The Wire as a Gap-Filling Class on Criminal Law and Procedure

Journal of Legal Education, 2014, Forthcoming

William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-268

4 Pages Posted: 6 Feb 2020

Date Written: December 4, 2013


Over the last decade, criminal law professors have used scenes from the HBO series The Wire to bring criminal procedure issues to life in the classroom. More recently, some of us have built entire courses around the series by using The Wire as a core text. This brief essay explains how The Wire can be the basis for an entire law school course on criminal law and procedure. The series provides an excellent vehicle for exploring the law of wiretapping, search and seizure, interrogation, sentencing, drug possession, distribution of narcotics, and conspiracy. The Wire also offers an opportunity to explore legal issues from a broader perspective. For instance, do police officers actually understand the Fourth and Fifth Amendment rules that the Supreme Court instructs them to follow? At the same time, the series addresses issues that drive the criminal justice system – crime statistic manipulation, use of informants, prisoner re-entry, resource constraints, and media influence – but which are typically absent from traditional law school courses. In addition to being gripping television, The Wire therefore fills a huge gap in law schools’ criminal law curriculum.

Keywords: The Wire, criminal procedure, crime statistics, informants, drug possession, wiretapping, informants, media

Suggested Citation

Gershowitz, Adam M., The Wire as a Gap-Filling Class on Criminal Law and Procedure (December 4, 2013). Journal of Legal Education, 2014, Forthcoming, William & Mary Law School Research Paper No. 09-268, Available at SSRN:

Adam M. Gershowitz (Contact Author)

William & Mary Law School ( email )

South Henry Street
P.O. Box 8795
Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795
United States

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