Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/16/17: Chief Justice as Chancellor of the Smithsonian

In 1846 Congress established the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., eleven years after receiving a bequest from Englishman James Smithson. The charter established a seventeen-member board with representatives from all three branches (the Chief Justice, the Vice President, and six members … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/10/17: Constitutional Amendments

Since 1789 there have been more than 11,600 proposed amendments introduced to Congress. Of those, 33 were approved and sent to the states for ratification, resulting in the 27 amendments to the Constitution. The 27th Amendment was added in 1992 although originally … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/2/17: Delinquent Jurors

MA claims to have the most comprehensive anti-juror delinquency program in the U.S., having established the Delinquent Juror Prosecution Program (DJPP) in 1996 to address issues with non-representative juries. Jurors who fail to appear are sent a Failure to Appear mailing; if … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 9/25/17: First Country to Recognize the U.S.

The first country to formally recognize the United States was Morocco in 1777. The treaty between these two countries, known as the Moroccan-American Treaty of Friendship, was signed in 1786 and ratified in 1787 by the Confederation Congress. It remains the longest unbroken … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 9/11/17: Can Members of Congress Be Impeached?

Under Article II Section 4 of the Constitution, “The President, Vice President, and all civil Officers of the United States shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” The … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 9/5/17: The End of Miscegenation

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 did not address marriage equality; as such, laws against miscegenation (interracial marriage) remained on the books until struck down by the Supreme Court in Loving v. Virginia (1967). The Court ruled that anti-miscegenation laws … Continue reading

Ian’s Random Summer Legal Fact 7/10/17: 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 … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 4/24/17: The Twenty-Third Amendment

Ratified in 1961, the Twenty-Third Amendment grants the District of Columbia electors in the Electoral College, so that residents of D.C. may vote in the presidential and vice-presidential elections. The Amendment grants D.C. the equivalent number of electors it would have were it a state, but no more than that … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 4/18/17: Lawyer’s Day

Distressingly, there is no official “Lawyer’s Day” in the U.S.–despite the fact that nearly half of the members of Congress are lawyers.The second Tuesday in April is, however, informally known as “International Be Kind to Lawyers Day” and has its own … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 4/10/17: Slow-Motion Video and Juror Bias

A recent study has shown that jurors who are shown surveillance video, in slow motion, of criminal acts committed by defendants often suffer from ‘intentionality bias’. Even when reminded that the footage was artificially slowed down, unanimous juries were four times … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 4/3/17: Good Samaritan Laws and Pets

Currently six states have ‘Good Samaritan hot car laws’, which protect people from liability for breaking into a locked car to rescue a pet that was left unattended. Typically these laws require a good faith belief that the animal was in danger, … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 3/27/17: Succession of the Vice-President

The Twenty-fifth Amendment was adopted in 1967 and establishes that the Vice President succeeds the President in the result of the President’s death, resignation or incapacity, and also establishes a process for filling a vacancy in the office of the Vice … Continue reading