Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Law professor: Law students can learn from detective stories.

When lawyers are not being villainized in popular culture, they are often portrayed as having many of the same admirable traits as a shrewd detective.
— Simon Stern, "Detecting Doctrines" 101
In "Detecting Doctrines: The Case Method and the Detective Story" (Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 23.2 [2011], 101–48), U-Toronto law professor Simon Stern suggests that the detective story
Illustration of Randolph
Mason by Dan Sayre
Groesheck, from Melville
Davisson Post's "The
Corrector of Destinies"
Pearson's Magazine
Feb 1907
can help teach legal reasoning and provides some examples of how courts have applied the detective story in constructing doctrines. He quotes from R. Austin Freeman's "Art of the Detective Story" (1924) and also deals with lawyers as detectives, including Anna Katharine Green's The Leavenworth Case (1878); Fergus Hume's The Mystery of a Hansom Cab (1886); Arthur Morrison's Martin Hewitt, Investigator (1894); the inevitable Randolph Mason (of Melville Davisson Post) and Perry Mason (of Erle Stanley Gardner); the Francis Pettigrew novels of Cyril Hare; and Scott Turow's Presumed Innocent (1987). Who knew that the legal magazine Green Bag criticized Sherlock Holmes's reasoning in 1902?  (Hat tips to the Legal Theory and Law & Humanities blogs)

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