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TV’s Impact on Culture and Legal Writing: New Article by Professor Abrams

September 13th, 2016

Doug Abrams

The Marquette Law Review’s new issue carries Professor Doug Abrams’ article, “References to Television Programming in Judicial Decisions and Lawyers’ Advocacy.”

The abstract of the article reads: Think of the poor judge who is reading . . . hundreds and hundreds of these briefs,” says Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr. “Liven up their life just a little bit . . . with something interesting.”

Lawyers can “liven up” their briefs with references to television shows generally known to Americans who have grown up watching the small screen. After discussing television’s pervasive effect on American culture since the early 1950s, this article surveys the array of television references that appear in federal and state judicial opinions. In cases with no claims or defenses concerning the television industry, judges often help explain substantive or procedural points with references to themes and fictional characters from well-known dramas or comedies. The courts’ use of television references invites advocates to use these cultural markers in the briefs they submit.

In the Villanova Sports and Entertainment Law Journal in 2010, Professor Abrams wrote a similar article, “Sports in the Courts: The role of Sports References in Judicial Opinions,” that surveyed the use of another cultural marker — sports references — in judicial opinions and lawyers’ advocacy. A shorter version of the article was republished in two parts in Precedent, The Missouri Bar’s quarterly magazine that has now been merged into the Journal of the Missouri Bar.