Law & Culture

Law and CultureIn our Law & Culture column, you will find original works of fiction, reviews of a wide range of publications — not just conventional legal texts — as well as broader cultural forms such as films, TV shows, CDs, DVDs, art exhibitions and so on. The column links in with the Alternative Law Journal’s focus on law for the disadvantaged, human rights law and law reform.

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THE CASE AGAINST 8

Samuel Blashki

the-case-against-8-smDirected by Ben Cotner and Ryan White; HBO, 2014; Distributed in Australia by Leapfrog Films — https://leapfrogfilms.com.au/movie/case-8/

The Case Against 8 documents the inspiring story of a lawsuit challenging Proposition 8, a constitutional amendment in California that had the effect of banning same-sex marriage in the state.

Spanning five years, the HBO documentary directed and produced by Ben Cotner and Ryan White follows the case from its inception to trial, through various appeals and ultimately, to a winning verdict in the US Supreme Court. It largely focuses on the four plaintiffs and their legal team, who ultimately succeed in legalising same-sex marriage in California.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 70

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Earth Jurisprudence: Private Property and the Environment

Kate Galloway

Burdon-Earth-Jurisprudence-Private-Property-smPeter D Burdon; Routledge, 2015; 177 pages; $125 (hardback)

The Bolivian constitutional recognition of earth rights, the Whanganui River declaration in New Zealand and the recent court finding of some rights vesting in a captive Argentinian orang-utan, indicate that the law is slowly waking up to its exclusion of the natural world from the realm of rights. These examples are simply facets of a much broader ‘convergence of crises, all of which present a significant moral and survival challenge for the human species,’ requiring a re-imagining of the potential of the law. Peter Burdon’s book Earth Jurisprudence: Private Property and the Environment does just that, providing both a theoretical justification and a model for a holistic engagement between private property and the natural world.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 68

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Blackstone And His Commentaries – Biography, Law, History

Adam Webster

Prest-Blackstone-and-his-commentaries-smWilfrid Prest (Ed); Hart Publishing, 2014; UK£20.00 (paperback)

Williams Blackstone’s Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-69) is arguably one of the most influential legal texts in the common law world. In Australia, courts today still make reference to the Commentaries. This collection of essays was the product of a symposium held in Adelaide in 2007 on ‘William Blackstone: Life, Thought, Influence’. The collection was first published in hardback in 2009 and in 2014 has been republished in paperback. The timing of the rerelease of this collection could not be more appropriate, with 2015 marking 250 years since the publication of the first volume of the Commentaries.

The collection of essays examines Blackstone’s life, his work and the influence of that work on the development of the law. The collection is divided into four parts, dealing with these three topics in turn. The fourth and final part contains two chapters: a chapter (by Morris Cohen) on bibliography and a chapter (by JH Baker and Wilfrid Prest) on iconography.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 69

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The Internationalisation of Legal Education: The Future Practice of Law

Kristoffer Greaves

van-Caenegem-Internationalisation-of-legal-education-smWilliam van Caenegem and Mary Hiscock (eds); Edward Elgar, 2014; 316pp; £76.50 (hardback)

Caenegem and Hiscock’s The Internationalisation of Legal Education: The Future Practice of Law (Edward Elgar, 2014) follows their earlier book, The Internationalisation of Law: Legislating, Decision Making, Practice and Education (Edward Elgar Publishing, 2010). The latest book is substantially based on contributions made at a symposium that focused on internationalisation of legal education held at Bond University in 2012. In their preface, the editors provide a cogent overarching theme for the work:

Whereas the emphasis and content of global law will continue to vary, the trend is clearly toward greater recognition of the necessity and value of an international perspective, both technical and cultural, in the law graduate of the future.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 67

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R v Milat: A Case Study in Cross-Examination

Tim McGrath

Howard-r-v-milat-cross-exam-smDan Howard; LexisNexis Butterworths, 2014; $139 (paperback)

Dan Howard SC has produced a compelling text, which lives up to its title A Case Study in Cross-Examination. The dreadful deeds of Ivan Milat (aka the Backpacker Murderer) continue to resonate within our national psyche. The discovery of the first victim, and then the next, led to the gradual realisation that something truly awful had been taking place in the Belanglo State Forest. The investigation, arrest and trial of the larger than life Milat gripped the attention of the public. A true horror story, and the genesis of fictional offspring such as the ‘Wolf Creek’ franchise.

I chose this book as holiday reading; a break from the practice of commercial litigation. It was something of a shock therefore to discover that the book consists, for the most part, of the unabridged transcript of the cross examination of Milat by senior crown prosecutor Mark Tedeschi QC. Don’t get me wrong; court work is, by its nature, unpredictable and exciting. One of my great disappointments however, is the inherent inability of a transcript to capture the excitement, the nuance and tension of court room drama. Once the dust has settled and the transcript emerges, it can be nothing but a jumble of words on a page; confused when one party talks over another, and an otherwise lifeless account of the proceedings.

(2015) 40(1) AltLJ 67

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