Portal:Law/Selected articles

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Law Portal selected content

This page lists some of the best articles (B-Class or better) by WikiProject Law. They are also listed in the category Category:Law Portal selected articles. The entries are randomly chosen for display on the Law Portal.

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Selected article 1

A black and white drawing of an elephant stepping onto a prisoner, labelled "An Execution by an Elephant"

Execution by elephant was, for thousands of years, a common method of capital punishment in South and Southeast Asia, and particularly in India. Asian Elephants were used to crush, dismember, or torture captives in public executions. The animals were trained and versatile, both able to kill victims immediately or to torture them slowly over a prolonged period. Employed by royalty, the elephants were used to signify both the ruler's absolute power and his ability to control wild animals. The sight of elephants executing captives attracted the interest of usually horrified European travellers, and was recorded in numerous contemporary journals and accounts of life in Asia. The practice was eventually suppressed by the European empires that colonised the region in the 18th and 19th centuries, and it is not employed by any country today. While primarily confined to Asia, the method of execution was occasionally adopted by western powers, such as Rome and Carthage, particularly to deal with mutinous soldiers. (more...)

Selected article 2

A black and white photograph of Saxbe

The Saxbe fix is a mechanism by which the President of the United States, in appointing to a civil office a Member of the Congress whose elected term has not yet expired, seeks to avoid the restriction of the Constitution's Ineligibility Clause. That clause prohibits the president from appointing a current or former member of Congress to a position that was created, or to a position for which the pay and/or benefits (collectively "emoluments") were increased, during the term for which that member was elected until the term has expired. The rollback, implemented by an Act of Congress in 1909, reverts the emoluments of the office to the amount they were when that member began his or her elected term. Historically, the restriction has been met with various responses: choosing another nominee, allowing the desired nominee's elected term of office to expire, ignoring the clause entirely, or using a "Saxbe fix" to reduce the offending emoluments. Although the latter mechanism was passed by Congress in 1909, it is named for William Saxbe, who was confirmed as Attorney General in 1973 after Congress reduced the office's salary to the level it had been before his term in the Senate commenced. Since the late 1970s, the use of the "Saxbe fix" has been common. The Saxbe fix has subsequently become relevant as a successful—though not universally accepted—solution for appointments of sitting members of the Congress to the Cabinet. (more...)

Selected article 3

A modern photograph of the front of a booklet

The Constitution of the Republic of Belarus is the ultimate law of Belarus; it states that all laws that conflict with it are null and void. Adopted in 1994, three years after the country declared its independence from the Soviet Union, this formal document establishes the framework of the Belarusian state and government and enumerates the rights and freedoms of its citizens. The Constitution was drafted by the Supreme Soviet of Belarus, the former legislative body of the country, and was improved by citizens and legal experts. The contents of the Constitution include the preamble, nine sections, and 146 articles. The structure and substance of the Constitution were heavily influenced by constitutions of Western powers and by Belarus' experiences during the Soviet era. While much of the Constitution establishes the government's functions and powers, an entire section details rights and freedoms granted to citizens and residents. The Constitution has been amended twice since the original adoption, in 1996 and in 2004. Two referendums that were disputed by independent observers and government opposition leaders increased the power of the presidency over the government and eliminated the term limits for the presidency. (more...)

Selected article 4

A modern photograph of Gray's Inn Square

Gray's Inn is one of the four Inns of Court in London. To be called to the Bar and practise as a barrister in England and Wales, an individual must belong to one of these Inns. Located at the intersection of High Holborn and Gray's Inn Road, the Inn is both a professional body and a place of living and office accommodation (chambers) for many barristers. It is ruled by a governing council called "Pension", made up of the Masters of the Bench (or "Benchers"), and led by the Treasurer, who is elected to serve a one-year term. The Inn is known for its gardens, or Walks, which have existed since at least 1597. Gray's Inn does not claim a specific foundation date; there is a tradition that none of the Inns of Court claims to be any older than the others. Law clerks and their apprentices have been established on the present site since at least 1370, with records dating from 1391. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Inn grew steadily, reaching its pinnacle during the reign of Elizabeth I. The outbreak of the First English Civil War in 1642 during the reign of Charles I disrupted the systems of legal education and governance at the Inns of Court, shutting down all calls to the Bar and new admissions, and Gray's Inn never fully recovered. Fortunes continued to decline after the English Restoration, which saw the end of the traditional method of legal education. Although now more prosperous, Gray's Inn is still the smallest of the Inns of Court. (more...)

Selected article 5

A crowd of people, some waving rainbow flags or holding placards

Same-sex marriage in Spain has been legal since July 3, 2005. In 2004, the newly elected Socialist government, led by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, began a campaign for its legalization. After much debate, a law permitting same-sex marriage was passed by the Cortes Generales (Spain's bicameral parliament, composed of the Senate and the Congress of Deputies) on 30 June 2005 and published on 2 July 2005. Same-sex marriage became legal in Spain on Sunday, 3 July 2005, making it the third country in the world to do so, after the Netherlands and Belgium and 17 days ahead of Canada. The ratification of this law was not devoid of conflict, despite support from 66% of the population. Roman Catholic authorities in particular were adamantly opposed, criticising what they regarded as the weakening of the meaning of marriage. Other associations expressed concern about lesbians and gays adopting children. After its approval, the People's Party challenged the law in the Constitutional Court. Approximately 4,500 same-sex couples married in Spain during the first year of the law. At least one partner must be a Spanish citizen in order to marry, although two non-Spaniards may marry if they both have legal residence in Spain. (more...)

Selected article 6

An elaborately decorated page with the heading "The Constitution of India"

The Fundamental Rights, Directive Principles and Fundamental Duties are sections of the Constitution of India that prescribe the fundamental obligations of the State to the citizens, and the duties of the citizens to the State. These sections comprise a constitutional bill of rights, guidelines for government policy-making, and the behaviour and conduct of citizens. These sections are considered vital elements of the constitution, which was developed between 1947 and 1949 by the Constituent Assembly of India. The Fundamental Rights are defined as the basic human rights of all citizens. The Directive Principles of State Policy are guidelines for the framing of laws by the government. The Fundamental Duties are defined as the moral obligations of all citizens to help to promote a spirit of patriotism and to uphold the unity of India. Like the Directive Principles, they are not legally enforceable by the courts. (more...)

Selected article 7

A modern photograph of a large chamber with many desks and chairs arranged in a semicircle

The Scottish Parliament is the national unicameral legislature of Scotland, located in the Holyrood area of Edinburgh. The Parliament is a democratically elected body composed of 129 members who are known as Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs). Members are elected for four year terms under the proportional representation system. The original Parliament of Scotland was the national legislature of the independent Kingdom of Scotland and existed from the early 13th century until the Kingdom of Scotland merged with the Kingdom of England under the Acts of Union 1707 to form the Kingdom of Great Britain. Following a referendum in 1997 where the Scottish people gave their consent, the current Parliament was established by the Scotland Act 1998 which sets out its powers as a devolved legislature. The Act delineated the areas in which it can make laws by explicitly specifying powers that are "reserved" to the Parliament of the United Kingdom. All matters that are not explicitly reserved are automatically the responsibility of the Scottish Parliament. The UK Parliament retains the ability to amend the terms of reference of the Scottish Parliament, and can extend or reduce the areas in which it can make laws. (more...)

Selected article 8

A black and white photograph of King George and Queen Elizabeth seated on thrones

The granting of royal assent refers to the method by which any constitutional monarch formally approves and promulgates an act of his or her nation's parliament, thus making it a law. In the vast majority of contemporary monarchies, this act is considered to be little more than a formality; even in those nations which still permit their ruler to withhold the royal assent (such as the United Kingdom, Norway and Liechtenstein), the monarch almost never does so save in a dire political emergency or upon the advice of his or her government. While the power to withhold royal assent was once exercised often in European monarchies, it is exceedingly rare in modern times. The granting of royal assent is sometimes associated with elaborate ceremonies. In the United Kingdom, for instance, the Sovereign may appoint Lords Commissioners, who announce that the Royal Assent has been granted at a ceremony held at the Palace of Westminster, Buckingham Palace, or another royal residence. However the Royal Assent is usually granted less ceremonially by letters patent. In other nations, including Australia and Canada, the Governor-General merely signs the bill. In each case, the parliament must be apprised of the granting of Assent. (more...)

Selected article 9

Targeted Killing in International Law is a book about the legality of targeted killing, written by Nils Melzer. It was first published by Oxford University Press in May 2008. The book delves into the history surrounding use of targeted killing as a government strategy by multiple countries including the United States, the United Kingdom, Israel, Switzerland, and Germany; both for military and law enforcement purposes. Melzer argues that directly after the September 11 attacks in the United States, perceptions regarding the use of the tactic of targeted killing shifted to become more supportive. The book received a favorable reception, and was a joint-winner of the 2009 Paul Guggenheim Prize in International Law given by the Geneva Graduate Institute. It garnered positive reviews in publications including the International Criminal Justice Review, the European Journal of International Law, and the American Journal of International Law. (more...)

Selected article 10

A black and white photograph of Bricker

The Bricker Amendment is the collective name of a series of proposed amendments to the United States Constitution considered by the United States Senate in the 1950s. These amendments would have placed restrictions on the scope and ratification of treaties and executive agreements entered into by the United States and are named for their sponsor, Senator John W. Bricker of Ohio, a conservative Republican.

The best-known version of the Bricker Amendment, considered by the Senate in 1953–54, declared that no treaty could be made by the United States that conflicted with the Constitution, was self-executing without the passage of separate enabling legislation through Congress, or which granted Congress legislative powers beyond those specified in the Constitution. It also limited the president's power to enter into executive agreements with foreign powers.

Bricker's proposal attracted broad bipartisan support and was a focal point of intra-party conflict between the administration of president Dwight D. Eisenhower and the Old Right faction of conservative Republican senators. Despite the initial support, the Bricker Amendment was blocked through the intervention of President Eisenhower and failed in the Senate by a single vote in 1954. Three years later the Supreme Court of the United States explicitly ruled in Reid v. Covert that the Bill of Rights cannot be abrogated by agreements with foreign powers. Nevertheless, Senator Bricker's ideas still have supporters, and new versions of his amendment have been reintroduced in Congress periodically. (more...)

Selected article 11

A Medieval drawing of ploughing with oxen

Carucage (/ˈkærəkɨ/; Medieval Latin: carrūcāgium, from carrūca, "wheeled plough") was a medieval English land tax introduced by King Richard I in 1194, based on the size—variously calculated—of the estate owned by the taxpayer. It was a replacement for the danegeld, last imposed in 1162, which had become difficult to collect because of an increasing number of exemptions. Carucage was levied just six times: by Richard in 1194 and 1198; John, his brother and successor, in 1200; and John's son, Henry III, in 1217, 1220, and 1224, after which it was replaced by taxes on income and personal property.

The taxable value of an estate was initially assessed from the Domesday Survey, but other methods were later employed, such as valuations based on the sworn testimony of neighbours or on the number of plough-teams the taxpayer used. Carucage never raised as much as other taxes, but nevertheless helped to fund several projects. It paid the ransom for Richard's release in 1194, after he was taken prisoner by Leopold V, Duke of Austria; it covered the tax John had to pay Philip II of France in 1200 on land he inherited in that country; and it helped to finance Henry III's military campaigns in England and on continental Europe. (more...)

Selected article 12

A portrait of a large gathering of judges

The Court of Chancery was a court of equity in England and Wales that followed a set of loose rules to avoid the slow pace of change and possible harshness (or "inequity") of the common law. The Chancery had jurisdiction over all matters of equity, including trusts, land law, the administration of the estates of lunatics and the guardianship of infants. Its initial role was somewhat different, however; as an extension of the Lord Chancellor's role as Keeper of the King's Conscience, the Court was an administrative body primarily concerned with conscientious law. Thus the Court of Chancery had a far greater remit than the common law courts, whose decisions it had the jurisdiction to overrule for much of its existence, and was far more flexible. Until the 19th century, the Court of Chancery could apply a far wider range of remedies than the common law courts, such as specific performance and injunctions, and also had some power to grant damages in special circumstances. With the shift of the Exchequer of Pleas towards a common law court, the Chancery was the only equitable body in the English legal system. (more...)

Selected article 13

The CSI effect is any of several ways in which the exaggerated portrayal of forensic science on crime television shows such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation influences public perception. The term most often refers to the belief that jurors have come to demand more forensic evidence in criminal trials, thereby raising the effective standard of proof for prosecutors. While this belief is widely held among American legal professionals, some studies have suggested that crime shows are unlikely to cause such an effect, although frequent CSI viewers may place a lower value on circumstantial evidence. As technology improves and becomes more prevalent throughout society, people may also develop higher expectations for the capabilities of forensic technology.

There are several other manifestations of the CSI effect. Greater public awareness of forensic science has also increased the demand for forensic evidence in police investigations, inflating workloads for crime laboratories. The number and popularity of forensic science programs at the university level have greatly increased worldwide, though some new programs have been criticized for inadequately preparing their students for real forensic work. It is possible that forensic science shows teach criminals how to conceal evidence of their crimes, thereby making it more difficult for investigators to solve cases. (more...)

Selected article 14

A horde of soldiers, carrying pikes and waving flags, march around the high walls of Antioch. Inside can be seen many small houses and, in the centre, a cathedral.

The Treaty of Devol was an agreement made in 1108 between Bohemond I of Antioch and Byzantine Emperor Alexios I Komnenos, in the wake of the First Crusade. It is named after the Byzantine fortress of Devol in Macedonia (in modern Albania). Although the treaty was not immediately enforced, it was intended to make the Principality of Antioch a vassal state of the Byzantine Empire.

Under the terms of the Treaty, Bohemond agreed to become a vassal of the Emperor and to defend the Empire whenever needed. He also accepted the appointment of a Greek Patriarch. In return, he was given the titles of sebastos and doux (duke) of Antioch, and he was guaranteed the right to pass on to his heirs the County of Edessa. Following this, Bohemond retreated to Apulia and died there. His nephew, Tancred, who was regent in Antioch, refused to accept the terms of the Treaty. Antioch came temporarily under Byzantine sway in 1137, but it was not until 1158 that it truly became a Byzantine vassal. (more...)

Selected article 15

The illustration depicts a naked man on a ladder being cut open by a person on an adjacent ladder as the crowd watches excitedly. A great fire burns beneath them in the centre of the picture.

To be hanged, drawn and quartered was from 1351 a penalty in England for men convicted of high treason, although the ritual was first recorded during the reigns of King Henry III (1216–1272) and his successor, Edward I (1272–1307). Convicts were fastened to a hurdle, or wooden panel, and drawn by horse to the place of execution, where they were hanged (almost to the point of death), emasculated, disembowelled, beheaded and quartered (chopped into four pieces). Their remains were often displayed in prominent places across the country, such as London Bridge. For reasons of public decency, women convicted of high treason were instead burnt at the stake.

The severity of the sentence was measured against the seriousness of the crime. As an attack on the monarch's authority, high treason was considered an act deplorable enough to demand the most extreme form of punishment, and although some convicts had their sentences modified and suffered a less ignominious end, over a period of several hundred years many men found guilty of high treason were subjected to the law's ultimate sanction. This included many English Catholic priests executed during the Elizabethan era, and several of the regicides involved in the 1649 execution of King Charles I.

Although the Act of Parliament that defines high treason remains on the United Kingdom's statute books, during a long period of 19th-century legal reform the sentence of hanging, drawing and quartering was changed to drawing, hanging until dead, and posthumous beheading and quartering, before being rendered obsolete in England in 1870. The death penalty for treason was abolished in 1998. (more...)

Selected article 16

The gleaming white building of the United States Supreme Court, appearing like a Greek temple, stands out against a clear blue sky. Above the pillars is inscribed "EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW".

The LaRouche criminal trials in the mid-1980s stemmed from federal and state investigations into the activities of American political activist Lyndon LaRouche and members of his movement. They were charged with conspiring to commit fraud and soliciting loans they had no intention of repaying. LaRouche and his supporters disputed the charges, claiming the trials were politically motivated.

In 1986, hundreds of state and federal officers raided LaRouche offices in Virginia and Massachusetts. After a short trial in 1988, LaRouche was convicted of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and tax evasion, and was sentenced to prison for fifteen years. He entered prison in 1989 and was paroled five years later. At the same trial, his associates received lesser sentences for mail fraud and conspiracy. In separate state trials in Virginia and New York, 13 associates received terms ranging from one month to 77 years. The Virginia state trials were described as the highest-profile cases that the state Attorney General's office had ever prosecuted. Fourteen states issued injunctions against LaRouche-related organizations. Three LaRouche-related organizations were forced into bankruptcy after failing to pay contempt of court fines.

Defense lawyers filed numerous unsuccessful appeals that challenged the conduct of the grand jury, the contempt fines, the execution of the search warrants and various trial procedures. Following the convictions, the LaRouche movement mounted failed attempts at exoneration. (more...)

Selected article 17

The prison occupied two locations, the first c. 1329–1811, and the second 1811–1842. The image above is of the first Marshalsea in the 18th century.

The Marshalsea was a prison on the south bank of the River Thames in Southwark, now part of London. From the 14th century until it closed in 1842, it housed men under court martial for crimes at sea, including those accused of "unnatural crimes," political figures and intellectuals accused of sedition, and—most famously—London's debtors, the length of their stay determined largely by the whim of their creditors.

Run privately for profit, as were all prisons in England until the 19th century, the Marshalsea looked like an Oxbridge college and functioned as an extortion racket. For prisoners who could pay, it came with access to a bar, shop, and restaurant, as well as the crucial privilege of being allowed out during the day, which meant debtors could earn money to satisfy their creditors. Everyone else was crammed into one of nine small rooms with dozens of others, possibly for decades for the most modest of debts, which increased as unpaid prison fees accumulated. A parliamentary committee reported in 1729 that 300 inmates had starved to death within a three-month period, and that eight to ten prisoners were dying every 24 hours in the warmer weather. (more...)

Selected article 18

The image is a scan of the cover of a book, which is labelled "The Virginia and Kentucky resolutions of 1798 and '99 with Jefferson's original draught [sic] thereof. Also, Madison's report, Calhoun's address, resolutions of the several states in relation to state rights. With other documents in support of the Jeffersonian doctrines of '98. 'Liberty—The Constitution—Unios.' Published by Jonathan Elliot. Washington: May MDCCCXXXII"

The Report of 1800 was a resolution drafted by James Madison arguing for the sovereignty of the individual states under the United States Constitution and against the Alien and Sedition Acts. Adopted by the Virginia General Assembly in January 1800, the Report amends arguments from the 1798 Virginia Resolutions and attempts to resolve contemporary criticisms against the Resolutions. The Report was the last important explication of the Constitution produced before the 1817 Bonus Bill veto message by Madison, who has come to be regarded as the "Father of the Constitution."

The arguments made in the Resolutions and the Report were later used frequently during the nullification crisis of 1832, when South Carolina declared federal tariffs to be unconstitutional and void within the state. Madison rejected the concept of nullification and the notion that his arguments supported such a practice. Whether Madison's theory of Republicanism really supported the nullification movement, and more broadly whether the ideas he expressed between 1798 and 1800 are consistent with his work before and after this period, are the main questions surrounding the Report in the modern literature. (more...)

Selected article 19

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel by Harper Lee published in 1960. It was immediately successful, winning the Pulitzer Prize, and has become a classic of modern American literature. The plot and characters are loosely based on the author's observations of her family and neighbors, as well as on an event that occurred near her hometown in 1936, when she was 10 years old.

The novel is renowned for its warmth and humor, despite dealing with the serious issues of rape and racial inequality. The narrator's father, Atticus Finch, has served as a moral hero for many readers and as a model of integrity for lawyers. One critic explains the novel's impact by writing, "In the twentieth century, To Kill a Mockingbird is probably the most widely read book dealing with race in America, and its protagonist, Atticus Finch, the most enduring fictional image of racial heroism." (more...)

Selected article 20

The engraving of a painting depicts a pensive looking John Coleridge. He wears judicial robes, a judge's wig, and has a large chain around his neck.

The Court of Common Pleas, also known as the Common Bench or Common Place, was the second highest common law court in the English legal system until 1880, when it was dissolved. As such, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas was one of the highest judicial officials in England, behind only the Lord High Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice of the King's (or Queen's) Bench. Initially the position of Chief Justice was not an appointment; of the justices serving in the court, one would become more respected than his peers, and was therefore considered the "chief" justice. The position was formalised in 1272 with the raising of Sir Gilbert of Preston to Chief Justice, and from then on it was considered a formally appointed role similar to the positions of Chief Justice of the King's Bench and Chief Baron of the Exchequer. In 1875 the court was reduced to a division of the High Court of Justice; Alexander Cockburn served as the first Chief Justice of England. The court was dissolved as a body in 1880, when the functions and officials were made part of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice. John Coleridge, previously Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, served as the first Chief Justice of the fully unified High Court. (more...)

Selected article 21

Three dark-haired men wearing dark clothing. The man on the left is wearing a checkered shirt with a rain jacket. The man in the middle is wearing a printed tee with a rain jacket. The man on the right is wearing a black sweater.

Convicted computer criminals are people who are caught and convicted of computer crimes such as breaking into computers or computer networks. Computer crime can be broadly defined as criminal activity involving information technology infrastructure, including illegal access (unauthorized access), illegal interception (by technical means of non-public transmissions of computer data to, from or within a computer system), data interference (unauthorized damaging, deletion, deterioration, alteration or suppression of computer data), systems interference (interfering with the functioning of a computer system by inputting, transmitting, damaging, deleting, deteriorating, altering or suppressing computer data), misuse of devices, forgery (or identity theft) and electronic fraud.

Convictions of computer crimes, or hacking, began as early as 1983 with the case of The 414s from the 414 area code in Milwaukee. In that case, six teenagers broke into a number of high-profile computer systems, including Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Security Pacific Bank. On May 1, 1983, one of the 414s, Gerald Wondra, was sentenced to two years of probation. In 2006, a prison term of nearly five years was handed down to Jeanson James Ancheta, who created hundreds of zombie computers to do his bidding via giant bot networks or botnets. (more...)

Selected article 22

Surrounded by Gothic architecture and enclosed in a pointed arch is a pair of wooden doors, the entrance to the court.

The system of county courts in England and Wales' dates back to the County Courts Act 1846, which received Royal Assent on 28 August 1846 and was brought into force on 15 March 1847. England and Wales (with the exception of the City of London, which was outside the scope of the Act) were divided into 60 circuits, with a total of 491 county courts within these circuits. The then Lord Chancellor, Lord Cottenham, wanted everyone to be within seven miles of a court, and the final scheme came close to that aim. One county court judge was appointed to each circuit, assisted by one or more registrars with some limited judicial powers, and would travel between the courts in his area as necessary, sitting in each court at least once a month. Few permanent courts were needed initially, given the infrequency of court hearings, and temporary accommodation such as a town hall would often be used where there was no existing courthouse for use. The judicial business of the county courts is now carried out by circuit judges (a term introduced by the Courts Act 1971) and district judges (as the post of registrar was renamed by section 74 of the Courts and Legal Services Act 1990). As at 1 April 2010, there are 680 circuit judges and 448 district judges. (more...)

Selected article 23

A large stone building with 12 glazed arched windows at first floor level above six stone arches

The modern system of county courts in England and Wales was established by the County Courts Act 1846. The Act created 491 courts on 60 circuits; of these, 53 courts were in Wales and Monmouthshire (a Welsh county that had ambiguous status at the time and was sometimes treated as being in England). Since then, new courts have been opened in various locations, and 80 towns and cities in Wales have, or have had, county courts. As of 2012, there are 20 county courts in Wales. The courts in the other 60 locations have closed. Reasons for closure have included a decision that it was "inexpedient" to continue to provide a court, the volume of business no longer justifying a court, or the state of the building housing the court. The first closure was Fishguard, in 1856; the most recent closures are the county courts in Aberdare and Pontypool, which closed on 1 August 2011. (more...)

Selected article 24

A wide red building, with numerous pillars and archways, stands in the middle of some gardens. A road runs just in front of the court.

India's unitary judicial system is made up of the Supreme Court of India at the national level, for the entire country and the 24 High Courts at the State level. These courts have jurisdiction over a state, a union territory or a group of states and union territories. Below the High Courts are a hierarchy of subordinate courts such as the civil courts, family courts, criminal courts and various other district courts. High Courts are instituted as constitutional courts under Part VI, Chapter V, Article 214 of the Indian Constitution.

The High Courts are the principal civil courts of original jurisdiction in the state along with District Courts which are subordinate to the High courts. However, High courts exercise their original civil and criminal jurisdiction only if the courts subordinate to the High court in the state are not competent (not authorized by law) to try such matters for lack of pecuniary, territorial jurisdiction. High courts may also enjoy original jurisdiction in certain matters if so designated specifically in a state or Federal law. e.g.: Company law cases are instituted only in a High court. (more...)

Selected article 25

Douglas sits facing slightly to the left, but with his blue eyes, wrinkled face and white head of hair looking to the right of the painting. He has a piece of paper in his right hand.

This is a list of U.S. Supreme Court Justices by time in office, counted in days. The period of service for Justices ranges from William O. Douglas's 13,358 days (36 years) on the Court to the 163–day tenure of Thomas Johnson. A nominee who was confirmed by the United States Senate but declined to serve, such as Robert H. Harrison, or who died before taking his seat, such as Edwin M. Stanton, would not be considered to have served as a Justice. The Term Start date is the day the Justice took the oath of office, with the Term End date being the date of the Justice's death, resignation, or retirement. A highlighted row indicates that the Justice is currently serving on the Court. (more...)

Selected article 26

A Tudor man in a large coat and hat, possibly of fur, sitting at a desk

The Keeper or Master of the Rolls and Records of the Chancery of England, known as the Master of the Rolls, is the second most senior judge in England and Wales, after the Lord Chief Justice. The Master of the Rolls is the presiding officer of the Civil Division of the Court of Appeal. The first record of a Master of the Rolls is from 1286, although it is believed that the office probably existed earlier than that.

The Master of the Rolls was initially a clerk responsible for keeping the "Rolls", or records, of the Court of Chancery, and was known as the Keeper of the Rolls of Chancery. The Keeper was the most senior of the dozen Chancery clerks, and as such occasionally acted as keeper of the Great Seal of the Realm. The post evolved into a judicial one as the Court of Chancery did; the first reference to judicial duties dates from 1520. With the Judicature Act 1873, the Master transferred from the now-defunct Court of Chancery to the Court of Appeal. The Master still retained his clerical functions by serving as the nominal head of the Public Record Office (PRO) until 1958. However, the Public Records Act of that year transferred responsibility for the PRO from the Master of the Rolls to the Lord Chancellor. The Master of the Rolls is also responsible for registering solicitors, the officers of the Senior Courts. (more...)

Selected article 27

An elderly man with receding white hair and large spectacles, Andrei Sakharov, is being interviewed. A tape recorder is held in front of his mouth by a hand from the bottom of the photograph. Sakharov is wearing a suit with a blue and brown striped tie.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, named after Soviet scientist and dissident Andrei Sakharov, was established in December 1988 by the European Parliament as a means to honour individuals or organisations who have dedicated their lives to the defence of human rights and freedom of thought. A shortlist of nominees is drawn up by the Foreign Affairs Committee and the Development Committee, with the winner announced in October. As of 2010, the prize is accompanied by a monetary award of 50,000.

The first prize was awarded jointly to South African Nelson Mandela and Russian Anatoly Marchenko. The most recent award, in 2011, was given to five representatives of the Arab SpringAsmaa Mahfouz, Ahmed al-Senussi, Razan Zaitouneh, Ali Farzat, and Mohamed Bouazizi—for their contributions to "historic changes in the Arab world". The prize has also been awarded to different organisations throughout its history, the first being the Argentine Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo (1992).

The Sakharov Prize is usually awarded annually on or around 10 December, the day on which the United Nations General Assembly ratified the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, also celebrated as Human Rights Day. (more...)

Selected article 28

A black and white photograph of Nikolai Krylenko

The Ministry of Justice of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR), formed on 15 March 1946, was one of the most important government offices in the Soviet Union. It was formerly (until 1946) known as the People's Commissariat for Justice. The Ministry, at the All-Union (USSR-wide) level, was established on 6 July 1923, after the signing of the Treaty on the Creation of the USSR, and was in turn based upon the People's Commissariat for Justice of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (RSFSR) formed in 1917. The Ministry was led by the Minister of Justice, prior to 1946 a Commissar, who was nominated by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers and confirmed by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, and was a member of the Council of Ministers.

The Ministry of Justice was responsible for courts, prisons, and probations. Further responsibilities included criminal justice policy, sentencing policy, and prevention of re-offending in the USSR. The Ministry was organised into All-Union and Union departments. The All-Union level ministries were divided into separate organisations in the Republican, Autonomous Oblast, and provincial level. The leadership of the Ministry of Justice came from notable Soviet law organisations from around the country. (more...)

Selected article 29

LatinoJustice PRLDEF, long known by its former name the Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund, is a New York-based national civil rights organization with the goal of changing discriminatory practices via advocacy and litigation. Privately funded, nonprofit and nonpartisan, it is part of the umbrella Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

The Puerto Rican Legal Defense and Education Fund was founded in 1972 by three lawyers, one of whom, Cesar A. Perales, became the president of the group for much of its history. PRLDEF played a key role in the installation of bilingual education in New York City schools, and soon became the most important legal advocacy group for Puerto Ricans in the U.S. mainland. The group became known for the part it played in redistricting battles, for its opposition to civil service exams it thought discriminatory, and for its attempts to combat anti-Latino sentiment especially as arising from the debate over immigration to the U.S. It changed its name to the current one in 2008 in order to reflect demographic shifts in the Latino population in New York and elsewhere. (more...)

Selected article 30

A black and white photograph of a large group of people marching

The Salt March, also known as the Salt Satyagraha, began with the Dandi March on March 12, 1930, and was an important part of the Indian independence movement. It was a direct action campaign of tax resistance and nonviolent protest against the British salt monopoly in colonial India, and triggered the wider Civil Disobedience Movement. This was the most significant organized challenge to British authority since the Non-cooperation movement of 1920–22, and directly followed the Purna Swaraj declaration of independence by the Indian National Congress on January 26, 1930. Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (commonly called Mahatma Gandhi) led the Dandi march from his base, Sabarmati Ashram near Ahmedabad, to the sea coast near the village of Dandi. As he continued on this 23 day, 240 mile (390 km) march to produce salt without paying the tax, growing numbers of Indians joined him along the way. When Gandhi broke the salt laws at 6:30 am on April 6, 1930, it sparked large scale acts of civil disobedience against the British Raj salt laws by millions of Indians. The campaign had a significant effect on changing world and British attitudes toward Indian independence and caused large numbers of Indians to join the fight for the first time. (more...)

Selected article 31

A photograph of a prison cell

Article 9 of the Constitution of the Republic of Singapore, specifically Article 9(1), guarantees the right to life and the right to personal liberty. The Court of Appeal has called the right to life the most basic of human rights, but has yet to fully define the term in the Constitution. Contrary to the broad position taken in jurisdictions such as Malaysia and the United States, the High Court of Singapore has said that personal liberty only refers to freedom from unlawful incarceration or detention.

Article 9(1) states that persons may be deprived of life or personal liberty "in accordance with law". In Ong Ah Chuan v. Public Prosecutor (1980), an appeal to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council from Singapore, it was held that the term law means more than just legislation validly enacted by Parliament, and includes fundamental rules of natural justice. Subsequently, in Yong Vui Kong v. Attorney-General (2011), the Court of Appeal held that such fundamental rules of natural justice embodied in the Constitution are the same in nature and function as common law rules of natural justice in administrative law, except that they operate at different levels of the legal order. (more...)

Selected article 32

A photograph of a group of people protesting

The doctrine of legitimate expectation in Singapore protects procedural rights, but it is not yet certain whether substantive rights are protected. In administrative law, a legitimate expectation generally arises when there has been a representation of a certain outcome by the public authorities to an individual. To derogate from the representation may amount to an abuse of power or unfairness. The doctrine of legitimate expectation as a ground to quash decisions of public authorities has been firmly established by the English courts. Thus, where a public authority has made a representation to an individual who would be affected by a decision by the authority, the individual has a legitimate expectation to have his or her views heard before the decision is taken. In addition, an individual may also have a legitimate expectation to a substantive right. The recognition of substantive legitimate expectations is somewhat controversial as it requires a balancing of the requirements of fairness against the reasons for any change in the authority's policy. This suggests the adoption of a free-standing proportionality approach, which has been said not to apply in administrative law. (more...)

Selected article 33

Front of historic building used by the regional court in Dresden

On 1 July 2009, Marwa Ali El-Sherbini, an Egyptian woman and German resident, was killed during an appeal hearing at a court of law in Dresden, Germany. She was stabbed by Alex Wiens, an ethnic German immigrant from Russia against whom she had testified in a criminal case for verbal abuse. El-Sherbini's husband, who was present at the hearing, tried to intervene and was mistakenly shot by a police officer who was called to the court room. Wiens was arrested at the crime scene and subsequently tried for and found guilty of both murder and attempted murder. It was also found that Wiens's deeds constituted a heinous crime; he was sentenced to life imprisonment.

The death of El-Sherbini immediately resulted in international reactions. The Egyptian public and media focused attention on the religious and racial hatred aspect of the killing, especially as the initial confrontation between the victim and perpetrator had happened because she wore an Islamic headscarf. In response to anti-German sentiments and public protests in Egypt and other countries, the German government issued a statement of condolence nine days after the incident. Wiens's trial for murder and attempted murder occurred under strict security measures and was observed by national and international media, diplomats and legal experts. (more...)

Selected article 34

A modern photograph of a metal monument

The Sandugo was a blood compact, performed in the island of Bohol in the Philippines, between the Spanish explorer Miguel López de Legazpi and Datu Sikatuna the chieftain of Bohol on March 16, 1565, to seal their friendship as part of the tribal tradition. This is considered as the first treaty of friendship between the Spaniards and Filipinos. "Sandugo" is a Visayan word which means "one blood".

The Sandugo is depicted in both the provincial flag and the official seal of the government in Bohol. It also features the image of the blood compact. The top of the seal explains the history behind the Sandugo event that occurred in Bohol, the fleet and the location where the Spaniards anchored and the place where the treaty was conducted which was dated on March 16, 1565. (more...)

Selected article 35

A photograph of Ruto

The International Criminal Court investigation in Kenya or the situation in the Republic of Kenya is an on-going investigation by the International Criminal Court (ICC) into the responsibility for the 2007–2008 post-election violence in Kenya. The 2007–2008 Kenyan crisis followed the presidential election that was held on 27 December 2007. The Electoral Commission of Kenya officially declared that the incumbent President Mwai Kibaki was re-elected; supporters of the opposition candidate Raila Odinga accused the government of electoral fraud and rejected the results. A series of protests and demonstrations followed, and fighting—mainly along tribal lines—led to many deaths, injuries and displacements.

After failed attempts to conduct a criminal investigation of the key perpetrators in Kenya, the matter was referred to the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Four people, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, Education Minister William Ruto, Cabinet Secretary Francis Muthaura, radio executive Joshua Arap Sang, have had charges of crimes against humanity confirmed. Their trial will begin in April 2013. (more...)

Selected article 36

A person standing in front of a group of seated people

Scientific jury selection, often abbreviated SJS, is the use of social science techniques and expertise to choose favorable juries during a criminal or civil trial. Scientific jury selection is used during the jury selection phase of the trial — when lawyers have the opportunity to question jurors and they and the judge choose which people will be on the jury. It almost always entails an expert's assistance in the attorney's use of peremptory challenges — the right to reject a certain number of potential jurors without stating a reason — during jury selection. The practice is currently confined to the American legal system.

SJS has roots in criminal trials during the Vietnam War era, but in modern times is usually employed in high-stakes civil litigation. SJS practitioners determine what background characteristics and attitudes predict favorable results, and then coordinate with attorneys in choosing the jury. Studies are mixed as to the effectiveness of the practice, though it is clear that the evidence presented at trial is the most important determiner of verdicts (the trial result) and that SJS is more likely to have an impact where that evidence is ambiguous. SJS's potential to unfairly skew the jury has led to some reform proposals, but none have yet been implemented. (more...)

Selected article 37

A painting of King Stanisław August entering St. John's Cathedral

The Constitution of May 3, 1791 was drafted between October 6, 1788, and May 3, 1791, when it was adopted as a "Government Act" by the Great Sejm of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth (a dualistic state of Poland and Lithuania ruled by a common monarch). The document was designed to redress political defects of the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth; the system of "Golden Liberty" had conferred disproportionate rights on the nobility, and over time had corrupted politics. Its adoption was preceded by a period of agitation for, and gradual introduction of, reforms, beginning with the Convocation Sejm of 1764 and the election of Stanisław August Poniatowski as the Commonwealth's last king, and culminating in legislation adopted by the Great Sejm.

The constitution sought to supplant the prevailing anarchy, fostered by some of the country's magnates, with a more democratic constitutional monarchy. It introduced elements of political equality between townspeople and nobility and placed the peasants under the protection of the government, thus mitigating the worst abuses of serfdom. It banned pernicious parliamentary institutions such as the liberum veto, which had put the Sejm at the mercy of any single deputy who could choose, or be bribed by an interest or foreign power, to undo all the legislation that had been passed by that Sejm. (more...)