December 28, 2008

Life, Art, and Bernie Madoff

Patricia Allen notes that life seems to have imitated art, at least in the case of the current Bernie Madoff scandal. She seeks out the commentary of a number of critics and writers, who compare it to Harley Granville-Barker's The Voysey Inheritance, which David Mamet has lately adapted. Other analogies: Anthony Trollope's The Way We Live Now, various works of Charles Dickens, and Arthur Miller's All My Sons. BTW, here's more about Mr. Madoff's scheme, and the history of such schemes.

But, does life imitate art, or do artists take what they see in life and work with it, and do we simply then recognize the analogies, as indeed we should, since artists are working with the truth about human beings?

December 17, 2008

Some Recently Published Titles In Law and Literature

A round-up of selected titles published in law and literature in the past year or so.


Almog, Shulamit, The poetics of the legal system in the digital age: contemporary challenges to traditional concepts of justice (2007).

Atkinson, Logan, and Diana Majury, Law, mystery, and the humanities: collected essays (2008).

Bertini, Fabio, "Havere a la giustitia sodisfatto" : tragedie giudiziarie di Giovan Battista Giraldi Cinzio nel ventennio conciliare (2008).

Bishop, Stephen L., Legal oppositional narrative: a case study in Cameroon (2008).

Boboc, Andreea Delia, Justice on Trial: Abuse and acculturation in late medieval English literature, 1381-1481 (Dissertation, University of Michigan, 2006).

Caspar, Timothy W., Recovering the Ancient View of Founding: a commentary on Cicero's De legibus (Dissertation, Claremont Graduate School, 2006).

Chaplin, Susan, The gothic and the rule of the law, 1764-1820 (2007).

Cormack, Bradin, A Power To Do Justice: Jurisdiction, English Literature, and the Rise of Common Law, 1509-1625 (2007).

Danovi, Remo, Tra fantasia e diritto: List of Novels (2004).

Dolin, Kieran, A Critical Introduction To Law and Literature (2007).

Edelman, Bernard, Quand les juristes inventent le réel: la fabulation juridique (2007).

Eska, Joseph F., Law, literature and society (2008).

Everingham, Anthony Samuel, Form and function in legal adjudication: legal "meaning", hermeneutics and systems theory (Master’s thesis, Monash University, 2007).

Farenga, Vincent, Citizen and Self in Ancient Greece: Individuals Performing Justice and the Law (2006).

Ferk, Janko, Recht ist ein "Prozess": über Kafkas Rechtsphilosophie (2006).

Gaakeer, A. M. P., and François Ost, Crossing borders: law, language and literature (2007).

Geonget, Stéphan, Littérature et droit, du Moyen Âge à la période baroque: le process exemplaire : actes de la journée d'études du groupe de recherches Traditions antiques et modernités de Paris VII, 29 mars 2003 (2008).

Glover, Susan, Engendering Legitimacy: Law, Property, and Early Eighteenth-Century Fiction (2006).

González Echevarría, Roberto, Amor y ley en Cervantes (2008).

Hegel, Robert E., and Katherine Carlitz, Writing and Law in Late Imperial China (2007).

Hepburn, Allan, Troubled Legacies: Narrative and Inheritance (2007).

Hofmann, Gert, Figures of law : studies in the interference of law and literature (2007).

Hutson, Lorna, The Invention of Suspicion: Law and Mimesis in Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama (2007).

Jurasinski, Stefan, Ancient privileges: Beowulf, law and the making of Germanic antiquity (2006).

Kanarek, Jane, Let the story remain with us: Biblical narrative and the formation of rabbinic law (Dissertation, University of Chicago, 2007).

Kane, Baydallaye, La justice répressive dans la littérature africaine (2006).

Kezar, Dennis, Solon and Thespis: Law and Theater in the English Renaissance (2007).

Kaul, Suzanne, Poetik der Gerechtigkei : Shakespeare-Kleist (2008).

Latham, Sean, The art of scandal: modernism, libel law, and the roman à clef (2009).

Lemmens, Koen, François Jongen, Droit & littérature (2007).

Lin, Laifan, Fa lü yu ren wen=Law & humanism (2007).

Lockey, Brian, Law and Empire in English Renaissance Literature(2006).

Majeske, Andrew J., Equity in English Renaissance literature: Thomas More and Edmund Spenser(2006).

Mangham, Andrew, Violent Women and Sensation Fiction: Crime, Medicine and Victorian Popular Culture (2007).

Masson, Jean, Le droit dans la littérature française(2007).

Mathieu-Castellani, Gisèle, Le tribunal imaginaire: essai(2006).

Mautner, Menachem, Mishpat ve-tarbut (2008).

McGinnis, Reginald, Originality and Intellectual Property in the French and English Enlightenment(2008).

Méchoulan, Eric, Law and literature (2006).

Morawetz, Thomas, Literature and the law (2007).

Morgan, Brian James, Documentary culture and prophecy in Piers Plowman (Thesis (M. Litt.), University of Oxford, 2006).

Morgan, Edward M., The aesthetics of international law (2007).

Mueller-Dietz, Heinz, Recht und Kriminalität in literarischen Spiegelungen (2007).

Mukherji, Subha, Law and representation in early modern drama (2006).

Murphy, Stephen M., What if Holden Caulfield went to law school?: selected legal fiction and nonfiction (2007).

O’Brien, Ellen L., Crime in Verse: The Poetics of Murder in the Victorian Era (2008).

Oliveira, Mara Regina de, Shakespeare e a filosofia do direito: um diálogo com a tragédia Julio César (2006).

Olson, Greta, and Martin Kayman, Law, Literature, and Language (2007).

Osborough, W. N., Literature, Judges, and the Law (2008).

Pennsylvania Bar Institute, What literature tells us about lawyers & the practice of law (2008).

Plesko, Forrest Vincent, “A little information about the law": Judgments, jurisprudence, and (in)justice in William Faulkner's Snopes trilogy (Master’s thesis, University of Southern Mississippi, 2006).

Rabell, Carmen, Ficciones legales: ensayos sobre ley, retórica y narración (2007).

Reichman, Ravit, The affective life of law: legal modernism and the literary imagination (2009).

Rielly, Edward J., Murder 101: essays on the teaching of detective fiction (2009).

Ritscher, Lee A., The semiotics of rape in Renaissance English literature (2007).

Scase, Wendy, Literature and Complaint in England, 1272-1553 (2007).

Sokol, B. J., Shakespeare, law, and marriage (2006) Reprint.

Stern, Simon, Law and literature (2007).

Suzack, Cheryl, Law, literature, location: contemporary aboriginal/indigenous women's writing and the politics of identity (Dissertation, University of Alberta, 2006).

Talavera, Pedro, Derecho y literatura: el reflejo de lo jurídico (2006).

Tomain, Joseph P., Creon's ghost: law, justice, and the humanities (2009).

Van Blerk, Nicolaas Johannes, The concept of law and justice in Ancient Egypt, with specific reference to The tale of the eloquent peasant (Master’s thesis, University of South Africa, 2006).

Visconsi, Elliott, Lines of Equity: Literature and the Origins of Law in Later Stuart England (2008).

Weber, Hermann, Literatur, Recht und Musik: Tagung im Nordkolleg Rendsburg vom 16. bis 18. September 2005 (2007).

White, James Boyd, When language meets the mind: three questions (2007).

Zurcher, Andrew, Spenser's legal language: law and poetry in early modern England (2007).

Steven Pinker's The Stuff of Thought

Lorie Graham and Stephen M. McJohn, Suffolk University Law School, have published "Cognition, Law, Stories," in Minnesota Journal of Law, Science, & Technology (Winter 2009). Here is the abstract.

This essay reviews Steven Pinker, The Stuff of Thought (Penguin 2007), which offers insights from cognitive science just where it overlaps the most with law - how we use basic cognitive categories like intent, space, time, events and causation. The Stuff of Thought might offer insights into a broad range of issues in legal theory. Legal theory could make more use of such cognitive science concepts as chunking, recursion, and the primary qualities of an object. Other topics likewise resonate in thinking about the law: The book suggests that metaphor is an important cognitive tool, but less constraining than might be thought. Linguistic analysis of verb classes and polysemy suggests that words have surprisingly determinate meaning. Our apparent innate sense of causation (drawn from an analysis of language) sheds light on the legal treatment of causation. Lastly, The Stuff of Thought describes the role of indirect speech, whereby people convey information without revealing their state of mind - which often allows social interaction to proceed smoothly. Default rules in the law, we suggest, often play an analogous role.

The essay then explores the cognitive aspects of stories (following literary theorists like Mark Turner who have linked cognitive science with narrative theory), suggesting a recursive definition of story, and another angle to the trolley problem. Looking at the cognitive role of stories permits a fuller view of legal reasoning, learning, and remembering. This fits well with recent scholarship, such as work on origin stories, and law and genre theory.

Download the essay from SSRN here.

December 16, 2008

Law and Linguistics

Andrei Marmor, USC Gould School of Law, has published "What Does the Law Say? Semantics and Pragmatics in Statutory Language," forthcoming in Analisi e Diritto. Here is the abstract.

The content of communication in a given speech situation often goes beyond what the speaker has explicitly said. The main purpose of this essay is to explore this aspect of linguistic communication in the legal context. The paper begins with a general outline of the dividing lines between semantics and pragmatics, laying out the main distinctions that need to be employed. Next, the paper suggests that the pragmatic aspects of statutory language differ in some important ways from the pragmatics of an ordinary conversation. The paper explains some of these differences which make the understanding of legal language somewhat problematic. Finally, the paper points toward some solutions, based on the distinction between content that is semantically implicated by an utterance and content that is implicated conversationally.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

December 15, 2008

Law, Morality, and Television

MSNBC.com's Susan Young has this story about the interesting moral dilemmas that television dramas pose "for fun." But do viewers take them too seriously? What do adults and children learn from these dramatizations? Commentators trace the evolution of today's ethically complex hero, from Jim Rockford of the Rockford Files to "24"'s Jack Bauer here.

December 12, 2008

Some Personal Reflections On "To Kill a Mockingbird"

Sherrilyn Ifill, University of Maryland, School of Law, has published "To Kill a Mockingbird Perspectives," at 41 Maryland Bar Journal 54-59 (September/October 2008). Here is the abstract.

"To Kill a Mockingbird" is one of the most influential and widely acclaimed legal novels in American history. It tells the story of a small-town white lawyer who is appointed to defend a black man accused of raping a white woman in 1930s Alabama. The lawyer, Atticus Finch, is one of the great legal heroes of American fiction. The story, told from the perspective of Atticus' daughter Scout, explores race, class, gender, family and law. Most of all it is a both critical and loving account of the white South.

This article is a personal story about the influence of "To Kill a Mockingbird" on Professor Ifill, an African American civil rights lawyer and law professor. In the piece, she explores the implication of some of the fictional liberties taken by the book's author Harper Lee. Ifill also challenges her own previously uncritical view of the character of Atticus Finch. Ifill then presents the stories of some of the real-life lawyers in Maryland, black and white, who defended black men accused of violent crimes against whites in the 1930s. Professor Ifill learned of the work of these lawyers while researching her 2007 book, "On the Courthouse Lawn: Confronting the Legacy of Lynching in the 21st Century."

Download the paper from SSRN here.

December 10, 2008

Translation as Metaphor

Robert Leckey, McGill University Faculty of Law, has published "Filiation and the Translation of Legal Concepts," in Legal Engineering and Comparative Law (volume 2)(Geneva: Schulthess, 2009). Here is the abstract.

The paper argues for the use of the metaphor of translation of legal concepts in comparative law by exploring recent reforms to the law of assisted reproduction by the legislature of Quebec. It argues that lawmakers and comparative lawyers may learn from the cautions advanced for literary and legal translators by the translation literature. It argues that the Quebec instance of legislated changes in order to facilitate assisted procreation by lesbian couples shows an excessive literalism in the translation of rules applicable to "natural" procreation to assisted procreation. The legislature might constructively have looked to other parts of the existing private law, as well as to sociological accounts of intentional lesbian reproduction. Translation-as-metaphor also speaks fruitfully to comparatists: it may alert them to the losses of functionalist comparison. Specifically, the treatment of legal rules as "solutions" to a common problem elides distinctive institutional, rhetorical, and discursive differences.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

21 Grams

Bruce L. Hay, Harvard Law School, has published "The Earth Turned to Bring Us Closer," in volume 29 of Cardozo Law Review (2008). Here is the abstract.
This paper is part of a symposium issue entitled "Law and Event," whose subject is the work of the contemporary French philosopher Alain Badiou. The paper offers a reading of "21 Grams," a film that treats in narrative terms some of the central problems addressed in Badiou's work, notably the connections between love, fate, and mathematics, and the mysterious nature of the "event" in history. The paper emphasizes the film's effort to blend Greek myth and philosophy, Christian theology, and modern chaos theory.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

December 9, 2008

Religious Words, Secular Argument

Jack Lee Sammons, Mercer University School of Law, has published "A Rhetorician's View of Religious Speech in Civic Argument," at 32 Seattle University Law Review 367 (2008).
This paper examines the role of religious speech in democratic civic argument by challenging liberal methods of addressing the issue of religious speech with a more rhetorical view of civic argument. The primary issue, from this perspective, is whether or not rhetoric's own constitutive restraints are adequate to address the risks of religious speech. After a brief analysis of liberal methods, the rhetorical nature of civic argument is described, and both the risks of religious speech and the constitutive restraints are examined.

Download the article from SSRN here.

Upcoming Symposium: Women and the Law

From Suzanne Kim, Rutgers School of Law, Newark
Rutgers School of Law-Newark is pleased to be celebrating its centennial this year. To honor the law school's tradition of contributing to social justice, we are hosting a day-long symposium on Feb. 13, 2009 entitled "Rutgers School of Law-Newark Celebrates Women Reshaping American Law."

The event gathers major figures in the development of women's rights law and highlights the connections between Rutgers and that history. United States Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will deliver the keynote address. Professor Catharine MacKinnon will deliver closing remarks.

Speakers also include Professor Sarah Burns of NYU School of Law, Professor Sally Goldfarb of Rutgers School of Law-Camden, Professor Victoria Nourse of University of Wisconsin Law School, Professor Susan Deller Ross of Georgetown University Law Center, and Professor Wendy Webster Williams of Georgetown University Law Center. Yale College Professor Fred Strebeigh, author of the forthcoming book Equal: Women Reshape American Law (Norton 2009), will deliver opening remarks.

Information about scheduling and registration to come by January. In the meantime, please save the date!

December 5, 2008

Call For Papers

Reinforcing and Resisting Feminist Representations: Spaces, Voices and Identities
The 12th Annual Louisiana State University Women's and Gender Studies Conference
March 5 - 6, 2009
Louisiana State University
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Call for Proposals

The theme of this year’s conference, Reinforcing and Resisting Feminist Representations: Spaces, Voices and Identities, addresses the role that women’s and gender studies scholarship has played in challenging, rethinking and expanding repressive and limiting understandings of feminism, gender expression, and identity in the traditional disciplines and society. We invite proposals that broadly address issues of representations of women and gender in innovative and interdisciplinary ways. Possible topics include: representations of gender in popular culture; gender, sexuality, activism and politics; intersections of queer theory, transgender studies and feminisms; global feminisms; women’s autobiography; feminist research methods; the role of interdisciplinary research and pedagogy; and feminist articulations of intersectionality. We also welcome proposals that do not directly address the theme, but which are relevant to WGS scholarship as well as alternative formats such as academic or documentary films and performances. Pre-formed panels are especially encouraged.

Abstracts of 250 words (for individual papers) and 750 words (for pre-formed panels) are due Tuesday January 20th to wgsconference@gmail.com. All submissions should include the following information: Name; Department/Program; University; Title of Presentation; Required Technology
More information can be found here: http://www.lsu.edu/wgs/conference.html
Keynote Speaker
Janet L. Miller, Professor of English Education (Teachers College, Columbia University) and 2008 American Educational Research Association Curriculum Studies Lifetime Achievement Award recipient will present this year’s keynote address. Dr. Miller’s research focuses on feminist curriculum theorizing, constructions of teachers' identities in collaboration and school reform efforts, and issues of representation, especially in autobiographical and biographical forms. Dr. Miller served as Vice-President (1997-1999) and Secretary (1990-1992) for AERA Division B (Curriculum Studies). She was Managing Editor of The Journal of Curriculum Theorizing (JCT) from 1978 through 1998 and was Chair of JCT’s Bergamo Curriculum Theorizing Conferences during that time frame. She also was elected President of the American Association for the Advancement of Curriculum Studies (AAACS) for two consecutive terms (2001- 2007). Dr. Miller is the author of Creating Spaces and Finding Voices: Teachers Collaborating for Empowerment (SUNY Press), Sounds of Silence Breaking: Women, Autobiography, Curriculum (Peter Lang), and Co-Editor, with William C. Ayers, of A Light in Dark Times: Maxine Greene and the Unfinished Conversation.

Intellectual Property and Rhetoric

Patricia Louise Loughlan, University of Sydney Faculty of Law, has published "'You Wouldn't Steal a Car': Intellectual Property and the Language of Theft," at 29 European Intellectual Property Review 401 (2007). Here is the abstract.
It is actually quite easy to tell a good guy from a bad guy when one of the guys is being called a thief. He is the bad guy. It is in fact quite hard to think of a thief as any sort of good guy at all once you have begun thinking about him, even just impressionistically, as a thief.

This paper will scrutinise and consider the legitimacy of the pervasive rhetorical use of the language of 'theft' in intellectual property discourse. That language, comprised of words like 'theft', 'thief', 'stealing' 'burglar's tools' and occasionally even 'robbery,' is increasingly employed to describe the unauthorised use of intellectual property, so that new social meanings become attached to acts such as the digital transfer of a musical file or a film:

YOU WOULDN'T STEAL A CAR
YOU WOULDN'T STEAL A HANDBAG
YOU WOULDN'T STEAL A TELEVISION
YOU WOULDN'T STEAL A DVD
DOWNLOADING PIRATED FILMS IS STEALING
STEALING IS AGAINST THE LAW

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Rhetoric and Reparations

Lolita Buckner Inniss, Cleveland-Marshall School of Law, has published "A Critical Legal Rhetoric Approach to 'In Re African-American Slave Descendants Litigation'," as Cleveland-Marshall Legal Studies Paper No. 8-155. Here is the abstract.
In this paper I apply critical legal rhetoric to the judicial opinion rendered in response to the Defendants' Motion to Dismiss Plaintiffs' Second Amended and Consolidated Complaint in 'In Re African American Slave Descendants', a case concerning the efforts of a group of modern-day descendants of enslaved African-Americans to obtain redress for the harms of slavery. The chief methodological framework for performing critical legal rhetorical analysis comes from the work of Marouf Hasian, Jr. particularly his schema for analysis which he calls substantive units in critical legal rhetoric. Critical legal rhetoric is a potent tool for exposing the way in which the public ideologies of society and the private ideologies of jurists, legislators and other legal actors are manifested in legal and law-like pronouncements. After introducing this case, I briefly tracing the evolution and meaning of the term rhetoric and examine the relationship between rhetoric and law. I next explore the connection between rhetoric and ideology, which is crystallized in the form of the ideograph and its use as a tool of what is known as critical rhetoric. Finally, I show how critical legal rhetoric is achieved by bringing critical rhetoric to law, and thereafter apply critical legal rhetoric to the case of 'In Re African American Slave Descendants'.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

December 4, 2008

December 2, 2008

Some Gift Suggestions For the Non-Denominational Holidays

Don't know what to give for the holidays? Pierre Bayard's Sherlock Holmes Was Wrong: Reopening the Case of the Hound of the Baskervilles, newly translated into English by Charlotte Mandell, is now available. In this "revisionist view" of the classic Conan Doyle novel, French critic argues that the iconic detective didn't know what he was doing half the time. Monsieur Bayard is the author of How To Talk About Books You Haven't Read, and Who Killed Roger Ackroyd: The Mystery Behind the Agatha Christie Mystery.

Now available on DVD: Perry Mason: Season 3, volume 2; The Sopranos: The Complete Series; volume 1 of cult hit Pushing Daises, and both seasons of a little known series Dead Like Me, which came and went quickly, but starred Mandy Patinkin, who heads up a group of "reapers" in charge of leading the recently dead across the line that separates the living from those who have departed this life. I highly recommend Dead Like Me and Pushing Daisies, which has a similar theme (crossing the line between life and death), for their wit and thoughtful consideration of the issues that touch us all. Pushing Daisies is, however, more explicitly law-related, since it's about solving crime.

The Unemployed Philosopher's Guild offers a number of interesting and amusing items, including a disappearing civil liberties mug (pour in hot liquid and watch parts of the Bill of Rights vanish) and a Democratic Dream mug (same instructions; all of the U.S. turns a Democratic blue). The site also offers religious items, but be warned--you'll need to bring your sense of humor with you.

Language, Literature, and Constitutional Theories

Ian C. Bartrum, Yale Law School & Vermont Law School, has published "Metaphors and Modalities: Meditations on Bobbitt's Theory of the Constitution," in 17 William & Mary Bill of Rights Journal (2008). Here is the abstract.

This article builds on Philip Bobbitt's remarkable work in constitutional theory, which posits a practice-based constitution based in six accepted "modalities" of argument. I attempt to supplement Bobbitt's theory - which has a static and exclusive quality to it - with an account of interpretive evolution based in Max Black's interaction theory of metaphors. I suggest that we can (and do) create constitutional metaphors by deliberately overlapping Bobbitt's modalities of argument, and that through these creative acts we can grow the practice of American constitutionalism. I then present case studies of this metaphoric process at work in three fields of constitutional practice: from constitutional theory I take Akhil Reed Amar's theory of "intratextualism"; from constitutional advocacy I select Louis Brandeis brief in Muller v. Oregon; and from constitutional judging I look to the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. I conclude that the concept of modal metaphors offers practitioners a principled and grammatical way to create new constitutional meanings and resolve constitutional dilemmas.


Download the article from SSRN here.

Rhetoric in Child Custody Decision Making

Linda L. Berger, Mercer University School of Law, has published "How Embedded Knowledge Structures Affect Judicial Decision Making: An Analysis of Metaphor, Narrative, and Imagination in Child Custody Disputes." Here is the abstract.

We live in a time of radically changing conceptions of family and of the relationships possible between children and parents. Though undergoing "a sea-change," family law remains tethered to culturally embedded stories and symbols. While so bound, family law will fail to serve individual families and a society whose family structures diverge sharply by education, race, class, and income.

This article advances a critical rhetorical analysis of the interaction of metaphor and narrative within the specific context of child custody disputes. Its goal is to begin to examine how these embedded knowledge structures affect judicial decision making generally; more specifically, the article's aim is to help advocates make room for difference and diversity in the lives of families.

The rhetorical analysis indicates that the best interests of the child standard fails to explain child custody outcomes, and it suggests that the cognitive setting for custody disputes - cluttered with outmoded metaphors, simplistic images, and unexamined narratives - interferes with the ability of judges to attend to complex and radical transformations of parent and child relationships. The article proposes that practicing lawyers and scholars use rhetorical analysis first to uncover the symbols and stories that affect judicial decision making and then to construct arguments that may overcome deeply rooted constraints, help individual clients, and persuade policy makers.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Legal Language

Andre Marmor, USC Gould School of Law, has published "The Pragmatics of Legal Language," as USC Law Legal Studies Paper No. 08-11. Here is the abstract.

In most standard cases, the content of the law is tantamount to the content that is communicated by the relevant legal authority. It has been long noticed by linguists and philosophers of language, however, that the content of linguistic communication is not always fully determined by the meaning of the words and sentences uttered. Semantics and syntax are essential vehicles for conveying communicative content, but the content conveyed is very often pragmatically enriched by other factors. My purpose in this essay is to explore some of the pragmatic aspects of understanding what the law communicates. I argue that in some respects the pragmatics of legal language is unique, sometimes uniquely problematic. Exploring those problems forms one of the aims of this essay. But I suggest that we can do more than that: by drawing on the distinctions between the various pragmatic aspects of language use, we should be able to offer some generalizations about types of pragmatic enrichment that could be taken to form, or not to form, part of what is actually determined by legal expressions.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Law, Philosophy, and the Rhetorical Tradition

Francis Joseph Mootz III, UNLV School of Law, has published "The Irrelevance of Contemporary Academic Philosophy for Law: Recovering the Rhetorical Tradition," in On Philosophy in American Law (F. J. Mootz III, ed.; Cambridge University Press, 2009). Here is the abstract.


This short paper will appear in a volume of original essays, On Philosophy in American Law (Francis J. Mootz III ed., Cambridge Univ. Press forthcoming 2009). I argue that the undeniable rift between philosophy and law is more than a simple dichotomy of theory and practice. Instead, the sharp distinction between philosophy and law occurred when both disciplines built insular guilds that employed distinctive vocabularies to distinguish themselves from rhetoric, and it is by returning to their roots in rhetoric that philosophy and law might find their common ground in the elucidation of rhetorical knowledge.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

James Boyd White On the Links Among Law, Thought, and Language

James Boyd White, University of Michigan Law School, has published "Establishing Relations Between Law and Other Forms of Thought and Language," 1 Erasmus Law Review (2008). Here is the abstract.

The law does not, and could not, exist in an intellectual or linguistic vacuum. No one believes that the law is or should be impervious to other languages, other bodies of knowledge. In this sense the argument about the 'autonomy' of law is an empty one: law cannot be, should not be, perfectly autonomous, unconnected with any other system of thought and expression; yet it plainly has it own identity as a discourse, it own intellectual and linguistic habits, which it is our task as lawyers to understand and develop. It follows that an essential topic of legal thought is the proper relation between law and other forms of thought and expression - a topic that is important, difficult and full of interest. In this paper, Professor White compares three ways in which the law is related to other fields: translation (as in the use of expert testimony), disciplinary imperialism (as in law and economics), and comparison of modes of thought and expression (as in law and literature).

Download the article from SSRN here.

November 26, 2008

Call For Papers

American University Washington College of Law

IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections

6th Annual Symposium

April 24, 2009

Special Theme: Female Fan Cultures and Intellectual Property

Sponsored by
American University Washington College of Law’s

Program on Information Justice and Intellectual Property

Women and the Law Program

Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law

In collaboration with

American University’s Center for Social Media

The Organization for Transformative Works

Rebecca Tushnet, Georgetown University

Francesca Coppa, Muhlenberg College

Deadline for submission of abstracts: December 19, 2008


The 6th Annual Symposium on “IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections” seeks papers on female subcultures and their relationship to intellectual property and copyright regimes, with a particular emphasis on fan works and culture. Appropriate topics include: fan arts, including fan fiction, arts, music, filk, crafts, and vids; and fan communities: including clubs, forums, lists, websites, wikis, discussion groups, rec sites, and other creative, celebratory, or analytical communities.

Introduction & Context

Historically, the study of subcultures has been biased toward male groups and activities: first, because male activities (e.g. punk rock, motorcycling, football hooliganism) tend to be public, and therefore visible; second, because many male groups have been seen as overtly resistant to mainstream norms. In contrast, many female subcultural activities took place in private, in the domestic realm or in other less visible spaces, and those that were visible tended, in the words of Sarah Thornton, to be "relegated to the realm of a passive and feminized 'mainstream' (a colloquial term against which scholars have all too often defined their subcultures)"; in other words, the things women did and do have often been framed as mainstream, passive, commodified, and derivative; consuming (in the negative sense of passive product consumption), rather than consuming in the sense of a passionate obsession or devotion to art or criticism.



This has changed significantly in the last twenty years, not only due to a rising feminist interest in subculture studies but also with the rise of fan and audience studies. In their pioneering "Girls and Subcultures" (1975), Angela McRobbie and Jenny Garber presciently suggested that scholars turn their attention "toward more immediately recognizable teenage and pre-teenage female spheres like those forming around teenybop stars and the pop-music industry." Even they had trouble seeing what girls do as interesting and importing, noting that "[b]oys tended to have a more participative and a more technically-informed relationship with pop, where girls in contrast became fans and readers of pop-influenced love comics." McRobbie and Garber don't associate being "fans" with participation, and they see girls as "readers" only. In fact, as we know from fifteen years of fan and audience studies, fandom is a highly participatory culture, and female fans also write, edit, draw, paint, "manip," design, code, and otherwise make things.

However, even within this brave new world of mashup, remix, and fan cultures, what boys do (fan films, machinima, music mash-ups, DJing) is often seen by outsiders and critics as better--more interesting, more original, more clearly transformative-- than what girls do (fan fiction, fan art, vidding, coding fan sites, social networking). This normative judgment risks legal consequences.

We are seeking projects (including papers, installations, artwork, video and multimedia presentations) that investigate the ways in which issues of originality and ownership as related to copyright and other issues of intellectual property intersect with this gendered understanding of cultural productions and engagement, especially since these historically female subcultural activities and practices have increasingly become culture.

IP/Gender Mapping the Connections Organizational Details
· DEADLINE for submission of abstracts is DECEMBER 19 at 5:00pm.
· To submit an abstract or project description for consideration, fill in the web-based form at https://www.wcl.american.edu/pijip/ipgender/proposals.cfm . Participants will be notified if their project has been accepted for presentation by January 15. Selected presentations will be eligible for travel scholarships to attend the conference.

· The symposium will begin at 6:00 Thursday, April 23, 2009 at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C. The symposium will convene from 9:00 am until 4:00 pm on Friday, April 24, 2009.

· To view programs from prior IP/Gender: Mapping the Connections symposia, please visit www.wcl.american.edu/pijip/go/events/ip/gender/ip/gender-mapping-the-connection

· Papers may be published in the American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law.

· If you are interested in attending the event, but not presenting work, please contact Angie McCarthy, Women and the Law Program Coordinator at angiem@wcl.american.edu for details.

November 21, 2008

A Blog On Crime Fiction and Writing

If you like, or are interested in trying to write crime fiction, check out the blog Hey There's a Dead Guy in the Living Room, written by a writer, a publisher, an agent, a book reviewer, a bookshop owner, an editor, and a p.r. person. They're all alive, and in your (virtual) living room, and in your conservatory, and in your library....

November 20, 2008

A Draft Syllabus For a Course in Law and Literature

Simon Stern, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, has published "Law and Literature Seminar, Draft Syllabus." Here is the abstract.

This is a draft syllabus for an introductory seminar on law and literature. Courses in this area tend to focus primarily (often exclusively) on literary texts. My view is that literature can be more productively studied in a law school setting when literary and legal materials are placed next to each other. This approach does not treat law as the taken-for-granted backdrop that students already know, but instead makes explicit the similarities and differences between the two areas. Among other things, this approach may help to remind law students of what they know but easily forget - that what they have already learned about the law in their other classes is not inevitably alien to the qualities of literary writing and analysis. In that way, the course is not an effort to re-educate law students by illustrating passions and qualities that are presumptively absent from the rest of law school, but is instead designed to show how legal modes of thought are sometimes already present in literary texts and vice versa. To that end, my syllabus combines literary readings, literary criticism, judicial opinions, and legal scholarship.

These materials are a work in progress, and I welcome suggestions concerning new readings and new juxtapositions of literary and legal texts and scholarship.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

Call For Papers

Call for Papers: Special Issue of Utopian Studies on Law and Utopia
Guest Editor: Peter Sands, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

Utopias are prescriptive, normative alternatives to already existing societies. Thomas More, himself a lawyer, envisioned a society free from lawyers and with few positive laws, and that trope has since made frequent appearance in utopias and dystopias. But, like all societies, utopias depend on rules and rule-making—they are societies of laws.

Law itself, too, is a utopian expression, an attempt to shape a particular vision of society. Such visions enact conflicts between and among competing views of rights, duties, punishment, redemption, distribution, and nearly every other aspect of human life. Zoning laws describe someone’s desired organization of space and industry. Constitutions write into being a normative alternative to the society that exists before the constitution takes effect. Positive law presents a normatively different belief system from natural law, carrying implications for societal organization.

In fiction and film, utopian and dystopian expression addresses fundamental jurisprudential issues of good and evil, of right and wrong, of rights proper, of economics, criminality, state power and more. A Handmaid’s Tale dramatizes, for example, conflicts over reproductive rights; The Dispossessed juxtaposes anarchist, capitalist, and socialist societies. Soylent Green and Zardoz imagine wholly alternate legal structures and their consequences.

For this special issue of Utopian Studies we invite papers on any aspect of law and utopia.

Deadline: complete drafts by 31 May 2009.

Guidelines: http://www.utoronto.ca/utopia/journal/guidelines.html.

All submissions should be sent to:

Utopian Studies
Department of English
University of Alaska Anchorage
3211 Providence Drive
Anchorage, AK 99508
e-mail: utopia@uaa.alaska.edu
Inquiries about the special issue to: Peter Sands

November 17, 2008

Lawyer Ethics In Popular Culture

Michael Asimow, University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, and Richard Weisberg, Yeshiva University, Cardozo School of Law, have published "When the Lawyer Knows the Client is Guilty: Client Confessions in Legal Ethics, Popular Culture, and Literature," forthcoming in the Southern University Interdisciplinary Law Journal. Here is the abstract.


This article concerns a classic puzzle in legal ethics: what should a criminal defense lawyer do when the lawyer is certain that the client is factually guilty (usually because the client confessed to the lawyer), but the client insists on an all-out defense? Legal ethicists have struggled with this problem since the Courvoisier case in 1840, but it remains unresolved. This article draws a distinction between strong and weak adversarialism and explains how these two normative positions guide a lawyer's tactical decisionmaking. The article suggests that lawyers should have discretion to choose between the strong and weak positions, depending on context and their personal conscience. Both popular culture and great literature provide interesting perspectives on the strong vs. weak adversarialism dilemma. According to numerous films, television shows and novels, the right answer to the lawyer's dilemma is no adversarialism at all. The good lawyer should betray evil clients to insure that the truth is discovered. Pop culture's no-adversarialism model is a universe few lawyers would care to inhabit but which reflects popular views on the relationship of lawyering to truth. Literature casts doubt on whether a lawyer can know with certainty whether a client is telling the truth. It presents numerous models of successful strong adversarialists and unsuccessful weak adversarialists. Few literary lawyers manage to be both skilled advocates and decent human beings.

Download the article from SSRN here.

Call For Papers

Posted on behalf of Ruth Ann Robbins, Rutgers-Camden School of Law

Once Upon a Legal Time, Chapter Two: Applied Storytelling in Law

Lewis & Clark Law School; Portland, Oregon July 22-24, 2009

Introduction

We are pleased to issue this Call for Proposals for the second biennial

international Applied Storytelling Conference. The deadline is December 8,

2008. Building on the success of the first conference, held in London in 2007,

this conference seeks to foster collaboration and dialogue about the skill of

storytelling in law and about teaching storytelling and other skills to law

students and practitioners. This conference will bring together academics,

judges, and practitioners to explore the role of narrative in legal practice and

curricular strategies that will prepare students to use story and narrative as

they enter the practice of law.



Potential topics on the role of narrative in the practice of law may include

(but please, feel free to be creative):

-using storytelling in litigation or transactional work or in legislative

processes;

-the process of creating compelling legal stories as part of best practices;

-examining current models used to teach storytelling skills in education

and/or practice;

-narrative and negotiation;

-the place of storytelling in legal reasoning;

-differentiating between stories and narratives and the uses of each;

-comparative storytelling in legal systems;

-the ethical limits of storytelling, whether with clients lawyers or judges;



Selected papers from the 2007 conference were published in two journals: 43

The Law Teacher (Thomson, 2007); and 14 Legal Writing: The Journal of the

Legal Writing Institute (LexisNexis, 2008). Volume 14 of Legal Writing is

available on-line at http://www.journallegalwritinginstitute.org/



Format

The conference will include 45-60 minute presentations as well as roundtable

discussions. Proposals may indicate a preference for format. We also

encourage people to present works in progress for feedback.



Proposal Submissions

The deadline for submissions is December 8, 2008. Submissions should be

made on the attached Submission Form and should be sent, preferably

electronically, to:

Prof. Steve Johansen, Lewis & Clark Law School, tvj@lclark.edu

10015 SW Terwilliger Blvd., Portland, OR 97219



Logistical Details

Proposal Format: Please include a cover sheet, the form of which appears at

the end of this document, plus a description or narrative. Proposal narratives

can be as short as a few paragraphs but please do not exceed 2-3 pages of text

including whatever partial or full bibliography you attach.

Please make sure that your contact email address is included in the body of

the proposal. That is how we will be communicating with you.



Selection Process: After all proposals are received, the Conference Program

Committee will review all proposals. Submitters of successful proposals will

be notified of acceptances by January 15, 2009.



When and Where: The conference will take place from Wednesday, July 22

(opening reception) to Friday, July 24, 2009(closing dinner) at Lewis and

Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. The School is a short ride from

downtown Portland, nestled on the edge of Tryon Creek State Park.

Transportation to and from the conference hotel will be provided.



Costs to Participants: Final conference costs have not been finalized. We

anticipate the conference fee to be approximately $350.



Housing: We have reserved blocks of rooms at the Heathman Hotel

($179/night), and the Downtown Marriott Hotel ($149/night). Both hotels are

in the heart of pedestrian-friendly downtown Portland. For more details on

the hotels, please visit their websites: http://portland.heathmanhotel.com/

http://marriottportland.com/

This conference is made possible through the generous support of the Legal

Writing Institute and Lewis and Clark Law School.



Proposal for the 2nd Applied Storytelling conference

Please include the following information as part of a one-page cover sheet

submitted with the proposal. You don’t have to submit this page of the call for

proposals (i.e. we know that you are seeing it in pdf and we aren’t asking you

to reproduce the page borders, etc.). Using your letterhead or a plain

document is fine.



Title of Proposed Program:



Name of Presenter (contact person for panel presentation):



Affiliated organization:



Contact info including E-mail

(Email is how we will mostly communicate)



Additional presenters, if applicable:



Program Summary:

[Please include on your cover sheet your short summary of the presentation

for the conference brochure. Summaries are generally 2-3 sentences].



Proposal Narrative:

[please limit this to no more than 2 pages, single spaced].

November 16, 2008

Call For Papers

From the Stetson Law Review

In December 2009 the Stetson Law Review will publish a symposium issue on law, literature, and film. Articles may focus on literature, film, or both; short fiction and poetry will also be considered. Regarding proposed submissions, please contact Robert Batey, the faculty coordinator of the symposium issue, at batey@law.stetson.edu or (after December 1st) at 727-562-7852. Final submissions must be received by June 2009.

November 14, 2008

Lyrics and Law

Camille Nelson, Saint Louis University School of Law, has published "Lyrical Assault: Dancehall Versus the Cultural Imperialism of the North-West," at 17 Southern California Interdisciplinary Law Journal 231 (2008). Here is the abstract.
This article examines Jamaican Dancehall music's implications and international perceptions and explores a possible legal remedy for what has been dubbed "Murder Music." The impact of Jamaican Dancehall, the equivalent of American Hip-Hop, its lyrics and history upon Jamaica and the North-West are put into context and interrogated through the lens of cultural studies. Homophobic lyrics have triggered international boycotts and bans of this music and its artists. Despite the fact that Dancehall lyrics are perceived as violent, anti gay, anti-women, and very masculinist, international condemnation is based exclusively upon the homophobic lyrics. This article analyzes the implications of this ban and situates the international response within a masculinist colonial context. Specifics issues discussed include whether the colonization of Jamaica and the codification of its "Offenses against the Person Act" play a role in the propagation of homophobic lyrics, and why it is that Jamaica was criticized as one of the "most homophobic places on earth," given the anti-same sex marriage backlash in the United States and the fact of extreme instances of homophobia in many countries. While this article condemns homophobic lyrics and suggests the discontinuation of their use, it situates Jamaican homophobia as a vestige of colonial prerogatives and urges the abandonment of homophobia as the right thing to do and as a post-colonial move towards true independence.

Download the article from SSRN here.

November 12, 2008

Shakespeare and Sovereignty

P. G. Monateri, University of Turin, School of Law, has published "Sovereign Ambiguity - From Hamlet to Benjamin via Eliot and Schmitt." Here is the abstract.
The Author examines how Romantic Ambiguity lies at the heart of the legal notion of Sovereignty, applying a law and literature approach to notions developed by Benjamin and Carl Schmitt.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

November 7, 2008

Robert Tsai's Eloquence and Reason

Professor Robert Tsai (American University, Washington College of Law), who previously guest blogged here in January 2006, has just published Eloquence and Reason: Creating a First Amendment Culture (Yale University Press, Nov. 2008). According to the back cover blurb:
This provocative book presents a theory of the First Amendment’s development. During the twentieth century, Americans gained trust in its commitments, turned the First Amendment into an instrument for social progress, and exercised their rhetorical freedom to create a common language of rights. Robert L. Tsai explains that the guarantees of the First Amendment have become part of a governing culture and nationwide priority. Examining the rhetorical tactics of activists, presidents, and lawyers, he illustrates how committed citizens seek to promote or destabilize a convergence in constitutional ideas. Eloquence and Reason reveals the social and institutional processes through which foundational ideas are generated and defends a cultural role for the courts.

I've read a few chapters of this book earlier on, and I highly recommend it. Robert Tsai's work is always interesting and thought-provoking. He writes beautifully, and he demonstrates with great insight how rhetoric influences constitutional law.

From a blurb on the back cover by Professor Mark Tushnet (Harvard Law School): "A provocative meditation on the ways the metaphors used in constitutional doctrine empower, limit, create, and recreate the public over which the written Constitution is said to assert authority. Intriguing case studies arise from the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the Christian Right of the 1980s, and the attacks on Jehovah's Witnesses in the 1940s."

November 5, 2008

Michael Crichton Dies

Author Michael Crichton has died. The physician and author (Jurassic Park, The Andromeda Strain, Coma) was 66.

The CSI Effect

Donald E. Shelton, Eastern Michigan University, has published "The 'CSI Effect': Does it Really Exist?" in volume 259 of the National Institute of Justice Journal (2008). Here is the abstract.
Many attorneys, judges, and journalists have claimed that watching television programs like CSI has caused jurors to wrongfully acquit guilty defendants when no scientific evidence has been presented. This so-called effect was promptly dubbed the "CSI effect," laying much of the blame on the popular television series and its progeny. This study of 1027 jurors found that 46 percent expected to see some kind of scientific evidence in every criminal case; 22 percent expected to see DNA evidence in every criminal case; 36 percent expected to see fingerprint evidence in every criminal case; and 32 percent expected to see ballistic or other firearms laboratory evidence in every criminal case. The findings also suggested that expectations for particular types of scientific evidence seemed to be rational based on the type of case.

For all categories of evidence CSI viewers generally had higher expectations than non-CSI viewers but the CSI viewers had higher expectations about scientific evidence that was more likely to be relevant. Interestingly, potential jurors' increased expectations of scientific evidence did not translate into a demand for this type of evidence as a prerequisite for finding someone guilty. Jurors were more likely to find a defendant guilty than not guilty even without scientific evidence if the victim or other witnesses testified, except in the case of rape. On the other hand, if the prosecutor relied on circumstantial evidence, the prospective jurors said they would demand some kind of scientific evidence before they would return a guilty verdict.

There was scant evidence in our survey results that CSI viewers were either more or less likely to acquit defendants without scientific evidence. Only 4 of 13 scenarios showed significant differences between viewers and non-viewers on this issue, and they were inconsistent. In the "every crime" scenario, CSI viewers were more likely to convict without scientific evidence if eyewitness testimony was available. In rape cases, CSI viewers were less likely to convict if DNA evidence was not presented.

In both the breaking-and-entering and theft scenarios, CSI viewers were more likely to convict if there was victim or other testimony, but no fingerprint evidence. Although CSI viewers had higher expectations for scientific evidence than non-CSI viewers, these expectations had little, if any, bearing on the respondents' propensity to convict.
Download the article from SSRN here.

Other scholars and commentators have written about the "CSI Effect." Here are some citations.


Stefan Lovgren, CSI Effect Is Mixed Blessing
Kit D. Roane, The CSI Effect
Jeffrey Toobin, The CSI Effect

October 31, 2008

A New Edition of Frankenstein

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that Charles Robinson, Professor of English at the University of Delaware, has prepared an edition of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, stripped of Percy Shelley's improvements. We can now see what Mary Shelley actually wrote, and compare it to what we've been reading all these years. The two Shelleys' collaboration, says Robinson, took him years to take apart. Such is the result of the marriage of two minds.

October 27, 2008

Tony Hillerman, Author of Mysteries Featuring Native American Sleuths, Dies

Tony Hillerman, the author of numerous bestselling mysteries featuring Navajo sleuths Joe Leaphorn and Jim Chee, has died of pulmonary failure. Here's more from the International Herald Tribune.

Mr. Hillerman's first Joe Leaphorn novel was The Blessing Way. For more about Mr. Hillerman's writing, check out the following websites (not a comprehensive list)

Tony Hillerman at mysterynet.com
Tony Hillerman at dancingbadger.com
Susan Mueller's Tony Hillerman Page

For more about Mr. Hillerman's work, try

Balassi, William Victor and John F. Crawford, This Is About Vision: Interviews With Southwestern Writers (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 1990).

Balibar, Renee, Philosophies du roman policier (Fontenay aux Roses: E.N.S., 1995).

Bargainnier, Earl F., Cops and Constables: American and British Fictional Policemen (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 1986).

Bauer, Joyce M., The West Is Not God’s New Garden of Paradise: Demythologizing the American West in the Hardboiled Detective Fiction of Tony Hillerman, Bernard Schopen, and James Crumley (Dissertation, University of Nevada, Reno, 1998).

Carter, Catherine Anne, A Critical Analysis of the Detective Fiction of Tony Hillerman (Master’s thesis, Radford University, 1993).

Coale, Samuel, The Mystery of Mysteries: Cultural Differences and Designs (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 2000).

Erisman, Fred, Tony Hillerman (Boise: Boise State University Press, 1989).

Fischer-Hornung, Dorothea, and Monika Mueller, Sleuthing Ethnicity: The Detective in Multiethnic Crime Fiction (Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2003).

Freese, Peter, The Ethnic Detective: Chester Himes, Harry Kemelman, Tony Hillerman (Essen: Verlag Die Blaue Eule, 1993).

Glassman, Steve, and Maurice O’Sullivan, Crime Fiction and Film in the Southwest: Bad Boys and Bad Girls of the Badlands (Bowling Green, OH: Bowling Green State University Popular Press, 2001).

Hamm, Ron, The Navajo Detective Novels of Tony Hillerman: A Bridge Between Two Cultures (Master’s thesis, Texas A&M University, 1989).

Heiss, Gwen Garnsey, Walking in Beauty: Tony Hillerman’s Indian Detective Fiction (Master’s thesis, San Diego State University, 1994).

Heite, Donna, Tony Hillerman: Mystery Novelist With a Southwestern Slant (Master’s thesis, Western New Mexico University, 1991).

Herbert, Rosemary, The Fatal Art of Entertainment: Interviews With Mystery Writers (NY: G.K. Hall, 1994).

Kaminsky, Stuart M., Behind the Mystery: Top Mystery Writers (Cohasset, MA: Hot House Press, 2005).

Kelleghan, Fiona, 100 Masters of Mystery and Detective Fiction (Pasadena: Salem Press, 2001).

Klein, Kathleen Gregory, Critical Companions to Popular Contemporary Writers (Westport, CT: Greenwood Electronic Media, 2001--).

Quirk, Tom, Nothing Abstract: Investigations in the American Literary Imagination (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2001).

Reilly, John M., Tony Hillerman: A Critical Companion (Westport: Greenwood Press, 1996).

Six, Beverly G., Slaying the Monsters: Native American Spirituality in the Works of Tony Hillerman (Dissertation, Texas Tech University, 1998).

Timmons, Janice, The Elevation Theme and Disjoint Themes in the Detective Fiction of Tony Hillerman (Master’s thesis, California State University, Dominguez Hills, 1996).

Winks, Robin W., Colloquium On Crime: Eleven Renowned Mystery Writers Discuss Their Work (NY: Scribner, 1986).

I'll be mentioning some articles about Mr. Hillerman's work in a future post.

October 22, 2008

Anti-Semitism and Religion in Kafka

Arnold Heidsieck, University of Southern California, has published "On Judaism, Christianity, Anti-Semitism in Kafka's the Castle, His Letters and Diaries." Here is the abstract.

In his writings Kafka scrutinized, encouraged by his friend Max Brod, the early 20th-century German-speaking disputes on the ancient Jewish origins of Christianity and attempted an explication of the Christian-Germanic ideology of anti-Semitism.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

October 20, 2008

You Don't Tread On Superman's Cape

From EvidenceProfBlog: Colin Miller writes cleverly and authoritatively about claims brought against Superman by a victim he rescues in an episode of the show Lois and Clark. So what does this tell us about Good Samaritan laws?

Short Law Review Article, Long Memory?

Erik M. Jensen, Case Western Reserve School of Law, has published "The Intellectual History of 'The Shortest Article in Law Review History'," in volume 59 of the Case Western Reserve Law Review. Here is the abstract.

"The Shortest Article in Law Review History" appeared in 2000 to a mixture of acclaim ("Brilliant!"), horror ("Don't you have anything better not to do?"), and indifference ("Huh?"). Since then, many have asked how the article came into being and what its effect on legal scholarship has been. (Well, the author's mother and sister did once raise those questions, or one of them anyway.) This new article provides readers with just about everything needed to understand a twenty-first century development in the life of the mind.

Download the paper from SSRN here.
And I remember Professor Jensen when he was writing (extensively) about buffalo law....

October 7, 2008

A Look at Native American Law Through a Michigan Novelist's Eyes

Matthew L. M. Fletcher, Michigan State University College of Law, has published "Laughing Whitefish: A Tale of Justice and Anishinaabe Custom," as MSU Legal Studies Research Paper 06-16. Here is the abstract.


Laughing Whitefish, a novel by Robert Traver, the pen name of former Michigan Supreme Court Justice John Voelker, is the fictionalized story of a case that reached the Michigan Supreme Court three times, culminating in Kobogum v. Jackson Iron Co., 43 N.W. 602 (Mich. 1889). The petitioner, Charlotte Kobogum, an Ojibwe Indian from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, brought suit to recover under a note issued to her father, Marji Gesick, by the mining company in the 1840s. The company had promised a share in the company because he had led them to one of the largest iron ore deposits in the country, the famed Jackson Mine. Despite the company's defense that Mr. Gesick was a polygamist and therefore Ms. Kobogum could not be his legitimate heir, the Michigan Supreme Court held that state courts had no right to interfere with internal, domestic relations of reservation Indians, and upheld the claim. Justice Voelker's tale is a powerful defense of the decision, and offers insights into why state courts should recognize the judgments of tribal courts even today.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

John Voelker (Robert Traver) is also the author of Anatomy of a Murder, filmed with Jimmy Stewart, Ben Gazzara, and Lee Remick.

October 3, 2008

Fan Fiction, Harry Potter, and Copyright Law

Aaron Schwabach, Thomas Jefferson School of Law, has published "The Harry Potter Lexicon and the World of Fandom: Fan Fiction, Outsider Works, and Copyright," has TJSL Legal Studies Research Paper No. 1274293. Here is the abstract.

Fan fiction, long a nearly invisible form of outsider art, has grown exponentially in volume and legal importance in the past decade. Because of its nature, authorship, and underground status, fan fiction stands at an intersection of issues of property, sexuality, and gender. This article examines three disputes over fan writings, concluding with the recent dispute between J.K. Rowling and Steven Vander Ark over the Harry Potter Lexicon, which Rowling once praised and more recently succeeded in suppressing. The article builds on and adds to the emerging body of scholarship on fan fiction, concluding that much fan fiction is fair use under 17 U.S.C. section 107. But much is not, as well.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

October 1, 2008

Kafka's POV

Arnold Heidsieck, University of Southern California, has published "Kafka's Narrative Innovation and Ethical Intuitions." Here is the abstract.

In his fictions Kafka develops an innovative narrative POV (uni-polar 'self-narration') and a penetrating (near-psychoanalytic) scrutiny of motives. Additionally, throughout his fictions and his non-fiction he works out a contextually rich individualist ethics.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

New Book on Shakespeare and the Law

Hart Publishing is offering a new title called Shakespeare and the Law, edited by Paul Raffield and Gary Watt. It collects the proceedings of a July 2007 conference held at the University of Warwick School of Law. Here's further information provided by the publisher.


In July 2007, the School of Law at the University of Warwick hosted an international conference on 'Shakespeare and the Law'. This was a truly interdisciplinary event, which included contributions from eminent speakers in the fields of English, history, theatre and law. The intention was to provide a congenial forum for the exploration, dissemination and discussion of Shakespeare's evident fascination with and knowledge of law, and its manifestation in his works.



The papers included in this volume reflect the diverse academic interests of participants at the conference. The eclectic themes of the edited collection range from analyses of the juristic content of specific plays, as in 'Consideration, Contract and the End of The Comedy of Errors', 'Judging Isabella: Justice, Care and Relationships in Measure for Measure', 'Law and its Subversion in Romeo and Juliet', 'Inheritance in the Legal and Ideological Debate of Shakespeare's King Lear' and 'The Law of Dramatic Properties in The Merchant of Venice', to more general explorations of Shakespearean jurisprudence, including 'Shakespeare and Specific Performance', 'Shakespeare and the Marriage Contract', 'The Tragedy of Law in Shakespearean Romance' and 'Punishment Theory in the Renaissance: the Law and the Drama'.



Paul Raffield is an Associate Professor in Law at Warwick University. Gary Watt is Reader and Associate Professor in Law at Warwick University.



Aug 08 312pp Pbk 9781841138251 £30 / €45 / US$63 / CDN$67.50

Discount Price: £24 / €36 / US$50 / CDN$54 See further details

Contents

Foreword (Carol Chillington Rutter)

Introduction (Paul Raffield and Gary Watt)



I. Shakespeare, Money and the Law of Contract

1. Mark Fortier, ‘Shakespeare and Specific Performance’

2. Andrew Zurcher, ‘Consideration, Contract and the End of The Comedy of Errors’



II. Shakespeare, Women and the Law

3. Jonathan Bate, ‘The Bawdy Court’

4. Germaine Greer, ‘Shakespeare and the Marriage Contract’

5. Erika Rackley, ‘Judging Isabella: Justice, Care and Relationships in Measure for Measure’



III. Shakespeare and the Law of Love

6. Bradin Cormack, ‘Shakespeare Possessed: Legal Affect and the Time of Holding’

7. Katrin Trüstedt, ‘The Tragedy of Law in Shakespearean Romance’

8. Daniella Carpi, ‘Law and its Subversion in Romeo and Juliet’



IV. Justice and the Royal Prerogative

9. Carolyn Sale, ‘The King is a Thing’: the King’s Prerogative and the Treasure of the Realm in Plowden’s Report of the Case of Mines and Shakespeare’s Hamlet’

10. Giuseppina Restivo, ‘Inheritance in the Legal and Ideological Debate of Shakespeare’s King Lear’



V. Violence, the State and the Citizen

11. Harry Keyishian, ‘Punishment Theory in the Renaissance: the Law and the Drama’

12. Ian Ward, ‘Terrorists and Equivocators’

13. Paul Raffield, ‘Terras Astraea reliquit’: Titus Andronicus and the Loss of Justice’

14. Christian Biet, ‘Titus Andronicus vs Le More Cruel and Les Portugais Infortunés: Humiliation, Punishment and Violence in the Shakespearean and French Theatre of the Late Sixteenth and Early Seventeenth Century’



VI. The Merchant of Venice and the Infinite Meanings of ‘Law’

15. Gary Watt, ‘The Law of Dramatic Properties in The Merchant of Venice’

16. Istvan Pogany, ‘Shylock in Transylvania: Anti-Semitism and the Law in East Central Europe’

17. Anton Schütz, ‘Shylock as a Politician’

18. Richard H. Weisberg, ‘The Concept and Performance of ‘The Code’ in The Merchant of Venice’





The publisher notes that readers can obtain a 20 percent discount by quoting the reference "SHAKESPEARE" in the special instructions field. See the webpage here.

September 26, 2008

Law and Lyrics

Alex B. Long, University of Tennessee College of Law, has published "[Insert Song Lyrics Here]: The Uses and Misuses of Popular Music Lyrics In Legal Writing," in volume 64 of the Washington and Lee Law Review (2007).

Legal writers frequently utilize the lyrics of popular music artists to help advance a particular theme or argument in legal writing. And if the music we listen to says something about us as individuals, then the music we, the legal profession as a whole, write about may something about who we are as a profession. A study of citations to popular artists in law journals reveals that, not surprisingly, Bob Dylan is the most popular artist in legal scholarship. The list of names of the other artists rounding out the Top Ten essentially reads like a Who's Who of baby boomer favorites. Often, attorneys use the lyrics of popular music in fairly predictable ways in their writing, sometimes with adverse impact on the persuasiveness of the argument they are advancing. However, if one digs deeper, one can find numerous instances in which legal writers incorporate the lyrics of popular music into their writing in more creative ways.


Download the article from SSRN here.

Call For Papers

Georgetown University Law Center, Columbia Law School, University of Southern California Center for Law, History & Culture, and UCLA School of Law invite submissions for the seventh meeting of the Law & Humanities Junior Scholar Workshop to be held at Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. on June 7 & 8, 2009.


PAPER COMPETITION:

The paper competition is open to untenured professors, advanced graduate students and post-doctoral scholars in law and the humanities; in addition to drawing from numerous humanistic fields, and welcomes critical, qualitative work in the social sciences. Between five and ten papers will be chosen, based on anonymous evaluation by an interdisciplinary selection committee, for presentation at the June Workshop. At the Workshop, two senior scholars will comment on each paper. Commentators and other Workshop participants will be asked to focus specifically on the strengths and weaknesses of the selected scholarly projects, with respect to subject and methodology. Moreover, the selected papers will then serve as the basis for a larger conversation among all the participants about the evolving standards by which we judge excellence and creativity in interdisciplinary scholarship, as well as about the nature of interdisciplinarity itself.



Papers should be works-in-progress between 10,000 and 15,000 words in length (including footnotes/endnotes), and must include an abstract of no more than 200 words. A dissertation chapter may be submitted but we strongly suggest that it be edited so that it stands alone as a piece of work with its own integrity. A paper that has been submitted for publication is eligible so long as it will not be in galley proofs or in print at the time of the Workshop. The selected papers will appear in a special issue of the Legal Scholarship Network; there is no other publication commitment. The Workshop will pay the travel expenses of authors whose papers are selected for presentation.



Submissions (in either Word or Wordperfect, no pdf files) will be accepted until January 9, 2009, and should be sent by e-mail to:



Center for the Study of Law and Culture

culture@law.columbia.edu



Columbia Law School

435 W. 116th Street

New York, N.Y. 10027



Please be sure to include your contact information. For more information: Tanisha Madrid, 212.854.0692 or culture@law.columbia.edu. The full text of the Call for Papers is available at: http://www.law.columbia.edu/center_program/law_culture/lh_workshop.

Antigone and the Politics of Lamentation

Bonnie Honig, American Bar Foundation, has published "Antigone's Laments, Creon's Grief: Mourning, Membership and the Politics of Exception," as American Bar Foundation Research Paper 08-02. Here is the abstract.

This paper develops a historically situated reading of Sophocles' Antigone as an exploration of the politics of lamentation and the larger ideological conflicts these stand for. The play is supposedly about Antigone's defiance of her uncle Creon's sovereign decree that her brother Polynices, who attacked the city with a foreign army and died in battle, be left unburied as a lesson to all regarding the consequences of treason. But, I argue, the play is not about Polynices and his treason. These are merely occasions for something else: The play explores the clash in 5th century Athens between Homeric/elite and democratic mourning practices. The former memorialize the unique individuality of the dead, focus on the family's loss and bereavement and call for vengeance. The latter, the democratic, memorialize the dead's contribution to the immortal polis and emphasize (as in the Funeral Oration) the replace-ability of those lost by other, future citizens yet to come. Both economies of mourning are limited, necessary and insufficient to the bereavement we feel in the face of death. By staging their critical agonistic engagement, the play calls attention to each one's limits, but also mounts a criticism of democratic Athens' (represented by Creon) intolerance of the Homeric view.


Download the paper from SSRN here.

September 24, 2008

Rousseau's Emile

Eric Engle, University of Bremen, has published "Law and Literature: Instilling Norms by Fable in Rousseau's Emile." Here is the abstract.

The Law and Literature movement proposes that legal interpretation can be improved by borrowing methods from literary interpretation, by seeing legal decisions as stories, and by examining literature from a legal perspective. In Emile Rousseau presents us his Bildungsroman and educative novella about a Model Couple, Emile (the hypostasized Rousseau) and Sophie (the wise, sturdy farm girl). Rousseau recounts several stories in Emile, about false rape claims, faithless partners, women who try to be men and fail and in all a series of stories set around the theme of super-responsibility of women to be in the end: baby factories, to make soldiers for the state. Without intending to, Rousseau is comedic in presenting images of women that by today's standards are pathetically laughable. And yet these images of women influenced legislation and judgements because narrative gives scripts and roles to people to recreate in real life. Only by consciously exposing and deconstructing these roles and scripts would it be possible to live out something other than these prescripted, artificial and limiting roles.


Download the paper from SSRN here.

September 19, 2008

Bells Are Ringing

Via On the Media, a piece by Zachary Pincus-Roth about how phones are vital to the plots of so many Hollywood films.

September 17, 2008

A Tragic Murder, Ten Years Later

The New York Times has this feature article about The Laramie Project, a docuplay about the Matthew Shepard murder, which took place ten years ago.

September 16, 2008

Upcoming Symposium On Acquiring and Maintaining Collections of Cultural Objects: Challenges Confronting American Museums in the 21st Century

DePaul College of Law Announces:

8th Annual Symposium
Acquiring and Maintaining Collections of Cultural Objects: Challenges Confronting American Museums in the 21st Century
Museums face increasingly difficult challenges in collecting cultural objects-challenges that must be dealt with in ways that are consistent with best practices. On October 16, 2008, DePaul University College of Law will hold a major conference where leading experts will examine the basic rules of nonprofit museum governance and how those rules apply to the growing challenge of collecting cultural property in light of new laws, court decisions and professional ethical guidelines; evolving museum practices and standards in collecting antiquities; sovereign immunity and immunity of art works; and the need for further standards for donor/collector museum relationships.

OCTOBER 16, 2008
DePaul Center, Room 8005
1 E. Jackson Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois
8:30 AM - 5:30 PM


Registration
www.law.depaul.edu/museum

Co-sponsors
Andrews Kurth LLP
The Lawyers' Committee for Cultural Heritage Preservation
Herrick Feinstein
DePaul University College of Law is an accredited Illinois MCLE provider. The Symposium has been approved for 6 hours of CLE credit.

September 15, 2008

In Agatha Christie's Own Voice, a Window On the Last Third of Her Life

Julie Bosman writes in the New York Times about a cache of tapes found recently featuring Agatha Christie's own voice and discussing a number of issues close to her heart, including whether Miss Marple and Hercule Poirot were ever likely to meet. Her grandson Mathew Prichard discovered the recordings in one of his grandmother's former homes. Read more here.

September 7, 2008

Legal Briefs, and More

The New York Times' John Eligon plays "What Not To Wear" in this article about fashion flair among legal eagles. Says Mr. Eligon, "For a visitor to the court, a judge without a black robe might prompt a double take. But on any given day in New York City’s courthouses, it is common to see judges on the bench with unzipped or unbuttoned robes; accessories like scarves, jewelry or collars hanging outside of a robe; and, in some cases, no robe at all. Often seen as straitlaced and uncompromising, judges like to consider their freedom of dress a humanizing factor. And they have long found ways to give their robes a bit of pop." Read on, Macduff.

September 2, 2008

Franz Kafka's Last Wishes and the Kafka Myths

Professor Lior Strahilevitz (U. Chicago Law School) has an interesting post about Franz Kafka's papers. The famous story about Kafka's papers is that Kafka asked his friend, Max Brod, to burn them after his death. Although Kafka had published a few works during his lifetime, a great many stories, parables, letters, and diary entries were unpublished, as were Kafka's two great book masterpieces, The Trial and The Castle. Brod refused to burn them. Instead, he published them, and Kafka would go on to achieve enormous posthumous fame as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century.
Should Brod have carried out Kafka's wishes? Lior argues yes:
I have written, and continue to believe, that Brod should have destroyed Kafka’s unpublished works, as per Kafka’s instructions, notwithstanding the immense literary value of the work. Kafka had legitimate privacy and artistic integrity interests in the works that should have been respected, and as their creator he was in the best position to decide upon their fate.
Controversies over the Kafka papers have recently reemerged. The New York Times describes a new issue over Kafka's papers:
When Mr. Brod fled to Tel Aviv from Prague on the last train out in 1939 as the Nazis rolled in, he had with him a suitcase full of Kafka’s documents.
Here, he took up with his secretary, and when he died in 1968, he bequeathed to her the remaining Kafka papers, as well as his own from a rich cultural career. For nearly 40 years, the secretary, Esther Hoffe, held the world of Kafka scholarship on tenterhooks, keeping the documents in her ground-floor apartment on Spinoza Street, some of them piled high on her desk (it was originally Mr. Brod’s), where she typed all day and took her meals.
The last time a scholar was permitted into the apartment was in the 1980s. Later, Ms. Hoffe sold the manuscript for “The Trial” for $2 million. No one knows what remains.
Since her death last year at age 101, her 74-year-old daughter, Hava, has indicated that a decision about the coveted papers will be made in the coming months. While most of the Kafka estate is already in archives in the Czech Republic, Britain and Germany, some may still be inside the scuffed front door of the Hoffe apartment.
Lior's article, The Right to Destroy, 114 Yale L.J. 781 (2005) (SSRN version here, final published version here) argues:
I submit that the K papers and manuscripts should be destroyed, on the basis of any of four rationales. . . .
First . . . A society that does not allow authors to have their draft works destroyed posthumously could have
less literary product than a society that requires the preservation of all literary works not destroyed during the author’s life. Protecting authors’ rights to destroy should encourage high-risk, high-reward projects, and might prevent writers from worrying that they should not commit words to paper unless they have complete visions of the narrative structures for their work. . . .
Second, we might accept an economic rationale. . . . K has an economic interest (via his concern for the welfare of his beneficiaries) in assuring that the value of his published works is not diminished by the conceivably inferior quality of the unpublished works.
Third and relatedly, . . . By destroying his unfinished works, K may wish to send a message to the public that he is not the type of artist who will tolerate, let alone publish, inferior works. . . .
Finally, . . . . If a court decides to bar Brod from destroying K’s unpublished works, it is forcing the departed K to speak when he would have preferred to remain silent.
I don't want to take on Lior's arguments in this post, as I find myself greatly torn over the issue. Respecting the privacy and final wishes of the author is a very important value, but there is also enormous social benefit from society's having an author's papers. Imagine if Kafka's wishes had been granted. Nobody would know of The Trial or The Castle, two of the greatest works of literature ever penned. Maybe there should be a special exception for Kafka since his works are so great. . . .
hawes-kafka.JPGBut there's another interesting issue in Kafka's request to Brod. Lior explicitly states that he is assuming, for the sake of his analysis, that Kafka's instructions to Brod were "unambiguous." But Kafka's instructions were, in fact, not so clear. In a recent book, Why You Should Read Kafka Before You Waste Your Life (2008), James Hawes attempts to deflate many myths about Kafka. Kafka wrote two "wills" to Brod. In his writing desk, Kafka left the following instruction:
Dearest Max, my last wish: Everything that I leave behind in the way of diaries, manuscripts, letters of my own and from others, drawing, etc. (whether in my bookcase, clothes cupboard, writing desk at home or at the office, or in any other place anything may have gotten and you find it) should be burned, completely and unread, as should everything written or drawn in your possession or in the possession of others whom you should ask, in my name, to do likewise. People who do not want to hand over letters to you should at least be made to promise that they themselves will burn them. Yours, Franz Kafka.
Kafka wrote Max another letter shortly before his death, listing his published works and saying that "only the following books count" but that :everything that exists in the way of my writings (publications in journals, manuscripts and letters) is without exception inasmuch as it's possible to get hold of it . . . . all this, without exception, is to be burned and you are asked to do this as quickly as possible by me, Franz."
Hawkes contends, and I agree, that Kafka "didn't mean a word of it." Hawes writes:
Kafka was a lawyer. He knew very well what a binding legal document looked like and that neither of these supposed wills was remotely a real one. Brod claims that he'd even told Kafka flat out, at the time of his first will, that he wouldn't carry out the instructions.
Brod was Kafka's best friend and greatest fan. Brod had helped to establish Kafka's reputation as an author, and it was ironic to ask him to destroy the works. Kafka had shown Brod The Trial and back in 1919, Brod even joked with Kafka that Brod would finish it when Kafka's publisher was demanding novels instead of stories from Kafka.
Kafka was a master of irony. His request to Brod, understood in the context of his work, diaries, and letters (much of which, even more ironically, were subject to his request to burn), is typical Kafka. He was asking the man whom he knew never would burn his papers to do so. He could have asked others to carry out his bidding, but he chose Brod. As in all his works, Kafka raises complex issues of interpretation.
The Hawes book is an interesting read, as it attempts to debunk many myths about Kafka. Among the myths are that Kafka was unknown in his lifetime, that he lived a lonely life, and that he was poor. In fact, Hawes points out that Kafka was well-received in literary circles. Kafka had an active social life. Kafka did have dysfunctional relationships with women, a phenomenon Hawes attributes to Kafka's deep ambivalence about being married and raising a family (which Kafka was afraid would take away time from his writing). Kafka made a very good living and was successful at his job. Hawes also notes that although many view Kafka's living at home for most of his adult life demonstrated that he was a failure, this was in fact the norm for young unmarried professionals. People envision Kafka as a tiny gaunt figure, but he was for most of his life in good shape and was quite tall -- about 6 feet tall, which was much taller than average at the time.
Hawes does go a bit overboard at times, contending that Kafka's Jewishness had little influence in his work. In fact, Kafka's works are suffused with countless tropes, images, and references to Judaism. Kafka wasn't a particularly religious man, but he was fascinated by Judaism and studied it extensively. Hawes also makes much of Kafka's porn collection, using it as a way to deflate critics whom Hawes think put Kafka on too much of a pedestal. The porn consisted mainly of illustrations from a journal called The Amethyst, which seems to have been a literary journal that published "edgy fiction" and erotica. The illustrations, some of which Hawes reproduces in his book, are a little weird, but seem much more arty than pornographic. Hawes seems to be a bit too obsessed in attacking his conception of the Kafka critic who views Kafka as an asexual individual, a pure soul devoted solely to abstract ideas. Such critics do exist, but much commentary about Kafka does not view him in this caricatured manner. Nevertheless, despite Hawes' tendency to overclaim, his book is very entertaining and illuminating about Kafka. Too bad it is marred by Hawes' rather obnoxious tone, as the one-and-only myth-slayer designed to bring Kafka back to earth.
Cross-posted at Concurring Opinions

August 29, 2008

Steven Bochco's New Legal Drama Debuts

Some early reviews are in for Steven Bochco's new legal drama Raising the Bar. Barry Garron of the Hollywood Reporter finds the series, slated to run on TNT, looking like "it had been developed for the CW network. Most of the characters are young lawyers, either public defenders under the tutelage of mother hen Roz Whitman (Gloria Reuben) or fledgling prosecutors under the harsh, cynical thumb of Nick Balco (Currie Graham). They would appear more at home in the Ford Modeling agency waiting room than in Manhattan's gloomy courthouse corridors. As if to emphasize the point, a rotund lawyer appears in the opening scenes of the second episode and is swiftly dispatched by a fatal heart attack. His kind simply is not welcome here." Mr. Garron also seems to find the show a little worn. "Bochco and co-creator David Feige are at their best when they make the story twist and turn over unexpected legal nuances. Too often, though, plots are contrived and coincidental (how many times can Kellerman defend clients against the same prosecutor, who just happens to be his girlfriend?) and lack the wonderful surprises that are trademarks of a Bochco production." Read the entire review here.

But here's what the Wall Street Journal's Nancy DeWolf Smith has to say.
The only real angels here are the public defenders, most prominently Jerry Kellerman (the Heath Ledgerish Mark-Paul Gosselaar). Kindhearted, brave and, above all, idealistic, they are stuck with defending society's victims against the pitiless, and often unethical, prosecutors. In the first three episodes, all of the defendants are either innocents being framed or railroaded by the judge/prosecutors, or sympathetic characters struggling with major problems and facing punishment all out of proportion with their transgressions.

Typical is a case with "To Kill a Mockingbird" vibes, in which the defendant is a young black student who was lured to the home of a trashy white classmate, seduced by her and then threatened by her white boyfriend until he fought back. Even the prosecutor knows that the defendant is no criminal, but in the world of "Raising the Bar" the deeply flawed justice system must nail him to the wall.

Mr. Bochco has felt compelled to claim that the series takes no side between prosecutors and public defenders, that it gives "equal time to both points of view." Equal screen time may be accurate; yet the images that persist are of defense lawyer Jerry agonizing about his innocent, upstanding (minority) client facing the slammer for rape -- while in another office, a white-goddess prosecutor gyrates teasingly on the lap of her smarmy and cynical white boss.
Read her review here.

Finally, the New York Daily News' David Hinckley finds the show entertaining as "straight drama." He notes, "what seems to interest Bochco more, at least in this opening episode, is something about the system itself, the system that sets the unspoken rules under which Kellerman and the typically large ensemble Bochco cast are working. That "something" involves conflicts of interest, mixed loyalties and hidden agendas. In the world of "Raising the Bar," the justice system is a club where everybody knows each other, or is only one degree of separation removed. The characters freely acknowledge this, and have developed a mantra to deal with it: What happens outside the courtroom doesn't matter. Once the judge takes the bench and everyone is seated, the fact the defense attorney knows the prosecutor, or maybe has dated the prosecutor, becomes irrelevant. Justice has its own strict procedures and the outcome of a case is determined solely by the execution of those procedures. All of which, Bochco seems to suggest, is a lie....The pivotal moment that determines the ultimate outcome of the case - whether a man everyone agrees is innocent must still go to jail - revolves around a scene that's subtly filmed, but so cynical and so shockingly unprofessional it will make viewers want to wash their hands." Read his review here.

August 28, 2008

Women Lawyers on TV

Christine A. Corcos, Louisiana State University Law Center, has published "Damages: The Truth is Out There," forthcoming in Lawyers in Your Living Room, edited by Michael Asimow (ABA Press, 2008). Here is the abstract.

In this essay, part of Michael Asimow's forthcoming collection on lawyers on TV, I discuss the television show Damages and its portrayal of powerful lawyers, and whether their exercise of their power "damages" them. In particular, I examine the show's depiction of women lawyers, and whether their exercise of legal power transforms them. Do we as clients, as lawyers, and as an audience resist the vision of powerful women lawyers? Does the exercise of legal power damage women, or does it make them stronger?