Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Knowing Which Way the Wind Blows in California Courts

Brian
A new law review article by Alex B. Long (PDF, via the Volokh Conspiracy) explores the instances in which courts rely on lyrics from popular music to elucidate a legal issue. He declares Bob Dylan the paradigmatic authority, in particular pointing to a California case seeking to understand when expert testimony is and is not required:
The correct rule on the necessity of expert testimony has been summarized by Bob Dylan: "You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows." The California courts, although in harmony, express the rule somewhat less colorfully and hold expert testimony is not required where a question is "resolvable by common knowledge."
Jorgensen v. Beach 'n' Bay Realty, Inc., 177 Cal. Rptr. 882, 894 (Cal Ct. App. 1981) (internal citations omitted). "Subterranean Homesick Blues" is apparently the leading learned treatise on the subject in California courts, which frequently cite both Dylan and Jorgensen's use thereof (although they have yet to recognize "Weird Al" Yankovic's "Bob"). But as you learn early on in law, every rule—especially an evidentiary one—has an exception.

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Image credits: Still from "Subterranean Homesick Blues," courtesy Meme Huffer, borrowed for news-reporting and comment purposes.

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