Bringing legal topics to life, either on the stage or screen, takes a special ability. On this Change of Venue Friday, I recommend to you two such endeavors.

The first is a terrific staging of the classic book To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

If you’ve never been to the Hale Centre Theatre in Gilbert, it’s worth the drive. All of its shows are performed in the round, which lends them a sense of intimacy with the audience.

And this production is directed by the great playwright and actor D. Scott Withers. Performances run through June 30.

More information and a link to ticket sales are here.

And here is more information and history about the Hale Theatre concept, “believed to be the longest, continuously-operating center stage theatre in the country.”

Meanwhile, up in Phoenix, there is a documentary screening that takes us to more modern legal battles.

“Two Americans” screens this coming Monday, June 18 at the Phoenix Center for the Arts. It is being brought to Phoenix by No Festival Required (see what they’re up to here). More detail on the film is here and here.

Here is a trailer for the documentary.

The filmmakers state that opposing viewpoints will be displayed in the documentary, so I look forward to seeing how they achieve that. Here is how they describe their work:

“The life of a 9-year old child is forever changed when ‘America’s Toughest Sheriff’ arrests her Mexican parents for working at a local carwash. Fighting to rescue her parents from deportation, Katherine Figueroa becomes the poster child of a movement to oust Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio from office. Exposed by the media, Kathy’s family is challenged to overcome their fear of living in Arizona. But when Sheriff Joe uses his power to retaliate against the County Board, it’s the legality of his actions that is questioned. Now the Sheriff’s fate hangs in the balance of an FBI criminal probe.

“Enter the heart of an American family living in the shadows of a state that has criminalized their existence. Walk in the shoes of a public official who has won enormous political gains by incarcerating ‘illegals’ as he stares down criminal charges of his own. Kathy needs her family. Joe needs the power of his badge. ‘Two Americans’ will examine the very personal impact of U.S. immigration policies.

“In a Nation home to over 5 million American children who live in unauthorized immigrant families, Arizona has led the way in the emergent practice of using local police to enforce federal immigration law. But who wins when State laws deter employers from participating in the local economy, the labor pool evaporates, and 35% of the city’s population are viewed with suspicion? An American public that does not feel the direct impact overlooks these very troublesome consequences. This documentary will allow viewers to experience the issue from opposing viewpoints and draw their own conclusions.”

You can buy tickets at the door, or in advance here.

Have a great weekend, and I hope to see you Monday night.

The confession is a central icon of the law—and of the Catholic Church, come to think of it. And because I’ve operated in both of those worlds, the declaration of guilt should come easily to me—you would think.

Well, I may as well get on with it. My mea culpa for the day? I have never read To Kill a Mockingbird, by Harper Lee.

Yes, I know, that is a standard of the American legal literary sphere. Written in 1960, it won a Pulitzer Prize. It travels deeply into issues of racial injustice and the loss of innocence. But it never passed before my reading glasses.

Strange, I know. I even got a few English degrees, along with a law school education, and still no Kill for me. How could I have slogged through Pennoyer v. Neff but skipped the novelistic moral high ground?

All I know is, I can’t be the only one. Anyone care to share?

The timing of this emotional outpouring is related to a State Bar of Arizona event this evening—a screening of the classic 1962 film version of the novel. People like “Atticus Finch” and “Scout” and “‘Boo’ Radley”—much-loved characters in the American lexicon, I’m told—will come to life on the big screen.

(The showing will benefit the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education. I wrote about the October 14 movie screening here. And more detail is here. One thing to note: Bring cash, which is all the concession stand will take—not To Kill the Classic Movie Feeling, or anything.)

You never read it, son? I'm very disappointed.

I plan to be there in the Pollack Tempe Theater, with my daughters, as I watch and expiate for my literary sins. I’m hoping you join us too, whether you’re a Harper Lee groupie or not.

As the fall approaches, and summer in Arizona recedes, the temperatures are returning to a simmer (90-100 degrees) rather than a boil. With the cool-ish temperatures comes ramped-up calendaring of events.

One of the cooler events we see coming down the pike is sponsored by the State Bar of Arizona. In an event aimed to raise funds for the Arizona Foundation for Legal Services & Education, the Bar will screen To Kill A Mockingbird. The classic novel by Harper Lee celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, and watching the movie version with Gregory Peck may be just the ticket to rejoice in autumn.

The screening will be in Tempe on October 14. I’m planning to attend—probably with my daughters (alas, my wife will be teaching that evening). Come on out and enjoy watching a depiction of the quintessential ethical lawyer, Atticus Finch.

Click here for more information.