Thursday, January 26, 2023

Stern on Omniscient Narration and the Fellow-Servant Rule

Simon Stern, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, has posted Omniscient Narrative Modes in Law: From Trial Strategy to the Fellow-Servant Rule, which is forthcoming in Law, Culture, and the Humanities:

Lemuel Shaw (NYPL)
Research in law and literature often uses the term “narrative” as a shorthand for various kinds of motivated legal reasoning, indicating that facts, doctrines, and the relations among them have been chosen and arranged for a particular purpose. Alternatively, speaking of “narrative” may be a way of conveying that one is concerned with interpretation, and may be a signal that the discussion will focus on images, symbols, representations, or ideologies, even if their narrative features play little or no role in the analysis. This article shows how research on narrative might help to clarify aspects of trial strategy and legal doctrine. The first section considers omniscient narration as a way of understanding the effects of various defense strategies, in a criminal trial. The second section considers the role of omniscient narration in the development of the “fellow-servant” rule in the nineteenth century. The law of evidence provides an especially fruitful area for such investigations, but questions of narrative form and technique can help to clarify many other aspects of forensic argumentation and analysis, in both procedural and substantive contexts.
--Dan Ernst