Dean Mark Niles kicks off Influential Voices series

(September 15, 2010) Dean Mark Niles kicked off this year's Influential Voices series with a thought-provoking lecture exploring questions related to the new focus on preventing future crime through the prism of aNiles speaking discussion of a book and film.

Immediately after the September 11 attacks, the United States government took a significant turn in the focus of its domestic law enforcement and international security policy from investigating crimes and pursuing criminals to preventing potential criminal acts. This focus on preventing future acts raises serious practical, legal and moral questions, which Niles addressed with an analysis of Philip K. Dick's 1956 science fiction short story "The Minority Report," and Steven Spielberg's 2002 film "Minority Report," in which a near future law enforcement agency relies on predictions to incarcerate potential criminals before they are able to commit their crimes.

The analysis of these stories, of the assumptions involved in both, and of some very different structures and conclusions in the two texts suggests something about the authors and the different times when they were produced. It will cast light on the current societal response to ongoing pre-emptive incarcerations in Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere and provide a basis for discussion of the proper role, if any, that "pre-emptive justice" can play in this or any society.

Janet Ainsworth, the John D. Eshelman Professor at Seattle University School of Law, and Christopher Rideout, Professor of Lawyering Skills, provided commentary afterward.

Dean Niles, who joined the law school in July, 2010, has published numerous articles and essays on subjects including the Ninth Amendment, federal tort liability, airline security regulation, the first decade of the tenure of Justice Clarence Thomas, and the depiction of law and justice in American popular culture.

View the video of the lecture.