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, an attempt to locate the vehicle’s owner, notification of law enforcement or emergency services, and the use of no more force than is necessary to enter the vehicle. As of November 2016 MA is one of these states, as Mass. Gen. Laws ch. 140, § 174f grants civil and criminal immunity for entering a motor vehicle to remove an animal if certain requirements are met, such as making reasonable efforts to locate the vehicle owner and notifying law enforcement.
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 President. It was adopted in order to address the ambiguous language in Article II, Section 1, Clause 6 of the Constitution which did not make clear the role of the Vice President under such circumstances.
In U.S. tax law there is a distinction between gifts and windfalls. A windfall — historically referring to fruit or trees blown down by the wind which then become public property — now refers to any sudden, unearned gain such finding money on the street or buried treasure. A gift, however, is a gain given by a donor and motivated by generosity, affection, respect or the like. A key distinction is that the recipient of a windfall is taxed, while the recipient of a gift is not.
The Twenty-Fourth Amendment restricts the federal government and the states from requiring a poll or other tax in order to vote in federal elections. It was approved by Congress in August of 1962, and ratified by the states in January 1964. At that time, five states — Virginia, Alabama, Texas, Arkansas, and Mississippi — still had poll taxes used to disenfranchise African-American and poor white voters. In 1966, the Supreme Court ruled that any poll taxes, for any level of state or federal elections, was unconstitutional as per Harper v. Virginia Board of Elections (1966).
The expression ‘on the lam’, meaning to be a fugitive from the law, has a murky past. It is often thought to be urban slang from the 1920s used by members of the criminal underworld. The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang traces it back to the mid-19th century, while noting it appears related to the Old Norse word lemja, meaning ‘to depart hastily’. Another theory traces its origins to Elizabethan England, where it meant the same thing as ‘beat it’, an idiom still in use and immortalized in a song by the late Michael Jackson.
In honor of the President’s Day holiday: William Howard Taft, the 27th President of the United States (1909-1913), remains the only president to also serve on the Supreme Court. He lectured in legal ethics at BU Law from 1918-1921, and then served as the tenth Chief Justice from 1921-1930.
Only two states automatically try 16 year-olds as adults in the criminal justice system — New York and North Carolina — while seven states automatically try 17 year-olds as adults.
Until 1828 in the U.K., a wife killing her husband committed ‘petty’ or ‘petit’ treason, not murder, as the law deemed this a crime against the social order. The penalty was burning at the stake, until replaced by hanging in 1790.
The first gun law passed in the United States was in Kentucky in 1813, which banned people from carrying concealed weapons. Kentucky currently requires a permit for concealed carry, although a gun permit is not required for owning a firearm.
Arizona has a law popularly referred to as the “Stupid Motorist Law“, which renders motorists liable for the cost of their rescue. A response to the flash floods common in the Southwestern U.S., the law states that if a motorist ignores barricades blocking a flooded roadway and later need to be rescued by public emergency services, the motorist can be held responsible for the costs of rescue. Motorists can also find themselves criminally liable under other statutory provisions for offences such as reckless driving and endangerment.
The Presidential Oath of Office is specified in Article II, Section One, Clause 8: “I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” The Constitution does not specify who is to administer the oath, although by convention it is usually the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. There have been several exceptions to this, including the swearing-in of George Washington in 1789 by the Chancellor of NY and Calvin Coolidge’s swearing in by his father, a notary public, in 1923. Originally the oath was administered in the form of a question, but now the President-elect repeats the words as stated by the Chief Justice. In 2009 Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time to Barack Obama, privately in the White House the day following his inauguration, because Roberts inadvertently omitted the word “faithfully” from the oath. By convention the President-elect commonly raises his right hand and place his left hand on a Bible, although not every president has done so — exceptions include John Quincy Adams and Franklin Pierce who both swore their oaths on a law book.
While the Thirteenth Amendment outlawed slavery, the original proposed Thirteenth Amendment was altogether different. Approved by Congress in 1810, 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 twelve states (the last in 1812) the proposed amendment is technically still pending but would require ratification by an additional twenty-six states. It was erroneously included as the Thirteenth Amendment in some early-nineteenth-century Constitutional publications despite never having been ratified. ‘Thirteenthers’ is a term sometimes used to refer to people who maintain it was in fact ratified, or those who support its ratification now. An interesting article from 2010 on attempts to ‘restore’ this proposed amendment in Iowa may be found here.