I Know They Buried Her Body with Others

By: Matt Gautier Thane Rosenbaum thinks “atrocity is different” and that artistic license hits its bounds when confronted with events it just can’t handle, such as the Holocaust. The first reaction is the old saw, “We need to know our history to avoid repeating the past . . . in the future,” but Rosenbaum has an antidote to that. He thinks the Holocaust’s victims own their story and that it’s a moral crime to misappropriate that story to create art. And even worse, he worries that the Holocaust story will be tweaked during the fictionalization process in a way that necessarily trivializes the horror of the actual events. In novels, short attention spans require tales of heroism and redemption. In film, logistics alone require the facsimile be sanitized. Even Steven Spielberg’s cast of thousands were helpless to portray the nightmare-scape of half-living Muselmanner and shit-smeared corpses. So, representing the Holocaust,


Life: The Raw Material of Artists

By Ilana Ofgang “A great artist… must be shaken by the naked truths that will not be comforted. This divine discontent, this disequilibrium, this state of inner tension is the source of artistic energy.” – Goethe “The purpose of art is to lay bare the questions which have been hidden by the answers.” – James Baldwin “Art is the Queen of all sciences communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.” – Leonardo da Vinci Over the past few weeks, I have been thinking about three of the themes of our Law and Literature class: 1) the importance of public trials and truth 2) the rational/reasonable man 3) the artist’s commentary on the legal system. About a year ago, I watched a film called The Lives of Others, which was set in 1980’s East Berlin. In this film, a playwright and his girlfriend (an actress) are under the secret


Fracture

By: Tanner Rouse In the movie Fracture we see a fascinating and often under-publicized moral debate that lawyers must face.  Do they take the job that can often times yield a more rewarding legal career or do they pursue the higher-paying, less fulfilling career?  Ryan Gosseling’s character is a hot shot district attorney that possesses the option to maintain a presence at the DA’s office where he is a star litigator, or move on to a private firm where he will be handsomely rewarded for his services.  Again, this is a fascinating and under examined element of the lawyer’s career.  Where do we draw the line between moral fulfillment and legal prestige?  This is a very similar issue to the one faced every day by prosecutors that wish are forced to choose between representing their clients best interests and successfully prosecuting a case by accepting a plea bargain.  Where does


The legal profession can use a little miracle.

By: Anna Krutaya Movies depicting trials and the events surrounding trials have been around for ages.  In its countdown of the 25 Greatest Legal Movies, the ABA Journal has a movie dating all the way back to 1939 (The Young Mr. Lincoln). Regardless of what the plot is or what year the movie was made, the general concept is always the same; it is a battle between good and evil. Those who represent the good are seeking to expose the truth about something that the evil side is attempting to conceal.  If the good wins out in the end, the audience is left with a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment after seeing that the justice has been served. If evil prevails, the audience walks away saying that the film truly portrayed the shortcomings of our legal system. However, I find that if one focuses only on which side prevails, you


Moral Crimes and Charity Work– What is the Minimum Requirement?

By: Remy Lapidus In the New York Times on Sunday, U2 singer Bono wrote an editorial urging charity even during times of hardship.  He explained that going to Church on Easter provides him with a new feeling of rebirth, and that our current recession should provide each person with one as well.  Just because people in the United States are facing hardship, it does not mean we should abandon our obligation to help others abroad living in extreme poverty.  He suggested that today people are volunteering more, because they have less money to give.  And although this is in itself beneficial, giving foreign aid remains a necessary investment, not just as a good deed.  Poverty-stricken countries that become more self-sufficient through aid will eventually be able to participate in the global economy making all countries wealthier. Peter Singer, a philosopher, discusses the moral obligations of what Bono describes as a


On "The Myth of Moral Justice"

By: Diego Galindo In The Myth of Moral Justice Professor Rosenbaum argues that the law focuses too much on the physical aspect of crimes and ignores the internal world where pain and injustice also exists and where wrongs are left unresolved and unaddressed. Thousands of people go through our legal system each year and are left, whether monetarily enriched or not, feeling spiritually and morally empty. Rosenbaum condemns the fact that the law offers no remedy for this and rarely attempts to acknowledge the internal world.  He believes that through awareness and conscious effort the law can evolve to encompass this necessary aspect of human justice. But the problem is that while the existing legal system has clearly defined standards (for the most part), a similar moral structure would almost be impossible to set up. Not only because of differing internal worlds between people but because of the ever-changing emotions


Remedies Through Recognition

By: William Burke As the son of a Luzerne County (PA) judge, I have vicariously experienced a small measure of the enormous stress my father has endured in his professional life for roughly the past year.  You see, my conversations with Dad have reflected the fallout of a judicial scandal that has engulfed the Luzerne County court system during that time.  This scandal formally ended on February 12th, when two county judges plead guilty to charges of tax evasion and defrauding the public of their honest services, each receiving 87 months in federal prison.  And although my father was by no means implicated, you need not stretch your imagination to conceive of the angst induced in all county court employees as they watched and sometimes participated in the lengthy federal investigation that spawned the plea agreement. The full scope and details of the scheme that landed these two jurists seven-plus


Pirates of Somalia – At Morality’s End

By Ilana Turko In recent times we have witnessed an enormous increase in pirate attacks, especially off the coast of Somalia.  After one of the most recent attacks, where Captain Richard Phillips risked his life by volunteering to be held captive in an effort to protect the crew of the Maersk Alabama, President Obama approved of the use of military snipers in an attempt to rescue the captain. International military response to these terrifying pirate attacks has varied.  In our Human Rights, the Holocaust, and the Law class, we often discuss the fixation of the law on the tangible, such as physical damages or money lost, and contrast this with the lack of focus on spiritual and moral harms.  In response to the captivity of Captain Phillips by Somali pirates, the US military was given public approval to intervene.  This can be viewed as a reflection of our legal and


National Socialist Party of America v. Village of Skokie: A Story’s Telling, Thirty Years in the Making

By: Maurice Collada Thirty-two years ago in Skokie, Illinois a small Jewish community was threatened with the horror of being reminded of the atrocities committed upon them and their relatives in the Holocaust when a neo-Nazi organization planned to march through their town. After the town’s Counsel attempted to place administrative blocks to prevent this affront, a battle ensued in court over the neo-Nazis’ freedom of assembly as protected by the First Amendment. Eventually, the Supreme Court determined that Illinois could not prevent the neo-Nazis from marching. Despite the obvious intention to inflict psychological trauma upon the Skokie Jewish community, the Supreme Court was able to come to a conclusion that was constitutionally sound. The following was the crux of their holding: “If a state seeks to impose a[n injunction in violation of First Amendment rights], it must provide strict procedural safeguards, including immediate appellate review. Absent such review, [a


The Reader: A Comparison of American and German Legal Practice in Post-Nazi Germany

By: Rachel Turner The movie The Reader unfolds the aftermath of an affair between a sixteen-year-old boy Michael, and an older woman, which takes place in post-holocaust Germany. The two cross paths later in life when Michael, then a law student, attends the trial of some former concentration camp guards, one of them being his aforementioned lover, Hannah. Law school in that era scarcely resembles the well-populated institutions of our time, presumably since the law had failed to prevent the atrocity they all lived through. It is hard to imagine maintaining faith in a system which failed so notoriously. Michael and his few classmates, however, remain committed to the justice system. Their learning process is surprisingly much more moral as opposed to legalistic. The Professor probes beyond the narrow view of the law. The morality of the law is displayed during the trial when the judges interrogate Hannah’s position as