Monday, April 28, 2014

"What is a photocopy machine?"

The New York Times has started a great new video series of "Op-Docs" in which it uses actors to recreate, verbatim, dialogue from actual legal transcripts into "dramatic, and often comedic performances."  The series kicks off with a reenactment of a deposition taken in connection with a lawsuit brought against the Cuyahoga County Recorder’s Office in Ohio that challenged its policy of charging the public $2.00 per page for photocopies. The legal issue at stake is reminiscent of a case most 1L students used to read in their contracts course - Frigaliment Importing Company, 190 F. Supp 116 (S.D. N.Y. 1960) - in which Judge Friendly famously begins with the question:  "What is chicken?"  In the Cuyahoga County case, the plaintiff's lawyer goes 15 rounds with a state employee over the issue of "what is a photocopy machine?"  Click here to watch the actors involved give a tour de force reenactment of this scintillating legal debate.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, and you'll shake your head in disbelief.  Kids, are you sure you want to go into serious debt to do this kind of stuff?

By the way, the New York Times is asking readers to suggest other funny, weird, bizarre or baffling legal transcripts it can turn into future Op-Docs.  If you've got a suggestion, email it to the NYT at and include “Verbatim” in the subject line.


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