: Law & Culture

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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A Second Chance For Justice: The Prosecutions Of Gabe Watson For The Death Of Tina Thomas

Daniel Reynolds

SecondChanceforJusticeAsher Flynn and Kate Fitz-Gibbon; Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2013; 270 pages; £44.99 (hardback)

A full decade since the tragic death of Tina Thomas during a diving expedition in Townsville, Queensland on 22 October 2003, there remain two competing versions of what occurred that day. It is common ground that Tina had married Gabe Watson a week earlier in Alabama, flown to Australia with him to celebrate their honeymoon, and that the two had signed up for a night-time dive to explore the wreck of the SS Yongala. This is where accounts begin to differ, with Gabe maintaining that Tina’s drowning was a freak accident which he simply failed to prevent. Prosecutors, on the other hand, alleged murder.

(2013) 38(4) AltLJ 283

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Side Effects

Stephen Tang and Mabel Tsui

side-effects-coverDirector: Steven Soderbergh; starring: Jude Law, Rooney Mara, Channing Tatum and Catherine Zeta-Jones; Roadshow, 2013, 106 mins, available on DVD, $39.99

Side Effects, it initially seems, is a movie about the immorality of the pharmaceutical industry and those complicit in its excesses and evils.

Emily (Rooney Mara) has enjoyed the good life her investment banker husband Martin (Channing Tatum) was able to provide for her until he was arrested and sentenced to jail for insider trading. The film starts with his release and the young couple are looking forward to a new start in life. Then Emily deliberately crashes her car into a brick wall. Taken to hospital, she is assessed by psychiatrist Dr Jon Banks (Jude Law) who suspects Emily attempted suicide. He is persuaded not to treat her as an inpatient and instead prescribes an unnamed SSRI (Selective Serotonin Re-uptake Inhibitor) to help with her depression. Martin, asking what the medication does, is told that ‘it helps stop the brain from telling you you’re sad’. This commonly-used explanation is much nicer than the reality: that we don’t really know how SSRIs work for depression, or whether they’re effective at all.

(2013) 38(4) AltLJ 282

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Conspiracy Of Silence: Queensland's Frontier Killing Times

Stephen Gray

Bottoms-Conspiracy-of-silence-jacketTimothy Bottoms; Allen & Unwin, 2013; 
288 pages; $32.99 (paperback)

Even to somebody relatively familiar with Australia’s real history — and more used, therefore, to thinking of it as bloodstained rather than merely blemished — Timothy Bottoms’ close examination of Queensland’s frontier comes as something of a shock. Henry Reynolds, Noel Loos, Raymond Evans and others have previously established that Queensland’s colonial frontier was a particularly brutal place. It’s also well known that Queensland’s Native Police force, which operated from 1848 to around 1910 [see p 7], played a notorious role in this. Bottoms’ book, however, establishes in comprehensive and chilling fashion how bad it actually was.

(2013) 38(3) AltLJ 199

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Tomorrow's Lawyers: An Introduction To Your Future

Kate Galloway

tomorrows-lawyers smRichard Susskind; Oxford University Press, 2013; 180 pages; $18.95 (paperback)

Tomorrow’s legal world, as predicted and described here, bears little resemblance to that of the past. Legal institutions and lawyers are at a crossroads…and are poised to change more radically over the next two decades than they have over the last two centuries. If you are a young lawyer, this revolution will happen on your watch. [p xiii]

So begins Richard Susskind in his latest thoughts about the future of the legal profession. While aimed at young lawyers and law students, the book is relevant also for legal educators and lawyers themselves as a call to rethink the nature of what we do.

(2013) 38(3) AltLJ 200

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Promoting Justice Through Clinical Legal Education

Kristoffer Greaves

Promoting-Justice-Through-Clinical-Legal-EducationJeff Giddings; Justice Press,* 2013; 
448 pages; $20+postage/packing (paperback)

It is a good year for resources concerning Australian clinical legal education, with Jeff Giddings’ book an excellent companion to the ‘Best Practices Australian Clinical Legal Education’ report released earlier in 2013.

Clinical legal education involves students ‘learning by doing and reflecting’ via supervised legal work on behalf of real clients, or through simulated scenarios drawn from legal practice. In Promoting Justice Through Clinical Legal Education, Giddings argues:

Clinical methodologies can make a more substantial contribution to legal education as part of an integrated and effectively sequenced program than on a stand-alone basis. [p 3]

An integrated approach, says Giddings, promotes justice through legal education by providing law students with opportunities to appreciate the importance of access to justice, to develop professional ethics, take responsibility for their work, and experience the limitations of the law and legal processes.

(2013) 38(3) AltLJ 200

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