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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
Carucage (/ˈkærəkᵻdʒ/; 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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
The LaRouche criminal trials in the mid-1980s stemmed from federal and state investigations into the activities of American political activistLyndon 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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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.
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)
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...)