Law and Politics in the Ancient Athenian Agora

The Agora was the central gathering place for all of Athens, where social and commercial dealings took place. Arguably, it’s most important purpose was as the home base for all of the city-state’s administrative, legal and political functions. Some of the most important, yet least acclaimed, buildings of ancient history and Classical Athens were located[…]

Balance and the Law in Ancient Egypt

What made a judgment legal and binding was how closely a legal decision aligned with ma’at. Introduction Egyptian law was based on the central cultural value of ma’at (harmony and balance) which was the foundation for the entire civilization. Ma’at was established at the beginning of time by the gods when the earth and universe[…]

A History of the Architecture of the United States Supreme Court

Initially, the Court met in the Merchants Exchange Building in New York City. Building History “The Republic endures and this is the symbol of its faith.” These words, spoken by Chief Justice Charles Evans Hughes in laying the cornerstone for the Supreme Court Building on October 13, 1932, express the importance of the Supreme Court[…]

The History and Traditions of the United States Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is deeply tied to its traditions. Introduction Established by the United States Constitution, the Supreme Court began to take shape with the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789 and has enjoyed a rich history since its first assembly in 1790. The Supreme Court is deeply tied to its traditions: Of the[…]

Salvatore Maranzano: ‘Boss of All Bosses’ in the Early American Mafia

He briefly became the Mafia’s capo di tutti capi (“boss of all bosses”) and formed the Five Families in New York City. Introduction Salvatore Maranzano July 31, 1886 – September 10, 1931 was an organized crime figure from the town of Castellammare del Golfo, Sicily, and an early Cosa Nostra boss who led what later[…]

A History of the American Mafia

The first published account of what became the Mafia in the United States dates to the spring of 1869. Introduction The American Mafia, commonly referred to in North America as “the Mafia” or sometimes “the Mob”, or the Italian-American Mafia,[3][4][5] is a highly organized Italian-American criminal society and criminal organization. The organization is often referred[…]

A Brief History of Law since the Ancient World

Looking at legal institutions as complex systems of rules, players and symbols interacting with society. Introduction Legal history or the history of law is the study of how law has evolved and why it has changed. Legal history is closely connected to the development of civilisations and operates in the wider context of social history.[…]

Bologna as the Law School Model in Medieval Europe

Bologna remained a preeminent center for legal study and training for many centuries. Introduction The origins of modern universities can be traced to the 11th century, when the formal teaching of Roman law began at Bologna, Italy. The city became the center of a great revival of legal scholarship rooted in the study of the[…]

How Reliable Are Eye-Witness Testimonies?

Eye-witness testimonies are an essential component of many trials. They are a fundamental piece of evidence that in many cases are often necessary for the police to secure a conviction, and some cases cannot proceed without them. The reliability of eye-witness testimonies is always a concern. There have been cases when eye-witness testimonies have been[…]

San Francisco Vigilantes in the Mid-19th Century

These so-called militias hanged eight people and forced several elected officials to resign. Introduction The San Francisco Committee of Vigilance was a vigilante group formed in 1851. The catalyst for its formation was the criminality of the Sydney Ducks gang.[1] It was revived in 1856 in response to rampant crime and corruption in the municipal[…]

Philosophical Influences on Contemporary Chinese Law

One must study Chinese Law within the context of Chinese social, cultural, political, and legal history. By Weng LiAssistant Professor, Department of LawHangzhou University Introduction Those unfamiliar with China’s legal system frequently raise two questions: whether “Chinese law” is a meaningful concept[1] and whether there is value in discussing the philosophical influences on China’s legal[…]

History Of The Death Penalty For Law Students

During the colonial era, laws related to the death penalty were primarily influenced by the European system. The practice of capital punishment was brought in by the European settlers who came to the American continent. However, the entire sentiments towards capital punishment have undergone a series of changes throughout history. Law students are often required[…]

The Slicker Wars of Missouri: 19th-Century Vigilante Justice on the Frontier

Vigilance committees formed throughout the Missouri Ozarks, and spread to several areas within the state. Introduction During the mid-1800s, conflicts between outlaws and local vigilante groups spread across the Missouri Ozarks and became known as the Slicker Wars. The Missouri Ozarks is known for its bluffs, rivers, mountains, forests, and caves. During the 1840s, this[…]

The Bald Knobbers: 19th-Century Vigilantism in the Ozarks

The Bald Knobbers, who mostly sided with the Union in the Civil War, were opposed by the Anti-Bald Knobbers, mostly Confederates. Introduction and Background The Bald Knobbers were a group of vigilantes in the Ozark region of southwest Missouri from 1883 to 1889. They are commonly depicted wearing black horned hoods with white outlines of[…]

The Legislation of Lycurgus and Solon: Politics and Law in Ancient Greece

Two alternative conceptions of government – a republic and an oligarchy. By Friedrich Schiller18th-Century Philosopher and Historian Schiller delivered his essay on Lycurgus and Solon in the context of his lectures on Universal History, at Jena University, in August 1789. The essay puts forth two alternative conceptions of government—a republican and an oligarchic form—which have[…]

The Code of Hammurabi: Crime and Punishment in Ancient Egypt

Although a social hierarchy placed some in privileged positions, the code proscribed punishments applicable to all classes. Introduction The Code of Hammurabi (also known as the Codex Hammurabi and Hammurabi’s Code), created ca. 1780 B.C.E., is one of the earliest sets of laws found and one of the best preserved examples of this type of[…]

Rulership and Justice: The Law Codes of Ancient Mesopotamia

Rulers used law codes either to justify their rule or to demonstrate examples of justice and due process during a successful reign. While most people know of Hammurabi as the author of his famous “law code,” few know that the tradition of the ruler as the guardian and administrator of justice began much earlier in[…]

The Continuation of Ancient Roman Law in the Medieval Period

Roman law came to have an immense effect on law as actually practiced in the medieval world. Introduction Medieval Roman law is the continuation and development of ancient Roman law that developed in the European Late Middle Ages. Based on the ancient text of Roman law, the Corpus iuris civilis, it added many new concepts,[…]

Algorithms Associating Criminality and Appearance Have a Dark Past

In some cases, the explicit goal of these technologies is to deny opportunities to those deemed unfit. ‘Phrenology’ has an old-fashioned ring to it. It sounds like it belongs in a history book, filed somewhere between bloodletting and velocipedes. We’d like to think that judging people’s worth based on the size and shape of their[…]

The Power of the Criminal Corpse in the Medieval World

The dying and dead body was an important locus in both religious and secular discourses of power. Introduction Taking a long-term view of the history of crime and punishment problematises any straightforwardly progressive narrative of the history of punishment as one of increasingly humane attitudes. Punishment in the Middle Ages was about retribution, but also[…]

Religious Legal Systems in Comparative Law: A Guide to Introductory Research

An overview of the major world systems, and where and how they have been and are implemented. Introduction Religious Legal Systems Religious law emanates from the sacred texts of religious traditions and in most cases purports to cover all aspects of life as a seamless part of devotional obligations to a transcendent, imminent, or deep[…]

Inspirations for and the Development of Law in Ancient Rome

The most celebrated system of jurisprudence known to the world begins, as it ends, with a Code. Ancient Codes From the commencement to the close of its history, the expositors of Roman Law consistently employed language which implied that the body of their system rested on the Twelve Decemviral Tables, and therefore on a basis[…]

An Outline of Roman Civil Procedure

The Romans resolved civil disputes by recourse to litigation based on law. Abstract This is a broad discussion of the key feature of Roman civil procedure, including sources, lawmaking, and rules. It covers the three principal models for procedure; special proceedings; appeals; magistrates; judges; and representation. It takes ac-count of new evidence on procedure discovered[…]

The Legal Profession in the Ancient Roman Republic

The grandeur that was Rome was actually the grandeur of Roman Law. I In ancient Greece or, to be more exact, in ancient Athens the general socio-political situation was distinctly inimical to the development of a true legal profession.[1] The sovereign and democratic people of Athens, at least during the second half of the fifth[…]

The Horatius Trial in Ancient Rome: Killing a Sister for Mourning a Fallen Enemy

Sentenced to death but acquitted in a public trial based upon his father’s appeal. The Story According to Livy, Rome and another Latin city, Alba Longa, came into conflict in what would amount to a battle for hegemony over the Latin-speaking part of Italy. So as not to exhaust either army, which would have left[…]