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|Films for Justice Institute at Seattle University School of Law
A Documentary Film
Out of the Ashes: 9/11
Films for Justice
The Films for Justice Institute was established in 1995 by Professor Marilyn Berger as part of the Seattle University School of Law. The Institute is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to furthering legal education by funding films that examine issues that inform the civil justice system, social justice, and law and society. The purpose of Films for Justice is threefold: introduce story-telling techniques, provide educational tools that deliver information to students, and use narrative and film techniques as a model for presenting and retaining information. For example, studies have shown that juries and other decisionmakers organize information, evidence, and data to fit a recognizable story.
Out of the Ashes: 9/11 is the latest offering from Films for Justice. Eleven days after the terrorist attack, Congress enacted the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund in order to compensate victims of the tragedy. Out of the Ashes is the story of seven 9/11 victims' families and how they struggled to put back together the shattered American Dream. The film explores the legal, moral and ethical ramifications of the Fund and its impact on the civil justice system. The seven families appear in the film alongside their attorneys and VCF administrator Kenneth Feinberg and his deputy, Deborah Greenspan. With Out of the Ashes, Films for Justice has again painstakingly crafted an invaluable teaching tool which illuminates contemporary legal issues in a way that no book can.
Prior programs include Lessons From Woburn, a series of three documentary films released in 2000. These films are based on the Anderson v. W.R. Grace case, which was chronicled in the book A Civil Action, as well as the Hollywood film of the same title. In Anderson, citizens in East Woburn, Massachusetts alleged that W.R. Grace dumped chemicals into the town's water supply, causing numerous residents to die from cancer.. The first film, The Untold Stories, describes the controversy underlying the case and asks probing questions about bifurcation, and the accuracy of the information made public during trial. The Rules of Civil Procedure, the second film, uses the litigation as a case study for civil procedures topics such as subject matter jurisdiction, summary judgment, and discovery. Lastly, Conduct and Settlement uses the case to help law students appreciate proper lawyer behavior, understand the attorney-client relationship, and the daunting process of financing a protracted and complex lawsuit. The series contains interviews with the trial court judge, the book's author, jury members, plaintiffs, and both plaintiff and defense attorneys. To accompany the films, the Institute produced a course book containing problems and in-class exercises.
The Institute also produced two educational DVDs that accompany two books, Pretrial Advocacy; Planning, Analysis and Strategy and Trial Advocacy; Planning, Analysis and Strategy, both co-authored by Professors Marilyn Berger, John Mitchell, and Ronald Clark. The DVD that accompanies the pretrial text includes instruction on subjects such as taking and using a deposition, mediation presentations, and examining a crime scene. The trial advocacy DVD presents a wrongful death case adapted by the authors a real case that appeared as the subject of a book by popular true crime author Ann Rule. The disc covers the trial process from jury selection to verdict.