If you’ve ever used a NITA case file to teach in your law school classroom or at one of our programs, then you’ve probably noticed that a great many of them take place in a mythical little metropolis known as Nita City. You’ve also probably noticed that the crime rate is distressingly high. Murder, rape, DUI, arson, theft, assault, discrimination, fraud, breach of contract, domestic violence, negligence—the list of offenses common to Nita City’s population is legion. Heaven for an out-of-work trial lawyer . . . .
Joking aside, what few in the NITA universe realize is, the State of Nita and its crime-riddled capital were the well-considered construct of the imagination of NITA author Thomas J. Reed. “I made the Nita Gazetteer in 1991 for John Kouris, who was NITA’s Chief Operating Officer in the 1990s,” said Reed, Professor Emeritus at Widener University Delaware Law School. “It had a very practical purpose: to provide a realistic scenario for lawyers preparing trial files to be used in NITA programs and NITA-related programs such as the [Widener] Intensive Trial Advocacy Program.”
The Gazetteer came to light once again at NITA this summer, when Mark Caldwell, NITA’s Director of Resources, shared what may be the only remaining original copy left in existence. “I actually used these materials in writing case files, and you will see the connections between cities and even streets in my files,” he said. “People [at programs] often wonder where in the United States is the location of the State of Nita. It is situated south of South Dakota, just east of Nebraska, and west of Iowa and Missouri. It is clearly a Midwestern state. Interstate 80 crosses the middle of the state. Nita City is close to the eastern border of the state approximately half way between the two north–south borders. The Missouri and Nita rivers run through the state.”
Reed added, “The drawings and maps were the most difficult part of the book. The histories of Missouri, Kansas, Nebraska, and Iowa were the inspiration for establishing a Midwestern state, [with the State of Nita] sharing some of the characteristics of these states. The original settlement by Sieur de Nita parallels the history of Dubuque, Iowa, and Prairie du Chien, Wisconsin. The indigenous natives parallel Nebraska and Minnesota tribes, except for the Mugwumps. The Civil War border warfare in Kansas and Missouri provided grist for the 1860s-era history—as the career of William Jennings Bryan did for the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th century.”
Caldwell said, “Professor Reed used the names of all of NITA’s Program Directors, Board of Directors, and most well-known instructors in creating the names of cities, towns, counties, streets, buildings, etc.”
Reed confirmed: “I carefully invented a history of the State of Nita containing names from then-prominent NITA teaching faculty members as protagonists or major characters in the invented history,” noting the towns of Irving, Lubet, Oliphant, Kouris, Rose City, and Seckingerville, as well as Beskind County Hospital, Natali Gold Mining & Dredging Co., Moss County Savings & Loan, Carrigan Farm Implement Employee’s Credit Union, Seimer Consolidated High School, and K. Broun Discount Department Stores, in the Gazetteer.
“Clearly, Professor Reed spent a great deal of time thinking about all of the important story structures needed to make case construction a process with some uniformity,” said Caldwell. “It makes a fascinating read to consider Nita’s geography and history.”
It does indeed. To download a copy of the State of Nita Gazetteer and begin your own lesson in the history and civics of the State of Nita, click here.