Law students rejoice! There is now a distinct possibility that you could be watching quite possibly the best television crime drama of all time as a homework assignment.
That’s right, a professor at William & Mary Law has been using The Wire to teach Criminal Law. According to the professor, the show is useful as a teaching tool because, unlike most crime drama, it approaches the constitutional and societal issues of crime from a realistic perspective. Are there other shows that share The Wire’s realism? Not so much. That said, there are still other shows that could be of use in the law school context.
Let’s start with any courtroom drama ever. Take any permutation of Law and Order, for example. What happens in those shows? Lawyers pontificate in the middle of cross-examinations. They have huge stretches of time where they’re just talking instead of asking questions. Lawyers wander all around the courtroom willy-nilly. None of this happens in real life. In real life, lawyers have to ask questions. In real life, lawyers have to stand at a dais and ask those questions. They don’t get to punctuate particularly important questions by following their answers with statements of opinion. If a real lawyer were in a Law and Order courtroom, you’d hear nothing but a steady stream of objections. Great for the case, terrible for television.
On to a slightly less obvious example of a TV show perfect for law school curriculum: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Those heroes in a half-shell have been living with Master Splinter beneath the city’s streets for at least 13 years (given the title of the show). The turtles are a Property professor’s dream. In fact, they could be a final exam question in themselves. Take adverse possession for example. While the turtles’ occupation of the sewer has certainly been continuous, you’d have to wonder whether living underground could ever be considered open and notorious. Let’s also note that the turtles have been adversely possessing against the government, bringing in a host of other issues. Then there’s the Torts and Criminal Law issues the turtles face for all the pain and suffering they’ve caused to members of the Foot clan during their vigilante night maneuvers. After writing this, I’m surprised none of my law professors ever used the Ninja Turtles in class.
What television shows would you like to see your law professors use in class?