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July 3, 2008

Reflections on the (criminal justice) blawgosphere

Here are three very interesting and thought-provoking posts about the history and state of the blawgosphere from the "practical blawgosphere":

These posts all suggest, directly or indirectly, that there is a big divide between the blogs and blogging habits of law professors and practicing lawyers.  Of course, there is a huge divide between the day-to-day work and responsibilities of law professors and practicing lawyers, but I love the blawgosphere in part because it has always seemed by a terrific cyber-meeting-space for the academy and the bar (as well as the bench and law students and non-lawyers).

Indeed, I have generally believed that most (though not all) of the law professors who blog are much more interested in the day-to-day work of practicing lawyers than most of their academic colleagues.  Similarly, I have generally assumed that most (though not all) of the practicing lawyers who blog are much more interested in academic perspectives and debates over broad legal ideas than most of their practicing colleagues.  In other words, I generally views most law bloggers, whether profs of practitioners, as birds of a feather. 

But the posts above have led me to seriously question my assumptions about the blawgosphere (though as my posts title spotlights, my focus and hands-on knowledge is only within and among criminal justice blogs).  Do readers generally see relative harmony or a big divide between bloggers in the academy and in the bar?

July 3, 2008 at 07:54 AM | Permalink


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Both sides of the coin need each other. Attorneys who are "in the trenches" don't always have time to consider the loftier matters of the law, and high-minded law professors rarely have the real world experience that criminal attorneys bring to the table. Much like athletes and sports announcers, these two sides sort of need each other.

Posted by: Joe | Jul 3, 2008 11:33:39 AM

An interesting thing just happened on the Volokh Conspiracy that was somewhat instructive on the apparent disconnect between academia and the wider legal commentary world. Professor Paul Robinson of U. Penn Law wrote an op-ed yesterday in the New York Times that made some interesting predictions about how less-than-lethal weapons such as tasers might in essence moot Heller. However, his piece had some shortcomings that showed he misunderstood both the practical limitations of tasers and similar devices, and also was unaware of the substance of many states' current deadly force self-defense laws (he made the rather major mistake of assuming, arguendo, that the 1962 Model Penal Code's formulation was the universal rule, overlooking clearly relevant developments like the castle doctrine, legislative and judicial limitations on the duty to retreat, CCW laws, etc.).

Dale Carpenter blogged on Volokh about Robinson's piece and linked to it. Volokh, of course, attracts a broad spectrum of readers, and comments can get rather, um, "colorful" at times. After well over a hundred comments were posted lambasting Robinson's thesis, Robinson himself posted a comment or two attempting to clarify his original piece. After his clarifications were critiqued, he then reappeared, inviting "any criminial law professors who want to have a serious, publishable conversation about the issues raised in my op-ed piece [to] do so as part of the Criminal Law Conversations project, [a password-restricted site on Penn's web portal]."

And then the doo-doo really hit the fan. Quite a few Volokh commenters interpreted Robinson's invite to "professors" to go off and have a "serious, publishable conversation" as an elitist affront to the blogsphere in general. Robinson got shredded pretty badly. I doubt he'll be returning to the public blogsphere anytime soon. Which is unfortunate -- some of the analyses of the failings of his op ed, while not necessarily "professorial," were quite astute.

The Volokh thread:

Posted by: zippypinhead | Jul 3, 2008 2:54:13 PM

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