Paternity and the Law

Submitted By: Lauren Colasacco I recently read an article on paternity and fathers who are legally obligated to continue paying child support after they discover that the child is not theirs. This article shows that, sometimes, the law can have a human face, where children are involved. The article appeared in NYTimes Magazine on November 17th. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/22/magazine/22Paternity-t.html The article explained that men who learn they are not the biological fathers of the children they have raised, loved and cared for must continue to pay child support for those children (even if the biological father has returned to the picture). The only exception to this appears to be if the father stops all contact with the child; ends the relationship. The courts explained that it is in the best interest of the child to be cared for by the father he or she has know his or her whole life. A


If Not in the Legal Arena, Where?

By April Kim During the Fordham Law Film Festival, I watched Anatomy of a Murder. Couple days later, I watched a recent blockbuster, Law Abiding Citizen. It was just coincidence that I watched these two movies back to back but I couldn’t help but notice the similarities in the unlikely pair. Anatomy of a Murder is a comical portrayal of a clever lawyer who successfully defends a murderess but later finds out that his client was not innocent. Law Abiding Citizen is about a man taking revenge into his own hands after a prosecutor cuts a deal with the criminal who killed his family. On the surface the two movies seem to have nothing in common other than the fact that they involve lawyers but in fact they carry a similar message: there are GIANT holes in our legal system. What are we to do as citizens in a country


THERE’S NO CRYING IN BASEBALL

By Samantha Levin Ex Bear Stearns hedge fund managers Matthew Tannin and Ralph Cioffi were recently found not guilty on all charges. During her closing argument, Susan Brune, lead defense attorney for Tannin, began to cry. “Send Matt home to his family,” Brune stated. Shortly after, criticism concerning the defense attorney’s emotional closing flooded the news reports. The reports surrounding Brune’s closing were not negative. They were more about the shock of witnessing such emotion in a court room. Our legal system expects people to leave their emotions at home. This is strange because people come to court at their most vulnerable. Yet the judge does not want the emotional neutrality of his court room to be disturbed. He or she instructs the jury that emotional outburst by attorneys and witnesses can have no weight in their findings of fact. The judge is essentially telling the jury to not behave


Coaching the Anatomy of a Murder?

By: Richard Strohmenger In Otto Preminger’s “Anatomy of a Murder,” Jimmy Stewart plays the role of Paul Biegler, a defense attorney representing a suspect in a murder case.  Biegler’s client, Frederic Manion (played by Ben Gazzara), has been accused of shooting a man who allegedly raped his wife.  The film revolves around Manion’s trial and Biegler’s outstanding performance in convincing the jury that Manion suffered from an “irresistible impulse” when he committed the murder.  Several witnesses watched Manion shoot the victim in a bar and his actions seemed calculated to those present.  Biegler realizes that his only shot at absolving Manion of any guilt related to this crime is to prove that he suffered from an “irresistible impulse” towards the victim after learning that he had raped Manion’s wife. Initially, Manion is a tough client who refuses to give Biegler much information to go on, or much of a case


The Truth Behind Sleepers

By Rachel Brook Immediately after the publishing of Lorenzo Carcaterra’s book Sleepers in 1995, controversy arose as to the truthful nature of the story. The controversy intensified in 1996, after the book was made into a movie directed by Barry Levinson.  Sleepers tells the tale of four juveniles who accidentally kill a man during what was meant to be a harmless prank.  The boys are sent to a detention center for boys where they are severely abused, both sexually and physically. Sleepers  portrays this abuse and the ultimate revenge that the boys seek and obtain as adults when they encounter one of the detention center’s guards in a restaurant.  Carcaterra published the book Sleepers as a work of nonfiction.  The movie Sleepers also begins with the line:  “This is a true story about friendship that runs deeper than blood.”  However, many parties mentioned in Sleepers were outraged by the assertion


Mississippi Burning

By Mike Grogan Through my viewing of Mississippi Burning at the Fordham Film Festival I was exposed to a new idea that I had never really considered when viewing movies that deal specifically with previous human tragedies. This new sentiment was the premise that these films, while potentially highly entertaining, expose the viewers to a biased view of the events that occurred.  These films are merely interpretations of actions that happened in the past, often times generations ago.  This is something that every person should take with them into the viewing of a film of this nature.  In the case of Mississippi Burning, which I enjoyed seeing, the plight and strength of blacks living in the South prior to the movement that led to racial equality in the United States was almost completely ignored.  Instead, the filmmakers chose to focus on the actions of the primarily white government agents.  This


Leap of Rationality

by Jeff Cunningham I am just a simple Jew, no yeshiva boy, so I thought I might quote a not-so-simple Jew, although also not a yeshiva boy, in an attempt to discuss the relationship between religion, faith, and rationality. Albert Einstein said, “as a circle of light increases so does the circumference of darkness around it,” and I think this idea helps explain my personal experience with my Jewish faith and perhaps its foundation as a both rational and faithful lifestyle. The only thing I am really certain of in life is that we don’t have much a clue about what is going on, how we got here, or where we are going. I think most of existence is unknown to us and is perhaps even unknowable. That being said, I have always been quite skeptical of both religious and scientific certainty. It seems unsporting to me, though, to attack


Mad Men and The Law

by Ben Darche One of most critically acclaimed television dramas on the air right now is Mad Men, now in its third season on AMC.  Set in early 1960’s New York City, the show depicts a fictional advertising agency – Sterling Cooper – and its employees.  The show, however, is about much more than the ad business, operating on a variety of cultural levels, with the all-white and nearly all-male agency executives mostly oblivious to seismic cultural shifts unfolding all around them, with the button-downed 1950’s giving rise to the civil rights and counter-cultural era of the 1960s.  For instance, in one recent episode, the show’s protagonist, Don Draper, turns off the radio in the middle of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, seemingly unaware of its significance or at the very least simply uninterested in its importance. One of the running themes in Mad Men is the


Temporary Insanity and Battered Woman Syndrome

By: Chelsea Hall According to Professor Thane Rosenbaum, the legal system should be focused on satisfying the emotional needs of people who have been wronged.  Those who deal in the language of revenge understand that, while those who believe only in legal retribution do not.  Revenge is one way for a victim to feel vindicated and alive once again after being shamed, dehumanized, or spiritually assaulted.  As human beings, we tend to root for and empathize with the person who takes revenge. However, the only way the legal system can account for justified revenge is by calling the avenger “crazy” or “insane.”  The insanity defense is an illustration of how legal system generally does not allow for emotion, while also recognizing that revenge is sometimes not such a terrible thing. An analogy can be made to “battered woman syndrome” (BWS), which was introduced in the late 1970’s to help jurors