Law as Bureaucracy

By: Ashley Garman In The Trial, Kafka presents a picture of the legal system as the king of all bureaucracies.  The path to “justice”, per Kafka, is a maddening, endless chain of seemingly arbitrary requirements: submit these briefs, show up here at this time, wait here, say this not that, et cetera. Recently, I was reminded of a real-life example about how arbitrary requirements of the legal bureaucracy can be.  In September of 2007, Judge Sharon Keller, presiding judge of the highest criminal court in Texas, refused to keep the court open an extra 20 minutes past its closing time to accept the appeal of death row inmate Michael Richards.  Richard’s lawyers were trying to obtain a stay of Richard’s execution until the United States Supreme Court ruled on the constitutionality of lethal injection.  A computer malfunction caused a delay in the pleadings, Judge Keller instructed her clerks to close


A Conversation with Richard Dreyfuss

By: Peter Lawrence First off, it was truly an honor to have Professor Rosenbaum and Actor Richard Dreyfuss on the same stage, two guys with common sense. Mr. Dreyfuss made some very powerful comments. Mr. Dreyfuss made a warning to all in the crowd and those viewing on simulcast, that we as a people will have a very troubling future. I couldn’t agree more. America has been swimming in a sea of ignorance for quite some time now, and it hurts seeing how deep we may sink. Our educational standards are lousy, our patriotism is silencing our ability to accept or acknowledge criticism, and our elitist mentality has left us with misunderstanding of the world. I was born overseas, I have lived overseas. There is nothing worse than to see how we hold a negative view of others. In particular, our legal system has failed us. We don’t look for


Role of Differentiation

By: Lauren Weitz One issue that is often discussed in Professor Rosenbaum’s law and literature class is the paradox between law and morality.  Are the two realms so distinct that it is virtually impossible for a lawyer to be good at his profession while simultaneously being a good person?  One theory that deals with this question is that of role differentiation.  Role differentiation suggests that the moral obligations lawyers are forced to assume in their profession inevitably displace whatever moral obligations one assumes in his or her everyday life outside of law. Beyond the implication that a lawyer’s professional and everyday ethical obligations inherently contradict each other is the notion that a lot of lawyers actually welcome this assumption and legal ethics education requires it.  A good example of this is a lawyer’s relationship with a client.  Often times, lawyers are put in a position where in order to accomplish


Distrust for Law Enforcement Officers

By: Ariella Hellman In Prof. Rosenbaum’s Law and Literature class we have been discussing the artist’s view of the law and the way in which the law can at times be unfair and suffocating. I would like to share some of my own distrust for the law or more accurately, my distrust for law enforcement officers. Growing up, I always had an image of police officers as strong, helpful people. I’m not sure exactly where this image came from—perhaps it was just the classic story tale image of a police officer helping a lost child find his mom. Whatever the case, this image was dashed as I became older and steadily more and more afraid of police officers. I learned that police officers were far more interested in asserting their power over others than in protecting people. They could be nasty and were generally just the opposite of helpful. I


Re-thinking The Apology in the Legal System

By: Jeffrey Dicker One of the fundamental shortcomings of the American legal system is its failure to address moral injury. This flaw is most apparent when contrasting the common legal remedy of monetary damages to the often ignored moral remedy of an apology. All that is required of an apology is an acknowledgment that a wrong was committed. In her March 18, 2009 column in Time magazine, Nancy Gibbs writes on the “Lost Art of Saying I’m Sorry.” In the article, she observes that in all the crises that have made their way into the headlines each day, very few of the people responsible for these crises have issued authentic apologies. By authentic apology, she refers to an acknowledgment that a wrong was committed. Too often the apologies that are given are only superficial. Alex Rodriguez was not sorry for using steroids, but for getting caught. The holocaust denying Bishop


Sex Offender Castration: Moral and Just?

By: Mark Nelson The New York Times recently featured an article discussing castration of sex offenders in Europe. One of the Law and Literature class themes is that there is an absence of morality in the legal system.  Some argue that castrating sex offenders is immoral and unethical.  After all, castration is not a medical necessity and the right to reproduce is generally accepted as an unalienable right—nobody wants a legal system condoning eugenics.  Castrating sex offenders can be seen as a classic example of the law continuing to ignore morality.  But from another perspective, preventing the physical and spiritual harm of other potential victims is just and an essential element of moral remedy. Another class theme is that the law doesn’t care about back-story and emotional complexity.  Judging by the article, castration as an elective remedy for sex offenders takes into account at least some back-story and emotional complexity. 


THE FORGOTTEN REFUGEES

By: Mayer Steinman On Thursday, Feb 26th, the Jewish Law students association screened the documentary “The Forgotten Refugees,” which explores the mass and often forced exodus of Jewish communities from the Middle East, Iran and North Africa during the 20th century. The film touches upon many of the concepts of moral justice that we have discussed in our studies. Using extensive testimony of some of the one million refugees from Egypt, Yemen, Libya, Iraq, Syria and Morocco, the film recounts the refugees stories of suffering while living under the rule of Muslim leaders and their subsequent joy upon the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Telling the story. Many of these refugees emphasized that they simply want to tell their story. While the media has been dominated by the current and past claims of the Palestinian refu gees, the stories of these jewish refugees, which for many occurred