The Greatest Legal Movie of All Time: Proclaiming the Real Winner

14 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2010 Last revised: 12 Feb 2010

Grant H. Morris

University of San Diego, School of Law - Professor of Law Emeritus

Date Written: January 11, 2010

Abstract

In August, 2008, the ABA Journal featured an article entitled: “The 25 Greatest Legal Movies.” A panel of experts, described in the article as “12 prominent lawyers who teach film or are connected to the business” selected “the best movies ever made about lawyers and the law.” This distinguished panel ranked its twenty-five top legal movies, choosing To Kill a Mockingbird as its number one legal movie. The panel also selected twenty-five films as “honorable mentions,” which were listed in alphabetical order. In my opinion, however, the real greatest legal movie of all time was not selected as the winner. It was not ranked in the top twenty-five. It was not included in the twenty-five honorable mentions so that it would rank in the top fifty. I would wager that it was not even considered by the panel as a candidate for inclusion as a “legal” movie. In this article, I discuss the movie that should have been ranked first. I compare my choice with the experts’ choice, describing similarities and differences between the two movies. In To Kill a Mockingbird, an African American man is wrongfully accused of raping a white woman. Despite the best efforts of his attorney, he is convicted of that crime. Prejudice prevails over justice. In the movie I have chosen, another victim of prejudice is able to succeed due to the best efforts of his attorney. Justice prevails over prejudice. That difference convinces me that the movie I have selected is truly the greatest legal movie of all time.

Keywords: legal movie, lawyers, legal profession, zealous advocacy, discrimination, racism, prejudice, disability, legal system, criminal law, constitutional rights

JEL Classification: J70, J71, J78, K14, K40, K41

Suggested Citation

Morris, Grant H., The Greatest Legal Movie of All Time: Proclaiming the Real Winner (January 11, 2010). San Diego Law Review, Vol. 47, No. 2, 2010; San Diego Legal Studies Paper No. 10-002. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1534977

Grant Harold Morris (Contact Author)

University of San Diego, School of Law - Professor of Law Emeritus ( email )

5998 Alcala Park
San Diego, CA 92110-2492
United States

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