Monthly Archives: October 2017

Law and Television: The Wire

In mid-October John Hudson taught classes in Emanuele Conte and Angela Condello’s ‘Law and Humanities’ course at the University of Roma Tre. The classes concentrated on the presentation of law within the acclaimed HBO series ‘The Wire’. Comparison was made between the state-based law of police and judicial system on the one hand, and on the other the customary norms of ‘The Game’, that is, the culture and practices of the drug trade and its participants, as well as the customary norms of medieval Icelandic law as revealed by Njál’s Saga. Also considered were the differences of Common and Civil Law practices for televisual presentation; does the Common Law’s adversarial trial system particularly suit dramatic purposes, be it for depiction of straightforward contests between good and evil or of more nuanced conflicts? does the audience stand in the same place as the Common Law jury? may an inquisitorial system in the Civil Law break down some of the genre differences between police and legal drama? With a class from four continents and ten countries, we were able to assess such questions not just in terms of authorial aims, but also of audience reception. Those from Civil Law systems watched The Wire’s trial scenes in subtly different ways than those from Common Law systems, whereas that difference of legal tradition had less effect on perception of the customary norms that can be uncovered in ‘The Game’ or in Njál’s Saga.

 

Law’s Two Bodies – Benjamin Earl

The first of this year’s Law’s Two Bodies events, an interview with Benjamin Earl, Procurator General of the Dominican Order, took place on 3 October 2017. John Hudson interviewed the Procurator about his role in the Order and his use of law in this role. As the first canon lawyer interviewed for the series, the Procurator provided a fascinating and different perspective on the law in the ecclesiastical sphere.

Annual Academic Lecture

The Institute of Legal and Constitutional Research’s annual Academic Lecture was delivered by Professor Don Herzog of the University of Michigan Law School on 28 September 2017. Professor Herzog’s title was ‘Sovereignty, RIP: Part of the Story’. He proposed that arguments concerning sovereignty continue to be dominated by ideas that were developed in the early modern period. Such ideas, with their emphasis on the undivided, unlimited, and indivisible nature of sovereignty, may have been well-suited to that period but are now not merely outdated but also pernicious and malign in their effect. Even in earlier contexts such as eighteenth-century conflicts over American independence and the U.S. Constitution, debates framed by both sides in terms of sovereignty were often rendered harder to solve by use of the concept and in particular emphasis on indivisibility. Often, argued Professor Herzog, abandonment of ideas of sovereignty and their replacement by ones such as ‘jurisdiction’ would have a beneficial effect.