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VOL. 129 | NO. 25 | Thursday, February 06, 2014

Vic Fleming

The ABAJ and Its Lists

By Vic Fleming

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Today’s I Swear Crossword, “Legal Programs–3 of 4,” is the third of a four-part series. The first two ran in early December and early January. If you’ve not solved these three puzzles, please go back and do so before reading on. Or waive your right to complain about my spoiling them in any way.

In 2009, the American Bar Association Journal ran a piece titled “The 25 Greatest Legal TV Shows.” Don’t get too worked up over not recalling it. Unless you’re in the ABA, you’d not have seen the ’zine. And I doubt any other media publicized the ABAJ’s list. You can find this on the Internet, though, at abajournal.com. The article begins:

“TV has always loved lawyers. From Perry Mason to Leland McKenzie, Jack McCoy to Patty Hewes, lawyers have been among the most durable and popular characters on the small screen. But what law shows do lawyers consider the best of all time?”

This query was put, it’s written, to “a jury of 12 experts – nine lawyers, two scholars and a TV critic – who write or teach about the nexus of law and pop culture. They were asked to pick their favorites among the scores of legal-minded shows that have come and gone over the years.” The non-byline item is quick to note that daytime shows featuring judges were not in the running. Thank goodness for small blessings.

What do I do now, list all 25 shows? Nah! I will tell you that many of them are answers in the four crosswords that I made from this article. Speaking of crosswords, I’ve been asked why the ABAJ does not run a regular crossword. I can only refer you to the editor, a chap by the name of Allen Pusey. You can probably find his email address at the above website if you try.

Give him my email address if you write to him. You’ll enhance your credibility if you vouch for the “I Swear” Crossword as a regular solver. FWIW, I’ve been in the ABA for 35 years. I’ve previously suggested the ABAJ needs a crossword. I’ll bet no one else ever has.

People with whom I have discussed the ABAJ’s Top 25 TV programs are surprised “The Defenders” finished ahead of “Law & Order”; “Ally McBeal” finished ahead of “Rumpole of the Bailey”; and “Shark” and “Civil Wars” made the list at all. (I never saw an episode of either, so I’m in no position to judge.)

Other unusual facets of the ABAJ’s list, IMHO:

“Harvey Birdman” (an animated show I’d never heard of) was ranked 15th.

“Matlock” (of which I watched every episode at least twice) finished 19th.

“The Paper Chase” came in 23rd. (On ABAJ’s Top 25 movie list, “The Paper Chase” didn’t even scratch!)

The ABAJ has run other Top 25 lists. Last year I ran four puzzles titled “Legal Volumes,” the themes being derived from the corresponding list of novels. Perhaps I will do the movies later this year.

P.S. Don’t hold your breath between now and when the ABAJ runs a crossword. I won’t.

Vic Fleming is a district court judge in Little Rock, Ark., where he also teaches at the William H. Bowen School of Law. Contact him at vicfleming@att.net.

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