2013 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2011 Canadian Law Blog Finalist

2010 Canadian Law Blog Finalist

2009 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2008 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2007 Canadian Law Blog Awards Winner

2008 InnovAction Awards



  • Categories
  • Archives
    June 30th, 2008

    ♫ Come writers and critics
    Who prophesize with your pen
    And keep your eyes wide
    The chance won’t come again
    …For the times they are a-changin’…♫

    Words and Music by Bob Dylan.

    Adam Liptak in the online version of the June 29, 2008 Sunday New York Times “Ideas and Trends” feature did an article entitled: “The Chief Justice, Dylan and the Disappearing Double Negative“.  It seems that the Chief Justice of the United States in a written decision quoted Bob Dylan rather than legal precedent.  It seems he is not alone.

    The article states as follows:

    “Alex B. Long, a law professor at the University of Tennessee and perhaps the nation’s leading authority on the citation of popular music in judicial opinions, said this was almost certainly the first use of a rock lyric to buttress a legal proposition in a Supreme Court decision. “It’s a landmark opinion,” Professor Long said.”

    It seems Bob Dylan, Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen are the three most quoted lyricists, with Bob Dylan leading the pack with 26 references according to a study written by Professor Long and published in the Washington & Lee Law Review.

    But the US Courts are not alone in drawing in musical or TV references to make a point.  There is Madam Justice Newbury’s decision in the McKenzie v. Smith, Lyons, Torrance, Stevenson & Mayer case in the Supreme Court of British Columbia wherein the Learned Justice brought in a reference to Maxwell Smart’s  favourite “Cone of Silence”.

    All this proves that Judges are busy keeping their eyes wide, looking for that chance that won’t come again to weave in a particularly apt reference, for as we all know, the times they are a-changin‘.

    A hat tip to my friend and colleague Jack Olsen for drawing this to my attention!

    This entry was posted on Monday, June 30th, 2008 at 10:45 am and is filed under Adding Value, humour, Technology, Trends. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

    One Response to “On Judges, Bob Dylan and Maxwell Smart…”
    1. Luke Says:

      From a 2008 Manitoba Court of Queen’s Bench decision:

      Indeed, MHSAA counsel relied upon a well-known Rolling Stones lyric “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try, you might get what you need”.

      Judge McKelvey didn’t accept that particular argument.

      http://www.canlii.org/en/mb/mbqb/doc/2008/2008mbqb24/2008mbqb24.html

    Leave a Reply