Ides of March Julius Caesar magazine sign

Why, yes, I do change my meeting sign every month. Doesn’t everybody?

Why, yes, today is the Ides of March. And I’m hoping no one is standing behind me.

That was one of my thoughts as I selected an image for the sign indicating our monthly meeting of the Arizona Attorney Editorial Board (see above). Many of the members found it funny—others simply raised their eyebrows, as lawyers can do.

But what turned out poorly for Julius Caesar on March 15 ended up yielding one of my briefer—and most favorite—blog posts ever.

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That’s because it combined Caesar, regal intrigue, murder most foul, and the blockbuster movie Godfather, which was released on this day in 1972.

You can read that piece from way back in 2013 here. It still makes me chuckle. But then again, I’m easily amused.

Good luck getting through an unlucky day. Here’s to classical history and great films.

Hollywood and the rest of us all love films featuring lawyers and their ethical dilemmas. To Kill a Mockingbird

Hollywood and the rest of us all love films featuring lawyers and their ethical dilemmas.

If you’re at all like me (and why wouldn’t you be), a full week of work following the short Thanksgiving week seems almost cruel. Perhaps you’re seeking a way to lessen the strain of five days of nonstop labor.

If that’s the case, consider going to the movies.

This Friday, December 2, the State Bar offers a favorite program that examines the intersection of great films and ethical choices that face attorneys.

See how I just used $5 words to describe a theater-screening?

The event is titled “A New Ethical Morning at the Movies,” which would only be improved by being in the evening and having less ethics. But if that were the case, no CLE credit would be available, so I see their point.

All the detail is here.

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Larry Cohen is a great presenter, and he heads a panel of other talented speakers who all know legal ethics inside-out—and who like a great flick.

Here’s hoping they have popcorn.

In the meantime, enjoy yourself a little Jackie Chiles, the great lawyer character from Seinfeld. I know it’s the small screen, not the silver screen, but it speaks loudly to lawyer ethics—and hot coffee.

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After taking Christmas Day off (a holiday miracle), I continue the Christmas theme today by pointing you to some film reviews from an unlikely source—law librarians.

Specifically, today I point you to the blog of the Law Librarians of Congress. Titled In Custodio Legis, the blog ranges far afield on topics that the librarians think may be engaging to legal readers. And so we get movie reviews.

What makes this post oh-so-timely is that the author decides to provide reviews of Christmas movies. And these are not reviews like many other folks would do them. You know, “If there’s any movie I’d suggest curling up with this season, it’s Miracle on 34th Street.” Not even close.

To get what I mean, here is how the assembled librarians examined that film:

“The film concerns a man named Kris Kringle, who works as a Santa Claus for Macy’s and who, by his shining example, inspires even Mr. Macy and his chief competitor to embrace the spirit of giving during the season. Kris, due to an unfortunate event, ends up being the subject of a competency hearing because he believes he is the real St. Nick!”

“New York State at the time of the movie (immediately after World War II) had several methods for committing individuals who were thought to be a danger to themselves or others. One such procedure was upon the finding of ‘… a judge of a court of record of the city or county, or a justice of the supreme court of the judicial district in which the alleged mentally ill person resides or may be …’. Kris is tried in New York City by a Supreme Court judge (in New York the Supreme Court is not a court of appeals). The local prosecutor represents the State and Kris is represented by his friend, Fred Gayley. The procedures followed in court are not very accurate. Fred is able to convince the court, in part through the sage advice of the judge’s political advisor, to accept the existence of Santa Claus. The issue in dispute then shifts to the validity of Kris’ assertion.”

Do you get the idea? These are reviews that lawyers and judges can sink their teeth into.

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Here’s some more:

“The Blog Team suggested Home Alone and Love Actually as other possible candidates. For Home Alone the legal issue would be at what age, if any, does Illinois state law allow children to be home alone. I checked the Illinois code on this point and found that Illinois defined a neglected minor as any child under the age of 14 who is left at home alone unsupervised by a parent or guardian for an unreasonable period of time. However this specific section of the Illinois code, 705 ILCS 405/2-3(1)(d) was not passed until 2009—almost 20 years after the movie originally occurred.”

I’ll leave you to discover what they said about Love Actually, and how they remind us that a viewing of Gremlins could be aided by a close reading of The Restatement of Torts.

Read the entire post here.

After you do that, be sure to bookmark the blog, because these are some brilliantly messed up individuals—exactly like many of my favorite people in the law! Merry Christmas Redux.

Herman Wallace in 2008 (photo: The Innocence Project)

Herman Wallace in 2008 (photo: The Innocence Project)

Herman Wallace, whom I have written about a few times, passed away last week. His death followed just days after he had been released from in a Louisiana prison.

As the ABA Journal summarized the varied news stories:

“An inmate held in solitary confinement for 41 years for the murder of a Louisiana prison guard has died just a few days after he was released from prison because of a federal judge’s order.”

“The New York Times reports that the inmate, Herman Wallace, died Friday morning from liver cancer at the age of 71, while the New Orleans Times-Picayune says Wallace died late Thursday. He had maintained his innocence in the murder until he died.”

“Wallace was a member of the Black Panthers and was in prison for armed robbery when he and two others were convicted in the prison guard’s 1972 slaying. The group was known as the Angola Three, based on the site of the prison. A lawyer for Wallace, George Kendall, told the Times that the conviction was based on shoddy evidence and alleged that the convicted men were kept in solitary because prison officials were worried they would organize the prison for the Panthers.”

Hermans House movie poster

Herman’s House film poster

“Wallace’s lawyers claim he was convicted based on accounts by witnesses who were given incentives to testify, but the deals weren’t disclosed until decades later.”

“U.S. District Chief Judge Brian Jackson ruled on Tuesday that Wallace’s habeas petition should be granted because of systematic exclusion of women from the Louisiana grand jury that returned the indictment. Wallace was re-indicted on Thursday, the stories say.”

I first came across Wallace via a film focused on solitary confinement; I reviewed the film, Herman’s House, which I found compelling on a number of levels.

Wallace’s death was covered by multiple news outlets, both here and abroad.

Amnesty International issued a statement on Wallace’s death here, and previously covered the case here.

Labor Day 2013 Rosie the RiveterI had thought that in a Labor Day blog post, I would manage to avoid all legal topics. And yet here we are with a “lawyer” reference.

On the Tribeca website, they are kind enough to recommend “6 movies to stream this Labor Day weekend”:

“It’s a long weekend upcoming, and hopefully one where you have plenty of time to sit down with your streaming-movie service and watch a few films. We have your Labor Day-specific recommendations for movies featuring characters with interesting/unusual jobs.”

Here’s what they say about The Lincoln Lawyer:

“[Matthew McConaughey had] sneakily won a bunch of raves for The Lincoln Lawyer, which presents like a regular old boring legal thriller and then proves that legal thrillers can still be freaking excellent.”

Click here to see all their picks. And don’t let anyone tell you to go outside and enjoy the sun.

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The Icehouse: Sufficiently spooky

It is Change of Venue Friday, so I share with you an event (tonight!) that melds the law, murder and cinema. And to add to the mix, it will be a seriously spooky venue.

What am I talking about? Friday evening will be the last (Phoenix) chance to see the documentary “Of Dolls and Murder.”

Open to the sky: The Icehouse “Cathedral Room”

I wrote about the film before. But that was when it was shown in the comfort of a Scottsdale arts venue. Tonight, the screening will occur in a more suitably shiver-inducing location: the Icehouse in downtown Phoenix.

The film’s “host” is No Festival Required, who tells a little about the organization and some about the movie.

Share the event with others (and invite them too) from here.

The Icehouse—a former warehouse, now an arts and event venue—is at 429 West Jackson Street, Phoenix 85007. Here’s a map:

Or, if you are less Google-minded, here’s a map for the rest of us:

 

I hope to be there. If you see me, please say hi. And let’s compare our movie critiques.

Have a murder-free weekend.