Notes about law

June 23, 2011 permalink

Robert H Jackson on the 4th Amendment

These, I protest, are not mere second-class rights, but belong in the catalog of indispensable freedoms. Among deprivations of rights, none is so effective in cowing a population, crushing the spirit of the individual, and putting terror in every heart. Uncontrolled search and seizure is one of the first and most effective weapons in the arsenal of every arbitrary government.

Justice Robert H. Jackson, chief U.S. prosecutor at the Nuremberg trials, writing on the 4th Amendment in his dissenting opinion of Brinegar v. United States (1949)

(Via Free to Search and Seize, an op-ed in today’s New York Times on the recent chipping away at privacy protections)

September 16, 2010 permalink

Comics in the Courtroom

From the New York Times, a notice on an exhibition entitled “The Courtroom and Comics” at the Yale Law Library:

The medium serves as a guide to what was going on in society at the time, he said: “Comics are very much a reflection of pop culture.” The law has long been a part of that, whether it’s Perry Mason grilling a witness or Denny Crane blustering.

In the exhibition, many of the images have the power to delight, especially for those who collected comics in their youth. If your day job happens to be anything like mine — I’m the national legal correspondent for this newspaper — you will certainly notice that the comic book creators’ knowledge of law had a few gaps. For starters, the little girl in that Superman cover would have been seated in the witness chair, if in fact taking sworn testimony from a minor in open court was allowed in the Metropolis jurisdiction, and Superman would have been elsewhere in the courtroom. But you probably won’t mind that the creators sacrificed a bit of reality for drama, which is also why, you know, the main character can fly.

Mike Widener, the rare book librarian mentioned in the article, formerly oversaw the Law in Popular Culture collection at our own Tarlton Law Library here in Austin, which houses a great array of movies and books with lawyerly angles.

(Via the NY Times)

September 27, 2009 permalink

Fandom in Academia

Digging through academic journals from various fields I’ve found one element that they all seem to share: the occasional linking of an author’s specialized field with some element from the über-specialized world of current fan culture / pop culture. The links are often tenuous, but sometimes there’s a real gem hiding amongst the serious papers. Sometimes the research is dubious enough to appear on an academic humor blog like NCBI ROFL, but usually the research lacks the clout or audacity needed to garner an Ig Nobel Prize. For example, here are two papers from this week’s publication listings (I’ll add more if I find them this week):

June 10, 2009 permalink

Above All Anonymity That Shield of All

[A]bove all, anonymity, that shield of all literary rascality, would have to disappear. It was introduced under the pretext of protecting the honest critic, who warned the public, against the resentment of the author and his friends. But where there is one case of this sort, there will be a hundred where it merely serves to take all responsibility from the man who cannot stand by what he has said […]. Often enough it is only a cloak for covering the obscurity, incompetence and insignificance of the critic. It is incredible what impudence these fellows will show, and what literary trickery they will venture to commit, as soon as they know they are safe under the shadow of anonymity. Let me recommend a general Anti-criticism, a universal medicine or panacea, to put a stop to all anonymous reviewing, whether it praises the bad or blames the good: Rascal! your name! For a man to wrap himself up and draw his hat over his face, and then fall upon people who are walking about without any disguise—this is not the part of a gentleman, it is the part of a scoundrel and a knave.

Arthur Schopenhauer, Parerga und Paralipomena, chapter 23. Quote entirely lifted from a good discussion about online anonymity and accountability on Brian Leiter’s law school blog after the outing of a psuedononymous critic by a National Review blogger. (Note: I personally lean towards anonymity and privacy as fundamentally good things, but Schopenhauer’s quote seems remarkably prescient in these days of message board trolling)