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Copyright (c) 2003 Law Review Association of the Quinnipiac University School of Law
Quinnipiac Law Review

ARTICLE: Teaching Evidence the "Reel" Way


Quinnipiac Law Review

21 Quinnipiac L. Rev. 973


Paul Bergman


I. Introduction
Popular culture is an increasingly useful prism through which to study social and cultural issues. In particular, popular legal culture provides important insights into widely held attitudes and beliefs about law, lawyers, and legal processes. For example, films almost always depict lawyers who work in large corporate firms as evil, greedy, and corrupt. 1 Even though such films are intended as entertainment rather than social commentary, the frequency of that depiction is evidence that it strikes a responsive chord with audiences' general beliefs.

This presentation concerns a narrower use of popular legal culture. Rather than analyzing the social meaning of law in film, the discussion below considers the effective classroom use of scenes from law-related films in an Evidence course. 2 Lawyers and courtroom trials have been fodder for countless films, 3 and scenes from such films can serve as excellent "texts" for illustrating evidentiary doctrine and presenting problems for classroom analysis. Of course, films almost always dramatize or even parody actual legal relationships and proceedings. However, this increases students' engagement with the texts without detracting from film clips' usefulness as teaching devices. 4

II. Advantages of Teaching With Film Clips
Perhaps the strongest rationale for using film clips is that they are an efficient and involving method of providing context for the application of evidence rules. Teaching Evidence to students who lack understanding of the trial process is like teaching "the crawl" to someone who has no idea what a swimming pool or other body ...
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