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Copyright © Christine A. Corcos 2010
Law and Magic Blog
last updated 03/12/2014
THE LAWS OF MAGIC
LAW AND MAGIC IN THE NEWS
Fox Plans Psychic Reality Show
According to this April 4, 2007 Hollywood Reporter story, the Fox News Network and a co-creator of the hit comedy series Friends are going ahead with a series to test applicants for the "most gifted" psychic. Perhaps they should start, though, by testing whether psychic ability really exists.
Read Joe Nickell's account of assisting with a new big screen film, The Reaping, here (from CSI Online).
A Texas appellate court has overturned the conviction for theft by coercion of fortune teller Jennifer Nicole Evans, ruling that the prosecution failed to show that Evans "never threatened to hurt anyone", a required element of the crime. The prosecution will appeal to the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals. Was the appropriate crime with which to charge Evans crime by deception? See an account of the appellate court's ruling at Maro Robbins, Tarot Card Reader Wins Appeal, San Antonio Express-News, Dec. 28, 2006, at 1B. The case is Evans v. State, 2006 Tex. App. LEXIS 11016.
Criss Angel Sued Over Unpaid Royalties
For other news, see the Law and Magic Blog.
LAW AND MAGIC IN LITERATURE
Allen, Charlotte Vale, Night Magic (New York: Atheneum, 1989).
Baum, L. Frank, The Wizard of Oz
Christie, Agatha, The Blue Geranium, in The Thirteen Problems (1932). Also published as The Tuesday Club Murders (in the US). Filmed and broadcast on PBS in the Miss Marple V series with Julia McKenzie as Miss Jane Marple.
Christie, Agatha, Motive Vs. Opportunity, in The Thirteen Problems (1932). Published as What's the Catch in The Tuesday Club Murders (in the US).
For more supernaturally themed Christie stories see here.
Clarke, Susanna, Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell (Bloomsbury, 2004).
Douglas, Carole Nelson (author website). Ms. Douglas writes books featuring a mystery solving cat. One of the human characters is a magician.
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, Faust
Gold, Glen David Carter Beats the Devil (2001). A novel featuring the (real life) magician Charles Carter ("Carter the Great"). Gold is married to the novelist Alice Sebold.
Hoffman, Alice, Practical Magic
Kelley, Patrick A. Kelley's protagonist is magician Harry Colderwood.
Sleightly Deceived (Avon Books, 1987).
Sleightly Guilty (Avon Books, 1988).
Sleightly Invisible (Avon Books, 1986).
Sleightly Lethal (Avon BOoks, 1986).
Sleightly Murder (Avon Books, 1985).
Rawson, Clayton, The Great Merlini: The Complete Stories of the Magician Detective (Boston: Gregg Press, 1979).
Rawson, Clayton, Death From a Top Hat (Boston: Gregg Press, 1979)(reprint 1962).
Rawson, Clayton, The Headless Lady (Boston: Gregg Press, 1979)(reprint 1962).
Rawson, Clayton, The Footprints on the Ceiling (Boston: Gregg Press, 1979)(reprint 1962).
Rawson, Clayton, No Coffin for the Corpse (Boston: Gregg Press, 1979)(reprint 1962).
Rowling, J. K., Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Magicians in Literature
Claxton, Michael Jay, The Conjurer Unmasked: Literary and Theatrical Magicians, 1840-1925 (Dissertation, University of North Carolina, 2003). Discussion of Elizabeth Gaskell’s Cranford; Robert Browning’s Mr. Sludge, the Medium; Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court and their treatment of magicians.
Hoppenstand, Gary, Crime and the Magician Detective as Symbols in Patrick A. Kelley’s Sleightly Murder, 12(1) Clues: A Journal of Detection 57-72 (Spring/Summer 1991).
Barton, Benjamin H., Harry Potter and the Half-Crazed Bureaucrazy, 104 Mich. L. Rev.-- (2006).
Schwabach, Aaron, Harry Potter and the Unforgivable Curses: Norm-Formation, Inconsistency, and the Rule of Law in the Wizarding World, Roger Williams Law Review (2005).
Spitz, Laura, Wands Away (Or, Preaching to Infidels Who Wear Earplugs), 41 Law Teacher -- (2007).
Harry Potter and the Law: Symposium, Texas Wesleyan Law Review 2006.
Spiritualists in Novels and Mysteries
Brownstein, Gabriel, The Man From Beyond (Norton, 2005). Arthur Conan Doyle and Harry Houdini battle over whether a medium is genuine.
Bowen, Rhys, In Like Flynn (St. Martin's Press, 2005). Heroine of the series (Molly Flynn) goes undercover to investigate two mediums.
Chance, Megan, The Spiritualist (Crown Publishing, 2008). A widow is suspected of murder after her husband attends a seance.
Gooden, Philip, The Durham Deception (Severn House, 2011). Set in Victorian England. The two married sleuths (husband a lawyer) set out to investigate a spiritualist.
Harwood, John, The Seance (Mariner Books, 2009). A woman tries to discover the truth behind the sinister reputation of a house.
Llewellyn, Caroline, False Light (Simon & Schuster, 1996). A biographer investigates a mystery surrounding a long dead spiritualist.
Lovesey, Peter, A Case of Spirits (Soho Press, 2009). Reprint. Sergeant Cribb investigates thefts and seances.
Rogow, Roberta, The Problem of the Spiteful Spiritualist: A Charles Dodgson/Arthur Conan Doyle Mystery (St. Martin's Press, 1999). Pairs the two historical figures in tracking down the murderer of a spiritualist medium.
Tallman, Shirley, The Cliff House Strangler (St. Martin's Minotaur, 2007). A nineteenth century lawyer tries to solve a murder during a seance at Cliff House, near San Francisco.
LAW AND MAGIC IN POPULAR CULTURE
Hundreds of films have featured magicians as characters. Here is a sampling in which magicians, psychics, fortunetellers, astrologers, clairvoyants, palm readers, witches and wizards and spiritualists have played key roles.
The Amazing Mr. X (1948). Turhan Bey is a medium who puts a widow in touch with her late husband. Many twists and turns in this low budget but well acted thriller.
The Clairvoyant (1934). Claude Rains is a fake clairvoyant whose predictions suddenly seem to come true.
Columbo Goes to the Guillotine (TVM 1989). Lieutenant Columbo (Peter Falk) deals with a psychic (Anthony Andrews) who murders a magician who could reveal his trickery (Anthony Zerbe).
Death Defying Acts (2007). A psychic enters into an affair with Harry Houdini. Stars Catherine Zeta-Jones and Guy Pearce (as Houdini).
Family Plot (1976). Barbara Harris and Bruce Dern as a hapless medium and her accomplice, a would-be actor, trying to find a missing heir (William Devane). Alfred Hitchcock's last film. Both Family Plot and The Amazing Mr. X reveal how mediums conduct seances.
The Great Houdini (TVM 1976). Paul Michael Glaser as the fabled magician and Sally Struthers as his faithful wife Bess.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001). The first of a string of films based on the J. K. Rowling fantasies, this movie plays the magic "for real."
Houdini (1953). The classic biopic starring Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh.
The Illusionist (2006). Edward Norton as a magician in turn of the century Vienna. Based on a Steven Millhauser short story, "Eisenheim the Illusionist."
New York Stories (1989). Three short films about the city. One, "Oedipus Wrecks", directed by and starring Woody Allen, features Allen as a lawyer whose magic trick goes awry.
Practical Magic (1998). Sandra Bullock and Nicole Kidman as two sisters with magical powers who discover that love has powers greater than their own.
The Prestige (2006). Hugh Jackman, Christian Bale, and Michael Caine star in this film about competing magicians in turn of the century London.
Smokin' Aces (2006). Hired killers chase after a third-rate Lake Tahoe magician.
Scoop (2006). Woody Allen is a third rate magician and Scarlett Johanssen is an aspiring journalist on the trail of a serial killer in this comedy drama set in London.
The Wizard of Oz (1939). Judy Garland, Ray Bolger, Frank Morgan, Bert Lahr, and Jack Haley star in this classic, an adaptation of L. Frank Baum's novel about a little girl's trip to a fantastic land populated by witches, Munchkins, flying monkeys, and a wizard who can make dreams come true.
The Magician (CBS, 1973-1974). Series starring Bill Bixby as a professional magician who investigates crime.
Blacke's Magic (NBC, 1986). Starred Hal Linden as a professional magician who solves crimes, not always murders, with the help of his father, a con artist.
Medium (CBS, 2005-) Stars Patricia Arquette as a medium who assists the District Attorney by sensing guilty parties. Supposed to be based on the career of Allison DuBois. Available on DVD in the US.
Ghost Whisperer (2005--) Jennifer Love Hewitt is a medium who solves crimes. Available on DVD in the US.
Jonathan Creek (BBC,1997-2004). Alan Davies plays Jonathan Creek, a man who constructs stage illusions for an egotistical magician and is called on by a journalist named Maddie Magellan (Caroline Quentin) to solve baffling crimes. When Quentin left the series, Julia Sawalha became the character who embroils Creek in weird situations. The series is available on DVD in the US.
Sabrina the Teenage Witch (ABC, 1996-2004). Melissa Joan Hart plays an adolescent witch learning about life from her aunts, also witches. Penn and Teller guested in several episodes. Available on DVD in the US.
The Dresden Files (SciFi Channel, 2007--). Paul Blackthorne plays Harry Dresden, a wizard living in Chicago who tries to mediate between the human world and a world of the supernatural. Based on the Jim Butcher novels. Available on DVD in the US.
The Big Bang Theory
The Creepy Candy Coating Corollary. Sheldon is a card counter. First aired October 19, 2009.
The Hofstadter Isotope. Leonard and Howard troll the bars looking for dates. Howard tries out some magic tricks but they are sad failures. First broadcast April 13, 2009.
Abracadaver. The CSI team investigates a disappearance during a magic trick. First telecast October 31, 2002. Available on DVD in the US.
Columbo Goes to the Guillotine. Psychic Elliott Blake (Anthony Andrews) murders magician Max Dyson (Anthony Zerbe). Columbo enlists the assistance of a magic shop owner and a young magician to help him figure out the trick and trap the killer. First telecast February 6, 1989. Available on DVD in the US.
Columbo: Now You See Him. The "Great Santini" (Jack Cassidy) murders Jesse Jerome (Nehemiah Persoff). Columbo is soon on Santini's trail. First telecast February 29, 1976. Available on DVD in the US.
Dharma and Greg. Most of this nineties series centered on flower child Dharma's attempt to introduce her straight laced husband Greg to her interest in non-traditional and spiritual thought. Frankly he was more open to her ideas than she to his, but since this was the nineties, we were supposed to believe that this was the right outcome.
The Cat's Out of the Bag (aired April 11, 1998). Magician Teller (of the duo Penn and Teller) guests as a man who thinks (or claims to think) he's a cat. His partner Penn has an uncredited part as a pimp.
Diagnosis Murder. The show's star, Dick van Dyke, who plays Dr. Mark Sloan, has studied magic, like his brother, Jerry.
Murder With Mirrors (aired January 21, 1994). Mark Sloan tries to prove the innocence of a young magician when his former partner turns up dead.
Sleight-of-Hand (aired October 26, 2000). Mark practices for a magic show, and of course stumbles over a body.
Trash TV (part 1, aired April 29, 1999; part 2, aired April 29, 1999). A "masked magician," who reveals magic tricks on "Pox TV", admitted to Community General, ends up dead.
The World of Possibility (aired October 15, 2000). Ed explains copyright law to magician Stuckeyville Stan. Here's a review of the episode by Joel Zand.
How I Met Your Mother
Intervention (aired October 13, 2008). During an "intervention" staged for Ted, the gang tries to curb Barney's enthusiasm for doing magic tricks with fire. Neil Patrick Harris, who plays Barney, is an accomplished magician and a member of the Magic Castle.
Law & Order: Criminal Intent
Vanishing Act (aired July 20, 2008). A magician vanishes from a buried coffin and re-appears, dead, on a stage in New York City. Guest star: Christopher Lloyd.
Listen Up (CBS 2004-2005)
Last Vegas (aired April 25, 2005). Penn & Teller guest star. Teller stalks Wendy Makkena (who stars as Dana). Jason Alexander who starred and executive produced this series, is a trained magician.
My Favorite Martian
I'd Rather Fight Than Switch (aired October 10, 1965). Martin invents a molecular reassembler that switches people's and animals' psyches and accidentally switches his and Mrs. Brown's psyches. As "Mrs. Brown," he visits a nightclub with Lt. Brennan, where a magician performs. This episode includes both magic tricks and hypnotism.
Perry Mason: The Case of the Glass Coffin (TVM 1991). Raymond Burr returns as the iconic lawyer to defend a magician accused of murdering his lover. The body turns up in the glass coffin of the title, the result of a botched illusion. First telecast May 14, 1991.
Sanford and Son
The Defiant One. Grady practices his magic act on Fred and Esther and inadvertently shackles them together because the instructions to the trick are printed in Chinese. First telecast Jan. 21, 1977. Also called "Chinese Torture."
3rd Rock From the Sun
There's No Business Like Dick Business. After they see a magician's act, Dick and Sally decide to try their hands at the art of prestidigitation, with mixed results. First telecast January 16, 2001. Available on DVD in the US. Read more about John Lithgow's magic prowess in Hilary De Vries, Magic Man: John Lithgow Transforms Himself From TV Alien To Broadway Villain in "The Sweet Smell of Success," W, March 1, 2002.
Two and a Half Men
I Remember the Cloakroom, I Just Don't Remember You (aired March 22, 2004). Jake's aunt gives him a magic set for his birthday.
Will and Grace
Hocus Focus. Jack decides to try out a magic act with Karen as his upstaging assistant. First telecast May 2, 2002. Available on DVD in the US.
DEFINITIONS OF MAGIC
Many practicing magicians and theorists have explained the philosophy of magic. See the following books and articles for clarification of the principles of magic.
Lamont, Peter, and Richard Wiseman, Magic in Theory (Hatfield: University of Hertfordshire Press, 1999; reprinted 2005).
Mauss, Marcel, A General Theory of Magic (2001). Other editions available.
LAW AND MAGIC BIBLIOGRAPHY
Comparisons of Law and Magic
Baird, Peter, Corpus Juris Hocus Pocus, Arizona Attorney, October 1989, at 23. Peter Baird is one of the attorneys who was involved in the Miranda case (Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966), after which the "Miranda warning" was named). He is also a noted novelist (Beyond Peleliu).
Lax, Rick, Fool Me Once (St. Martin's Press, 2011). Rick Lax investigates the world of magicians, con artists, and hustlers.
Lax, Rick, Lawyer Boy (St. Martin's Press, 2008). Although Lax's book is primarily a memoir of his law school experience, he does discuss his decision not to become a professional magician and to pursue a law degree. References to magic crop up in the book.
Pradell, Steve, Family Law: Magic in the Courtroom, 26 Alaska Bar Rag 27 (September/October 2002).
Allen, Jessie, A Theory of Adjudication: Law as Magic, 41 Suffolk University Law Review 773 (2008).
Barnhizer, David, and Daniel Barnhizer, Myth, Magic, and Mystery: Defending the Hidden Order of the Rule of Law
Barshack, Lior, The Totemic Authority of the Court, 11 Law and Critique 301 (2000).
Carneiro, Rafael Prince, A César o que é de Deus: magia, mito e sacralidade do direito (Thesis, Faculty of Law, 2008).
Cotterill, Roger, Emile Durkheim: Law in a Moral Domain 96-99. (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 1998) Discussing the intersection between law and magic.
Gurvitch, Georges, La magie et le droit (Paris: Dalloz, 2004). Reprint.
Gurvitch, Georges, La magie, la religion, et le droit, in 2 La Vocation Actuelle de la Sociologie (Paris: PUF, 1963).
Nelms, Hennings, Magic and Showmanship: A Guide For Conjurers (Dover Publications, 1969). Reprint. Henning Nelms was also an attorney, so his discussion of magic is of interest both to practicing magicians and to lawyers.
Huvelin, P., La magie et le droit individuel, 10 Annee sociologique 1-47 (1905-1906).
Lee, Blewett, The Conjurer, 7 Virginia Law Review 370 (1921).
Lee, Blewett, The Fortune Teller, 9 Virginia Law Review 249 (1923).
Lee, Blewett, Psychic Phenomena and the Law, 34 Harvard Law Review 625 (1921).
Lee, Blewett, Spiritualism and Crime, -- Columbia Law Review 439 (1922).
Peters, Edward, The Magician, the Witch, and the Law (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1978). Essential to a study of this topic. Extensive bibliographies after each chapter.
Schreiner, Agnes, and A. K. J. Strijbosch, Recht en magie (‘s Gravenhage: Vuga, 1988).
Stone, Suzanne Last, Rabbinic Legal Magic: A New Look at Honi's Circle as the Construction of Law's Space, 17 Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities 97 (2005).
Woodhall, Edwin T., Crime and the Supernatural (Kessinger Publisher, 2003). Reprint of the 1935 publication.
Ando, Clifford, and Jörg Rüpke, Religion and Law in Christian and Classical Rome (Stuttgart: Steiner Verlag, 2006). See here for review.
Beckmann, Franz, Zauberei und Recht in Roms Frühzeit :ein Beitrag zur Geschichte und Interpretation des Zwölftafelrechtes (Munich: 1923).
Cramer, Frederick H., Astrology in Roman Law and Politics (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 1954)(Memoirs; 37). Reprinted by Ares Publishers, Chicago, 1996.
MacCormack, Geoffrey, Formalism, Symbolism and Magic in Early Roman law, 37 Tijdschrift voor Rechtsgeschiedenis 439 (1969).
Pharr, Clyde, The Interdiction of Magic in Roman Law, 63 Transactions of the American Philological Association 269-295 (1932).
Rives, James B., Magic in Roman Law: The Reconstruction of a Crime, 22(2) Classical Antiquity 313-339 (October 2003). (abstract only).
Marie-Theres Fögen, Balsamon on Magic: From Roman Secular Law To Byzantine Canon Law (Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, 1995).
Troianos, Spyros N., Mageia kai dikaio sto Vyzantio (Athenai: Ekklesiastikon Epistemonikon kai Morphotikon Hidryma, 1997)(Seira Dialexeis).
Byloff, Fritz, Das Verbrechen der Zauberei (crimen magiae): ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der Strafrechtspflege in Steiermark (Graz: Leuschner & Lubensky, 1902).
Sörlin, Per, "Wicked Arts": Witchcraft and Magic Trials in Southern Sweden, 1635-1754 (Brill Academic Publishers, 1998)(Cultures, Beliefs and Traditions, Medieval and Early Modern Peoples; 7).
Business and Corporate Law
Chen, Ron C. and Jon Hanson, The Illusion of Law: The Illegitimating Schemas of Modern Policy and Corporate Law, 103 Mich. L. Rev. 1 (2004).
Freedom of Thought, Speech, Religion
Kohnert, Dirk, On the Renaissance of African Modes of Thought: The Example of Occult Belief Systems, in Witches, Witch-Hunts, and Magical Imaginaries in Modern Africa 40-62 (Burghart Schmidt and Rolf Schulte eds.; Verlag Dokumentatation & Buch, Hamburg, 2007).
Intellectual Property Law
Assaf, Katya, The Magic of Trademark Law
Fleury-Legros, Pierre, La protection du secret de l'oeuvre de magie par le droit de la propriété intellectuelle, Chroniques, 10 Novembre 2005, at 2808.
Fleury-Legros, Pierre, Si j'avais un piano...., Jurisprudence, 2004, at 1589-1591.
Loshin, Jacob, Secrets Revealed: How Magicians Protect Intellectual Property Without Law
Fairfield, Joshua, The Magic Circle
Real Estate Law
Cheever, Federico, Public Good and Private Magic in the Law of Land Trusts and Conservation Easements: A Happy Present and a Troubled Future, 73 Denver U. L. Rev. 1077 (1996).
Hanna, Christopher H., The Magic in the Tax Legislative Process
Hu, Henry T. C., Faith and Magic: Investor Beliefs and Government Neutrality, 78 Tex. L. Rev. -- (2000).
Willis, Steven G., Masks, Magic, & Games: The Use of Tax Policy as a Policy Tool, 4 Am. J. Tax Pol'y 41 (1985).
Law and Magic in Specific Countries
Aleck, Jonathan, Law and Sorcery in Papua New Guinea: A Reconsideration of the Relationship Between Law and Custom (Dissertation, Australian National University, 1996).
Kaetzler, Joachim, Magie und Strafrecht in Suedafrika (Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang, 2001).
Mboussi, Mouyol à, Sorcellerie en justice au Cameroun (Yaoundè, Cameroun: Presses de l’UCAC, 2004).
Pacéré Titinga, La magie et la sorcellerie: (fait et droit)(Ouagadougou: Fondacion Pacéré, 2001).
Savage, John, Black Magic and White Terror: Slave Poisoning and the Provostial Court in Restoration-Era Martinique.
Schreiner, Agnes, and A. K. J Strijbosch, Recht en magie (‘s-Gravenhage: Vuga, 1988).
Slaats, Herman and Karin Portier, Sorcery and the Law in Modern Indonesia, in Understanding Witchcraft and Sorcery in Southeast Asia 135 (C. W. Watson and Roy Ellen eds.; University of Hawai'i Press, 1989).
Collections of Essays on Law and Magic
Law and Magic: A Collection of Essays (Christine A. Corcos, ed. Carolina Academic Press, 2010). Twenty four essays on various topics.
International Brotherhood of Magicians (IBM)
Society of American Magicians (SAM)
Scientists, Skeptics, Researchers, Research Organizations, and Skeptical Organizations
Henri Broch, Professor at the University of Nice-Sophia Antipolis
The Judge as Gatekeeper
Henderson v. Nagler, Civil Action No. 08-CV-10493 (U.S.D.C., E.D. Mich.)(decided July 2, 2008)(defamation lawsuit dismissed as protected opinion).
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