Law journal publishes special issue examining 'Breaking Bad' - Albuquerque Journal

Law journal publishes special issue examining ‘Breaking Bad’

From left, Bryan Cranston, Giancarlo Esposito and Aaron Paul are seen in a publicity shot from "Breaking Bad." (Courtesy of AMC)
From left, Bryan Cranston, Giancarlo Esposito and Aaron Paul are seen in a publicity shot from “Breaking Bad.” (Courtesy of AMC)

The New Mexico Law Review is devoting its entire spring issue to eight contemporary legal issues – as seen through the entertaining but nonetheless very serious lens of a “Breaking Bad” perspective.

Eight articles and essays include analyses of criminal procedure, a hypothetical arrest of Walter White, attorney-client communications, police practices, the war on drugs, and morality and the law.

The Law Review, edited by University of New Mexico School of Law students, is due out Friday. An electronic version already has been posted online at lawschool.unm.edu/nmlr/current-issue.php. The Law Review’s faculty adviser, Professor Dave Sidhu, described the issue as creative and innovative.

“The idea emerged from informal conversations between the editor-in-chief, Matt Zidovsky, myself and another faculty member,” Sidhu said, “but truly all credit should go to Matt and the editorial board – Matt took the idea to the board and they made it happen.”

The New Mexico Law Review editorial crew. Top, from left: Stephen Ralph, Lynne Canning, Ryan Schotter, Abigail Yates, Ashley Minton, Gabe Long. Bottom, from left: Matthew Zidovsky, Maria Dudley, Ashley Funkhouser, Nora Wilson. Not Pictured: Michael Jasso, Elizabeth Piazza, Jesse Gallegos. (Courtesy of the New Mexico Law Review)
The New Mexico Law Review editorial crew. Top, from left: Stephen Ralph, Lynne Canning, Ryan Schotter, Abigail Yates, Ashley Minton, Gabe Long. Bottom, from left: Matthew Zidovsky, Maria Dudley, Ashley Funkhouser, Nora Wilson. Not Pictured: Michael Jasso, Elizabeth Piazza, Jesse Gallegos. (Courtesy of the New Mexico Law Review)

Zidovsky said the NMLR board was excited about the keen interest the idea generated from legal scholars and practitioners around the country.

“From the day that we announced our plan to publish this special edition, we received tremendous feedback from the legal community,” he said. “As the submissions came in, we were very pleased to have a wide variety of series plotlines and legal issues to choose from.”

Zidovsky said he hopes the articles and essays in the “Breaking Bad” issue will trigger discussions related to the power of media to influence public perception of legal and social issues.

Nearly 50 abstracts were submitted to the Law Review. The editorial team accepted the eight articles included in the issue. The published articles include:

  • “Breaking Bad in the Classroom.” UNM Law Professor Max Minzner advocates the use of video as a teaching tool in law school classrooms to convey the substance of criminal procedure.
  • “Why We Would Spare (from the death penalty) Walter White: Breaking Bad and the True Power of Mitigation,” by Bidish J. Sarma, a law professor at the University of California, Berkeley, looks at the capital sentencing process Walter White would have likely faced following his hypothetical arrest near the end of the series.
  • “Better Call Saul if You Want Discoverable Communications: The Misrepresentation of the Attorney-Client Privilege on Breaking Bad.” Armen Adzhemyan, a litigation associate in the Los Angeles office of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher, and Susan M. Marcella, a litigation partner with the same firm, examine attorney-client communications featured on the show to explore the attorney-client privilege under federal common law and New Mexico’s state law jurisprudence.
  • “The Good and (Breaking) Bad of Deceptive Police Practices,” by Professor Elizabeth N. Jones of California’s Western State College of Law, discusses the possible association between strategic police deception in “Breaking Bad” and the Department of Justice’s finding last year of a pattern or practice of excessive force by some Albuquerque Police Department officers.
  • “Stuck Between a Rock and a Meth Cooking Husband: What Breaking Bad’s Skyler White Teaches us About How the War on Drugs and Public Antipathy Constrain Women of Circumstance’s Choices,” by Holly Jeanine Boux, a Ph.D. candidate at Georgetown University, and Courtenay W. Daum, a political science professor at Colorado State University. The authors use Walter White’s wife, Skyler, to highlight how sociocultural expectations, the War on Drugs, and public antipathy can intersect to constrain choices available to women of circumstance.
  • “Breaking BATNAs: Negotiation Lessons from Walter White,” by Jennifer W. Reynolds, a law professor at the University of Oregon, analyzes five scenes that focus on negotiations, one from each of the show’s five seasons.
  • “The Political Geography of Plea Bargaining in Federal Death Penalty Cases,” by Greg Goelzhauser, a political science professor at Utah State University, uses the show’s emphasis on federal law enforcement in New Mexico to analyze plea-bargaining outcomes in federal capital cases.
  • “Don’t Bake – Litigate! A Practitioner’s Guide on how Walter White Should Have Protected his Interests in Gray Matter, and his Litigation Options for Building an ‘Empire Business’ Through the Courts, not the Cartel,” by Michael C. Mims of Bradley, Murchison, Kelly & Shea in New Orleans. Mims argues that Walter White’s foray into the world of methamphetamine production could have been avoided if he had consulted legal counsel before selling his shares of Gray Matter Technologies.

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