May 29, 2013

Call For Paper Proposals: Conference On Law, Literature, and the Humanities Association of Australasia, December, 2013

Reminder from Desmond Manderson: Abstracts for single papers or panel proposals for this year's Law, Literature, and the Humanities Association of Australasia Conference are due at the end of this week. More information on the Conference webpage. Link here.

May 28, 2013

New Reality Show Focusing On Brooklyn Prosecutor's Office Debuts

Legal dramas are perennially popular, and as usual, the networks are already rolling them out for the 2013 season. On Tuesday, May 29, at 10 p.m., 9 Central time, CBS launches a new show, Brooklyn D.A., starring the city itself and the office of the prosecutor, focusing on the ADAs and their work. What is different about this six part series? It's a chance for viewers to look behind the scenes. 

The show is already not without controversy. Abe George, who is running for the office of District Attorney, had attempted to object to the show, arguing that it constitutes election publicity for the office holder, Charles Hynes. A judge denied his motion last week. Today, meanwhile, a man suing the D.A. 's office for wrongful conviction is now attempting to obtain emails exchanged between that office and the show's producers.

More here from the New York Times, here from the New York Daily News.

Call For Papers: Law, Peace, and Violence Conference, March 14, 2014

From Yxta Murray at Loyola Los Angeles Law School, a call for papers for a conference on Law, Peace, and Violence: Jurisprudence and the Possibilities of Peace, a symposium at Seattle University School of Law on March 14, 2014, hosted by the Seattle Journal of Social Justice. Below is the description of the Conference, with more information about the CFP. We are working to get a webpage with this information loaded, and will update this post later.

May 23, 2013

Drink Up! Oh, and Live Long and Prosper!

Ah, the uses of trademark law! Check out Vulcan Ale, now for sale in Vulcan, Alberta, in honor of the town's centennial. If you'd rather have Romulan Ale, or a Star Wars, Monty Python, or Game of Thrones brew, check out the possibilities here.

May 20, 2013

Law's Sovereignty

Justin Richland, University of Chicago, is publishing Jurisdiction: Grounding Law in Language in the Annual Review of Anthropology. Here is the abstract.

Jurisdiction, a concept often demarcating law’s territorial scope, and thus the bounds of state sovereignty, is offered here as a theory of legal language and its relation to law’s social force. Reconsidered in light of its etymology as “law’s speech,” new theories of jurisdiction suggest how law is simultaneously founded and enacted through language both spectacular (such as courtroom arguments or in the preambles of Constitutions) and mundane (such as in legal aid in-take exchanges, or in the forms of bureaucratic records). Jurisdiction points up how the force of law, and the sovereignty that law’s force presupposes, can be seen as being made, and made seemingly unassailable, in the discursive and textual details of law’s actual accomplishment. This review considers a segment of legal language scholarship produced in recent decades, while arguing for the ground that language, as jurisdiction, always holds for law and sovereignty.
Download the text of the article from SSRN at the link. 

Tracing the History of Freedom of Sexual Expression Under the First Amendment

Ronald K. L. Collins, University of Washington School of Law, has published Theodore Schroeder and the Pre-1919 Defenses of Free Speech: The Case for Freedom of Sexual Expression as University of Washington School of Law Research Paper No. 2013-16. Here is the abstract.

The modern First Amendment began with a turn of the clock, on a Monday on March 13, 1919, the moment of the release of Justice Holmes’s seminal opinion in Schenck v. United States. At that pinpoint in time, First Amendment history was reconfigured and the liberty-denying past gradually began to fade away in the years and opinions that followed. Holmes laid his claim to the conceptual turf and what followed is what we call modernity. True, Learned Hand had his moment, too, in 1917 with his district court opinion in Masses Publishing Co. v. Patten. But that opinion, for all its insights, took on meaning primarily as a comparative point to the work of the Great Holmes. And then there is the work of Zechariah Chafee, the scholar who lent his own measure of staying power to the Holmesian notion of free speech law. Before these three Harvard men, however, there was Utah born man who came onto the First Amendment scene, a man far less credentialed and polished, a University of Wisconsin Law School trained lawyer who championed a libertarian creed and contested the will of a very powerful man, Anthony Comstock. That radical lawyer, whose name and work have largely remained cabined in the confines of forgotten history, was Theodore A. Schroeder. Like Holmes, he too had a vision of free speech law. What follows is the first of a series of articles that introduces the reader to Schroeder and his many works concerning free expression. Those works first took root not in political speech, but in area of freedom far more important to the progressives of his day – sexual expression. We come to his story thirteen years before Holmes’s glorious moment in 1919, on an occasion when Messrs. Schroeder and Comstock were to debate the topic of sexual expression. Several months later, Theodore Schroeder published an article in the Albany Law Journal (“The Constitution and Obscenity Postal Laws”), which is the main focus of this article. Drawing on a measure of history and analysis, the aim is to provide the reader with an idea of how Schroeder conceptualized his vision of free speech freedom.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

May 16, 2013

Conference On Human Rights, Denmark, January, 2014

From Daniela Carpi, Professor of Literature, University of Verona, writing for AIDEL, Associazione Italiana di Diritto e Letteratura. Here is an announcement of an upcoming conference, Negotiating Human Rights, and the associated call for papers.

Negotiating Human Rights: Aesthetic, Cultural, and Political FramingsArr. by Humanistic Studies of Human Rights
Aarhus University, Denmark, January 23.-25. 2014  The aim of this conference is to focus on the multiple ways that human rights are framed through specific aesthetic, cultural and political discourses. The conference will facilitate an interdisciplinary discussion about this in a both historical and contemporary context. The conference is motivated by the increasing use of human rights in global, political and cultural contexts and the simultaneous lack of consensus regarding their precise definition and function. Human rights discourses are used in the construction of cultural identity and political communities but at the same time, a question is raised regarding the nature of communality: we are all human beings but what is human about human rights and how does this human nature qualify us as bearers of rights within specific cultural and political contexts?
We invite papers on the rhetorical, aesthetic, and mediatised framing of human rights: how do human rights-narrations work, how are they used to create empathy, what is the form and function of atrocity tales or tales of victimhood, what is the relation between documentary and fictional strategies, how do we talk about human rights in political debates and in television shows, literature, movies, on the net etc.? There is a constant translation-process going on between law, politics, and culture. This ‘translation’ is not pure and neutral but motivated and based on selection and rhetorical choices. This conference focuses on the changes – losses and gains – of concrete mediatised human rights discourses in specific contexts.Furthermore, in order to understand the function of human rights discourses, this conference invites papers that focus both on historical and contemporary contexts. If we talk about human rights in a very strict sense in the western world, they only go back to 1948 but all modern human rights discourses draw on a much older heritage. In order to understand the implications and constitution of modern human rights discourses we welcome studies on their development within global history, from antiquity till today and from different parts of the world. Confirmed keynote-speakers:
Costas Douzinas (Professor of Law and Director of Birkbeck Institue for Humanities, Birckbeck, University of London)Susan Maslan (Associate Professor, Dep. of French, University of California, Berkeley, USA)Joseph Slaughter (Associate Professor, Dep. of English and Comparative Literature, Columbia University, New York, USA)Lena Halldenius (Professor of Human Rights, and Director of Human Rights Program, Dep. of History, University of Lund, Sweden)
We invite papers on the following (or related) subjects:
·         Cultural contextualizations of human rights
·         The relationship between universality and particularity in concrete human rights discourses
·         Political uses of human rights
·         Human rights in intercultural dialogue in a global world
·         Styles of human rights: rhetorical framings, narrativization, aesthetization, fictionalization
·         Human rights in art, literature, movies etc.
·         Human rights and global history
·         Human rights in different media
·         Gains and losses in the process of ‘translation’ from one field of knowledge to another.
 Fee: Participation fee will be 100 Euros.
 Paper-suggestions should be no more than 400 words and should be sent before September 1, 2013 to Karen-Margrethe Simonsen, Associate Professor, Comparative Literature, Director of Humanistic Studies in Human Rights, Aarhus University, Denmark:

May 15, 2013

ABA Announces Silver Gavel Award Winners for 2013

From an ABA news release: (The information below is excerpted from the release)

The American Bar Association announced today its selections for the 2013 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts, which recognize outstanding work that fosters the American public’s understanding of law and the legal system. This is the ABA’s highest honor in recognition of this purpose, and no more than one Silver Gavel is presented in each category.
The Central Park Five
Florentine Films
Ken Burns, Sarah Burns and David McMahon, Directors/Writers/Producers
Michael Levine, Editor
Stephanie Jackson, Production Coordinator
Lax Controls Leave Ex-Cons Free to Kill
Detroit Free Press
L.L. Brasier and Gina Damron, Co-Authors and Staff Writers
Amalie Nash, Assistant Managing Editor
Andre J. Jackson, Staff Photographer
Elisha Anderson, Contributor and Staff Writer
Electoral Dysfunction
Trio Pictures in association with WTTW National Productions
David Deschamps, Leslie D. Farrell and Bennett Singer, Producers/Writers/Directors
Mo Rocca, Host
Jay Keuper, Editor
Joe Friedman, Cinematographer
Stand Up That Mountain: The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness Along the Appalachian Trail
Jay Leutze, Author
Simon & Schuster/Scribner
West of Memphis
Sony Pictures Classics
Amy Berg, Director/Producer
Damien Echols, Lorri Davis, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, Producers
Loss of Trust
San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News
Karen de Sá, Staff Reporter
Dai Sugano and Pat Tehan, Photojournalists
The Real CSI
Frontline (WGBH Boston), ProPublica and the Investigative Reporting Program at UC Berkeley
Lowell Bergman, Correspondent, Producer and Writer for Frontline
Andres Cediel, Producer and Writer
Leah Bartos, Reporter for ProPublica
Raney Aronson-Rath, Series Senior Producer
David Fanning, Executive Producer 

For more about the Silver Gavel Awards and the ABA's Public Education Division, see here. 

May 14, 2013

If You Need...

To take a break from grading, check out Anatasia Salter's post "Researching In Public On Tumblr." Professor Salter suggests a number of Tumblr sites for time-wasting refreshing thought while you rejuvenate your overloaded brain and shake out the snowflakes. My favorite: Academic Tim Gunn. Make it work.

Benjamin Franklin's Constitutional Convention Chaplin Proposal

Louis J. Sirico, Jr., Villanova University School of Law, has published Benjamin Franklin, Prayer, and the Constitutional Convention: History as Narrative, as Villanova Law/Public Policy Research Paper No. 2013-3026. Here is the abstract.

Anecdotes from the Convention continue to inform contemporary discussions on the Constitution’s meaning. This article discusses an anecdote from the Convention that shows how history and false history shape our laws and cultural traditions.
The article focuses on Benjamin Franklin’s proposal to hire a chaplain and begin each day with a prayer. The Convention deputies showed little interest in the proposal, and it died aborning. However, decades later, a fictional version emerged in which Franklin’s proposal succeeded and saved the Convention from collapse.
The factual and mythical Franklin prayer narratives offer us the opportunity to examine their history and rhetorical use in arguing for integrating religion into America’s public life. This examination also offers the opportunity to reflect on how advocates can use history to fashion a persuasive argument. The history of the narrative demonstrates how writers, government officials, lawyers, and judges have employed it to further their own purposes. As for the continuing popularity of the story, Franklin and the archetype he personifies play a critical role in making the narrative persuasive. And as the narrative shows, histories, both factual and mythical, can support persuasive narrative arguments.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link. 

May 10, 2013

The Image of Lawyers and Legal Ethics

Amy Salyzyn, Yale University Law School, is publishing John Rambo v. Atticus Finch: Gender, Diversity and the Civility Movement in volume 16 of Legal Ethics (2013). Here is the abstract.

The need for increased civility has been a recurring theme in conversations about lawyer professionalism in the United States and Canada over the last several decades. In addition to having many advocates, however, the civility movement has also been subject to criticism. In large part, the critiques made to date have focused on the problems or risks created when civility rules or guidelines are enforced against lawyers. This article takes a different focus to provide a complementary, yet distinct critique. The object of analysis is the discourse of the civility movement. More specifically, the assumptions and concepts of lawyer professionalism embedded in our conversations about civility are explored.
Upon review, the discourse of the civility movement reveals a dominant narrative framed in terms of competing masculinities: the aggressive, testosterone fueled Rambo-lawyer is cast as the anti-hero to be vanquished against renewed calls for the return of the gentlemanly Atticus Finch. I argue that this ‘Rambo-Finch narrative’ is hostile to inclusive understandings of lawyer professionalism in three inter-related ways: (1) it renders women and other ‘outsider’ lawyers largely invisible; (2) it romanticizes past discriminatory concepts of lawyer professionalism; and (3) it reflects anxieties about the destabilization of traditional, exclusionary claims or modes of authority in the legal profession. The exclusionary understandings of lawyer professionalism contained in the Rambo-Finch narrative should be of concern to those interested with improving gender equity and diversity in the legal profession as there is good reason to believe that this discourse translates into ‘real world’ consequences in how ‘outsider’ lawyers are viewed and treated within the legal profession.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

May 9, 2013

Working Together: Law and Social Science

Tristin Green, University of San Francisco School of Law, is publishing It's Not You, It's Me': 
Assessing an Emerging Relationship between Law and Social Science in the Connecticut Law Review. Here is the abstract.

This essay isolates and assesses an overlooked consideration on an emerging and significant issue in employment discrimination law. The emerging issue: When should employers be held liable for established widespread differential treatment within their organizations? The overlooked consideration: the relationship between law and social science. Although the essay focuses closely on a specific doctrinal issue in employment discrimination law, it also sets broad theoretical groundwork for thinking about the implications of the various relationships that might emerge between law and social science in a variety of legal realms.
Download the full text of the article from SSRN at the link. 

The Law of Offense

Ronald L. K. Collins, University of Washington School of Law, has published Comedy and Liberty: The Life and Legacy of Lenny Bruce at 79 Social Research 61 (2012). Here is the abstract.

Comedy takes liberties. Hence, it depends on liberty to survive. Sometimes it is divine, other times farcical, sometimes operatic, other times poetic, and still other times shamelessly vulgar. As it moves from sauciness and scandal to sacrilege and sedition, comedy mocks everything in its sardonic path. Over the ages comedy has been tapped to punch out the likes of the mighty or to make swift shrift of their imperatives. Such actions point to the role of the First Amendment in all of this. Conceptually, the two intersect whenever comedy is offensive, that is, when it mocks, scorns, derides, ridicules, or pokes fun at person, creed, or cause. In this regard, no figure stands out more in American history than the always offensive and often funny Lenny Bruce. How a society protects or prosecutes the likes of Lenny Bruce is a barometer of how much it values freedom of speech.
Download the full text of the article  from SSRN at the link.

May 8, 2013

More About the History of the Second Amendment

Patrick J. Charles, United States Air Force Special Operations Command 352nd Special Operations Group, is publishing The Statute of Northampton by the Late Eighteenth Century: Clarifying the Intellectual Legacy, in the Fordham Urban Law Journal. Here is the abstract.

In a article examining the “myths and realities about early American gun regulation,” Saul Cornell provides new insight as to how the right to arms outside the home evolved in Antebellum law. Cornell’s article is arguably the first to seriously examine this legal development and I do not challenge his general findings in this regard. Where we seemingly diverge is the role that the Statute of Northampton served in this process, particularly its intellectual application by the nineteenth century. This article addresses those concerns and the Second Amendment outside the home.
Download the article from SSRN at the link. 

May 6, 2013

New Issue of International Journal for the Semiotics of Law Now Available

Just received:  from the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law/Revue internationale de Semiotique juridique, a link to volume 26, number 2. 

This issue includes Bryan H. Druzin, Eating Peas with One's Fingers: A Semiotic Approach to Law and Social Norms; Gail Bruner Morrow and Richard W. Murrow, A Biosemiotic Body of Law: The Neurobiography of Justice, Stephen Skinner, Violence in Fascist Criminal Law Discourse: War, Repression and Anti-Democracy, and several other extremely interesting articles.

Twenty Years Later: Anniversary of a Lawsuit

Today on NPR: Oliver Wang looks back at the 1991 copyright infringement lawsuit that composer/singer Gilbert O'Sullivan brought against singer Biz Markie. Mr. O'Sullivan alleged that Mr. Markie's sampling of Mr. O'Sullivan's song "Alone Again (Naturally)" was an impermissible use. Mr. O'Sullivan had previously denied Mr. Markie a license to use the infringing material. The judge in the case ruled in favor of the plaintiff, and even thought the matter was a criminal one. Here's more background from Copyright Casebook. The case made legal history, since sampling was a tradition in hip-hop.

Two years later, Mr. Markie released an album, without the infringing song. The album's name: All Samples Cleared. Indeed.

May 5, 2013

CBS Now Streaming Some Episodes of "Perry Mason" On Its Website

For those who are nostalgic, or who missed Perry the first time around, CBS is now streaming selected episodes from the first two seasons of the iconic series Perry Mason, which starred Raymond Burr as the legendary trial lawyer, Barbara Hale as his ever-loyal secretary Della Street, William Hopper as the trustworthy P.I. Paul Drake, William Talman as the feisty courtroom adversary Hamilton Burger, and Ray Collins as Lieutenant Tragg. Perry Mason ran on CBS from 1957 to 1966. Check out the selection here under TV Classics. If you must have Perry in your video library, DVDs are available now available through season 8; season nine, volume 1 will be available for sale in about a month.

The show has influenced any number of people including Sonia Sotomayor, who has said that depictions of the judge in the show persuaded her that the most important person in the courtroom was the judge. Even so, Perry's a pretty memorable guy.

May 2, 2013

Domestic Relations Law in Seventeenth Century Moldavia and Walachia

Cosmis Dariescu, Alexandru I. Cuza, University of Iasi, has published How to Beat Your Wife: Regulations on Domestic Violence in the 17th Century - Moldavia and Walachia. Here is the abstract.

Nowadays, domestic violence, may it be it physical or emotional, is fiercely condemned both by both the law and the public opinion. In the eyes of society there is no justification for a husband or a wife to impose his or her thoughts by hurtful means. The repulsion one feels for home violence is an effect of the necessity to respect the human rights, among which sex equality is one of the most important. In the past, however, when gender equality was rejected even in legal texts, the society had a more permissive opinion on the use of domestic violence.
This paper aims to present a 17th century regulation, enforced by the ecclesiastical justice in Moldavia and Walachia, on the husband's right to beat his wife. We shall present in an accessible form the provisions of two very similar codes of laws (both ecclesiastical and secular) enforced by the Metropolitan Bishops and by the Princes of Moldavia and Walachia, on the requirements the violent husband had to meet in order to evade judge's punishment. Thus, we shall analyze the provisions of Article 23 of the Romanian Book of Learning from the Imperial Laws and Other Judgements (Moldavia, 1646) and of Article 185 of the Guidance of the Law by God That Has All the Canon and Imperial Judicial Authorities on All the Priestly and Secular Crimes – Walachia, 1652). The reader will find out that husband had the unrestricted right to beat his wife with his fist or palm, often or seldom as he pleased. But he had to hit his wife only when she was really guilty of a fault. If he had beaten his wife without fault or if he hit her with arms or sticks or with cruelty or without any restraint, the judge was compelled by the law to divorce them. The husband had the right to detain his wife in chains or in a cellar on two grounds: adultery and conspiracy for killing him.
These provisions should not be judged too harsh because at that time, anywhere in Europe, domestic violence was allowed by law and society.
Download the full text of the paper from SSRN at the link. 

"Liking" Hamlet

Norman Ferguson, Jr., a professor at Georgia State, describes incorporating social media into a production of Hamlet, an experiment which he calls "Hamlet 2.0." Brilliant! There has to be something in this idea for the legal academy...

May 1, 2013

The Meaning of "Uncle Tomism"

Brando Simeo Starkey has published Uncle Tom & Social Norms: Improving Legal Interests and Affecting Public Policy: Introduction. Here is the abstract.

My thesis is that the management of “constructive” social norms to police racial loyalty, by helping forge solidarity, can aid blacks in promoting their legal interests and ability to affect public policy. This is observable by following the life of Uncle Tom. A person, in other words, is called an Uncle Tom when he or she violates a racial loyalty norm that actually exists or that the speaker wants to exist. This signals to the rest of the black community to conform or else. That is, the real power of Uncle Tom as a sanctioning device is the deterrent effect it has on the broader group. Shadowing Uncle Tom through black history helps us to understand where and how these norms were constructed, disseminated, applied, and enforced. From there, we can assess the propriety of these norms.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.