Georgia Journal of International and Comparative Law, Vol. 31, No. 1 (2002), pp. 33-58


In this Article, I offer a case study of one of the hazards presented by legal scholarship in law reviews as it has evolved over the last century. The standard law review article typically begins with an overview of the author's subject, frequently involving a historical perspective or a chronology of the development of a doctrine. This background section stems from a number of causes, but many attribute it to the fact that most law reviews are student-edited. In order to evaluate an author's argument, students need a brief course in, say, the basics of trade law and pollution control statutes before the author can advance her or his argument about how the two should intersect or how the courts have botched the job of merging the two.... If an error creeps into a background section, then, other scholars might simply repeat the error without critical injury.

I discovered such an error while preparing an article in this standard format.... Part I documents the error that these three men made.... Readers who wish to escape the tedium of the argument of whether Roman law had intervention and the extent to which it did may wish to skip to the more sprightly Part II, which documents instances in which other scholars--both eminent and not--have repeated the mistake.... Finally, Part III provides some reflections on the broader significance of the mistake.