Law & Culture - 2012 - Vol 37(1)

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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Crownies

Francesca Bartlett

altlj-2012-37-1-crownies-coverProduced by Screentime for ABC1 TV, Series 1 (22 episodes) screened July-December 2011;
starring Andrea Demetriades, Indiana Evans, Todd Lasance, Hamish Michael, Ella Scott Lynch.

Former NSW Director of Public Prosecutions, Nicholas Cowdery AM QC, exclaims ‘OH DEAR!’ in his review of the first episodes of ABC legal drama Crownies screened last year.1 Yet, his is not a damning assessment of the series; he simply refers to factual errors in this fictional representation of the lawyers and workings of the NSW Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (‘DPP’). He points out that the series actually draws its title from a Victorian expression for a prosecutor (in NSW, a ‘crownie’ is a drink) and that it refers to a charge document as a ‘presentment’ (rather than an ‘indictment’, as it is called in NSW). Are these serious criticisms or simply a finicky lawyer finding fault with a drama? Perhaps it is both, and therein lays the difficulty, as well as the appeal, of the series.

(2012) 37(1) AltLJ 68

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Guilt

Stephen Gray

altlj-2012-37-1-guilt-coverFerdinand von Schirach; Text Publishing, 2012;
208pp; $22.95 (paperback)

Ferdinand von Schirach is a prominent German criminal defence lawyer whose first collection of cameo accounts of the inner workings of the German legal system, Crime (see review in Alternative Law Journal 36(1)) was published in 2011 to great acclaim.

Von Schirach’s latest collection, Guilt, will no doubt be snapped up by fans of the author’s cool, pellucid style. These are more stories of clients with a difference: a boarding-school boy, victim of an Aleister Crowley-like gang of dark fantasists (‘The Illuminati’); a respectable bourgeois whose life, like that of a hero in Ian McEwan’s Atonement, is torn apart by the capricious accusation of a child (‘Children’); hints of anonymous mass murder in Eastern Europe (‘The Briefcase’); and perhaps the best story in the collection, the backflips and connivances of a bunch of drug dealers who turn out to be just that little bit smarter than they look (‘The Key’).

(2012) 37(1) AltLJ 69

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Let Them Talk

Mike Daly

altlj-2012-37-1-let-them-talk-coverHugh Laurie; CD; Warner Music, 2011;
$24.99

Hugh Laurie is a modern renaissance man: an actor, academic, athlete (he rowed for Cambridge University) and, as this debut recording reveals, also an accomplished musician. If you’ve followed the lanky Laurie’s career, his musical penchant will come as no surprise. His piano and vocals often featured on the TV comedy series he shared with old friend Stephen Fry, while aficionados of the top-rating House will tell you Hugh’s cranky US medico frequently ends up tickling the ivories. In real life, Laurie is a multi-instrumentalist and fervent blues fan, and for this New Orleans-inspired recording, his vocals have been astutely augmented with a star backing ensemble. 

(2012) 37(1) AltLJ 70

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