Encountering the Mysteries of Law and Literature
This article is based upon a presentation the author delivered at the 2019 Annual Conference on Law, sponsored by the Athens Institute for Education and Research. The year 2019 marked the 125th anniversary of the birth of Dashiell Hammett, author and early contributor to the “hard-boiled” school of realist detective fiction, like his first novel Red Harvest. This novel focused on the corrosive effects of the failure of the rule of law. Encountering the Mysteries of Law and Literature examines the experience of life in a society where the rule of law has been abandoned in favor of greed and brutal self-interest. It looks at this issue from the literary perspective of Red Harvest, and from the legal perspective of cases like Caperton v. A.T. Massey Coal Co., Inc., 556 U.S. 868 (2009), in which the U.S. Supreme Court considered the implications of possible judicial bias – or perhaps even corruption – based upon the timing of a litigant’s large campaign donation to a state supreme court judicial candidate. Among other things, the paper concludes that in the absence of legitimate and impartial law, the default rules of society tend to be more fragile and less predictable in their application and enforcement than fundamental due process requires.
David A. Frenkel
Athens Institute for Education and Research
Michael P. Malloy,
Encountering the Mysteries of Law and Literature,
(David A. Frenkel eds., 2022).
Available at: https://scholarlycommons.pacific.edu/facultybooks/185