We are saddened to note the
passing of Picturing Justice managing editor and webitor Paul
Joseph, Professor of Law and Associate Dean at Nova Southeastern
Law School. Paul died of cancer after a short illness.
In his role as managing editor
during its formative years, Paul was largely responsible for
Picturing Justice's success. But as we honor him for his intelligence
and dedication, it is Paul's warmth and humor we will sorely
miss. Our sympathy goes out to his wife Lynn, also a professor
at Nova Southeastern, his children, and his granddaughter Abigail,
of whom he was very proud.
Paul Joseph is gone. Everyone
who enjoys this website has suffered a big loss because Paul
was one of the creators of Picturing Justice and his enthusiasm
kept the site going through thick and thin.
Paul was a pillar of the Law
and Popular Culture movement, the co-editor of Prime Time
Law (the only reference book on legal television series).
Paul loved to explore the by-ways of pop culture, finding interesting
and serious legal issues which everyone else overlooked. Few
took Ally McBeal seriously as a law show. Paul did. Few
thought about discussing the legal issues and bureaucratic institutions
in Harry Potter, but Paul and Lynn Wolf did. Few cared
about law and lawyers in science fiction, but Paul did. Nobody
regarded Pleasantville as a treatise about freedom and
democratic values, but Paul did.
I came to know Paul when he
invited me to serve as a visiting Goodwin lecturer at the Shepard
Broad Law Center at Nova Southeastern University a few years
ago. It was a great experience, meeting the Nova students and
faculty and seeing how many of them were interested in and attracted
by the collision of law and pop culture. Best of all was the
opportunity to get to know Paul and Lynn personally. Their warm
hospitality was unforgettable.
Paul and I planned to collaborate
on a book to facilitate the teaching of the law and pop culture
interface in both undergraduate and law school environments.
He wrote parts of it, although conflicting commitments forced
him to drop out. That book will be published early in 2004, but
Paul won't be here to enjoy the event or to use the book in his
Shockingly, Paul Joseph is
gone. Brain cancer doesn't respect youth, talent, or human worth.
Paul was diagnosed with cancer, and not very long after, he was
dead. I have lost a good and decent friend and collaborator.
Our field of law and popular culture has lost one of its most
devoted and most imaginative scholars. So I take this opportunity
to say goodbye and farewell to my good friend Paul Joseph.
I first met Paul via email
when he and Bob Jarvis were putting together a set of essays
on law and television that later became Prime Time Law.
I was just getting started in legal academia and I sent in my
expression of interest fully expecting to hear, at best, "Thanks
but who are you?" Instead he and Bob invited me into the
wonderful world of legal scholarship and treated me as an equal,
though I contributed much less to the project than I got out
of it, including what is now apparently a permanent identification
with the critique of pop culture women lawyers! In subsequent
conversations and emails and in person, Paul helped me make what
was for professional reasons a more than usually difficult transition
into law professoring. He probably knew how important that was
to me; that he made it important to himself was more than I could
I doubt that Paul Joseph ever
knew just how much he helped those of us who needed to talk to
him, whether just for a quick "pick me up" at a difficult
or confusing time, or as in my case for a much longer term. He
was ever generous with his ideas, with his enthusiasm, with his
certainty that if you work at something with enough energy and
commitment you will get the results you desire. And he was ever
willing to help out those of us with "impossible dreams."
He was wise, he was funny, and he was with us for much too short
a time. His presence was precious and his absence hurts. To his
wonderful wife Lynn and his family, please know, if you need
me, I am right here.
My favorite memory is watching Paul devour an ice cream cone
one weekend at Disneyworld. I was going back to the hotel and
a book on popular culture, but Paul and Lynn were living it.
He told me that he had spent a lot of time at Disneyland while
growing up in the LA area and had always enjoyed the atmosphere
of fun and imagination he found there. And the fantasy world
of Disney did seem an appropriate setting for Paul since he was
more than any law professor I have ever met able to retain that
sense of wonder and play most of us lose after childhood.
This sense of fun also was
a great asset to Paul in his business dealings. I can not remember
even one harsh word (or thought) in my years of dealing with
Paul during his tenure as Managing Editor of PJ. Since this is
a singular occurrence in my professional life, I have to credit
it to Paul's optimistic temperament and supportive manner. No
matter the issue, you always felt Paul was on your side and that
things would work out for the best. I'll miss him.
My regards. I was saddened to learn of the loss.
I truly enjoy the site and it's sad to see one gone with so many
years left to experience and share.
Robert Don Gifford
I did not have the chance of
meeting Paul in person, but we corresponded extensively by e-mail
from the moment I started as the webmaster for Picturing Justice.
When he heard about my plans to give the site a new look, he
was very supportive and enthusiastic and contributed his ideas
and opinions until every part of the site was as good as we could
make it. He also put a lot of his time and energy into encouraging
new authors to write for the site and keeping it dynamic and
When he announced that for health reasons he would no longer
be the managing editor, I had no idea how bad his condition really
was, and that there would not be any more e-mails. I will miss
his enthusiasm, ideas and good humor.
I am deeply shocked and saddened
by the demise of Mr. Paul Joseph. I have never met him, and the
only contact I have was through this site- wherein he helped
me, rather encouraged me to publish my work in Picturing Justice.
He build in me a confidence to go ahead- his words of encouragement
really boosted my morale. thanks Mr. Joseph, may your soul rest
Narayan Advocate, India and
author A FICTION OF LAW (PJ- March 2001)
I had the honor of meeting
Paul and Lynn when they came to a conference on law and popular
culture at my law school, the University of Arkansas at Little
Rock. To me, Paul was a figure larger than life. I was a relatively
new law teacher and a green scholar, and Paul was a prolific
writer whose work in law and culture I had read and deeply admired.
Yet Paul was anything but aloof; I was struck by his warmth.
When I presented my research in the conference, Paul's was one
of those faces in the audience you go back to, because he was
paying careful attention, and smiling and nodding encouragement.
After the program, Paul said a few words to me about how he found
my research promising, and he encouraged me to continue my work
in the area. His kindness to give me his attention and his confidence
in me were inspirational, and I will always be grateful for that
inspiration. I will remain grateful as well for what Paul has
given us all in his life and work.
Rick J. Peltz, mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
Associate Professor of Law
William H. Bowen School of Law
University of Arkansas at Little Rock
At the time Paul Joseph died,
I was 3000 miles away watching the most adored legal film of
all time: To Kill a Mockingbird. Losing Paul to cancer
seems to me like killing a songbird -- a tragic wasting of one
of God's finer creations.
The Picturing Justice website
of which Paul was such an integral part, began as a labor of
love by John Denvir and me. As we struggled to help our creation
to take wing, Paul Joseph suddenly materialized out of cyberspace
and asked John if he could join our effort. What fortunate occurrence
that was. (We should have known instantly, given he shared his
initials with the web site.) Paul gave his enthusiasm and marketing
savvy, and soon thereafter took over as managing editor. He got
Picturing Justice on email list serves and in newsletters. In
short, he got us a buzz. With Paul at the helm, we were praised
in the New York Times and had bragging rights as the best site
for law and popular culture.
Paul was a caring and thoughtful
innovator. He wrote a commentary on the ethical and moral issues
posed by Ultima, a competitive online fantasy game. He saw the
contemporary political importance of the discrimination metaphors
in the retro 50's film Pleasantville and wrote passionately about
I followed Paul's fight against
cancer through of number of long telephone conversations. In
one I most vividly remember, I was hiking to the top of a mountain
with a cell phone and we shared the vista together. He remained
optimistic and believed that he would be back on line and in
the classroom someday. Paul is on line; his spirit permeates
Picturing Justice and corses through the Internet as viewers
see each new article. He is in many classrooms that make use
of the site. For example, I now teach a course on law and popular
culture inspired by Picturing Justice and using a textbook written
by fellow PJ webitor Michael Asimow. Paul made it all possible.