Blog Posts


The Absent Character In Best Crime Reporting, 2010

I read this year's Best Crime Reporting with a guilty sort of pleasure. It was a gift, so reading it over the holidays was appropriate enough. But wasn't I taking a few weeks off? Why the appeal of crime stories in a season devoted to time away from the grind of a criminal law practice?
The...

A Venal Kind Of Job?

The Biblical story of Job can be read on several levels. On the one hand, Job is the faithful servant of a powerful God, never failing in his faith, even when he is undone by sorrows. It is also the story of a man made sport of by unseen powers: When God succumbs to Satan's dare and permits Job to...

Would Samuel Clemens Blog?

The first volume of Mark Twain's much-anticipated autobiography arrived the other day. At 700-plus pages, there is a telephone directory-like feel to it. It was the work of the second half of the author's life. He conceived it as an experiment, trying to determine whether he could be completely...

An Activist By Any Other Name: Chemerinsky's New Book

I've attended seminars at which Erwin Chemerinsky has spoken three or maybe four times. The first time, I was persuaded he was a genius. The second time I was a little uneasy. He speaks typically for an hour without notes of any sort, dissecting recent Supreme Court decisions with a chipper sense...

Breyer's Making Our Democracy Work: The Court's Work Explained

"Only one-third of all Americans can name the three branches of government (two-thirds can name a television judge on American Idol); only one-third of eighth graders can describe the historical purpose of the Declaration of Independence; and three-quarters of our population does not understand the...

Gates v. Crowley: Ogletree Tells Half The Story

I was reluctant to read Charles Ogletree's book on the by now much overblown confrontation between Henry Louis Gates Jr. and James Crowley. This was a garden variety event mismanaged by both the arresting officer and the arrestee. But for the fact that Gates is well connected and famous the case...

Hedgehog or Fox: Which Are You?

"The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing."
Archilochus
I did not find this quotation on my own. My attention was directed to it by Isaiah Berlin, one of my favorite essayists and political theorists. Berlin taught for many years at Oxford, wrote dozens of essays and...

What Are Facts, Anyway?

We say that trial is a vehicle for discovery of the truth. Legal issues are left, in almost every jurisdiction, for a judge to decide; juries decide facts. But just what are facts? The answer is by no means simple.
Quentin Skinner, a Cambridge historian, should be must reading for all trial...

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