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Law Library News for April 22, 2002

Ann Hemmens, editor

Law Library News Archive


Lists of Good Law-Related Books

by Mary Whisner

Looking for good books to read about law? The following lists might give you some ideas:

(Remember that all of the Law Library News columns since January 1999 are available on the Law Library's website, so you can come back and follow these links later if you want.)

April is National Poetry Month

Since 1996 the Academy of American Poets,, has been promoting National Poetry Month as a celebration of poetry and its vital place in American culture. Not a big poetry fan? You might want to try some of the award-winning poets listed at: Bookstores, libraries, and schools participate in National Poetry Month, through readings and festivals. To see what�s happening in Seattle (home to many �spoken word� and �slam� poets) check out:

What does poetry have to do with the law? Some law review articles are written in haiku (an unrhymed Japanese poem of three lines which captures the essence of a moment). A search of LRI (an index of law reviews) on Westlaw produced several titles including:

  • Louis E. Wolcher, "Annotated Contracts Haiku," 42 J. Legal Educ. 141 (1992).

According to the author, a UW Law professor, �[t]hese haiku say pretty much everything of importance the author has learned about contracts during six years of teaching the subject to first-year law students.�

Free at last to bind,   Snow covers coal dust.
Spring frog croaks to clear his throat.   Broken noses ache but heal.
Now he has a mate.   The bound shall be free,
  • Louis J. Sirico, Jr., "Supreme Court Haiku," 61 N.Y.U. L. Rev. 1224 (1986).

�The Jazz Singer drowns out the organist's scream.� Inspired by Schenck v. U.S., 249 U.S. 47 (1919). The Court affirmed the defendant's conviction for conspiring to violate the Espionage Act of 1917. In the majority opinion, Justice Holmes wrote: 'The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater, and causing a panic.'

What about court opinions as poetry? Some Justices write their opinions in verse. For example:

Reuther v. Southern Cross Club, Inc., 785 F.Supp. 1339 (S.D.Ind. 1992). In the words of Judge Sarah Barker, ��Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale� of what happened when David Reuther, while vacationing in the Cayman Islands at the Pirates Point Resort hotel, decided to go SCUBA diving��a fateful trip that started from this tropic port, aboard this tiny ship.�� A portion of the opinion is then written to the tune of "Gilligan's Island."

Helton v. State, 311 So.2d 381 (Fla. 1975). In a decision dealing with the degree of intent the State of Florida must prove in order to convict an accused of the crime of escape, the opinion quotes the defense counsel�s closing argument which was read to the tune of "Twas the Night Before Christmas."