About Ian C. Pilarczyk

Ian C. Pilarczyk is a legal historian and scholar who is also director of the Executive LL.M. in international business law, and the Legal English Certificate Program, at Boston University School of Law.

NY Man Sues Ex-Fiancée After She Breaks Off Engagement

Some of my readers will remember that some time ago I wrote about the law and custom regarding broken engagements, including blog entries on the issue of the return of engagement rings, and ‘breach of promise to marry’  lawsuits. In an interesting twist, a … Continue reading

A Long Time Coming…But Back in Print!

Hello, gentle readers!  My next blog post will be up in a week or two, but I wanted to mention my latest work. It is a bit surreal to me to mention it, really, since I completed this as a … Continue reading

‘So Foul A Deed’: Infanticide in Montreal, 1825-1850

From the introduction to the issue: “Our final article, by Ian Pilarczyk, examines the phenomemon of infanticide and the legal responses to [it] in Montreal from 1825 to 1850, a period marked by significant economic, social, political, and legal flux. … Continue reading

‘Ripped from Today’s Headlines’: The Alford Plea–Pleading Guilty But Protesting Innocence

Last week in class, I wandered off on a slight tangent related to the Alford plea. Coincidentally, the very next day this fascinating bit of contemporary legal history and criminal procedure made its way into the news, prompted by a fairly unlikely … Continue reading

‘Twelve Angry Men’, or The Origins of the Jury System

An earlier blog post talked about ‘straw men’ and compurgation; and to continue in that vein I wanted to say a few words about the origins of the modern jury. The timing for me is quite fortuitous, as I just hosted … Continue reading

Of Christmas Caroling, Extortion, and Mistletoe

What, might you ask, do caroling and extortion have in common? Unless you’re very cynical, the answer probably should be “nothing.” Personally, I love the holidays and believe caroling is a lovely tradition. I still remember the last time I … Continue reading

What Is A ‘Straw Man’, and What Is the Connection to the Rise of the Jury Trial?

A colleague, while discussing corporate takeovers, recently asked me about the origins of the term straw man— hence this week’s blog entry. I’m always happy to make the connection between the contemporary and the historical! A straw man, as the … Continue reading

Is Trial By Combat Still a Possible Form of Legal Action?

Imagine you’ve just gotten a ticket for a motor vehicle violation. You have the right to defend yourself against it, but do you have the right to take up arms to do so? In other words, can you demand your right … Continue reading

…a few more esoteric Constitutional provisions…

My last entry had to do with whether President Obama could unilaterally use the 14th Amendment to raise the debt ceiling. This prompted me to think about the handful of esoteric constitutional provisions that have faded into desuetude, been repealed … Continue reading

Can an ‘Obscure’ Amendment Really Be A Solution to the Debt Crisis?

It’s difficult to think of an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that is truly “obscure”–although the 3rd Amendment is certainly an interesting historical relic as it restricts the government’s garrisoning of troops in civilian houses. However, some sections of the Constitution, including … Continue reading