May 24 by GJEL Staff

4 Powerful Legal Documentary Films

People who follow the news in the United States are not strangers to disturbing legal stories that often dominate the headlines. From the Casey Anthony trial that concluded last month, to the Scott Peterson verdict years before, and even the controversial O.J. Simpson murder case nearly 20 years ago, it’s often difficult to avoid the day’s most followed legal stories. But there are thousands of legal stories that go unnoticed each year by much of the general public, or are nearly forgotten years later. In the four following examples, documentary film makers have exposed and revitalized those stories to create powerful documentary films discussing a variety of troubling legal issues. We’ve compiled the trailers for the films Hot Coffee, Capturing the Friedmans, Deliver Us From Evil, and Dear Zachary: A Letter to a Son About His Father, along with short descriptions and reviews.

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Feb 03 by Ralph L. Jacobson

The ‘rescue doctrine’ in California: whose fault counts?

As common law doctrines evolve, sometimes their rationale, and proper application, can get lost; that can be because of just one “less than thoughtful” reported appellate decision. One example is an appellate decision in the 1990s limiting the application of the “rescue doctrine” in California. Five years afterwards, another court took a more serious look…

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Aug 24 by Ralph L. Jacobson

California’s doctrine of primary assumption of the risk: what, when, and how far?

California’s “primary assumption of the risk” doctrine was first set forth in Knight v. Jewett (1992) 3 Cal.4th 296. That case involved a plaintiff’s claim for personal injuries sustained when the defendant knocked her over and stepped on her finger while they were playing touch football. At issue was how the courts should apply the…

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Dec 04 by Ralph L. Jacobson

Public access to court records vs. litigant privacy: leveling the playing field

Pursuant to Rule of Court 2.550(c) and its predecessor, California court records have long been “presumed to be open” to the public, absent exceptions for confidentiality required by law. But even ten or fifteen years ago, accessing civil court records in California and elsewhere was an arduous task. It took a great deal of effort…

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May 20 by Ralph L. Jacobson

The legal liability of a social host in California

It happens more than it should. Someone (here we will call her Ms. H.) invites some friends, maybe a lot of friends and maybe their friends as well, to a social gathering, where food and drink, lots of drink, is provided. Something bad happens, either to one of the guests at the party, or maybe…

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Sep 17 by Ralph L. Jacobson

California Spousal Privilege and Related Concerns

Assume the following factual scenario: a serious car accident occurs, injuring the plaintiff. Just after the accident, the insured defendant called her husband and discussed, in detail, the now highly contested facts of how the incident occurred. During litigation, plaintiff’s counsel notices the deposition of defendant’s husband. Will plaintiff’s counsel be able to elicit, by…

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Nov 08 by Beckley

Medical malpractice and Michael Jackson’s death

Propofol is typically used as a surgical anesthetic for a patient who is receiving mechanical ventilation. Because of well known side effects, doctors and nurses in a hospital operating room or a comparably equipped medical facility must continuously monitor the patient’s heart rate and breathing. For any ethical doctor, it would be unthinkable to use…

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