My main research activity for the past couple of years has been preparing documentaries on leading Supreme Court cases. Each year, we identify three or four important Supreme Court cases that seem to have an important visual element or a personal narrative. We then interview the key players – people like Susette Kelo in her home in New London (which the City of New London was attempting to take by eminent domain). We’ve been in Angel Raich’s apartment while she explained the various ways she uses marijuana; we’ve met with Barry Black, the head of a local chapter of the KKK, talking about the rally he was leading in Virginia when he was arrested for cross-burning.
There are lots of people out there with fascinating stories and many great lawyers who are very committed to their vision of the Constitution. After research the case, the process of developing a high-quality documentary for use in law schools (and colleges and high schools) is quite challenging.
2. What are your interests or passions outside your scholarly work and teaching?
Lots on this list. I really enjoy studying architecture and thinking about space and buildings. It has been such a great privilege to be able to participate in the many Duke Law building projects over the past eight years. I’m a fairly serious tennis player (doubles only), and have captained the Duke Faculty Club team a couple of times. I also am a bridge player (Professor Schmalbeck is in our group). My interest in bowling is fairly well known. On any given Sunday in the fall, you will find me in a sports bar wearing a Jim Kelly jersey (a gift from my wife), rooting on the Buffalo Bills.
3. If you could sit in on one professor's class, which professor would you choose, which class, and why?
There are so many great teachers at Duke this is a hard one to answer. On the list would certainly be Jim Cox, who manages to make securities law both interesting and amusing (an amazing feat); Paul Haagen in sports law given his experiences; Kate Bartlett in her gender and the law course; and Rich Schmalbeck or Larry Zelenak in Tax because they both are known for making the subject interesting (which has to be a challenge).
4. What are you reading right now?
At the moment, a lot of Civil Procedure (as I am teaching it twice daily). But in addition, I’m reading Tim Russert’s book about his dad and growing up in Buffalo. His descriptions of Buffalo (my home town) bring back a lot of memories.
This summer, I read a couple of books by Orson Scott Card who remains my favorite sci-fi author. Also, I’m currently reading Storming the Court about the case that was handled by Yale law students, as well as a Kathy Reich’s novel (her daughter Kerry was a Duke Law grad and she has a new book that is on my list as well).
5. Tell us something about yourself that might surprise your colleagues and students.
I love white-rafting and hiking. Last fall, my wife and I spent two weeks on the Colorado River through 180 miles of the Grand Canyon. Incredible trip! Next fall, we are spending a couple of weeks hiking in Kenya.