Access Restricted 2010

Law & Representation

The Association of the Bar of the City of New York

Even though Manhattan possesses one of the richest legal infrastructures in the country, the general public hardly ever interacts with these buildings and their use except for a few, very specified situations. In order to showcase this legal fabric, Access Restricted: Law & Representation hosts a series of talks by practicing lawyers and scholars in the palaces and parlors where law is practiced or discussed.

Serving more as a constellation than a knot, the uniting rubric of the series teases the many meanings of the word “representation” by exploring current issues in law, while also investigating the law in art, architecture, and the media. Holistically, this multifaceted approach aims to foster its own “image” of the legal system and its concerns today.

Access Restricted is a free nomadic lecture series that opens rarely visited and often prohibited spaces in Manhattan to the general public. Once inside these unique interiors, the audience is treated to a site-specific lecture and discussion addressing a range of topics revolving around issues of architectural history and preservation, social justice, and urban development. The aim of the series is to foster new perspectives by encouraging the public to explore locales and situations through the various lenses of architecture and planning, art, history, sociology, political science, and law.

Each event is free, but capacity is limited and reservations are required. For more details, see the schedule below.

Season Schedule

Wednesday, February 24, 6:30PM:

John Donohue III, Leighton Homer Surbeck Professor of Law, Yale Law School

“Rethinking America’s Drug Policy”

The New York City Council Chamber, New York City Hall

Professor Donohue, an economist/lawyer, will take up a vexing yet pragmatic question: are the gains reaped by decriminalizing illicit drug laws worth the cost of potentially increasing drug addiction at-large? This lecture will take place where New York City’s law making body meets, a room in which they have considered various legislations, including drug regulations.

Check out a slideshow from the event or a video excerpt from Professor Donohue's lecture.


Friday, March 5, 6:30PM:

Daniel McClean

“The Aesthetics of the Contract and the Contract of Aesthetics”

The Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Meeting Hall

42 West 44th Street

Daniel McClean, a curator/lawyer, will discuss legal contracts from two perspectives: how Post-Conceptual artists use the medium of the contract to create artworks, and how lawyers create contracts and the role that aesthetics might play in their construction and interpretation. The Association of the Bar of the City of New York is housed in an elegant historic landmark seated on “Clubhouse Row.” 


Check out a slideshow from the event or a video excerpt from Daniel McClean's lecture.


Wednesday, March 10, 6:30PM:

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento

“The Law of Violence in No Country for Old Men

The Jacob Burns Moot Court, Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law

55 Fifth Avenue

Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento is the Associate Director for Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA) in New York City, and is an Adjunct Instructor of Clinical Law at Brooklyn Law School. Playing off a typical form of law school pedagogy, Sarmiento will lead a class-room debate on the ethical implications inherent in Ethan & Joel Coen’s filmic adaptation of Cormac McCarthy’s No Country For Old Men from within a mock courtroom theater.

Audience participation is highly encouraged; please watch the film and visit the links below to read background materials for this event.

Check out a slideshow from this event.


Wednesday, March 31, 6:30PM:

Douglas Berman, William B. Saxbe Designated Professor of Law, Moritz College of Law at The Ohio State University

“A New Era in Sentencing?”

New York County Supreme Court

60 Centre Street

Professor Berman, co-author of a leading casebook, Sentencing Law and Policy and managing editor of the Federal Sentencing Reporter and the Ohio State Journal of Criminal Law, will present various alternatives to sentencing guidelines from within a landmarked centerpiece of New York’s trial courthouses.

Check out a slideshow from the event or a video excerpt from Professor Berman’s lecture.


Wednesday, April 14, 6:30PM:

“Intellectual Property in the Age of Digital Reproduction,” a panel featuring Sonia Katyal, Alfred Steiner, Andrew Ross, and Virginia Rutledge, moderated by Sergio Muñoz Sarmiento

Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP, Conference Room

1 Liberty Plaza

A lively roundtable debate between practicing lawyers, legal theorists, and a sociologist on who owns what and what is really at stake when creative production is regulated through the structures of property rights. Overlooking Ground Zero and featuring extensive views of New York Harbor, this conference room not only affords visitors the chance to literally have a “seat at the table” but also features breathtaking vistas.

Check out a slideshow from this event or a video excerpt about copyright.


Wednesday, April 28, 6:30PM

Judith Resnik, Arthur Liman Professor of Law, Yale Law School

“Re-presentations and Identities: Depicting Justice in Courts”

New York State Supreme Court, Appellate Division, First Department

27 Madison Avenue

This discussion, based on the forthcoming book, Representing Justice: From Nascent City-States to Democratic Courtrooms and Guantanamo Bay (by Judith Resnik and Dennis E. Curtis, Yale Press, 2010), will examine the deployment of images, across time and place, aiming to identify buildings as courts and courts as about justice. The setting will be one of the jewels of “The City Beautiful Movement,” an elaborately decorated courthouse, which is featured in Resnik’s book as one of the several sites in which early 20th-century choices of images prompted conflict, and in this case, the removal of one of the statues on the court’s rooftop.

Check out a slideshow from this event.


Special Thanks:

The Starry Night Fund of Tides Foundation; Administration of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of New York, Civil Division, and the Office of the New York County Clerk; NYS Supreme Court; Appellate Division, First Judicial Department, Honorable Luis A. Gonzalez, Presiding Justice; Cardozo Art Law Society; New York City Council Member Gale A. Brewer and Speaker Christine Quinn.

Lead funding for Access Restricted provided by:

New York Council on the Humanities

Additional funding provided by:

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