When I was first invited to participate in this symposium, Legal Outsiders in American Film, I initially thought of myself. I thought maybe I would be the outsider among the contributors. I have never taken a law and film course, let alone taught one. I certainly do not claim to have a background in film studies, unless having an unlimited plan with Netflix and occasionally frequenting art houses count. And although I have written in related interdisciplinary fields—law and literature, and law and the visual arts—I have not written directly about law and film.
The more I thought of the issue presented by this symposium, the more confident I felt that I had something unique to contribute. After all, although I have never taught law and film, I routinely use film as a pedagogical tool. When I teach criminal law, for example, I use film and television clips to illustrate criminal law concepts, to problematize those concepts, and even to raise larger issues about justice. And my criminal procedure students will attest to the fact that knowing every episode of The Shield and The Wire comes in handy in class. My Evidence course, thanks to the casebook I use, comes with its very own DVD of useful film clips.3 Even in my Race and the Law class, I find myself turning to film again and again to illustrate how race is socially constructed and maintained. . . .