March 16, 2018

When the Snow Hits Your Eye on a Day in---March, Itsa Lawyer @ABAesq @Kirkland_Ellis

I thought this video was great when the media was reporting that it was about a man in an Elsa outfit pushing a police car out of a snow bank in Boston. Now, as it turns out, it was a lawyer in an Elsa outfit pushing a police car out of a snow bank in Boston. His name is Jonathan Triplett, and he's manager of attorney recruiting at Kirkland and Ellis. Excellent!

March 14, 2018

ABA Announces Silver Gavel Awards Winners For 2018 @ABAesq

The American Bar Association has announced its finalists for the Silver Gavel Award for 2018.  They include


An American Sickness by Elizabeth Rosenthal; Penguin Random House.
In Praise of Litigation by Alexandra Lahav; Oxford University Press.
Unwarranted: Policing without Permission by Barry Friedman; Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
Secrecy Rules; Star Tribune (Minneapolis); James Shiffer, reporter; Karen Lundegaard, digital editor.
Death-Penalty Defense Drama at Guantanamo War Court; Miami Herald; Carol Rosenberg, military affairs reporter; Dave Wilson, senior editor.


Breakdown Season 6: A Jury of his Peers; The Atlanta Journal-Constitution; Richard Halicks, senior editor; Kevin Riley; editor-in-chief; Bill Rankin, legal affairs writer; Pete Corson, audience specialist.
The Bookie, the Phone Booth, and the FBI; WNYC Studios New York Public Radio; Manoush Zomorodi, host and managing editor; Kat Aaron, senior producer; Jen Poyant, executive producer.
Null and Void; Radiolab at WNYC; Maria Matasar-Padilla, managing director; Tracie Hunte, reporter; Matt Kielty, producer; Soren Wheeler, managing editor.


Abacus: Small Enough to Jail; PBS Distribution, Frontline and ITVS; Mitten Media, Motto Pictures and Kartemquin Films Production; Steve James, director; Mark Mitten, producer; Julie Goldman, producer.
Baltimore Rising; Blowback Productions for HBO Documentary Films; Sonja Sohn, director and executive producer; Marc Levin, Anthony Hemingway, George Pelecanos and Mark Taylor, executive producers; Sheila Nevins, executive producer for HBO; Nancy Abraham. senior producer.
48 Hours: “Guilty Until Proven Innocent48 Hours/CBS News; Charlotte Fuller and Alicia Tejada, field producers; Maureen Maher, correspondent; Peter Schweitzer, senior producer; Nancy Kramer, executive story editor; Judy Rybak, producer.

Steilen on How to Think Constitutionally About Prerogative @MJSteilen

Matthew J. Steilen, State University of New York at Buffalo, Law School, is publishing How to Think Constitutionally About Prerogative: A Study of Early American Usage in the Buffalo Law Review. Here is the abstract.
This Article challenges the view of "prerogative" as a discretionary authority to act outside the law. For seventy years, political scientists, lawyers and judges have drawn on John Locke's account of prerogative in the Second Treatise, using it to read foundational texts in American constitutional law. American writings on prerogative produced between 1760 and 1788 are rarely discussed (excepting The Federalist), though these materials exist in abundance. Based on a study over 700 of these texts, including pamphlets, broadsides, letters, essays, newspaper items, state papers and legislative debates, this Article argues that early Americans almost never used "prerogative" as Locke defined it. Instead, the early American understanding of "prerogative" appears to have been shaped predominantly by the imperial crisis, the series of escalating disputes with the British ministry over taxation which preceded the Revolutionary War; in this crisis Americans based their claims to enjoy rights of self-taxation on their colonial charters, which were issued by the King's prerogative. The primary connotations of "prerogative" for Americans were thus self-government and the benefits of government, principally the protection of property and liberty. Drawing on this innovative view, the Article then proffers several principles for constructing the powers of the President. It argues that the Article II Vesting Clause should be treated as a substantive grant of executive power, but conceived narrowly as the power to carry out the law, not as a grant of prerogative. It is the enumerated powers in Article II that establish presidential prerogatives. These powers should be treated as "defeasible" in the sense that they may be regulated by statute and judicial decision, within limits the Article describes. This framework is consistent with the series of modern statutes regulating presidential emergency powers, including the War Powers Resolution and the National Emergencies Act.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

March 12, 2018

What You Can Do With a Law Degree: Teach Criminal Law and Write and Perform Songs @RobCurrieMusic

Rob Currie, professor of law at the Schulich School of Law, Dalhousie University, teaches Canadian and international criminal law. So far, so good, But he also writes and performs music, and is known for his "graceful...lyrics" and "traditional style."  His song "Romeo" explores the story of Romeo Phillion's conviction and eventual exoneration.  More here.

Superheroes and Law Degrees @YaleLawLibrary

CFP: Workshop on Cultural Expertise and Litigation in the History of Law, Oxford, July 4, 2018 @thomgiddens @OxfordCSLS

Call for papers:  Workshop on Cultural Expertise and Litigation in the History of Law, to be held at the Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of Oxford, July 4th, 2018.

Abstracts between 500 and 1000 words plus a short bio (indicating current affiliation and main publications) should be sent to Livia Holden at Accommodation and some meals will be provided. Subject to availability of funds and exhaustion of the participant’s institutional resources, funds may also cover some travel expenses. 

More here: 

March 11, 2018

Legalrama @TheLawMap @legalcheek @BarristerSecret

The Secret Barrister (@BarristerSecret, "wears a black cape and fights crime") analyzes the law in Bananarama's "Love in the First Degree" and it is something to behold. The Tweeter offers up the niceties of criminal liability, the roles of judge and jury, and some points of sentencing.  (Thread here, from March 2:

I would point out that, however, that 1) the law that applies would seem to be U.S. law, and 2) it all takes place in a dream (or nightmare)--"Last night I was dreaming/I was locked in a prison cell..."

More here, courtesy of Legal Cheek. And The Secret Barrister teases us with the possibility of more to come, perhaps analysis of Meatloaf's "I Would Do Anything For Love (But I Won't Do That)." There's also The Supremes' "Stop! In the Name of Love." Request for an injunction?

Also check out Alabama's "Love in the First Degree" here.  There's also a film, "Love in the First Degree" (2004), about a "tightly-wound corporate lawyer." Is there any other kind?

March 8, 2018

Kerr on Aesthetic Play and Bad Intent @GeorgetownLaw

Andrew Jensen Kerr, Georgetown University Law Center, is publishing Aesthetic Play and Bad Intent in Minneosta Law Review Headnotes (2018) (forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
Threatening words or images are assumed by American courts to be non-art. But this threshold question of art status is complicated by the evolution of rap and performance art. There is no articulable way to discern art from non-art for these non-textual media, a problem compounded in the unique context of the Internet. In civil litigation we can resort to institutionalist tests like audience reception. But mens rea matters in criminal prosecution. I favor judicial pragmatism in what I argue here is a very non-legal area of law.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

A Suits Spinoff Is in the Offing @USA_Network

USA has greenlit the Suits spinoff which stars Gina Torres (Jessica Pearson) and will feature the character as a Chicago politician. Aaron Korsh and Daniel Arkin will write and executive produce; Ms. Torres will also be an executive producer on the show.

Suits itself will return for an eighth season, although without Patrick J. Adams (Mike Ross), the now iconic character on whom the first 7 seasons of the show centered. Also gone is (of course) Meghan Markle (Rachel Zane), who will have a much bigger part to play on the world stage. Starting in May, she will be the wife of Harry, younger son of Charles, Prince of Wales and the late Princess Diana.                                                                                                                                                                 

More here from Variety.

March 7, 2018

Allen on Doctrinal Reasoning as a Disruptive Practice

Jessie Allen, University of Pittsburgh, School of Law, is publishing Doctrinal Reasoning as a Disruptive Practice in volume 6 of the Journal of Law and Courts (2018). Here is the abstract.
Legal doctrine is generally thought to contribute to legal decision making only to the extent it determines substantive results. Yet in many cases, the available authorities are indeterminate. I propose a different model for how doctrinal reasoning might contribute to judicial decisions. Drawing on performance theory and psychological studies of readers, I argue that judges’ engagement with formal legal doctrine might have self-disrupting effects like those performers experience when they adopt uncharacteristic behaviors. Such disruptive effects would not explain how judges ultimately select, or should select, legal results. But they might help legal decision makers to set aside subjective biases.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

Kessler and Pozen's Response To Barzun's Response To Kessler and Pozen on the Life Cycle of Legal Theories @jeremykkessler @ColumbiaLaw @UVALaw

Jeremy Kessler and David Pozen, both of Columbia University Law School, have published Some Legal Realism About Legal Theory as Columbia Public Law Research Paper No. 14-584. Here is the abstract.
This is a brief surreply to Charles Barzun, Working for the Weekend: A Response to Kessler & Pozen, 83 U. Chi. L. Rev. Online 225 (2017), which responds to Jeremy K. Kessler & David E. Pozen, Working Themselves Impure: A Life Cycle Theory of Legal Theories, 83 U. Chi. L. Rev. 1819 (2016). Our article Working Themselves Impure concludes by calling for lawyers to take more seriously the failure of prescriptive legal theories to produce the results they once promised. When prescriptive legal theories that fail to achieve their initial, publicly stated goals nonetheless gain and sustain broad support, "external" explanations of their persistence may offer a compelling alternative to increasingly convoluted internal explanations. The former kinds of explanation cannot decisively defeat the latter, but they do give the legal community a choice. Barzun would prefer to foreclose this choice: while sociologists and political scientists might be expected to prefer a given external explanation, he submits, the puzzled lawyer "likely will (and probably should) adopt the internal account." Barzun certainly has history on his side in assuming that many in the legal community will be inclined toward internal accounts of theory persistence—believing that those prescriptive theories that enjoy long lives do so in virtue of their "intrinsic merits" or "rightness." Yet a dissenting tradition of lawyers, judges, and legal scholars, from early-twentieth-century legal realists to late-twentieth-century crits, has sought to trouble this professional panglossianism. It is our hope that Working Themselves Impure will prove useful to those who might wish to do so in the future.
Download the paper from SSRN at the link.

Read Charles Barzun, Working for the Weekend: A Response to Kessler & Pozen, Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2017-33, here. Here is the abstract.

In Working Themselves Impure: A Life Cycle Theory of Legal Theories, Professors Jeremy Kessler and David Pozen argue that prescriptive legal theories tend to cannibalize themselves over time. Drawing on four case studies (originalism, textualism, popular constitutionalism, and cost-benefit analysis), the authors show how these theories tend to gain popularity and momentum only at the cost of abandoning the theoretical and normative motivations that originally inspired them. This brief Response does not take issue - at least not directly - with the authors’ characterizations of the theories they examine. It instead focuses on the last few pages of their article, where the authors discuss what they take to be their study’s methodological implications. I focus on these methodological suggestions because they deal most directly with a question their study as a whole naturally invites: Is the life-cycle theory likely to be helpful to the lawyer, judge, or legal scholar interested in assessing these theories? I offer some reasons for skepticism on this score.

Download the response at the link.

Read Jeremy Kessler and David Pozen, Working Themselves Impure: A Life Cycle Theory of Legal Theories, 83 University of Chicago Law Review 1819 (2016), here. Here is the abstract.

Prescriptive legal theories have a tendency to cannibalize themselves. As they develop into schools  of thought, they become not only increasingly complicated but also increasingly compromised, by their own normative lights. Maturation breeds adulteration. The theories work themselves impure.
This Article identifies and diagnoses this evolutionary phenomenon. We develop a stylized model to explain the life cycle of certain particularly influential legal theories. We illustrate this life cycle through case studies of originalism, textualism, popular constitutionalism, and cost-benefit analysis, as well as a comparison with leading accounts of organizational and theoretical change in politics and science. And we argue that an appreciation of the life cycle counsels a reorientation of legal advocacy and critique. The most significant threats posed by a new legal theory do not come from its neglect of significant first-order values -- the usual focus of criticism -- for those values are apt to be incorporated into the theory. Rather, the deeper threats lie in the second- and third-order social, political, and ideological effects that the adulterated theory's persistence may foster down the line.
Download the article at the link.

Peace out?  :-)

Kar on Formal Argument That Contract Meaning Depends On Linguistic Cooperation @UIllinoisLaw

Robin Bradley Kar, University of Illinois College of Law, has published Formal Argument that Contract Meaning Depends on Linguistic Cooperation. Here is the abstract.
In Pseudo-Contract and Shared Meaning Analysis, Professor Radin and I recently drew on contemporary insights into meaning, pioneered by Paul Grice, to develop a contemporary approach to contract interpretation — “shared meaning analysis” — which is adapted to modern circumstances. Part of our argument for using shared meaning analysis rested on the claim that when interpreting contracts, “the primary search is for a common meaning of the parties” — as the Restatement (Second) of Contracts puts the point. When identifying this common meaning, we argued that courts and parties implicitly rely on presuppositions of linguistic cooperation in ways that often go unrecognized. We suggested that the dependence of contract meaning on linguistic cooperation is pervasive and practically ineliminable. But some tests for contract interpretation, which are repeated more from habit than careful thought, have begun to delink contract meaning from the common meaning of the parties. This brief essay separates out and develops a detailed formal argument for the proposition that contract meaning depends on linguistic cooperation. Following Grice, I define “sentence meaning” as the meaning that a competent speaker of a language would attribute to a sentence independent of any knowledge of its occasion of use. I define “speaker meaning” as the meaning that a speaker intends to convey to another person within an interpersonal conversation, which often depends upon both parties relying on implicit presuppositions of linguistic cooperation. Building on these distinctions (but also departing from both in some ways), Professor Radin and I have offered a contemporary definition of the “shared meaning” of a contract. It is the meaning that the parties produced and actually agreed to based on the presupposition that both were using language cooperatively to contract. The purpose of this essay is to establish just how pervasive and practically ineliminable the presupposition of linguistic cooperation is to derive pervasive and uncontroversial aspects of contract meaning. Neither contemporary “objective” nor long-rejected “subjective” approaches to interpretation are getting contract interpretation perfectly right in some contemporary settings.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

March 6, 2018

Call For Papers: Murder, She Tweeted: Crime Narratives and the Digital Age, August 23-24, 2018, University of Tampere, Finland @thomgiddens @tiina_mantymaki

Murder, She Tweeted: Crime Narratives and the Digital Age

August 23-24, 2018

University of Tampere, Finland

Keynote speakers: Andrew Pepper (Queen's University Belfast) & Fiona Peters (Bath Spa University) 
Second  Call for Papers

The advent of new technologies and digital media have transformed society and influenced cultural narratives. The changes brought about by technological innovations, digitalisation, and globalisation have affected not only the subject matter and themes of contemporary crime narratives but also the production, distribution, and consumption of crime fiction on the global market, as well as the analytical tools, techniques, research methods, and theories available to scholars. 
These changes are readily visible in detectives' digital investigations or in how criminals employ digital technology in committing cybercrimes such as online stalking or theft. Moreover, the potential of digitalisation in modifying crime narratives nowadays ranges from podcasts such as "Serial" to Sherlock Holmes fan fiction to transmedia narration in "Sherlock" and the Twitter adaptation of Agatha Christie's The Body in the Library.

We invite proposals for paper presentations on crime narratives and the digital age from different language and cultural spheres. The conference's approach to crime and the digital context is wide and covers a variety of contemporary crime narratives (e.g. novels, films, TV series, adaptations, true crime, fan fiction, vlogs, blogs and other social media) that can be examined in a number of ways.

We would like to welcome proposals which address one or several of the following topics (please note that the list is by no means exhaustive):

- production and the global market of crime narratives
- crime narratives, participatory production and fan practices
- new modes of narration and serialised storytelling in crime narratives
- multimodality and transmedia crime narratives
- remakes and social media adaptations of crime narratives
- social media and mobile technologies in or about crime narratives
- crimes and criminal agency
- criminal networks and transnational crime
- crime and thriller narratives and digital geopolitics
- policing, detective agency and (digital) methods of detection
- true crime narratives and cold case archives
- digital humanities and the study of crime narratives
- crime and digital culture in the postcolonial world
- virtual crime
- ecology, crime and digital technologies

Participants may contribute with individual presentations (20 min) or panel proposals (three presenters).

Please submit your proposal (max 300 words for individual presentations; for panels, please submit titles and abstracts of each
paper) and a short biographical statement (including name, email address, institutional affiliation) to and as attachments in rtf or doc format by March 20, 2018.

Conference fee: there is a conference fee of 70 euros (coffee, lunches, reception) and participants are expected to cover all costs for travel, accommodation, and subsistence themselves.

Organising committee:

Dr Helen Mäntymäki, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Dr Maarit Piipponen, University of Tampere, Finland.
Dr Aino-Kaisa Koistinen, University of Jyväskylä, Finland.
Dr Andrea Hynynen, University of Turku Finland.

Goodman on Nevertheless She Persisted: From Mrs. Bradwell To Annalise Keating: Gender Bias In the Courtroom

Christine Chambers Goodman, Pepperdine University School of Law, is publishing Nevertheless She Persisted: From Mrs. Bradwell to Annalise Keating, Gender Bias in the Courtroom in volume 24 of the William & Mary Journal of Women and the Law (2017). Here is the abstract.
Part I of this Article gives some brief background on the nature of implicit gender biases, and discusses the evolution of gender bias against female attorneys, with particular attention to how the media influences those biases. Part II analyzes the specific manifestations of gender bias in the courtroom. Part III addresses concrete strategies that law schools, firms, the bench, and bar can implement to reduce its impact.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

March 5, 2018

John Copenhaver on Parallels Between the Crime Novel and the Coming Out Narrative @ElectricLit @CutterStreeby @johncopenhaver

John Copenhaver discusses similarities between the crime novel and the coming-out novel. He begins by saying,
The act of coming out is an unveiling. Since queer people live in a straight, cis-gendered dominant culture, we have the burden of proclaiming our sexual orientation or our gender identity. As a narrative, the coming-out story is one we’re familiar with, and one we’ve embraced. Crime stories have a similar structure, which perhaps is why they resonate with queer readers and writers: the tension of withheld secrets, the satisfying snap of the puzzle pieces fitting together, the wonder of the reveal. We’re drawn to a narrative where the unknown becomes known. Where motives are made clear. Where identity is made evident.

Among the crime narrative he offers for inspection:  Truman Capote's In Cold Blood, Katherine V. Forrest's Apparition Alley, and Patricia Highsmith's The Talented Mr. Ripley.

More here. 

CFP: Law and Humanities Forum of the MLA Plans Session on Literature, Law, and Violence at Next Year's Convention @MLANews

The Law and Humanities Forum of the Modern Language Association is sponsoring a guaranteed session on "Literature, Law, and Violence" at next year's MLA convention in Chicago (January 3-6, 2019).  We invite papers examining the relationship between law and violence in literary or legal texts from any period and all regions of the world.  

Here is a link to the CFP, as listed on the MLA website, with contact information. Please send 250-500 word abstracts and brief CV  by March 13, 2018 to Melissa J. Ganz (

Melissa J. Ganz
Assistant Professor of English
Marquette University
Marquette Hall 226
Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881

Rodriguez-Navarro and Zambrano on One Myth of the Classical Natural Law Theory: Relfecting on the "Thin" View of Legal Positivism @LawatSurrey

Veronica Rodriguez-Blanco, University of Surrey, Centre for Law and Philosophy, and Pilar Zambrano, University of Navarra, have published One Myth of the Classical Natural Law Theory: Reflecting on the “Thin” View of Legal Positivism at 31 Ratio Juris 9 (2018). Here is the abstract.
Much controversy has emerged on the demarcation between legal positivism and non‐legal positivism with some authors calling for a ban on the ‐as they see it‐ nonsensical labelling of legal philosophical debates. We agree with these critics; simplistic labelling cannot replace the work of sophisticated and sound argumentation. In this paper we do not use the term ‘legal positivism’ as a simplistic label but identify a specific position which we consider to be the most appealing and plausible view on legal positivism. This is the view advocated by Gardner in his paper 'Legal Positivism: 5½ Myths’ (Gardner [Gardner, J., 2001], 199), where he carefully scrutinises the most convincing and unifying postulates of legal positivism, which he calls “the thin view”. The study shows that this thin view presupposes an empirical conception of action that is untenable and implausible since it makes acts of engagement with the law unintelligible to an observer of such acts.
The full text is not available from SSRN.

March 2, 2018

Postema on Meaning, Analysis, and Exposition: Bentham on the Technology of Thought

Gerald J. Postema, University of North Carolina, Philosophy and Law, is publishing Meaning, Analysis, and Exposition: Bentham on the Technology of Thought in Utility, Publicity, and Law: Essays on Bentham's Moral and Legal Philosophy (Oxford: Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Here is the abstract.
First and foremost a social and legal reformer, Bentham undertook philosophical reflection on language—its nature, use and abuse—in an effort to understand and improve the world. His intellectual energy was trained primarily on law and political ordering, but he looked to every mode of inquiry (“science”) available for analytic and normative tools with which to “rear the fabric of felicity.” The most important of his theoretical innovations, in his view, was his theory of meaning, the heart of which was his analysis of language in terms of “real” and “fictitious” entities. This theory mapped the relations between the domain of thought and physical reality and devised a method of analysis—definition by “paraphrasis”—that enabled systematic ordering of thought. Late in his life, Bentham set out the metaphysical and epistemological foundations of his life’s work, articulating and grounding the philosophical principles that had governed his thinking from the beginning of his career. Reflecting on language and its relation to thought and reality, he produced sophisticated theories of meaning and of the technology of thought—the techniques and principles by which the active mind populates and orders the domain of thought. With this technology, Bentham sought to discipline potentially wayward language and thereby to deprive arbitrary power of one of its favorite weapons.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

Sykes and Tranter on The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Natural Law @GriffLawSchool

Robbie Sykes and Kieran Mark Tranter, both of Griffith University Law School, are publishing The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and Natural Law in the International Journal for the Semiotics of Law (2018). Here is the abstract.

In Natural Law and Natural Rights, John Finnis delves into the past, attempting to revitalise the Thomist natural law tradition cut short by opposing philosophers such as David Hume. In this article, Finnis’s efforts at revival are assessed by way of comparison with – and, indeed, contrast to – the life and art of musician David Bowie. In spite of their extravagant differences, there exist significant points of connection that allow Bowie to be used in interpreting Finnis’s natural law. Bowie’s work – for all its appeals to a Nietzschean ground zero for normative values – shares Finnis’s concern with ordering affairs in a way that will realise humanity’s great potential. In presenting enchanted worlds and evolved characters as an antidote to all that is drab and pointless, Bowie has something to tell his audience about how human beings can thrive. Likewise, natural law holds that a legal system should include certain content that guides people towards a life of ‘flourishing’. Bowie and Finnis look to the past, plundering it for inspiration and using it as fuel to boost humankind forward. The analogy of Natural Law and Natural Rights and Bowie’s magpie-like relationship to various popular music traditions ultimately reveals that natural law theory is not merely an objective and unchanging edict to be followed without question, but a legacy that is to be recreated by those who carry it into the future. Law’s instruments of critique must not forget these transformative qualities. 

Download the article from SSRN at the link.

March 1, 2018

Holtermann, Introduction to Alf Ross: On Law and Justice @JakovoHoHo

Jakob v. H. Holtermann, University of Copenhagen, iCourts, Centre of Excellence for International Courts, has published Alf Ross: On Law and Justice; Editor's Introduction, as iCourts Working Paper Series, No. 116. It is also forthcoming in Alf Ross, On Law and Justice (Jakob v. H. Holtermann, ed., tr. Uta Bindreiter, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2018).
This paper constitutes the editor’s introduction to the new English translation of Alf Ross’s main work On Law and Justice forthcoming on Oxford University Press (2018). On Law and Justice is a classic work of twentieth-century legal philosophy. The original Danish manuscript (Om ret og retfærdighed) was first published in 1953. The first translation into English (1958) was notably poor – significantly abridged and misrepresenting Ross’s views. Translated in full from scratch, this critical edition sheds new light on Ross’s work and resituates it firmly in the context of current debates in the field. In recent years, Alf Ross (1899-1979) has attracted increasing levels of attention. Not only is he, in HLA. Hart’s words, “the most acute and best-equipped philosopher” of Scandinavian legal realism. On Law and Justice reveals why Ross is by prominent scholars considered one of the three or four most important legal philosophers of the past century – and why his relevance is on the rise again. On Law and Justice provides the most convincing take on a consistent legal realist position. Grounded in a moderate version of the logical empiricist philosophical outlook, the mature Alf Ross outlines a purely empirical legal research programme, which simultaneously fully recognizes the distinctly normative character of law. In this way, Ross’s legal realism avoids the standard critiques against behaviorist reductionism while remaining categorically distinct from legal positivism and natural law. This editor’s introduction to the new edition clarifies Ross’s general philosophical project and details his position including Ross’s sophisticated dual distinction between internal and external aspects of law which essentially anticipated and surpassed Hart’s celebrated but more crude analysis. Holtermann connects Ross’s work with the ongoing empirical turn in legal scholarship, and with related attempts to associate legal realism with more broad philosophical trends under the label naturalized jurisprudence. This paper also includes the editor’s “Note on the translation of ‘gyldig’ and ‘gældende ret’ as ‘valid’ and ‘scientifically valid law’”.
Download the introduction from SSRN at the link.

Stern on Copyright as a Property Right? Authorial Perspectives in Eighteenth-Century England @ArsScripta @UCILawReview

Simon Stern, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, is publishing Copyright As a Property Right? Authorial Perspectives in Eighteenth-Century England in volume 8 of the UC Irvine Law Rev (2018). Here is the abstract.
In recent decades, various scholars have questioned the proposition that copyright must necessarily be rooted entirely in a property paradigm, and have sought to show how, over the last century and a half or so, that paradigm has been applied increasingly strictly and its logic has been extended with ever greater force. An examination of eighteenth-century sources shows that the conception of copyright as a form of property was neither the only, nor even the dominant, paradigm in circulation at the time. Moreover, when studying these sources, we must ask who is using the language of property: judges, members of the bookselling industry and their lawyers, writers and their counsel, or some combination of these? Building on earlier work that traces some aspects of the property framework as it developed in eighteenth-century British jurisprudence, I show that writers were far cagier about the language of property than were their colleagues in the bookselling industry, sometimes adopting this language equivocally, sometimes repudiating it emphatically. Discovering that the word “property” appears in eighteenth-century discussions of copyright mark the beginning, not the end, of an inquiry into its significance at this time.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

February 27, 2018

Didikin on Law as a Linguistic Phenomenon

Anton Didkin, Higher School of Economics, has published Law as a Linguistic Phenomenon as Law and Language Special Workshop IVR Congress 2017, Lisbon, Book of Abstracts, p. 7-8. Here is the abstract.
Law as a regulator of behavior of subjects cannot be reduced fully to other ways of regulating behavior in society. Grounds of legally significant actions allows to define the context of the application of legal rules. Every legal term, following the argument of L. Wittgenstein, when it is used depends on the "context of use" and of those conventions of usage that exists at the moment. It follows that the interpretation of the rules cannot be based solely on principles of logic and to be absolutely neutral. On the one hand, "we follow the rule blindly" (L. Wittgenstein), but at the same time, repeatability of the behaviour of others and the opportunity to observe them (by analogy with mathematical rules of addition or multiplication) promotes "learning" and following the rules. From the point of view of analytical philosophy in this example, we see only the transformation of reality through linguistic forms, but from the point of view of the legal language legal environment of relationship is not determined by social context, but the linguistic forms that interpretive his physical actions in the procedural legal sense.
The full text is not available from SSRN.

Art and Conflict Workshop, June 25-26, 2018, Victorian College of the Arts and Melbourne Law School @thomgiddens @MelbLawSchool @unimelb

Art and Conflict Workshop
25-26 June 2018
VCA and Melbourne Law School
University of Melbourne

Works of art speak truths about war and conflict in a way that cannot be easily articulated by disciplines such as law or political science. As a result, scholars in these disciplines are increasingly paying attention to art made during conflict as well as the ‘work’ which art does in its aftermath. There is a need, however, to foster cross-disciplinary conversation about the methods and approaches undertaken by scholarship in this area. This two-day workshop is a series of events aimed at beginning a dialogue around these issues by PhD Candidates and Early Career Researchers.
Keynote Roundtable:
Kathryn Brimblecombe-Fox (Artist); Professor Jon Cattapan (former Australian Official War Artist, Director of the Victorian College of the Arts); Professor Paul Gough (Artist, Pro-VC and Vice-President, College of Design and Social Context, RMIT); Ryan Johnston (University of Melbourne, former Head of Art, Australian War Memorial).
Other events include a special exhibition of art works from the Keynote speakers and other artists at the VCA; film screening of Until They’re Gone (Dir. C Lockett) and video Q & A with filmmakers; curatorial talk and session at the Ian Potter Museum of Art and workshop discussion around current works-in-progress.
Presenters and participants are invited to attend from a range of scholarly fields, not limited to law. Applications due by 6 April 2018.
See the Call for Papers here.

For further information on how to apply, see:

Queries to:

Workshop organisers: Federica Caso (UQ); Shawna Lesseur (UConn); Laura Petersen (Melbourne); Stacey Vorster (Uva/Wits).

Colloquium: Law In/And/As Performance, March 24, 2018, University of Warwick @warwickuni @thomgiddens

Law In / And / As Performance Colloquium
March 24th 2018, 9.45am-4.15pm

Law In/And/As Performance is a one-day interdisciplinary research colloquium for those with an interest in the intersections of law and performance.

This one-day event will bring together researchers and practitioners across a range of disciplines to explore the current work being done in the field of law in/and/as performance. The programme will include keynote speakers, alongside panels exploring research and practice into law in/and/as performance.

Keynote speakers: 
Dr Kate Leader (University of York)
Dr Kate Leader is a Lecturer at York Law School with a PhD in Performance Studies entitled ‘Trials, Truth-Telling and the Performing Body’ (2008), a PhD in Law and an LLM in Criminal Law and Criminal Justice. Prior to her current post, she was an Associate Lecturer in Criminology and Theatre Studies at Birkbeck.

Prof Alan Read (King’s College London)
Prof Alan Read is Professor of Theatre and Director of the Performance Foundation at Kings College London and is the author of Theatre & Law (2016). His other publications include Theatre & Everyday Life (1993) and Theatre in the Expanded Field (2014).

Prof Peter Robson (University of Strathclyde)
Dr Maria Estrada-Fuentes (University of Warwick)
Dr Lucy Finchett-Maddock (University of Sussex)

Carey Young (University College London)
Yvonne Salmon (University of Cambridge)
Anna MacDonald (Manchester Metropolitan University)

Humanities Building, University of Warwick, Coventry CV4 7AL

Register at 

Please email Sean Mulcahy at 

February 22, 2018

The Campus Mystery Novel: Try One! @hbll

Courtesy of Brigham Young University Library, a lovely annotated bibliography of the campus mystery novel from 1920 to 2000.  Maybe I'll start with the intriguing but gory-sounding Off With Her Head by the Coles (1938) or Aaron Marc Stein's The Case of the Absent-Minded Professor (1943) or Scott Keech's Ciphered (1980). 

Filmmaker Shawn Rech Making a Follow-Up To "Making a Murderer"

Documentary filmmaker Shawn Rech is moving ahead with Convicting a Murderer, a follow-up to the Netflix hit Making a Murderer, the story of Steven Avery, who was convicted in the death of Teresa Halbach.

Mr. Rech received an Emmy nomination for the Showtime doc A Murder in the Park (2014).

More here from brobible, here from, here from Deadline. ,

Bellanova and González Fuster on Thinking Surveillance With/Again Netflix @ikkibop @FusterGloria @routledgebooks

Rocco Bellanova, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research, and Gloria González Fuster, Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB); Universidad Internacional de la Rioja (UNIR), are publishing No (Big) Data, No Fiction? Thinking Surveillance With/Against Netflix in The Politics and Policies of Big Data: Big Data Big Brother? (A. R. Saetnan, I. Schneider, and N. Green, eds., London: Routledge, Forthcoming)
Surveillance Studies often look at cultural products as pedagogical or heuristic devices, as if they were windows into the popular representation of surveillance practices. However, artworks may also be the (by-)products of consumers' surveillance. Online platforms like Netflix harvest vast amounts of data about clients' behaviour, so to predict their interests and produce more successful, profitable creations. In this chapter, we discuss how to think about surveillance with and against Netflix, focusing on the tensions between databases and narratives, and between politics and data-driven fiction. We explore how surveillance practices are both presented and performed when Big Data gleaned from viewers is used to tailor-script a series questioning mass surveillance, such as House of Cards. We argue that surveillance then displays itself as an embodied and transformative experience. While viewers can figure its inner workings in a more concrete manner, they are, at the same time, turned into data-breeding publics.
Download the essay from SSRN at the link.

February 21, 2018

Counter Exhibitions: Opening March 6, University of London @thomgiddens @GoldsmithsUofL

Opening: Tuesday 6 March, 6–8pm, all welcome 
Counter Investigations is the first UK survey exhibition of the work of Forensic Architecture, an independent research agency based at Goldsmiths, University of London. 

Forensic Architecture’ is not only the name of the agency but a form of investigative practice that traverses architectural, journalistic, legal and political fields, and moves from theoretical examination to practical application. In recent years Forensic Architecture has undertaken a series of investigations internationally into state crimes and human rights violations, spanning events within war zones and instances of politically and racially motivated violence and killing.

Counter Investigations presents a selection of these investigations. As historically contextualised interrogations of contemporary social and political processes, they put forward a form of
counter forensics’, serving as sites for the pursuit of public accountability through scientific and aesthetic means, in opposition to the monopolisation of narratives around events by state agencies.

The exhibition outlines five key concepts that raise related historical, theoretical, and technological questions. Explored in an accompanying series of public seminars, they add up to a short course in forensic architecture.

Top: Detail from a mural plotting the narrative trajectories of different participants, both victims and perpetrators, in the enforced disappearance of 43 students in Iguala, Guerrero, Mexico in 2014. Image: Forensic Architecture, 2017

Exhibition supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts and the Forensic Architecture Exhibition Supporters Circle

Institute of Contemporary Arts, The Mall, London SW1Y 5AH

Solan on the Interpretation of Legal Language @brooklynlaw

Lawrence M. Solan, Brooklyn Law School, has published The Interpretation of Legal Language at 4 Annual Review of Linguistics 337 (2018). Here is the abstract.
In everyday interactions, we do our best to resolve linguistic vagueness, ambiguity, and other indeterminacies contextually. When these problems arise in the interpretation of authoritative legal texts, by contrast, it is not abundantly clear what context is relevant, or even legitimate. This article discusses approaches that legal analysts take in resolving linguistic indeterminacy. The most basic principle is reliance on the “ordinary meaning” of a term in dispute, on the assumption that this default interpretation is most likely to be within the intention of the drafters. However, there is no clear understanding of what “ordinary meaning” means or how to find it. Most recently, judges and legal scholars have turned to using linguistic corpora to assist in determining ordinary meaning in such cases. Other cases, focusing on the resolution of syntactic or semantic ambiguity, are less common. Courts in these cases sometimes resort to legally based “tiebreakers,” such as the rule of lenity, which requires courts to resolve ambiguity in favor of the accused in criminal cases.
The full text is not available for download.

February 20, 2018

Baldy Center For Law and Social Policy Now Accepting Applications For Fellowships (Deadline Extended) @baldycenter

Reminder: Baldy Center For Law & Social Policy is accepting applications for fellowships until March 9, 2018 (deadline extended)
The Baldy Center plans to award several fellowships commencing in Fall 2018 to scholars pursuing important topics in law, legal institutions, and social policy. Applications are invited from junior and senior scholars from law, the humanities, and the social sciences. Fellows are expected to participate regularly in Baldy Center events, but otherwise have no obligations beyond vigorously pursuing their research. Fellows receive standard university research privileges (access to university libraries, high-speed Internet, office space, computer equipment, phone, website space, working paper series, etc.) and are encouraged to develop collaborative research projects with SUNY Buffalo faculty members where appropriate. Those who wish to teach a course to aid their research or gain teaching experience can be accommodated on a case-by-case basis. Post-Doctoral Fellowships are available to individuals who have completed the PhD or JD but have not yet begun a tenure track appointment. Post-Doctoral Fellows will receive a stipend of $40,000 and may apply for up to $2,000 in professional travel support. Post-doctoral Fellowships will ordinarily be for a period of two years Mid-Career and Senior Fellowships are available to established scholars who wish to work at the Center, typically during a sabbatical or research leave. Awardees will receive a living expense allowance of $1,800 per month during the period of their residence.

February 19, 2018

Hohmann on the Treaty 8 Typewriter: Tracing the Roles of Material Things in Imagining, Realising, and Resisting Colonial Worlds @DrJessieHohmann

Jessie M. Hohmann, Queen Mary, University of London, has published The Treaty 8 Typewriter: Tracing the Roles of Material Things in Imagining, Realising and Resisting Colonial Worlds at 5 London Review of International Law 1 (2017). Here is the abstract.
This article focuses on one material object: a typewriter on which Western Treaty 8 was recorded in 1899. Following the typewriter allows a close reading of the material practices of colonialism in Canada’s northwest, affords us an opportunity to interrogate how international legal authority is mediated through objects, and shows how objects provide opportunities to resist and contest colonial authority.
The full text is not available for download.

Bastias Saavedra on Possession, Ownership, and Land Sales on the Chilean Frontier (1790-1830)

Manual Bastias Saavedra, University of Bremen, Centre of European Law and Politics (ZERP), has published The Lived Space: Possession, Ownership, and Land Sales on the Chilean Frontier (1790-1830) at Historia Critica 67. Here is the abstract.
By looking into sales of indigenous land in the territory of Valdivia between 1790 and 1830, this article discusses how legal interactions were tied to the local spaces of rural habitation. Since ownership was linked with possession and use in Spanish colonial law, local social relations and shared local knowledge were crucial for determining legal ownership and ensuring the validity of land transfers. This article provides insights into how law operated in newly integrated colonial spaces, and reveals that land transfers did not yet constitute purely contractual relations but were instead socially negotiated transactions involving different levels of authority and dependency.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

February 18, 2018

The Serial Killer in Popular Culture @bucketorange

Bucket Orange magazine discusses how television portrays serial killers and criminal profiling. Here's the link.

More about serial killers and tv here, from Garin Pirnia at Complex, and here, some information about the serial killer trope, from TV Tropes.

Paste Magazine offers a list of memorial serial killers here. And here, a 2013 article from The Hollywood Reporter about our interest in the subject.

Here, a selected bibliography:

Jane Caputi, The New Founding Fathers: The Lore and Lure of the Serial Killer in Contemporary Culture, 13 Journal of American Culture 1 (1990).

Brian Jarvis, Monsters, Inc.: Serial Killers and Consumer Culture, Crime, Media, and Culture (2007).

David Schmid, Natural Born Celebrities: Serial Killers in American Culture (University of Chicago Press, 2005).

Mark Seltzer, Serial Killers: Death and Life in America's Wound Culture (Routledge, 1998).

Philip L. Simpson, Psycho Paths (Southern Illinois University Press, 2000).

February 17, 2018

ICYMI: Soucek on Not Representing Justice: Ellsworth Kelly's Abstraction in the Boston Courthouse @BRSoucek

ICYMI: Brian Soucek, University of California, Davis, School of Law, has published Not Representing Justice: Ellsworth Kelly's Abstraction in the Boston Courthouse at 24 Yale Jounal of Law and the Humanities 287 (2012). Here is the abstract.
The $10 billion worth of federal courts constructed over the past two decades are filled with major works of abstract art that the government touts as “inherently democratic,” since they are said to mean anything viewers think they mean. This claim is as mistaken about abstract art as it is about democracy; it fails to recognize that courts are democratic not in the relativistic manner of the voting booth, but because of their commitment to fair and public proceedings followed by reasoned deliberation. Ellsworth Kelly’s monochromes in Boston’s federal courthouse present a stark test of the potential politics of abstract public art. Kelly’s aim — to teach viewers “the rapture of seeing” — is puzzling within a courthouse, where the “blindness” of justice is more often emphasized. I claim that Kelly’s emphasis on sight makes sense only when we shift our focus from judges and judging—the predominant focus of courthouse art—to an often overlooked party in adjudication: the public, whose role as spectator is fundamental to truly democratic courts.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.

February 16, 2018

Tranter on Envisioning and Programming Digital Legality From SyFy's Caprica @GriffLawSchool

Kieran Mark Tranter, Griffith Law School, is publishing I, Archive: Envisioning and Programming Digital Legality from SyFy's Caprica in Envisioning Legality: Law, Culture and Representation (Tim Peters and Karen Grawley, eds., Routledge, 2018). Here is the abstract.
This chapter charts the demise of the paper archival system of modern law and envisions the key features of its digital successor through SyFy’s short-lived TV show Caprica. Having shown the features of digital legality as inhuman speed, autonomy and hybridity, it is argued that legal theorising needs to become proficient in understanding the schematics of digital legality and its programming. In particular focus should be on establishing pause moments in the code that allow the human and the analogue to manifest and participate in digital legality.
Download the chapter from SSRN at the link.

Just Rawling Along: A Theory of Justice: The Musical! @JusticeMusical

Proving that one can set anything to music, John Rawls is coming to the London stage. Well, sort of. (It has already played at the Edinburgh Fringe). On February 19, A Theory of Justice: The Musical! debuts at the Arts Theatre. Josh Seymour directs. More here.  Edinburgh Fringe trailer here.

The work is two hours, plus an intermission, so seems not a long piece, and not only not in pages. 

A Series on Law and the Arts at the University of Malaga Faculty of Law @jcalvo11

Beginning March 9, the University of Malaga School of Law is hosting a series of seminars on Art and Law. The March 9th lecture features Professors Jose Calvo Gonzalez and Maria Pina Fersini discussing law and architecture. On April 12, Professor Felipe Navarro Martinez will discuss law and literature, Professor Jose Manuel Cabra Apalategui will discuss law and music, and Professor Cristina Monereo Atienza will discuss law and photography. On May 3, Professor Jose Francisco Alenza Garcia will discuss law in Game of Thrones.

More here.

February 15, 2018

Jeff Daniels To Star in To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway Later This Year @Jeff_Daniels

Jeff Daniels (The Newsroom, The Martian, Godless) is starring as Atticus Finch in Aaron Sorkin's adaptation of Harper Lee's iconic To Kill a Mockingbird on Broadway. His co-stars include Celia Keenan-Bolger (Scout), and Stark Sands (Horace Gilmer).Others attached to the project include LaTanya Richardson Jackson and Stephen McKinley Henderson. The director is Bartlett Sher.

The play opens December 13. More here from Variety. 

Mr. Daniels is brave; trying to get an audience to forget Gregory Peck in the Finch role is like trying persuade viewers to think about someone other than Laurence Olivier as Hamlet. (Don't think about elephants! Don't think about elephants!) Well, Kenneth Branagh does, I think, pull it off in the 1996 version. Are Richard Burton (1964), Benedict Cumberbatch (2015), and Nicol Williamson (1969) equally good? I can't decide.

Thornton and Roberts on Women Judges, Private Lives: (In)Visibilities in Fact and Fiction @ANU_Law @hj_roberts_ @GenderANU

Margaret Thornton and Heather Roberts, both of the Australian National University College of Law, have published Women Judges, Private Lives: (In)Visibilities in Fact and Fiction at 40 University of New South Wales Law Journal 761 (2017). Here is the abstract.
Once unseen, women are now visible in increasing proportions on the bench in common law courts, although this reality has generally not percolated into fictional worlds, where ‘the judge’ is invariably male. Fiona, cast by Ian McEwan as the protagonist, in The Children Act, is a notable exception. In the novel, McEwan directs our gaze beyond the traditional separation of judicial identity into public/private (visible/invisible) facets of life and raises questions regarding the impact of life on law, and law on life. This article draws on McEwan’s work to illuminate a study of how judicial swearing-in ceremonies tell the stories of Australian women judges. At first glance, this may seem an unusual pairing: The Children Act is an international best-selling work of fiction whereas the official records of court ceremonial sittings are a somewhat obscure body of work largely overlooked by scholars. However, the speeches made in welcome in open court on these occasions by members of the legal profession and by the new judge in reply, offer glimpses of the attributes of women judges not discernible in formal judgments. These ‘minor jurisprudences’ challenge the familiar gendered stereotypes found in the sovereign body of law.
Download the article from SSRN at the link.