Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 09/06/2016: The Number of Laws in the U.S.

Want to guess the number of federal laws in the U.S.? Good luck– even the Library of Congress doesn’t know. While this is one of the most popular questions asked of the Library’s reference librarians, they point out that simply tallying … Continue reading

Article on Petit Treason (from the Montreal Gazette and the Ottawa Citizen, January 16, 2016)

An article based on my research related to spousal murders in early nineteenth-century Montreal: Petit Treason Threatened the Social Order (Montreal Gazette, January 8, 2016) … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 4/25/16: ‘Wobbler’ Offenses

A ‘wobbler’, otherwise known as a ‘hybrid crime’, is one that can be charged as either a felony or a misdemeanor. These crimes are said to ‘wobble’ between these two categories, as they can be charged as either based on … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 4/18/16: Taxes!

The Sixteenth Amendment, passed in 1913, is probably one of the least well-known and yet most unpopular amendments, as it grants Congress the ability to levy a federal income tax. While the first federal income tax was levied during the Civil War as … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 4/11/16: Be Kind to Lawyers 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. In fact, a member of Congress in 2015 was 66x more likely to be a lawyer than the average … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 4/4/16: The Convention on the Rights of the Child

Of the 197 members of the United Nations, only the U.S. has failed to ratify the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC). Adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1989, the CRC is now the most widely ratified … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 3/28/16: The 28th Amendment

The proposed amendment currently closest to ratification is the “Lawyers’ Rights Amendment” (LRA), which if ratified would become the 28th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The LRA would make lawyers a protected class, and treat “comments, jokes and statements that … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 3/21/16: Reading the Riot Act

‘To read the riot act’– meaning to warn someone that their current actions will not be tolerated — has its origins in an actual legislative enactment. Formally entitled An Act for preventing Tumults and riotous Assemblies, and for the more speedy and effectual punishing the Rioters … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 2/29/16: Leap Year!

While technically there is no legal issue with respect to having a leap year birthday, people born on February 29th (often called “leapers”) may face some problems, particularly with regard to medical or government records. Some computer systems do not accept February 29th as a valid date, or … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 2/15/16: ‘Ladies Nights’ as Discrimination

The practice of holding a “ladies’ night’‘ as a promotional event at bars and nightclubs has been often challenged on state and federal grounds. While challenges under the Equal Protection Clause and the Civil Rights Act of 1871 have failed, four … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 2/8/16: Jury Sequestration in New York

For more than a century New York state required that juries be sequestered during the deliberation phase of all trials for violent felonies. This extremely unpopular law was repealed in 2001. Missouri still makes jury sequestration mandatory in trials involving a charge … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 1/18/16: The Admission of Ohio into the Union

President Thomas Jefferson signed an Act of Congress approving Ohio’s statehood in 1803, making it the 17th state. Congress had never passed a resolution formally admitting it as a state, however. While this has no real constitutional significance, this oversight was … Continue reading