New Casebook for Zombie Fans

zombie supreme courtGood news for legally inclined zombie lovers.  Joshua Warren has compiled a casebook that “include[s] case opinions from  the over 300 U.S. Federal Court opinions with the word “zombie” (and “zombies”, “zombi”, “zombis”, “zombified”, “zombism”, etc..).” These include cases from the zombified Supreme Court (available as postcards, along with zombie law teeshirts and zombie flashdrives).

Warren explains that this is a “serious” project. From his promotional website:

The “zombie” in federal courts are very  interesting.  Aside from the intellectual property cases that provide  some reflection on modern zombie fiction, there are also ample  metaphoric uses of the word in these judicial writings.  Judges have referred to “zombie precedents” and “zombie  litigation”. There  are zombie corporations, zombie  criminals, a significant number are  social security cases in which people describe themselves in zombie  condition and even a recent mentions of cybernetic zombies.

Unlike other works of zombie academia, the zombies in this book are all real.  Most zombie scholarship uses hypothetical zombies as tropes to create  entertaining and extreme fact patterns that can be used to explain  complex subject matters.  This has been used effectively for  neuroscience (Schlozman, Voytek), international policy analysis (Drezner), public health (Center for Disease Control), geography (Kickstarter project: Zombie-Based Learning), survival skills (Brooks) amongst other subjects (See Zombie Research Society) including also academics who focus on the fictional character itself (Mogk, Brooks).

This Zombie Law book is different because it does not use zombies as hypotheticals to teach law. It is not conjecture about what zombies are or might be. This book is a compendium of real usages of the actual word in American jurisprudence.  This book is a collection of real legal cases that literally include “zombies” (or similar word) in US Federal Court opinions..

The basic outline of the  book will separate most cases into issues of corporations, medications, criminals and, of course intellectual property.  Major sections will be  devoted to Social Security (disability) law, corporate fraud and issues of criminal intent. There are noteworthy cases referring to post traumatic stress disorder and many recent Social Security cases regarding of fibromyalgia.  The intellectual property cases are about popular zombie fiction and also so-called “vicious zombi” patents.  In general, the idea of zombies in a mall is public domain for copyright but particular forms of zombie products are protected by trademark.

Frequently there is a sort of double meaning in the word.  In Social Security cases, the word zombie is found as a symptom of pain, depression and anxiety but also the side effect of medications prescribed for those same symptoms.  In criminal law, zombie appear in victim’s description of their assailant’s behavior but also as defense argument against criminal intent. For corporations the ironic question of corporate-personhood begs the question, ‘what is a person?’, which is often the implied question of zombie studies.

For all you law professors and other legal authors who thought there was no niche left to write about, Warren shows you just have to think outside of the box, in this case, the ones buried six feet under.

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Andrew Jay McClurg is a law professor whose teaching and research interests include tort law, products liability, legal education, privacy law and firearms policy. He holds the Herbert Herff Chair of Excellence in Law at the University of Memphis Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law.
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