Friday, September 23, 2016

Law Music Video: My Judge and My Jury

Classic Doo Wop with a classic legal theme. Play it before class as your students are getting settled.  Music stimulates brain neurons preparing your students to think.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Companies' Fatal Failures to Warn of Product Dangers

The national press is reporting that after discovering a dozen serious infections in European hospitals resulting from the use of their medical scopes, Olympus Corp. notified European Hospitals of the risk.  At the same time, the company ordered its American executives NOT to warn American hospitals. Allegedly, thirty-five U.S. patients died after the European warnings and while American hospitals remained in the dark about the infection risk.

This same scenario seems to play out again and again - from exploding Ford Pintos to suddenly accelerating Toyotas to stalling Chevy Cobalts - and precious human lives were lost. Ultimately, the businesses suffered devastating fines, reputational damage and hyperinflated expense. Are executives always motivated to cash out on short term bonuses leaving subsequent executives to pick up the pieces?  Is there anything we can do in education America's future executives to break the pattern?

Conn. Senator Blumenthal touts his actions against GM's deceit:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Crash Course: SCOTUS Procedures

PBS has produced a series of Crash Course videos on Government that include many important topics relevant to a Legal Environment course. The video embedded below is an example.  They run between 6:00 and 10:00 long - which may be a little long to show in class, but are about the right length to assign for out of class viewing. They can provide a valuable resource for students who tend to eschew textbooks readings and note taking in lecture.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Judicial Selection by Election and the Rule of Law

A recent federal lawsuit challenges the Alabama electoral process for selection of state judges.  The allegation is that statewide judicial selection assures the failure of minority candidates for the bench. Think Progress reports:

The lawsuit notes that since 1994, every African American candidate that has run for any of the three top courts has lost to a white candidate. Only two black judges have ever been elected to the state Supreme Court, and zero have served on either the Court of Criminal Appeals or the Court of Civil Appeals in the entirety of the state’s history.

State Judicial elections were employed from the very founding of the nation as a way to ensure judicial accountability and counter elitism and political cronyism in judicial selection.  But judges are supposed to be accountable to the rule of law, not to popular sentiment. The string of videos of campaign ads below raise significant questions about judicial fidelity to the rule of law. They seem to use code phrases and images to portray a fidelity to political ideology or religious principles or popular "values."  Some promise "proper" interpretation of the Constitution - whatever that means.

What does it take to get elected to a judicial position?  Is the belief that judges adhere to a "rule of law" just a quaint relic of judicial philosophy?  Or is law inherently constituted of a judge's background, beliefs, upbringing, prejudices, "values," religion, education, political ideology and world view?  Do we know this, implicitly, and cling publicly to the "rule of law" to maintain legitimacy? What do we deduce from these ads?

"Proper" Constitutional Interpretation:

Judges and Faith and Values:

 Judges and Church Participation:

Judges and Life Experience:

Monday, September 19, 2016

Sheldon Cooper Seeks Circumvention of the Parol Evidence Rule

On the popular CBS sitcom, The Big Bang Theory, neurotic physicist Dr. Sheldon Cooper negotiates a "relationship agreement" with his girlfriend, neurobiologist Amy Farrah Fowler.  However, when Amy seeks to enforce one of its unambiguous provisions, Sheldon claims the "intent" of the clause was to achieve a result contrary to the plain meaning.

See the scene, below:

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bad Lawyer Ads (Just Kidding)

It's the end of the semester.  Usually I post some of the latest "Bad Lawyer Ads" for the duration.  This year, the post is just for fun from the fictional Saul Goodman.  Have a great summer.  See you in the Fall.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Law Music Video: Against the Law

Below are a few versions of Woody Guthrie's, Against the Law. I hope that you choose your favorite and use it in class.