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Author: Christine Corcos

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ROUNDUP: Law and Humanities 08.04.14

Debuting August 5 on Crackle, the streaming service, is the original half hour legal drama Sequestered, starring Jesse Bradford, Patrick Warburton and Summer Glau. It centers on the workings of a jury busy deliberating a defendant’s fate, while a young defense attorney works to find out the truth before it’s too late. One of the jurors (Glau) seems to be under some kind of threat from the outside  with regard to her verdict, a storyline that seems familiar (see, for example, The Juror (Demi Moore as the juror (1996)).

Like other legal dramas, the description for this series (all that is available at this writing) seems to suggest that what happens in the courtroom is not “truth,”  and that the jury may actually be operating as blindly as Lady Justice. I’ll be curious to see if the storyline develops in that way. Six half hour (actually 22 minute) episodes will initially be available for viewing, with an additional 6 to be released in two months. More here from the New York Times. Crackle also makes a number of other series available, including episodes of the wonderful legal series Damages starring Glenn Close and Rose Byrne, and the cult favorite The Prisoner with the incomparable Patrick McGoohan.

The Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities will hold its Eighteenth Annual Meeting at the Georgetown University Law Center, March 6-7, 2015.  Panel and paper proposals are due Wednesday, October 15th, 2014.

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ROUNDUP: Law and Humanities 06.30.14

Jessica Silbey (Suffolk Law School) and Megan Slack are publishing an important new piece , The Semiotics of Film in US Supreme Court Cases, in the forthcoming collection Law, Culture, and Visual Studies (Springer, 2014). It’s of interest to law and film scholars, entertainment lawyers, First Amendment scholars, and law and humanities folks generally. Here’s the abstract.

This chapter explores the treatment of film as a cultural object among varied legal subject matter in US Supreme Court jurisprudence. Film is significant as an object or industry well beyond its incarnation as popular media. Its role in law – even the highest level of US appellate law – is similarly varied and goes well beyond the subject of a copyright case (as a moving picture) or as an evidentiary proffer (as a video of a criminal confession). This chapter traces the discussion of film in US Supreme Court cases in order to map the wide-ranging and diverse ­relations of film to law – a semiotics of film in the high court’s jurisprudence – to decouple the notion of film with entertainment or visual truth. This chapter discerns the many ways in which the court perceives the role of film in legal disputes and social life. It also illuminates how the court imagines and reconstitutes through its decisions the evolving forms and significances of film and film spectatorship as an interactive public for film in society. As such, this project contributes to the work on the legal construction of social life, exploring how court cases constitute social reality through their legal discourse. It also speaks to film enthusiasts and critics who understand that film is much more than entertainment and is, in practice, a conduit of information and a mechanism for lived experience. Enmeshed in the fabric of society, film is political, commercial, expressive, violent, technologically sophisticated, economically valuable, uniquely persuasive, and, as these cases demonstrate, constantly evolving.

Download the full text from SSRN at the link.

law culture

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ROUNDUP: Law and Humanities 06.11.14

The Association for the Study of Law, Culture, and the Humanities (ASLCH) will be holding its 18th annual meeting at Georgetown University Law Centre March 7-8, 2015.  ASLCH will be issuing its call for papers in the next few months and abstracts will be due in the fall.  Join the ASLCH listservfollow ASLCH on Facebook, or check back here for updates. Members of the organizing committee are listed here.

If you yearn for more legal drama in your life, check out some new and returning attorneys on the small screen. TNT’s  drama Murder In the First pilot episode aired on June 9, but is available for viewing here.  Murder in the First was created by Steven Bochco, and stars Kathleen Robertson and Taye Diggs. Like Bochco’s nineties drama Murder One (ABC, 1995-1996), this show focuses on one criminal case for the entire season.  CBS is offering up Reckless, which pits a glamorous female Yankee lawyer, played by Anna Wood, against a handsome South Carolina counselor, played by Cam Gigandet. Premiere: June 29 at 9, 8 Central time. Returning for a fourth season tonight at 9 p.m., 8 Central time, are Patrick J. Adams (Mike Ross) and Gabriel Macht (Harvey Spector) in the USA character-driven show Suits.  This show started out with the premise that Spector could hide the fact that his protégé (Ross), while a whiz at law, never actually went to law school. The show has undergone something of a re-calibration: Ross is now working at an investment firm. Still, the two are in contact. We’ll see how this relationship plays out. (Here, star Patrick J. Adams attempts to explain why this series about a fake lawyer seems so popular for real lawyers). The Suits webpage provides a quiz for you to determine “what kind of a lawyer [you would] be.” It’s career advice in good fun.

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ROUNDUP: Law and Humanities 05.14.14

The Law and Humanities Institute and Thomas Jefferson School of Law are sponsoring a Conference on Law and Magic on June 6, 2014. Registration is free for TJSL alums, faculty, staff, and students, $20 for others. Lunch is provided, as is a post-conference reception. Panels run from 8:30 to 5:30.

The Conference hotels are Hotel Indigo and the Marriott San Diego Gaslamp Quarter. CLE has been applied for.

Here’s the schedule for June 6.

Schedule

8:00  Check-in

8:30-10:00  Panel 1 - First Amendment and Magic

Christine Corcos, LSU Law Center
Paul Finkelman, Albany Law School
Rob McQueen, University of London
Julie Cromer-Young,  Thomas Jefferson School of Law, Chair and Discussant

10:15-11:45  Panel 2 - Law, the Humanities, and Magic

Anthony Farley, Albany Law School
Richard Weisberg, Cardozo Law School
Annette Houlihan, St. Thomas University (New Brunswick, Canada)
Christine Corcos, Chair and Discussant

12:00-1:15  Lunch - Entertainment by Curt Frye

1:30-3:30  Panel 3 - Intellectual Property and Magic

Jay Dougherty, Loyola (Los Angeles), Law School
Jennifer Hagan, Hagan & Hagan
Mark Tratos, Greenberg Traurig
Pierre Fleury-LeGros, University of Le Havre
Guilhem Julia, University of Paris XIII
Jay Dougherty, Chair and Discussant

3:45-5:30  Panel 4 - Magic in the Courtroom

Sydney Beckman, Duncan School of Law
Curtis Frye, Independent Scholar
Rostam Neuwirth, University of Macao
Julie Cromer Young, Chair and Discussant

5:30-6:30  Closing reception for panelists and attendees

 

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ROUNDUP: Media Law 05.07.2014

 

Non-traditional media is the focus today. First up is “net neutrality.” The Federal Communications Commission refers to net neutrality as the Open Internet, and had promulgated a rule back in 2010 designed to promote it. Under the principle of net neutrality, service providers cannot discriminate among users or information providers in terms of price or quality of service.  Because many Internet service providers are cable companies, for example, they are not traditional “common carriers,” (telephone companies, for example), and don’t come under the same kind of FCC regulation as do telephone companies. Therein lies the problem for the FCC.

Verizon challenged the FCC’s statutory authority to regulate it and other non-traditional Internet service providers under the principle of net neutrality, bringing a suit in federal court. On January 14, the U. S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit agreed with Verizon that the agency had exceeded its authority. Several of the FCC Commissioners are now considering whether another stab at regulation is a wise idea. Commissioner Ajit Pai has testified before the Senate Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Govenrment of the U.S. Senate Committee on Appropriations that he thinks net neutrality is an “unnecessary distraction,” and that other FCC priorities, including auctioning off more of the spectrum as required under the Spectrum Act,  are more important. FCC Chair Tom Wheeler, by contrast, has issued a statement saying he intends to offer revamped rules that respond to the Verizon decision. He says in part, “We will carefully consider how Section 706  might be used to protect and promote an Open Internet consistent with the D.C. Circuit’s opinion
and its earlier affirmance of our Data Roaming Order. Thus, we will consider (1) setting an enforceable legal standard that provides guidance and predictability to edge providers,
consumers, and broadband providers alike; (2) evaluating on a case-by-case basis whether that  standard is met; and (3) identifying key behaviors by broadband providers that the Commission would view with particular skepticism.” Many FCC watchers have reacted with, at best, skepticism, even though they have not yet seen the proposal, which the FCC will consider at its May 15 meeting. The FCC has opened up a digital “in box” to accept public comments here.

On April 3, the European Parliament threw its weight behind net neutrality, voting to adopt a net neutrality proposal which would provide equality for end users and end roaming charges by 2016.

On April 2, the Writers Guild and Hollywood’s movie producers (the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, or AMPTP) reached a three year deal that spells out some important guarantees for writers on scripted shows, including a guaranteed salary increase, payments into pension funds, and agreements with regard to streaming. Members of WGA must still vote on the contract, but industry watchers seem to think that the vote will be much less contentious than that in 2008, for example, which followed on a more than 3 month strike. That ugly negotiation was the first during which new media became an issue for both sides. David Robb discusses the long term effects of the WGA strike here. The Writers Guild members voted overwhelmingly to ratify the contract (98.5 percent to 1.5 percent) at the end of April. Up next, the SAG/AFTRA (Screen Actors Guild/American Federation of Television & Radio Artists) negotiations with AMPTP. While SAG and AFTRA are now one union, the two still have separate contracts with AMPTP.

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ROUNDUP: Law and Humanities 05.01.2014

 

Awards season: The American Bar Association has announced the finalists for the 2014 Silver Gavel Awards for Media and the Arts. The ABA awards the Silver Gavel to those artists in film, nonfiction, fiction, and other arts who most closely meet the association’s objectives in advancing public understanding of law and the justice system. This year, the 47 members of the screening committee reviewed 169 entries, selecting 19 finalists for the Standing Committee to review. The ABA began giving out the Gavel Awards in 1958. Among the finalists: See the complete list of finalists for 2014 here. The ABA will announce winners on May 15.

 

Curtain going up: The Elevator Repair Service will be performing Arguendo,  a play based on the landmark case Barnes v. Glen Theatre (501 U.S. 560 (1991)) at the International Festival of Arts & Ideas, New Haven, CT, from June 18-22. Here’s part of the syllabus for the case:

Respondents, two Indiana establishments wishing to provide totally nude  dancing as entertainment and individual dancers employed at those  establishments, brought suit in the District Court to enjoin enforcement  of the state public indecency law  —  which requires respondent dancers to  wear pasties and a G-string  —  asserting that the law’s prohibition against  total nudity in public places violates the First Amendment. The court  held that the nude dancing involved here was not expressive conduct.   The Court of Appeals reversed, ruling that nonobscene nude dancing  performed for entertainment is protected expression, and that the statute was an improper infringement of that activity because its purpose  was to prevent the message of eroticism and sexuality conveyed by the  dancers.

The play “[uses] verbatim oral arguments and breathtaking projections by celebrated visual artist Ben Rubin [and] introduces us to the Justices—who try to get to the bottom of this First Amendment puzzle—and the attorneys on both sides who gamely try to keep up.” The play closed recently at the Woolly Mammoth Theatre in DC.

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ROUNDUP: Law and Humanities 04.01.14

Welcome to the first Law and Humanities ROUNDUP post. Here are some items I hope you will find of interest.

LSA

The Law and Society Association (LSA) Meeting, one of the most important conferences in the area of Law and Humanities, takes place May 29-June 1 in friendly Minneapolis, Minnesota. This year’s theme centers on the role of law and legal institutions in sustaining, creating, interrogating, and ameliorating inequalities. The 2014 Program invites participants to explore and consider three questions:

  • How can Law and Society scholarship contribute to unearthing and understanding inequalities?
  • How can Law and Society scholarship contribute to the critical interrogation of discourses of equality and inequality and help to reveal what is at stake in these concepts?
  • What impact can we expect these scholarly contributions to have on the persistence of these inequalities and on public discourse about them?

You can check out the preliminary program, register, and find hotel information here. Early registration ends April 15 (with 50 percent refunds available through that date. You cannot obtain any refunds after April 15).

If  you have always thought about writing legal fiction, check out this announcement from Alafair Burke at Hofstra Law.  Professor Burke, who writes the Ellie Hatcher novels, along with two other best-selling lawyer authors, Lee Child (who writes the Jack Reacher thrillers) and Marcia Clark (author of the Rachel Knight series) will be judges of a crime fiction competition being offered by Hofstra Law and Mulholland Books. The rules are simple, and include this one: Your story must feature a lawyer as a main character. Read the rest of the rules here. Deadline for entries is May 1, 2014.

UCLA English professor Eric Jager has published another interesting title: Blood Royal: A True Tale of Crime and Detection in Medieval Paris (Little, Brown), available in hardcover, audio, and ebook formats.  Here’s the description of the book from the publisher’s website.

A riveting true story of murder and detection in 15th-century Paris, by one of the most brilliant medievalists of his generation. On a chilly November night in 1407, Louis of Orleans was murdered by a band of masked men. The crime stunned and paralyzed France since Louis had often ruled in place of his brother King Charles, who had gone mad. As panic seized Paris, an investigation began. In charge was the Provost of Paris, Guillaume de Tignonville, the city’s chief law enforcement officer–and one of history’s first detectives. As de Tignonville began to investigate, he realized that his hunt for the truth was much more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. A rich portrait of a distant world, BLOOD ROYAL is a gripping story of conspiracy, crime and an increasingly desperate hunt for the truth. And in Guillaume de Tignonville, we have an unforgettable detective for the ages, a classic gumshoe for a cobblestoned era.

Dr. Jager’s previous book, The Last Duel, about trial by combat in medieval France, (in this case, over whether a noblewoman’s claim that she had been raped was true), was nominated for the Crime Writers’ Association Gold Dagger Award and adapted for a BBC documentary in 2008.