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Questions tagged [legal-history]

For questions related to how and why law has evolved over time.

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Are State-Authorized Century Farm Programs Titles of Nobility?

Both the Federal and State governments are prohibited from granting "titles of nobility" under the US Constitution (Art. 1, Sec. 9 & 10). My understanding is that "titles of nobility" are ...
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105 views

Why US apostille is not valid for use in US?

I've got an apostille and bottom line says: "...this apostille is not valid for use anywhere within the United States of America..." What was the reason for this? Is it applicable for all countries ...
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99 views

Why does the US patent law have a section about inventions in outer space?

I came upon a curiously exorbitant statute, Inventions in outer space (35 USC 105). To summarize my question, what was the story and the rationale behind this law? The section reads, in part: Any ...
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3answers
124 views

Are there any contemporary examples of jurists “riding circuit?”

Historically, in Great Britain and the United States, some judges would "ride circuit," traveling around a region holding court on some schedule rather than asking plaintiffs to travel to a fixed ...
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1answer
123 views

Was defamation legal in Russian empire in the 19th century?

In Dostoevsky's Idiot, it seemed that it was perfectly legal to publish articles of slanderous nature. Was there any legal protection of a Russian's rights in publicity in the 1800's?
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40 views

Are there books or sources on how laws are evolving in a way that current laws have little to do with original purposes?

I am seeing pattern where laws that used to serve some purposes is now serving very different purposes. I wonder if there is a name for these patterns. According to Why are there distinct burdens of ...
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1answer
84 views

What is the history of rules requiring prosecutors to disclose evidence?

I was surprised to discover that Brady v. Maryland was decided as recently as 1963. Not knowing enough about the context in which it was decided, I am having trouble understanding exactly what ...
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1answer
149 views

Using hash functions to bypass Cold War-era crypto export restrictions

During the Cold War and up until late 1992, export restrictions prevented the distribution of strong cryptographically secure ciphers. These export restrictions required that all symmetric ciphers be ...
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Why do judges use a hammer in court?

In many movies featuring a court scene, the judge is seen pounding a wood hammer on the desk to either silence the court room, or to announce a decision. Why do judges use a hammer? Is it only a ...
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1answer
36 views

Searching for the term for an anecdotal “simple person”

Maria Theresa and the Law Many years ago, I was attending a university course about legal aspects for computer scientists. It was a very basic course and in order to make the topic digestible more ...
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53 views

What semantic notions underlie '(equitable) tolling' and the lay meanings of 'toll'?

I quoted this lawyer as seeing use of 'toll' as a noun and verb, educates more than seeing its use as a noun. What connects the lay meanings of 'toll' to the legal definition? What explains this ...
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Why 12 Jurors, why not 11, 10, 9, 1?

The question might seem basic, but why do juries in the United States consist of 12 members? Was there an experimental determination of this number? Would the addition or removal of a juror ...
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40 views

California non-compete laws: where do they come from?

I once read that California non-compete laws come from the gold rush era, and yet I was not able to find any more information about the subject. It would be interesting to understand what ...
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1answer
81 views

Congressional History and Legislative Intent of Statute 18 U.S.C.1832

To start off, I am only a high school student helping a friend of mine with a little predicament. She has asked me to research about the Congressional history and the legislative intent of a statute: ...
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1answer
155 views

Why don't Nordic countries have codes of private law?

I'm aware that there are some major differences between Scandinavian law systems and other European systems, e.g., the fact that Roman Law had very little influence in Scandinavian countries. But why ...
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2answers
43 views

latin expressions in jurisprudence

I'm from Austria, which is a german speaking country. In the german language, in jurisprudence, we have lots of latin terms / expressions, because latin expressions seem to be more exact. Is this ...
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UK gun licenses prior to Firearms Amendment Act 1988

The Firearms (Amendment) Act 1988 came into force as a response to the Hungerford massacre of 1987. The perpetrator had legally owned some firearms, including a semi-automatic assault rifle. Before ...
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1answer
66 views

Why was my digitized signature rejected?

I really dislike printing out an electronic form (i.e. PDF) just to sign and re-scan it, especially if I'm going to just send out a digital copy anyway. So, usually I just paste a scanned image of my ...
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2answers
522 views

Explanation of “habeas corpus”

What body? And who has to have it? For what purpose? And then (it might be obvious once you've answered those questions, but please spell it out anyway) why is habeas corpus so central to the law?
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1answer
182 views

Have there ever been any thought crimes?

Has there ever been anywhere a law criminalizing certain thoughts? The closest I can find is The Treason Act 1351, which is still in force in Britain today. This criminalizes compassing or imagining ...
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1answer
4k views

Why do legal documents often have a place next to the date?

I am talking about Switzerland. So why is there often a line for the place next to the date? Is it for some historic reason, to be easier to archive or is it to prevent fraud? Does anybody know more ...
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0answers
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How did marriage certification deviate away from the older idea of common law marriage?

I'm seeking to better understand the history of how marriage licenses came about, and specifically, the transition from cohabitation and public announcement of the marriage to requiring a literal ...
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1answer
98 views

Famous case involving stacking the deck in a standards body

When I first got involved in telecommunications standards back in the 1980's, some standards old-timers gave me an old case to read about one company stacking the deck in standards for steam boilers (...
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330 views

Significance of double negative language in 19th amendment of US constitution

The relevant part of the text is: The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex. Why the double negative ...
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What would have been the typical penalty for six counts of bigamy in 1604?

The Bigamy act of 1603 made it a specific crime to marry any person or persons, the former husband or wife being alive With the penalty being made a "capital felony" Were people typically ...
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1answer
154 views

Good Samaritan law

What exactly is the Good Samaritan law? Can someone please explain the Good Samaritan law? What is the Good Samaritan statute? How would someone apply the law in LaSalle County Illinois? Edit: After ...
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2answers
205 views

Increase in civil award damages in 1980s?

It seems that there was a large increase in civil awards around 1980. Piper Aircraft went bankrupt in 1991 after a decade of fighting lawsuits. In 1975, there were 20 makers of football helmets. By ...
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4answers
193 views

Is there a legal system or theory where punishment is proportional to the probability of an offence?

In common criminal law in order for a defendant to be punished, they must be found guilty beyond all reasonable doubt. Hence, there is a threshold for the probability of guilt, beyond which the ...
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1answer
2k views

When was murder first made a federal crime?

My understanding is that most crimes that don't involve the US as a party, maritime law, special cases, etc, are handled by state courts, where the rules differ from state to state. But in certain ...
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5answers
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Why is the structure of the US Code so poor? (And would it even be legal to reorganize it?)

In the process of researching the legality of coil guns in Massachusetts (University engineering project), I stumbled across Cornell's Legal Information Institute, which offers what appears to be a ...
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27 views

Creation Date of Massachusetts Law

In what year was Massachusetts Chapter 186 Section 23 General Law put into effect?
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653 views

Year of passage of Massachusetts age of consent law

Massachusetts has an idiosyncratic age of consent law, which states that it is illegal to have sex with "any person under 18 years of age of chaste life": https://malegislature.gov/Laws/GeneralLaws/...
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1answer
223 views

Was cannabis legal in the U.S. in 1969-1970?

In 1969, Timothy Leary challenged the Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 in Leary v. The United States. Leary claimed that the requirement to have a tax stamp to possess cannabis, while also requiring ...
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134 views

Can you be arrested the day a law is enacted?

On October 2, 1937 the Marijuana Tax Act was enacted. On this same day, a man named Samuel R. Caldwell was arrested by federal agents for selling Marijuana to Moses Baca, who was also arrested. Is ...
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Law in History: Weapon Law in New York in the 1960s: Long Blades

While researching for a novel, I stumbled about an interesting legal point I can't answer on my own because I neither am a lawyer nor am in the US: Between 1945 and 1951 quite some Katana were ...
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2answers
622 views

Has the Alien Property Custodian Office been abolished?

I'm doing research into Japanese internment, and I was reading about executive order 9095. This order created the Office of Alien Property Custodian (APC) as authorized by the Trading with the Enemy ...
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2answers
394 views

Were Nazi atrocities legal according the German law of the time?

I have recently had a discussion with a German who claims that Nuremberg trials were entirely based on ex-post-facto laws, and all the atrocities Nazis did were legal according Germany's and ...
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What was the rationale to have the US Bill of Rights only apply at the federal level, not at the state-level?

Originally, the US Bill of Rights did not apply at the state level; only the federal level. For instance, the right for a criminal to be represented by counsel, granted by the 6th Amendment, did not ...
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Was (is?) pre-marital sex illegal anywhere in the United States?

I read this summary of laws banning adultery in the United States. Now, the wording of some of these laws made me wonder if any of them are remnants from a time when pre-marital sex (not just ...
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1answer
138 views

Before his arrival at St Helena, was Napoleon legally a prisoner of war?

I would like to know whether in law Napoleon was a prisoner of war when he surrendered himself to the British after the Battle of Waterloo, did he retain that status up to the point when he was landed ...
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2k views

Jurisdiction of Texas Rangers in Louisiana?

I understand that Texas Rangers are responsible for killing Bonnie& Clyde in North Louisiana. Is it lawful for a Texas Police Agent to engage a citizen in New York City?
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2k views

Is the term “ZIP Code” trademarked?

The exact words: " Look Up a ZIP Code™ " appear at the top of one of the pages at USPS.com. "Zip Code" seems to have the Trademark™ next to it in many other places on the site, but not everywhere. ...
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4k views

What exactly is a “title of nobility” under the US Constitution?

Article 1, sections 9 & 10 of the US constitution prohibit granting titles of nobility by the federal government or the states. What exactly is a title of nobility for these purposes? Why is (say) ...
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1answer
91 views

How many lawsuits has IBM lost? [closed]

I'm looking for a list of lawsuits IBM was the defendant and lost, and also was the plaintiff and lost. I'm looking for well known ones that generally caught the public's interest. Does IBM always win ...
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2k views

Were the US Articles of Confederation formally repealed?

The Constitutional Convention was originally intended to revise the Articles of Confederation. At some point, the framers decided to start from scratch instead, and produced the Constitution, which ...
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1answer
222 views

Does the concept of presidential pardon have a justification in terms of separation between the executive and the judiciary? (France)

First of all, I have no experience in Law, I was just "philosophically" interested by a question related to it. I hope it is not off topic. The French President François Hollande is considering ...
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31 views

How did declaratory judgment law came into place?

I am interested in learning law and want to know how a lot of these tools of the law came into place. Like declamatory judgement, injunction etc... Is there a law history book which entails all of ...
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287 views

Was there ever a law that if someone sentenced to death survived their execution they would be released free?

I read in a biography that if someone was sentenced to death penalty and the execution squad misses when firing at him, he will be released as a free man. Is it true that there ever was such a law or ...
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Where can I find the past laws for the state of Kansas?

I was doing some research about a claimed law in kansas, which I have decided most likely isn't in effect now, but it's likely that it was passed at some point (between 1915-1953). I was able to find ...
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Origin of Law - Legal Philosophy

What kind of legal philosophy states that rights and duties (law) derive from facts? (In German SOLLEN for the former and SEIN for the latter.)