are very likely to have seen this video.

  18. "Its federal land and always has been", umm.. you need to do a history lesson on American colonisation.. pretty sure it was Native American land for a lot longer than it was ever classed as federal land!

  19. I worked in Yellowstone many years and never knew this. Wish I would have known this back then. Missed that one!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *