July 28, 2008

The Non-Autonomy of Law

James Boyd White, University of Michigan Law School, has published "Establishing Relations between Law and Other Forms of Thought and Language," forthcoming in 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.

Literature and Comparative Law

Barbara Pozzo, University of Insubria, Department of Law and Economics of Firms and Persons, has published "A Suitable Boy: The Abolition of Feudalism in India, in volume 1 of the Erasmus Law Review (2008). Here is the abstract.

This article focuses on law and literature as a challenging tool in teaching courses in comparative law. Certain representative novels may provide important analytical instruments, especially in approaching legal systems that do not belong to the Western legal tradition but that involve a set of values profoundly rooted in a specific conception of society. In these instances, literature is used as a key in understanding the social impact of particular legal institutions, the nature of which seems difficult for European scholars to comprehend. This is particularly true in cases such as those in India, where the legal system is composed of different layers: the traditional, the religious and that of the colonial period.

The article examines a concrete literary example offered by Vikram Seth in his novel A Suitable Boy, in which the author deals with the debate about peasants property in the form of land and about the abolition of the zamindari system, which had been introduced in India by the Mughals to collect land taxes from the peasants. It was continued by British rulers during the colonial period, but after independence in 1947 the system was abolished and the land was turned over to the peasants. To Westerners, the abolition of the zamindari system would seem to have been a sign of real independence and of the will to abolish feudalism. Nevertheless, the abrogation did not prevent the emergence of farm suicides in India, which have occurred since the middle of the 1990s.

Seth's novel allows us to witness firsthand the events that took place during the period when the law that put an end to the zamindari system was passed and to see with new eyes the genuine impact of such a reform.

Download the article from SSRN here.

Call For Papers

Call for Papers/Abstracts/Submissions (Re-posting)

7th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities

January 9 - 12, 2009

Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa

Honolulu Hawaii, USA

Submission Deadline: August 22, 2008

Sponsored by:

University of Louisville - Center for Sustainable Urban Neighborhoods

The Baylor Journal of Theatre and Performance

Web address: http://www.hichumanities.org

Email address: humanities@hichumanities.org

The 7th Annual Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities will be held from January 9 (Friday) to January 12 (Monday), 2009 at the Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort & Spa, in Honolulu, Hawaii. The conference will provide many opportunities for academicians and professionals from arts and humanities related fields to interact with members inside and outside their own particular disciplines. Cross-disciplinary submissions with other fields are welcome.

Topic Areas (All Areas of Arts & Humanities are Invited):


*American Studies




*Art History



*Ethnic Studies




*Graphic Design


*Landscape Architecture





*Performing Arts


*Postcolonial Identities

*Product Design


*Second Language Studies



*Visual Arts

*Other Areas of Arts and Humanities

*Cross-disciplinary areas of the above related to each other or other areas.

Submitting a Proposal:

You may now submit your paper/proposal by using our online submission system! To use the system, and for detailed information about submitting see: http://www.hichumanities.org/cfp_artshumanities.htm

To be removed from this list, please click the following link: http://www.hichumanities.org/remove/ or copy and paste the link into any web browser.

Hawaii International Conference on Arts & Humanities

P.O. Box 75036

Honolulu, HI 96836 USA

Telephone: (808) 542-4385

Fax: (808) 947-2420

E-mail: humanities@hichumanities.org

Website: http://www.hichumanities.org

Call For Papers

Israeli Law and Society Association, Annual Meeting

Global, Regional, and Local: Law, Politics, and Society in Comparative Perspectives

International Conference, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem,
December 24-26, 2008


The Program Committee of the International Annual Conference of the Israeli Law and Society Association (ILSA) invites scholars conducting research on any aspect of Law and Society to submit proposals for individual papers and organized panels. Panels and papers devoted to the main theme of the conference - "Global, Regional, and Local: Law, Politics, and Society in Comparative Perspectives" - are especially invited. Other topics relating to the field of law and society in its broader meaning are also welcome.

Proposals should be accompanied by an abstract of 300 words as Word email attachment (include title of paper, name and email address of author/s with the text of the abstract). Organizers of panels should collect abstracts from the panel participants and submit them together with a description of the panel. Graduate students should submit a letter from their thesis supervisor in support of the proposal, together with the abstract.

Proposals should be submitted by email to the Program Committee at:
gbarzil@u.washington.eduThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it by August 15th, 2008.
Selected papers will be integrated into a special volume of "Hamishpat" [translated as THE LAW] (published by the Law School, College of Management) after a process of peer-review evaluations. Call for articles will be sent by the journal in due time.

Program Committee

Gad Barzilai--Jackson School, LSJ, Political Science, Law, University of Washington.
e-mail: gbarzil@u.washington.eduThis e-mail address is being protected
from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it web site:

Michal Alberstein-- Law, Bar Ilan University
e-mail: malberst@mail.biu.ac.ilThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it web site: http://www.law.biu.ac.il/rashi.php?id=74

Daphne Barak-Erez-- Law, Tel Aviv University
e-mail: barakerz@post.tau.ac.ilThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it web site: http://www.law.tau.ac.il/Heb/?CategoryID=357&ArticleID=351
Guy Davidov--Law, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.
e-mail: guy.davidov@huji.ac.ilThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
web site: http://law.huji.ac.il/segel.asp?staff_id=95&cat=409&in=409

Malcolm Feeley--Center for the Study of Law and Society, UC Berkeley.
e-mail: mmf@law,berkeley.edu
web site:

Khalid Ghanayim, Law, University of Haifa
e-mail: khalidg@law.haifa.ac.ilThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it web site:

Yifat Holzman-Gazit-- Law, College of Management, Rizhon Le'Tzion.
e-mail: gazity@mail.biu.ac.ilThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
web-site: http://law.colman.ac.il/heb/Default.htm

Pnina Lahav--Law, Boston University
e-mail: plahav@bu.eduThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it web site: http://www.bu.edu/lawlibrary/facultypublications/lahav.html

Assaf Meydani-- Political Science, The Academic College of Tel-Aviv-Yaffo
e-mail: asaf_mm@gbrener.org.ilThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it web site: http://works.bepress.com/assaf__meydani/

Benny Shmueli, Law, Shaarei Mishpat, Hod Ha'Sharon
e-mail: shmueli@mishpat.ac.ilThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it
web-site: http://www.mishpat.ac.il/main.asp?lngCategoryID=2895

Dr. Amnon Reichman, Haifa University
e-mail: reichman@law.haifa.ac.ilThis e-mail address is being protected from spambots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

web-site: http://law.haifa.ac.il/faculty/heb/reichman.htm

July 24, 2008

Kafka's Knowledge of Law

Arnold Heidsieck, University of Southern California, has published "Fictional and Non-Fictional Uses of Administrative, Civil, and Criminal Law by Kafka and His Friends." Here is the abstract.
Kafka studied these three branches of law with several then-prominent academic teachers. But it was his extra-mural association with the legal philosopher Oskar Kraus that gave him a firm grasp of how modern liberal law emerged from the Aristotelian, Roman, and Judeo-Christian concepts of natural and rational law.

Download the entire essays from SSRN here.

July 23, 2008

Publication Opportunity

Joachim Linder, editor of the online journal IASL Online, invites those interested to submit titles for review in the journal, and to indicate whether they would be interested in reviewing those publications. Reviews in English are welcome. His contact information is email@joachim-linder.de.

Stella Rimington and Liz Carlyle

NPR has this essay about Stella Rimington, the first woman director of Britain's MI5, and her books featuring intelligence officer Liz Carlyle.

July 17, 2008

Life Meets TV

Colin Miller, of EvidenceProfBlog, has this interesting blogpost about Kathy Reichs as an expert witness, in the notorious Ohio nun killer case, State v. Robinson. Dr. Reichs is the author of the Temperance Brennan mystery stories and the inspiration for the Bones television series.

Reminds me of another recent life meets tv case: the one in which the prosecution's expert witness mentioned a Law & Order episode that Andrea Yates watched. The problem: no such episode. Eventually, Mrs. Yates's conviction was overturned. Along with the now-documented "CSI" effect, can we doubt that tv's dramatic riffs affect jurors?

July 15, 2008

Mystery Writer Julie Smith on NPR

Julie Smith, the author of a number of crime novels set in New Orleans (and in San Francisco) discusses the difficulty of taking up writing again after Hurricane Katrina in this interview with NPR.

Here's more about Smith's writing.

Louise Claire, De-Mythifying Julie Smith, 1(7) Bookcase 14-17 (October 1995).

Frederick Isaac, Investigator of Mean Rooms: A Profile of Julie Smith, 15 Clues: A Journal of Detection 1-11 (Spring/Summer 1994).

The Julie Smith interview is part of NPR's series on Crime in the City. Other mystery writers who contribute thoughts on their favorite cities are Sarah Graves, Robert B. Parker, Michael Connelly, Laura Lippmann, John Burdett, and Donna Leon. A book you might find interesting if you like to read mysteries about places you plan to visit is Nina King's Crimes of the Scene (St. Martin's Press, 1997), which lists mysteries by geographic location.

A Paper on British Film

Steve Greenfield and Guy Osborn of the University of Westminster, and Peter Robson of the University of St. Andrews have published "Genre, Iconography, and British Film," forthcoming in volume 36 of the University of Baltimore Law Review. Here's the abstract.
This article uses the categorization of 'Britishness' to identify both the canon of British law films and attempts that have been made to encourage and protect the British film industry. In addition the article reengages with thee genre debate utilizing the notion of iconography.

Download the article from SSRN here.

July 11, 2008

The Importance of Choosing Literary References Wisely

Over at WSJ blog, Dan Slater writes about a Fair Housing Act case involving a condo association that prohibited all objects in hallways. A Jewish resident challenged the rule under the Fair Housing Act because his mezuzah was removed, claiming the rule discriminated against his religion. The 7th Circuit held for the condo association, concluding that the rule was "neutral with respect to religion" since it applied to all objects.

In dissent, Judge Wood noted a very unwise use of a Shakespearian reference in the Defendants' brief:

Indeed, especially given the fact that the question in this case is whether a trier of fact could conclude that the defendants were intentionally discriminating against the Blochs, it was shocking to read at the end of their supplemental brief that “[t]hroughout this matter, Plaintiffs have been trying to get their ‘pound of flesh’ from Defendants due to personal animosity between Lynne and Frischholz.” Perhaps the defendants have not read Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice lately and thus failed to recall that the play is about a bitter Jewish moneylender, Shylock, who agreed to loan funds to a man he loathed (Antonio—who spit on him because he was Jewish) only upon a promise that if the loan was not paid in time, Shylock would be entitled to carve a pound of flesh from Antonio. At the end of the play, after the disguised Portia defeats the contract by pointing out that Shylock is not entitled to shed any blood while he takes his pound of flesh, Shylock is punished by losing half of his lands and being forced to convert to Christianity. This is hardly the reference someone should choose who is trying to show that the stand-off about Hallway Rule 1 was not because of the Blochs’ religion, but rather in spite of it.
Cross-posted at Concurring Opinions

July 7, 2008

The Engaged Lawyer On Film

Lance McMillian, John Marshall Law School, Atlanta, has published "Tortured Souls: Unhappy Lawyers Viewed Through the Medium of Film." Here is the abstract.
Lawyers are unhappy. So bad is the situation that scholars have even asked, "Can one be a lawyer and a happy human being at the same time?" Culturally, the existence of unhappy lawyers is not an unknown phenomenon. Case in point: the portrayal of tortured attorneys through the medium of film. This Article focuses on nine such lawyers: Ned Racine, Michael Clayton, Frank Galvin, Reggie Love, Paul Biegler, Sam Bowden, Arthur Kirkland, Jan Schlichtmann, and Atticus Finch. Similarities between lawyers in reel life and real life quickly emerge.

The legal profession should pay attention to these common struggles. Attorneys in film have much to teach. Their most lasting lessons point the way for the modern lawyer to reclaim a satisfying and fulfilling legal career. Through the movies, lawyers old and new can freshly discover the secrets for lasting success: doing what one loves, devoting oneself to a noble end, and refusing to compromise ethically. That great cinema contains enduring truths and insights should not be surprising. The best films help us to learn something more about ourselves. Learning without action, however, soon melts away. When trapped in unhappiness, it is the individual who must act and make choices consistent with that person's core values. Movies can rekindle our ideals. But only we can make those ideals a reality.

Download the paper from SSRN here.

July 3, 2008

New British Legal Drama Causes Comment

A new British legal drama is causing a whirlwind of commentary among barristers. Peter Moffat's Criminal Justice debuted Monday, and immediately caused debate for what some members of the bar consider its indictment of the legal system. An article in the Guardian documents the reactions that some lawyers have to the week-long series. In particular, the head of the Bar Council, "Timothy Dutton QC, has taken a dim view of the way barristers in the programme, particularly in the second episode, are portrayed as underhand, unprincipled and overly aggressive." Mr. Moffat, who also wrote the wonderful series Kavanagh QC for John Thaw (Morse), replied, "It is about time the Bar faced the fact that like every other profession it has brilliant and fair-minded practitioners, those of average ability, and the violent, dishonest and stupid all working within it." Ouch. Seriously.

Read more reviews and discussion in The Independent, The Times, and the Mirror.

Here's a clip.

I certainly hope the BBC exports Criminal Justice to the US soon, or else makes it available on VHS or DVDs. Yes, I still buy tapes, when I can get them. I continue to be unhappy with what I consider to be the relatively high rate of defective DVDs that I encounter: they're unplayable ("disc error"); or the disc skips or stalls, or the images are distorted from time to time. These discs are EXPENSIVE, and store return policies can be difficult.