Ian’s Random Legal Fact for Christmas 2017: Santa Claus

Courtesy of the History Office of the Federal Judicial Center: “The first mention of Santa Claus in a reported federal case came in a maritime case involving a ship of that name in 1846. The Santa Claus, 21 F. Cas. … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 12/4/17: Refusing to Plead

Under the common law, a defendant who refused to enter a plea was considered to be contesting the court’s jurisdiction and was subjected to ‘peine fort et dure’ — pressing under heavy weights — until the defendant either consented to plead or … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 11/27/17: Marriage Age in the U.S.

Despite what is popularly believed, the U.S. does not offer robust protection against child marriage. Twenty-five states do not have a legal minimum age for marriage, while 8 others set the age at under 16. New Hampshire, for example, sets … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 11/13/17: Ride-Share Violence

Among the many legal issues raised by ride-share services such as Uber and Lyft is personal violence: online tracker Who’s Driving You (which, it should be disclosed, is run by the Taxicab, Limousine & Paratransit Association),  recorded more than 330 alleged … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/30/17: Ban on Questions about Salary History

In August 2016, MA became the first state to pass a law banning employers from requiring information on an applicant’s previous salary history. Designed to prevent pay discrimination based on gender, the law, An Act to Establish Pay Equity, requires ‘equal pay … Continue reading

Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 10/23/17: Banning Atheists from Office

Eight states still possess constitutional prohibitions against atheists from holding public office: Arkansas, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Texas. While these provisions still exist, they cannot be enforced under the 1961 decision of Torcaso v. Watkins, in which … Continue reading

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 9/18/17: English-Only Laws

The 1923 landmark case of Meyer v. Nebraska applied the 14th Amendment’s Due Process Clause to a law passed in Nebraska that prohibited foreign-language instruction in any school up to eighth grade. In a 7-2 decision, the Court struck down the … 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