Serious Trouble

By Josh Barro and Ken White

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An irreverent podcast about the law from Josh Barro and Ken White.

Episode Date
SPECIAL EXTRA EPISODE: 'They're Not Here to Hurt Me'

Surprise! This is an extra, unscheduled episode of Serious Trouble, about some breaking news in investigations related to the January 6 riot — a federal search of attorney John Eastman’s electronic devices, and a unexpectedly scheduled hearing with testimony from Cassidy Hutchinson, a former aide to Trump’s White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows. (We said we’d do at least 40 episodes a year, but that’s a floor, not a ceiling!)

This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit
Jun 29, 2022
Serious Trouble, Episode 2: Why Is It So Hard To Hold Police Accountable For Failures Like Uvalde?

To find episode notes, transcripts, a discussion thread and to become a subscriber (so that you receive all Serious Trouble episodes), visit us at

This week's episode is all about the Uvalde massacre, the botched police response, and what legal rights you have to expect the police to perform their jobs. You may be surprised to learn they’re pretty limited. Ken and Josh also talk about where the idea of qualified immunity comes from, and when it does (and doesn’t) protect police from liability for their actions. And they discuss why Texas law may put the various government agencies involved in this debacle on pretty solid ground when they refuse to disclose embarrassing documents, such as body camera footage.

This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit
Jun 23, 2022
Serious Trouble, Episode 1: The Show, The January 6 Committee Hearings, And The Depp/Heard Trial
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Dear readers,

Serious Trouble is not a Trump show — it’s a show about law. But the top legal story this week is about Trump, so that’s how we’re starting: with a discussion of the theory of Trump’s criminality advanced by the January 6 investigating committee.

What would it entail to prove in court that Donald Trump criminally sought to interfere with an official proceeding, and should the Justice Department try? What sort of criminal defense would Trump mount if it got to trial? Would Sidney Powell and Rudy Giuliani end up on the witness stand?

We also talked about how some of the witnesses in deposition videos presented by the committee seemed to be almost enjoying themselves, especially former Attorney General Bill Barr. Can a deposition be fun? Ken has some thoughts on why it can be a good strategy for lawyers to try to keep things feeling fun and light even when the matters at hand are deadly serious.

And we talked about our ambivalence at having missed the defamation lawsuit between Johnny Depp and Amber Heard — arguably the most prominent defamation case in decades and also a huge, embarrassing mess. We’ve talked a lot over the years about how hard it is to prove defamation, especially against a public figure — so how did they both prevail on at least some of their claims? And what does the verdict mean for future defamation litigants?

We hope you enjoy the episode. If you have questions or responses, please share them in the comments section below, or you can email us at

And here are some links to documents and statutes we discussed on today’s show — you might find these useful as you listen. We’ll prepare a list like this for you to accompany every episode we release.

Here’s a transcript of the episode.

Title 18, United States Code, Section 1512(c)(2) is the statute prohibiting obstruction of an official federal proceeding — did Trump violate it?

Title 18, United States Code, Section 371 contains both the plain-vanilla federal law prohibiting conspiracy to violate federal statutes and the prohibition on defrauding the federal government — did Trump violate that?

What does “defraud the United States” mean? Well, we know what the Department of Justice thinks that it means — take a look at the relevant section of the United States Attorney’s Manual, which includes the case Ken quotes in the episode.

What law governed the Johnny Depp v. Amber Heard trial, and what issues were actually before the jury? Read the jury instructions and find out:

Here’s the SNL cold open about the Depp/Heard trial being “for fun”:

We’ll be back with another episode for you next week.

Very seriously,

Ken White, Josh Barro & Sara Fay

This is a public episode. If you’d like to discuss this with other subscribers or get access to bonus episodes, visit
Jun 16, 2022