On "The Paper Chase"

By: Christine DiCrocco This is the second time I’ve seen “The Paper Chase.”  The first time was during first semester of my 1L year.  Upon someone’s insistence, I rented the movie and watched, horrified, as Hart gets ripped to shreds by that evil, evil man, Kingsfield, whose infamous line, “Mister Hart, here is a dime. Take it, call your mother, and tell her there is serious doubt about you ever becoming a lawyer”, made me simultaneously cower with fear in front of the tube and seethe with rage at the professor’s audacity.  After the film was over, I was completely terrified to return to school the next day.  I think I may have even cried.  If that was what was in store for me, I had some serious doubts about my choice to go to law school. When the opportunity presented itself to watch the movie for a second time,


The Importance of Truth

By: Kate Moore From a moral justice perspective, we are aware that the truth is what matters.   Acknowledgment of the story, truth seeking and story telling are the tenets of a morally just legal system.  The Accused, a film starring Jodie Foster clearly exemplifies this theme.  In The Accused, Sara Tobias (Jodie Foster) is gang-raped and learns that her perpetrators enter into a plea bargain with the prosecutor.  The men plead guilty to reckless endangerment instead of rape, and Sara is enraged.  Justice, more specifically, moral justice has not been served.  Sara had wanted to go into court and tell her story.  She had wanted to look her perpetrators in the eye and run the risk of losing at trial, rather than having the defendants plead guilty to a lesser crime; something that they actually did not do.  The legal system, however, does not provide a real opportunity for victims


If It Walks Like Homicide and Talks Like Homicide, Then It's Probably Computer Fraud

By: Leonard Winters In line with our class discussion concerning the opinion in Osterlind v. Hill, I came across a case on the New York Times website (“http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/20/us/20myspace.html”) that appears to further illustrate a disconnect between the legal system and conceptions of moral justice. Today, the prosecution and defense presented their respective opening arguments in the trial of Lori Drew.  Ms. Drew, a middle-aged woman, is accused of creating a fictitious MySpace account of a teenage boy and using that fake account to “taunt a 13-year-old girl,” ultimately driving that girl to commit suicide. In 2006, 13 year-old Megan Meier began some sort of online relationship through MySpace with “Josh Evans,” the account that Drew created.  After several weeks of chatting, Megan began receiving nasty messages from “Josh Evans” over MySpace, included one where “Josh” told Megan that “‘the world would be a better place’ without her.”  As a result


"We Didn't Do Anything."

By: Alex Terrone I recently re-watched the series finale of Seinfeld after reading Professor Rosenbaum’s description of it in his book, The Myth of Moral Justice.  In the episode, Jerry, Elaine, George and Kramer are arrested under Massachusetts’ newly passed Good Samaritan Law. The law imposes a duty on bystanders to help strangers in perilous situations. Normally, one would not be required to act, even when in the presence of others in need of assistance. The four characters witness an overweight man being robbed at gunpoint. Instead of coming to his aid, they videotape it and relentlessly ridicule the man’s weight. The Good Samaritan Law essentially converts their apathy into guilt and inaction into a chargeable act almost comparable to aiding and abetting the robbery. In his book, Professor Rosenbaum explains the absence of a duty to rescue in American law. Morally, the idea that someone can witness a criminal


Tried as Adults

By: Pat Fitzpatrick “The saddest thing in life is wasted talent.” -Lorenzo Anello (Robert De Niro), A Bronx Tale On November 17, 2008 as part of the weekly class meeting of the Feerick Center for Social Justice Clinic, we were lucky enough to have an extraordinary guest speaker, Judge Michael Corriero.  Judge Corriero is a well known juvenile justice expert and served as a New York State Supreme Court Justice for 28 years.  From his vantage point as a presiding judge, Judge Corriero gained a unique perspective on how legislative changes can both worsen and improve juvenile justice systems and spoke to us about the moral and ethical struggles he faced as a leader in New York’s juvenile system. A little history: In 1978, the headline-grabbing violent crimes of 15 year old Willie Bosket, combined with a heated New York Gubernatorial race—where Hugh Carey was jockeying to show that he


The Future of the American Idea

By: Joe Gabriele One year ago, the Atlantic Monthly published an article on the trade-offs between liberty and safety in the context of the American ethos and terrorism.  Two months ago, the author, writer David Foster Wallace, committed suicide.  I found the article thought provoking, and wanted to share. _____ The Future of the American Idea November 2007 Atlantic Monthly by David Foster Wallace Just Asking Are some things still worth dying for? Is the American idea(1) one such thing? Are you up for a thought experiment? What if we chose to regard the 2,973 innocents killed in the atrocities of 9/11 not as victims but as democratic martyrs, “sacrifices on the altar of freedom”?(2) In other words, what if we decided that a certain baseline vulnerability to terrorism is part of the price of the American idea? And, thus, that ours is a generation of Americans called to make


"But I Didn't Do Anything…"

By: Bryan Stephens Considering and contemplating E L. Doctorow’s, The Book of Daniel, undoubtedly causes the reader to reflect upon the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg. The novel’s narrator, Daniel, describes his investigation and understanding of his own parents’ conviction and execution. As the plot develops, the reader becomes increasingly familiar with how his parents’ public condemnation has personally affected both Daniel and his sister, who dies from a nervous disorder after attempting suicide. That society is so keen to impute a sort of constructive culpability for crimes of others onto innocent bystanders is both appalling and shocking – though, not altogether unexpected. It does, consequently, beg the question as to why society feels the need for this form of seemingly retributive justice In The Book of Daniel, the children unnecessarily suffer various levels of scrutiny that will later shape and impact their futures. Robert and Michael


The Wicked Witch of the West as the Ultimate Idiosyncratic Defendant

By: Matt Telford so, tbs went on its annual spree of airing the wizard of oz last weekend, and as i watched it through the lenses of a “law & literature” attorney (which i’ve newly acquired during my time as a student of thane rosenbaum’s) i realized that the wicked witch of the west is truly the ultimate idiosyncratic defendant.  she’s put on trial and executed without even the slightest attempt to understand the idiosyncrasies that render her disabled or the backstory that might mitigate her apparent guilt. insofar as she’s disabled, i mean, come on – she’s green.  much like tom robinson in to kill a mockingbird, her peers hate her because of her different skin color.  she also has powers beyond those of your average woman, so the reasonable person cannot understand why “to satisfy an itch, [she'd go] flying on her broomstick thumbing for a hitch.”  even


“Everyone suffers, in silence, a burden.”

By Michelle Emrani I’ve had this song, The Boy With The Arab Strap by Belle & Sebastian in my head for weeks. (Song lyrics have a certain way of sticking in my head in ways in which, I fear, more pertinent information never will.)  The song describes the feelings of a person who has just been freed from a form of literal or spiritual prison and the renewed wonder of a world for one that has been shut away for so long.  Wednesday’s class discussion of silence as a form of spiritual violence, gave me a new perspective on a song that is so familiar, a perspective that added meaning to a song I already felt to be profoundly meaningful and beautiful. My interpretation of one lyric in particular, “Everyone suffers, in silence, a burden,” completely changed as a result of our class discussion of silence as a form of


Politicians and Morality

By: Stacey Noell Isn’t it interesting the way politics is generally devoid of morals? Isn’t it bizarre that if a politician speaks out in support of a man he admires, if that man happens to be a member of the “other party,” that politician is politically ostracized and stripped of his chairmanship? I have always had a profound interest in politics, but have insisted that I would never want to BE a politician because it seems they always lose their morals. Those that are charged with representing Americans seem to be thought of as the least moral people in the country. And right we are to have that impression—each month we learn of another politician embroiled in a sex scandal, taking bribes from lobbyists or others who want favors and even partaking in the very crimes they so vigorously speak out against. How can we expect the legal system to