Dick Wolf Goes to Law School: Integrating the Humanities into Courses on Criminal Law, Criminal Procedure, and Evidence

17 Feb 2012 02:48pm David Alan Sklansky 

Incorporating Literary Methods and Texts in the Teaching of Tort Law

17 Feb 2012 02:36pm Zahr K. Said 

Guilt, Greed, and Furniture: Using Mel Brooks’s The Twelve Chairs to Teach Dying Declarations

17 Feb 2012 02:35pm Lenora Ledwon 

This piece was written for a program held by the American Association of Law Schools Section on Law and Humanities, “Excavating and Integrating Law and Humanities in the Core Curriculum,” on January 5, 2012.

When I teach the dying declarations hearsay exception in my Evidence course, I always show the opening scene from Mel Brooks's darkly comedic film, The Twelve Chairs. A film clip is a particularly dense piece of storytelling, in that it presents story information in a visually and aurally rich manner (including such varied aspects as images, colors, tone, soundtracks, special effects, edits, montage, etc.). Yet, we are able to take in and process a whole series of nuanced and complex messages in a film clip in a relatively efficient manner. Simply put, we are good at "reading" visual stories from television and film. Further, showing the excerpt from The Twelve Chairs not only is fun, it's good learning pedagogy.

This short scene enhances class discussion in three principal ways. First, the scene serves as an engaging mini-review of the elements of the hearsay exception for dying declarations. Second, it serves as a springboard for the class to think critically and articulate some unspoken assumptions underpinning the rationale for the rule (the short scene raises issues about our assumptions governing family dynamics, gender, class, politics, and religion, among other matters) and consider the possibility of drafting a different (and perhaps better)rule. , Third, the nature of the example (a film clip, and a comedic one at that) surprises and delights the students who are used to the usually bleak and violent fact patterns in many evidence casebooks. Thus, their attention level is high and they are very engaged in the analysis. A more full discussion of each of these three aspects follows.

Sexual Epistemology and Bisexual Exclusion: A Response to Russell Robinson’s “Masculinity as Prison: Race, Sexual Identity, and Incarceration”

15 Jan 2012 11:12am Michael Boucai 

In an effort to curb sexual assault behind bars, the Los Angeles County Jail currently houses inmates deemed homosexual and transgender in a special unit called "K6G." Professor Russell Robinson's Article, Masculinity as Prison: Race, Sexual Identity, and Incarceration, challenges this policy on a number of grounds. I focus in this Response on just two of Robinson's objections. First I affirm Robinson's proposal that carceral segregation programs, if they are to persist, will more effectively protect queer inmates from sexual assault if they do not fixate exclusively on queer identity. Homosexuality's complicated social epistemology, notoriously an "epistemology of the closet," compels this conclusion. I then reflect on some possible reasons (not necessarily justifications) for K6G's categorical exclusion of people who claim a bisexual identity. This exclusion is one of several aspects of the Jail's segregation policy that Robinson criticizes for disadvantaging individuals who diverge from a race- and class-specific stereotype of "the homosexual."



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