by Allison Leotta
Every year, the American Bar Association ranks the top legal blogs in America, including a category called “For Fun.” Although “fun lawyers” might sound like an oxymoron, this year’s list includes a bunch of truly giggle-worthy blogs. I’m honored that my own blog was included in the group. After the nominations were announced, the 2013 “For Fun” bloggers decided to interview each other. Here, for your amusement, is the resulting group interview.
1. What is your blog about?
Law and The Multiverse (by James Daily and Ryan Davidson): Examining comic book characters and stories from a legal perspective. Or alternatively, an excuse to be huge comic book nerds while hopefully teaching people something about the law.
The Prime-Time Crime Review (by Allison Leotta): I recap and reality-check Law & Order: SVU for what the show gets right and wrong, from my perspective as a former sex-crimes prosecutor.
Supreme Court Haiku Reporter (by Keith Jaasma): I take the most important legal issues of the day and completely trivialize them through bad poetry.
ZombieLaw (by Josh Warren): I blog about “zombies” in law and politics (from a cognitive linguistic perspective).
2. What drew you to writing your blog? (The big money, right?)
Prime-Time Crime: Blogging about TV shows’ errors is way more constructive than throwing slippers at the TV. Also, when my first novel, Law of Attraction, was published, Simon & Schuster told me I “needed a platform.”
S.Ct. Haiku: I had written several law review articles of 40 pages or more and was excited that 300 people downloaded them in a year. So I thought “what’s the fewest number of words I could write and still call it writing.” Haiku!
Law and the Multiverse: James started it on a lark after the idea was suggested by a friend over dinner. Ryan came on board after James posted it to MetaFilter.com.
ZombieLaw: I was in an academic group studying “creativity” as regards occupy wall street and #anonymous. Zombies sort of grew out of that.
Law and The Multiverse: We make the law fun by heavily diluting it with comic books and pop culture. It’s like how gin (kind of gross) and tonic water (definitely gross) combine to make delicious gin & tonic.
Prime-Time Crime: Airbrushing.
S.Ct. Haiku: Even the ABA makes mistakes.
4. What subject has sparked the most comments on your blog?
S.Ct. Haiku: The healthcare and immigration cases. That, and people wondering why I don’t tell more fart jokes.
Law and The Multiverse: We once suggested that Peter Parker (aka Spider-Man) was committing fraud by selling pictures of himself as Spider-Man to a newspaper without telling the paper that he was both the photographer and the subject. People were not happy about it. It got about 50% more comments than the next highest post.
ZombieLaw: Putin’s zombie gun is pretty popular.
Prime-Time Crime: Whether men or women commit more sex crimes. I did a (very scientific) analysis, and found that on SVU roughly 1/3 of the crimes are committed by women – while in real life, only a tiny fraction of sex offenders are female. Whenever I mention this, someone posts an article about a female perp, and it sparks a big debate.
5. Are there any topics you won’t write about? If so, write about them here.
ZombieLaw: I do try to stay on topic, but “zombies” are everywhere and law/politics touches everything so pretty much all topics are fair game. Some recent big zombie stories that I know I have intentionally ignored are the zombie stripper calendar, the walking dead infographic and also I mostly ignored the HALO military training until Senator Coburn reported on it.
S.Ct. Haiku: I try not to focus on the death penalty part of death penalty cases. Instead I focus on exciting issues like jurisdiciton and waiver.
Law and The Multiverse: We really shy away from real-world legal issues and stick to fiction. We don’t want to say “this guy who dresses up like a superhero and tries to fight crime is probably breaking the law himself” and then get slapped with a defamation suit. Nor do we want to weigh in on the IP disputes between comic book publishers, writers, and artists. No matter what side you take you lose; either the publishers hate you or the writers, artists, and fans do.
Prime-Time Crime: Sodomy, pedophilia, necrophilia, bestiality, amputation fetishes, and vodka tampons have all been featured on SVU episodes, and thus they have all been discussed on my blog. Thank God my husband understands what I do – otherwise, he might faint if he looked at my Google search history.
6. How do you deal with snarky or inappropriate comments? What’s the craziest comment you’ve ever gotten?
ZombieLaw: All comments require approval before appearing. Most comments are not approved and most of those are obvious spam. Someone tried to post a picture link to Judge Alito made into a zombie but there was what appeared to be a bullet hole in his head. Though I do personally enjoy turning judges into zombie images, I prefer it not be suggestive of actual death. I would want to encourage my readers’ art but I was honestly afraid that approving that particular comment might get me a visit from the U.S. Marshals Service. My own zombie art aims for the more surrealist-fantastical with chunks of brain, demon eyes and gory mouths. Surely, lots of people think my art is gross too but I do try to keep some aesthetic standards.
S.Ct. Haiku: Most people seem too frightened by the haiku concept to make any comments.
Prime-Time Crime: I love how many of my commenters come back week after week. I feel like I’ve gotten to “know” several readers this way, although we’ve never met in real life. Given the nature of SVU, some sensitive conversations are had and personal confessions made. I’m happy to say that, in these instances, the commenters have generally been polite and respectful.
Law and The Multiverse: We actually get very few of them. We try to set a civil tone and we think the commenters have picked up on that. In over two years of doing this we’ve gotten maybe half a dozen inappropriate comments and emails. Most of them have been so obviously inappropriate (e.g. obscene language or they simply said “this is a dumb blog”) that we’ve just deleted them, or rather did not approve them in the moderation queue, since they were always first-time comments. We did get one particularly unusual comment from a fellow who wanted to sue the Canadian government because it had been controlling his mind for over eight years. Unfortunately that’s probably less “crazy” and more “actually mentally ill.”
7. In a cage match, who would win: Antonin Scalia or Elena Kagan, and why?
ZombieLaw: While surely they both have tiger blood, neither is winning. It would be one hell of a cock fight but both birds would end up dead with no clear victory. It’d be like two schizophrenics arguing about who ate the last donut (there’s a hole in this joke).
Law and The Multiverse: Scalia has the height advantage (5’7″ to 5’3″, according to IMDB of all places), and we’re going to guess he has the weight advantage as well. Scalia is a Sicilian who grew up in New Jersey. Kagan grew up on the Upper West Side. We don’t want to stereotype, but let’s face it: Scalia is going to fight dirty. On the other hand, Kagan is 24 years younger. We’ll call it a draw.
Prime-Time Crime: To paraphrase from The Princess Bride, “Never get involved in a land war in Asia or go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.”
S.Ct. Haiku: Scalia. He appears to have a lower center of gravity.
8. Where do you find the time to do this?
S.Ct. Haiku: Between the cushions of my sofa.
ZombieLaw: I don’t. I was never here. The zombie did it.
Prime-Time Crime: While my kids are sleeping (like many working moms).
Law and The Multiverse: James’s day job is in academia. Ryan may or may not have a time machine.
9. Now that you’ve hit the big time as a blogger, do you still practice law? Are you any good at it?
S.Ct. Haiku: I’m confident that I’m America’s Finest Lawyer With A Blog Written Almost Entirely In Haiku.TM
Law and The Multiverse: We’ve been very lucky with a book deal and some other arrangements, but not quite “quit your day job” lucky. Our clients tell us we’re good lawyers, but like all celebrities we have very fragile egos, so they may just be protecting us.
Prime-Time Crime: I resigned from the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s Office last June. Now I just write thrillers … about practicing law.
ZombieLaw: Yes and yes. Mostly criminal defense but also other unique individual representation.
10. If you could meet one lawyer, living or dead, and clean his or her bathroom, who would it be?
Law and The Multiverse: Justice Kagan seems like she keeps a tidy house.
ZombieLaw: When you say “clean his or her bathroom,” is that a euphemism? If not, it should be. Either way, I guess I would clean Justice Cardozo’s bathroom and try to see how much of that consideration he found before breakfast had come out before lunch.
Prime-Time Crime: Abraham Lincoln (although I’d gladly settle for Daniel Day-Lewis playing Abraham Lincoln).
S.Ct. Haiku: I will not be tricked into cleaning anyone else’s bathroom, thank you very much.
ZombieLaw: If you were able to get a day job then you should probably try to keep it. Of course you feel like a zombie… but the cure for zombie condition is not quitting your job – it’s laughter, a pinch of salt and puppies.
The Prime-Time Crime Review: Keep your day job for now; publishing is an unpredictable place these days. Write first thing in the morning, when you’re fresh. Write without inhibitions, even if you think the prose is terrible at first. You can’t be a perfectionist about your first draft. A lot of writing is editing – let yourself put the words out there so you have something to edit later.
Law and The Multiverse: Get the money up front.