Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 11/24/14: Presidents of the U.S.

While George Washington is known as the first president of the U.S., there were 8 “presidents of the United States in Congress Assembled” appointed under the Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, between 1781-1789. The name of only one of these is still generally recognizable: John Hancock, who had earlier served as president of the Continental Congress when the Declaration of Independence was adopted.

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 11/17/14: Massachusetts and the Bill of Rights

The Massachusetts delegation was deeply divided over ratifying the Constitution and was dominated by anti-federalists. The “Massachusetts compromise” to introduce amendments, led by John Hanckock and Samual Adams, convinced states such as New York, New Hampshire and Virginia to vote to ratify, and also led to Massachusett’s ratification in February 1788. Ironically, Massachusetts did not ratify the Bill of Rights until the 150th anniversary of the Constitution’s ratification, in 1939.

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 11/10/14–Some Facts About the Massachusetts Constitution

The Massachusetts Constitution is the world’s oldest continuously-operative constitution, having been approved in 1780 (9 years before the U.S. Constitution). Its principal author was John Adams, who insisted the state be referred to as a ‘commonwealth’. It was also the first to be created through constitutional convention rather than by a legislature, after an earlier draft constitution was rejected by voters in 1778. It has been amended 120 times, most recently in 2000.

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 11/3/14: Grand Jury Testimony

Clients subpoenaed to testify before a grand jury–whether as witnesses or suspects–are not entitled to be represented by counsel as the Sixth Amendment is not applicable to grand jury proceedings. As these are “closed” sessions, a witness or suspect wishing to have benefit of counsel can have their attorney wait outside of the grand jury room, but must request permission to leave the room to consult with counsel.

A Happy Halloween Post (and a look back into the grab-bag of goodies from the past)

Zac was kind enough to put together a Halloween blog for the Executive LLM program, which features one of my all-time favorites of my Legal Facts of the Week–suing Satan–and he also included some other favorites from the archives. Until he mentioned it, I hadn’t realized how long I have been blogging and writing my facts of the week!

As always, your comments, questions and ideas are most welcome. Happy Halloween!

 

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/27/14: Titles of Nobility Amendment

Approved by Congress in 1810 as a proposed 13th Amendment, the Titles of Nobility Amendment was designed to strip U.S. citizenship from any citizen who accepted an aristocratic title from a foreign country. Ratified by tweleve states (the last in 1812) the amendment is still pending but would require ratification by an additional twenty-six states. It was erroneously included as the 13th Amendment in some early-nineteenth-century publications of the Constitution despite never having been ratified. “Thirteenthers” is a term sometimes used to refer to people who believe it was in fact ratified, or those who support its ratification now.

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/20/14: English Origins of Our Bill of Rights

The U.S. Bill of Rights was inspired by several documents including the U.K.’s Bill of Rights passed in 1689. This Act set out certain basic rights, including: no royal interference with the law; freedom to petition the monarch with grievances; no royal interference with the right of the people to bear arms as allowed by law; and no excessive bail or “cruel and unusual” punishments.

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/13/14: Medical Marijuana

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized cannabis for medical use, with legislation pending in three more states. Massachusetts legalized medical marijuana in 2012 as a result of a ballot measure approved by 63% of state voters.

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/6/14: Sheriff

In Anglo-Saxon England the chief magistrate of a district (or “shire”) was known as the “reeve”. The shire-reeve eventually became known as “sheriff”, or the main law enforcement officer of a county, and was used in the U.S. from the 1660s onwards.

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 9/29/14: Suspension of Habeas Corpus

The first suspension of habeas corpus in the U.S. was by Abraham Lincoln in April 1861 in order to protect a railroad route between Annapolis and Philadelphia which pro-Confederate forces were threatening to destroy. His action was overturned by the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Maryland in Ex Parte Merryman, led by Roger B. Taney, Chief Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. Lincoln’s Attorney General ignored the judicial decision.

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 9/22/14: 17th Amendment

The Seventeenth Amendment, ratified in 1913, provides for the direct election of members of the Senate by popular vote in each state, and also allows governors to make temporary appointments until a special election is held to fill vacancies. Originally, members of the Senate were elected by state legislatures. Seven states have not yet ratified the Amendment: Florida, Georgia, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Virginia.