To have to do with the law

An essay

Authored by: Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos

Routledge Handbook of Law and Theory

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  August  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138956469
eBook ISBN: 9781315665733
Adobe ISBN:


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1a. The summons. It is surprising how little, as a legal academic, I have to do with the law personally. A summons to jury duty, however, is just that: a personal invitation to do with the law, indeed the law, the court itself. The summons included its own way out. If I were unable to attend, I should state the reasons on the relentlessly photocopied version of a once probably pristine original form. The provided boxes, faded, vaguely symmetrical, polite, were too small to contain my bourgeois despair. Why despair? On the one hand, the thought of being removed from my life for at least (as the letter emphatically stated) two weeks, and on the other, the idea of enforced enclosure, brought up in me a sort of claustrophobic panic. Yet I tried, substituting emotion with rational argumentation, enumerating in a meticulous list and in tight chronological order (see? no two consecutive weeks free at all, ever) how important my future was (this many trips planned, this many talks to give, that much life to live). My sense of self-importance was of course transparently fragile, attested by the flurried way in which the margins of the application were overflowing with dates, destinations and university names. I stared with a certain melancholy at the lines that should have stayed within the boxes but failed (I was only sent one copy to work with): will anyone manage to decipher those scrawlings? But more seriously, would anyone really care about the veracity or at least the verisimilitude of the list, or is a deferral routinely granted to any semi-convincing application to be excused?

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