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Frankfurter Professor of Law Alan M. Dershowitz's sabbatical next year will be more than just operas, dinners at expensive restaurants, travel, reading and even writing a book.
Beginning Sept. 8, he will spend two hours a week as an anchor on Court TV, the cable network that broadcasts live criminal and civil trials and offers commentary on the legal system.
"My goal is to broaden the scope of what we do beyond individual cases," Dershowitz said. "I see my role as a teacher, I'm just changing the forum of my teaching."
Each Friday, Dershowitz will host a Court TV show about the week in justice.
"I hope to focus primarily on constitutional and criminal cases, since that's my specialty," he said.
According to Marlene Dann, vice president of daytime programming for Court TV, Dershowitz's weekly segment will be a huge asset to the network.
"His incredible knowledge will help us and viewers better understand the justice system and trials," she said. "He will help put whatever we're seeing in many of the trials we cover into context."
This is only Dershowitz's second year away from Harvard after 36 years of teaching.
Court TV extended the offer to Dershowitz not only because he is widely respected in the legal world, Dann said, but because in the past, Dershowitz has appeared as a guest on Court TV and has been an extremely valuable asset.
Dann said the show is still in the works. Court TV plans to work with him to create it.
"Everyone here is very excited to have him come," Dann said. "He'll help people understand not only the particular trials but all the issues that come into play."
Dershowitz said he hopes to further some of his personal research.
"I've spent a lot of time thinking whether televising trials is a good thing," he said. "This will be a good chance to see it first hand. There is a lot of televising of trials, and I will be able to participate for a year and be objective."
Dershowitz received more than 100 offers to teach, write and appear on television during his year off but turned almost all of them down.
He chose the weekly segment on Court TV because it "sounded interesting," he said. "It's just for one year, for two hours a week. It's not a career change either."
In addition, he added, he only has to walk a few blocks from where he is living to Court TV offices.
But he said he does not plan to spend his entire sabbatical working on the program.
"It will be an integrated year," Dershowitz said. "I hope to do a lot of things; have some fun, do some work, learn a lot, read a lot and write a lot."
A book he plans to write, on citizen's rights, focusing especially on rights to a free trial, will tie in nicely with his work at Court TV. Dershowitz said he expects to devote at least a chapter to his experiences on television.
"I didn't want to teach during my year off," Dershowitz said. "I wanted to do something very different."
While Dershowitz's specialty is First Amendment cases, he has been involved in several high-profile criminal trials in the past and writes and speaks on a variety of law-related topics.
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