Leadership Profile

Cedar Crest Faculty Member Explores the Insanity of the 'Tell-Tale Heart'

The "Tell-Tale Heart" is one of Edgar Allan Poe's most popular short stories, complete with a murdering narrator who claims the meticulous nature of his crime is proof of his sanity. Suppose, however, that after spending a few days behind bars, the same storyteller decides that being labeled "insane" and assigned to a psychiatric ward beats a lifetime of hard time in the clink? What then?

For attorney and Cedar Crest College Business Professor Christine Lombardo-Zaun, devising a defense for this narrator—who isn't clearly defined as a man or a woman in the story—was a time-consuming effort that culminated with a stunning "courtroom" presentation among colleagues who participate in the Barrister's Inn, a program of the Bar Association of Lehigh County featuring trial attorneys and select judges that helps attorneys maintain their right to practice law.

Lombardo-Zaun led a group of lawyers who presented a mock trial titled, "Edgar Allen Poe and the Insanity Defense," for other members of the bar association on Sept. 19. The group planned the event down to the last detail, including bringing Grover Silcox, a local comedian and television personality, into the production. Silcox is also known for his one-man show reading the "Tell-Tale Heart." From all accounts, it was a rousing success.

"There were 12 other attorneys on my team, and I was responsible for organizing, delegating, and making sure the 'trial' went off without a hitch," said Lombardo-Zaun, an adjunct faculty member at Cedar Crest until the fall 2012 semester. "The reason behind the performance is to review the insanity defense and how it is used today—especially in Pennsylvania."

Lombardo-Zaun earned her M.B.A. from Penn State after earning bachelor's degrees in speech communication and business administration from Shippensburg University. After a few years away from the classroom, she went to Dickinson School of Law to earn her law degree. Now, she teaches full-time and practices law when time allows.

"I always wanted to be one of those people who is like a crusader fighting for people's rights," she said. "Being able to tie my law and business degrees together here at Cedar Crest is a dream come true. I love every minute of my day here (on campus)."