Academic journal article Case Western Reserve Law Review

Tribute to Professor Jonathan L. Entin

Academic journal article Case Western Reserve Law Review

Tribute to Professor Jonathan L. Entin

Article excerpt

The editors of the Case Western Reserve Law Review respectfully dedicate this issue to Professor Jonathan L. Entin.

Bryan Adamson ([dagger])

In reflecting upon Professor Jonathan Entin's legacy and "changed status" (not retirement), 1 must start with our conversation about witches.

"Men feared witches and burned women." (1)

When Professor Entin uttered that quote in the spring of 1988, I was delightfully taken aback. There I was, in my second semester of law school, in my Property class, and my professor was talking about witches. Well, of course, he wasn't talking about witches per se. I must admit that today I do not recall exactly why he said it. He might have invoked Justice Brandeis's famous passage while covering the private property-due process-free speech case, Pruneyard Shopping Center v. Robins.' (2) Alternatively, it could have in the context of a property owner's irrational behavior being tested under a reasonableness standard. In any event, Professor Entin's invocation of that immortal excerpt from Brandeis's Whitney v. California (3) must have made sense at the time because he was never one for non-sequiturs.

At the time, I had 110 idea of the statement's source or jurisprudential legacy. After all. I had not yet been fully introduced to constitutional law generally, nor First Amendment law specifically. The hook for me was this talk about witches. In my property class. It was that kind of talk which led me to visit Professor Entin's office later that day.

And what an office it was! Anyone who has been in it knows. Books everywhere--on chairs, on the floor, climbing walls. Mounds of books, papers, tablets, and manuscripts seemed to cover every square inch of his desk that he was sitting behind (and perhaps--no, likely--wearing that red sweater). After finding a place to sit, I told Professor Entin that his quote reminded of one of most intriguing works I had ever read, Salem Possessed: The Social Origins of Witchcraft..4 In that book, historians Paul Boyer and Stephen Nissenbaum performed a painstaking analysis of deeds, court records, land records, letters, diaries, and maps (5) to offer an original take 011 the infamous 1692 Salem. Massachusetts witch trials: property ownership patterns, as well as the disparate economic and political interests that emerged from those patterns, best explained the motivations of the accusers and their attitudes toward the accused and their defenders. (6)

Of course, Professor Entin knew the story that I had learned as a college freshman. I11 fact, he had grown up in Quincy, only a few dozen miles south of Salem. For the next several minutes, across the desk--which resembled a miniature version of the New York skyline--we discussed the Porters and the Putnams, Samuel Parris, and wealth disparities between Salem Town residents and Salem villagers. We rehashed the theories about the role land ownership and proximity to the (literal) economic stream of commerce (Salem's harbor) played in the accusations of witchcraft. We talked about me and my law school experience thus far. That conversation blended my learning of property law with history and the First Amendment. It remains one of the most memorable and impactful conversations of my law school experience because it marked rriy first genuinely personal connection with a law professor and the beginning of an invaluable mentorship. It would also be the foundation of a sentiment that remains with me to this day.

But that office visit was not my first connection with Professor Entin. During the previous fall semester. I came to know him from our orientation clays and through second- and third-year students who knew, respected, and admired him. Even though I was not in any of his classes my first semester, he would "check-in" on me periodically. I specifically recall his words of encouragement during and after my first semester exams.

Professor Entin's regard for the whole student was not limited to me. …

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