Forum in the ABA Journal

Fordham Law’s Unique Film Forum Boasts a Cast of Stars—and Faces an Uncertain Future Posted Jan 1, 2011 4:40 AM CST By Wendy N. Davis On a Sunday afternoon in October in New York City, a crowd is filing into the McNally Amphitheatre at Fordham University’s law school. There’s the expected assortment of law students and attorneys in attendance. But the 500 or so people in line also include media executives, retirees, 20-something computer programmers and—most strikingly—three women dressed in Mennonite outfits. All are there for the same reason: The chance to view Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men, along with an even rarer chance to hear U.S. Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor talk about the movie, its effect on her decision to become a prosecutor, and the differences between trials in real life and their portrayal on film. It’s not every day that a law school can lure a


The Makers of Music, and the Dreamers of Dreams

Last night I saw a film called Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as a futuristic con man who breaks into peoples’ minds via their dreams, tricking them into revealing their secrets and forfeiting their own ideas. Working on a freelance basis, he makes his living stealing the intellectual property of various people of importance and then selling it to others. The film has been very successful, both critically and commercially, which is probably due in large part to the surrealist idiom in which it operates. But I think a lot of the ideas in the film translate well into real-life considerations. There are two techniques used by the thieves in the movie: that of “extraction” and that of “inception.” Extraction is the process mentioned above, wherin the target’s subconscious is accessed through a process of shared dreaming. Once together in the dream, the target is somehow manipulated into giving up the


Where have you gone, Joe DiMaggio?

In the medium-sized city of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, professional football occupies somewhat of an elevated position. The locals describe the city as being “a drinking town with a football problem,” which is a bit of a reductive description but not entirely inaccurate. As a native Pittsburgher and loyal Steelers fan, I’ve had a lot of people asking me recently what I think of the controversy surrounding Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And it’s a good question, I’ve realized, because it’s more difficult to answer than it really ought to be. The controversy in question concerns two separate sexual assault allegations leveled at Mr. Roethlisberger inside of the past year. Now of course, most people can agree that sexual assualt is wrong; if either allegation is true then it becomes a lot easier to formulate what I think of the situation, and what I think of Mr. Roethlisberger himself. So that can’t be


Guns don't kill people, but bad parenting just might…

I am continually frustrated by those who use the law to avoid personal responsibility. As reported by the ‘Huffington Post’ (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2009/11/10/christopher-biziljs-famil_n_351732.html), a family is suing a fifteen year-old for failing to provide proper guidance for their eight-year old son about the uzi his father PICKED OUT FOR HIM to shoot a gun show. The child died when the weapon jammed, and he lost control of it. According to Wikipedia an uzi is “open bolt, blowback-operated submachine gun.” I don’t really understand what those words mean, but I KNOW that an eight-year old shouldn’t be anywhere near …that. And I’m not remotely ready for parenthood. Further complicating the story, is the Massachusetts statute which outlaws those under the age of eighteen from handling a machine gun. Clearly, the fifteen-year old had no business handling an Uzi himself. Perhaps, he will sue the organizer of the gun show who is on trial


The Emotional Threshold

Blog post – Oliver Edwards In Dickens’ Bleak House, Lawrence Boythorn’s right of way dispute fascinates me, because it remains unresolved; in fact, when Boythorn offered to drop it following Lady Dedlock’s death, Lord Dedlock was “so magnificently aggrieved… that Mr. Boythorn found himself under the necessity of committing a flagrant trespass to restore his neighbour to himself.”  Dickens suggests a legal process quite different from the toxicity of Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, in the Dedlock-Boythorn dispute.  Both participants draw strength, or at least amusement, from this legal question.  How can they, when the law kills so many others in Bleak House?  Perhaps they survive only because the dispute is trivial; it concerns a piece of their property, and will not decide the course of their lives.                Daniel, in the Book of Daniel, also draws strength and purpose from his investigation; but he is


I Throw My Latkas in the Air Sometimes

At the onset of this course we read a children’s tale “In the Month of Kislev.”  Since it is currently the festival of lights I thought we ought to revisit the story in a more cynical light.  To refresh your recollection, here is a brief recap of the story: The tale begins with a Polish community preparing for the celebration of Hanukkah. One day, the children of a poor family stop under the window of a wealthy family in town, and thoroughly enjoy the aroma of potato latkas cooking in the kitchen. The children do this each day, until the owner of the house discovers them under his window. Angrily, the owner brings the children and their parents to the local Rabbi and insists on being paid by the family for the enjoyment the children have been getting from smelling the potato latkas. A children’s tale is usually written to


A World Without Lawyers

I am a Law student.  Have been for 3 years now.  That means that I have been training myself in the practice of law by studying past cases to understand how the law works.  And I gotta say, the law doesn’t work well.  It takes time and money and if you’re really lucky can serve a modicum of Justice.  But the thing about it that I just can’t get over, that makes me roll my eyes whenever I think about it, is that lawyers literally do nothing but gum up the works. Now, I’m a lawyer in training, so this may be a bit of a strange position to hear me take but the blaring obviousness of it is just too true to ignore.  What do we do?! What?!  I mean we tend to know the Law better than our clients, we write up a heck of a lot of


Shylock Revisited

“Shylock Visits The People’s Court” By: Patrick S. Dorime How many civil actions could have been prevented with a simple apology? In Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, the reader is exposed to a tortured Jew, Shylock, who seeks revenge on Antonio and his Venetian posse. In demanding a pound of flesh, a monetarily worthless remedy for Antonio’s default, Shylock embodies the ever-present plight of most plaintiffs who seek legal recourse against former acquaintances, friends, and relatives: the desire to be treated with self-respect. To the Venetian Court and to the Christian’s in the play, Shylock fails the reasonable person test. After all, what kind of man seeks the forfeiture of a pound of flesh as repayment on a defaulted loan? Once we consider Shylock’s backstory and emotional complexity, however, his demand for a pound of flesh makes perfect sense. It seems likely that had Antonio treated Shylock with respect and offered


A Reasonable Man in South Beach

In some ways, to some sports fans, it will be bigger than the Super Bowl, the Olympics or the World Cup. A night which will invariably provide emotional vindication for some, and pour heaping servings of salt on the wounds of others. Tonight’s (12/2) return of Lebron James to Cleveland is the culmination of months of anticipation throughout the sports world, and one that begs the question: how would Lebron’s “decision” have held up in the moral court of Law and Literature’s “unreasonable man?” To be sure, nothing that James did last summer was illegal. At the end of his contract term, he weighed his options and made a career move, albeit one that essentially gut-punched an entire city. While he was not contractually bound to his hometown, the larger question is, did he have a moral obligation to stay? Was it a crime of morality to abandon those who had


The Backstory of a Professor

I’ve just come from my last class as a student in Thane Rosenbaum’s Law and Literature class. While the object of this blog post is not to offer a critique of the class (though if asked I could offer my recommendation of the class without hesitation), it still relates in a way to the themes discussed in it. The question that has piqued my curiosity increasingly throughout the semester is what is Professor Rosenbaum’s backstory? Looking at Professor Rosenbaum’s bio whether on this website, through Huffington Post or even Wikipedia, one interestingly only finds his accomplishments as a writer and professor. Yet there was a time when he worked as Bartleby; he was previously a Wall Street lawyer, law clerk to a federal judge, and editor in chief in law school. I’m left to wonder what backstory has created the emotional complexity in a man who, though he once stood